Kobe Bryant set the record for most seasons played with one team and passed Wilt Chamberlain in minutes played Wednesday night.
Bryant set the record the minute he stepped on the floor for the Los Angeles Lakers, his 20th season with the club. He also passed former L.A. center Chamberlain in minutes played for fourth on the all-time list.
Bryant’s 20 years with the Lakers are unprecedented, especially for a wing player. Bryant’s game has evolved considerably over the years, as he’s gone from an athletic freak with a dunk contest win to a high-volume shooter with amazing consistency in his form. Although he may not be the athlete he once was, his determination to score the ball in any way possible has remained.
Unfortunately, Bryant’s last few seasons in the league have been far from his championship peak. He has ended each of the last three years on the bench with a season-ending injury, as the Lakers have gone from championship hopeful to a team mired in the lottery.
Facing off against Bryant in the Timberwolves’ 112–111 win was his longtime rival in the West, Kevin Garnett. Their matchup marked the first time in NBA history two 20-year players squared off against each other. Although neither player is who they were during the memorable Lakers–Timberwolves conference finals matchup in ’04, their play has earned our appreciation this year. Sooner rather than later, all their matchups will have been in the past.