Monday, January 31, 2011

Why Are Kobe Bryant and Ray Allen Successful Way into Their 30s and Antoine Walker and Allen Iverson Not?

On ABC's broadcast of the Lakers-Celtics game yesterday, an analyst mentioned how Kobe Bryant actually made it to the arena before Ray Allen. Ray Ray is known for being the NBA player most likely to make it to the arena before anyone else.

These two are head and shoulders above the rest of the league when it comes to effort. This not only means making it to the arena before anyone else, it also means taking care of their bodies in the weight room.

Antoine Walker was known as the first player on the court and the last player off. Allen Iverson was notorious for his rant on "practice" and for his effort on the court.

Why Are Antoine and AI Out of the League?

Let's get out of the way what needs to get out of the way: when it came to playing basketball, Antoine Walker was one of the hardest workers in the league, and when it came to sacrificing your body for your team and pushing yourself to your physical limits Allen Iverson was the best in the league.

The problem with these two was not their effort on the court. Both were notorious for not putting the effort into strengthening and conditioning their bodies in the weight room. A professional NBA player can overcome this until they are 30. Once they hit age 30, lack of conditioning and stengthening will always hit a professional athlete, and all-of-a-sudden they will become ineffective players.

How Do Ray Allen and Kobe Bryant Get it Done?

One of the big secrets of successful high school prep basketball programs is that they often force their players to run cross country if they do not play another sport during the fall. Cross country is the perfect sport to condition for basketball: it involves flexibility, stamina and above all a focused effort in the weight room to improve core strength and prevent injuries.

Ray Allen and Kobe Bryant are notorious for their efforts in the weight room, and Ray Ray is notorious for his running and conditioning program.

In his article, "Kobe just one star defying age curve," Bill Simmons references the improved abilities that NBA players have into their later years because of advanced science that has affected the way players condition, eat, sleep and make their bodies flexible.

I do not have any knowledge of what Kobe and Ray do outside the weight room. I would be willing to bet they are also considerate of their diets, sleep and flexibility training.

What Does This Mean for Toine and AI?
Unfortunately, for two players I loved to watch, and two players who gave everything they had when they were on the floor, their effort off the floor and in the weight room will probably prevent them from ever reaching the NBA again.

These players, who could have still been among the NBA's best, and one (AI) who should still make it to the Hall of Fame, will never again see the light at the end of an NBA tunnel.