Why can certain players hold off father time while their peers slowly fade from memory? How can some players do more with less?
Kobe Bryant recently surpassed 32,000 points for his NBA career, Tim Duncan is still the anchor of a reigning NBA champion, and Dirk Nowitzki continues to cement his legacy with game winning daggers.
Have they become better with the passing of time, or have they learned to simplify?
So often, young players come into the league with wide eyes and an adrenaline rush strong enough to power a small village. The speed, size and pace of the game are unlike anything they’ve ever encountered, so they hurry. And when they do, larger mistakes can happen faster, and more frequently than ever before.
While game mistakes may very well be a necessary part of the learning curve, simple repetition will help build proper habits to combat repeating those same mistakes. Pregame practice routines can be the deciding factor for a young player’s developmental curve when actual minutes on the floor are hard to come by.
Bryant has now missed more field goal attempts than any player in the entire history of the NBA. Which shots does he now chose to focus and work on everyday? Duncan came into the league to critical acclaim for his ability to shoot a mid-range bank shot. Has he drastically expanded his game over the years? Nowitzki transformed how we collectively think of a modern-day power forward with his patented one-leg fadeaway. How does he make a “bad shot” look so good to everyone in the arena except his opponent?
These players have the benefit of experience and use their knowledge to become one with their game. They know who they are as basketball players and focus on their strengths. In fact, they’ve focused on their strengths so many thousands of times over the years that they don’t even have to think about them anymore. It’s a part of their game and it doesn’t even matter if their opponent knows their tendencies.
Thanks to a greater awareness about nutrition and improved rehabilitation techniques such as those pioneered by Alex McKechnie, players are playing more effectively and longer into what was once considered the twilight of their careers.
We are now witnessing great players doing more of the same with less variance, while valiantly battling father time.