NBA A-Z: Who is best among the old guard?
by By Sam Amick, USA TODAY Sports
Each Friday, The NBA A-Z guys Sam Amick and Jeff Zillgitt will take on a topic or topics from around the league to discuss. Jeff is on vacation this week, so Sam will tackle the question of the number of older players having success this season.
Of all the oldies-but-goodies who are ignoring Father Time and playing so well this season, who impresses you the most?
There are a lot of them – more than I can remember in quite some time, if not ever. And they’re coming in pairs for quite a few teams: the Los Angels Lakers’ Kobe Bryant (34 years old) and Steve Nash (38), the San Antonio Spurs’ Tim Duncan (36) and Manu Ginobili (32), the Boston Celtics’ Kevin Garnett (36) and Paul Pierce (35). In New York, Jason Kidd (39) stands above the rest but role players like Rasheed Wallace and Marcus Camby (both 38) are still outplaying plenty of their younger peers.
The Clippers’ super sixth man, 32-year-old Jamal Crawford, is having one of the best seasons of his already-accomplished career. And last but certainly not least, Denver Nuggets point guard Andre Miller, 36, is still chipping away at the record books in his 14th season.
Maybe it’s a testament to modern-day training staffs or the technology that’s now such a big part of athletes’ treatment these days, or – more likely – a statement about the players themselves and their level of dedication to the craft and discipline that will lead to Hall of Fame berths for so many in this group. Whatever the reason, I’d have to pick Kobe above the rest in terms of old guys who are just defying all those odds that get lower with age.
Granted, Bryant is on the younger side of this bunch at 34. But considering all those years of playoff basketball and international play, it’s like dog years with him. And having watched more Lakers basketball than any other team this season, I can safely say that he is playing like a 29-year-old – if not 25.
This isn’t the same guy who was battling knee problems a … [For more on NBA A-Z: Who is best among the old guard?, click here.]