Kobe Bryant was one of the most famous basketball players of all time. Part of that was the result of his charisma and charm, part of it was due to his run with the Lakers, but most of it was due to his skill. He had a ton of talent, and he also knew how and when to use his body.
To study just how much his athleticism impacted his game, the following sections will break down Kobe’s wingspan in relation to his other dimensions. That will show how much measurements mattered, not just for the Lakers great, but for all NBA athletes.
Reaching for Glory
For most of NBA history, teams put little stock in wingspan. Having long arms always mattered, but extra reach wasn’t one of the first things organizations looked at. They paid much more attention to how big and tall players were. Now, times have changed.
Height and weight both still matter quite a lot, but reach is important too. An undersized player who may not have gotten a shot a few decades ago or a mid-sized forward with a little less weight now commands more attention if they have a unique wingspan.
Kobe had plenty of weight and size, but his arms perfectly complemented his playstyle and undoubtedly enhanced the way he played the game.
Extending Above and Beyond
Kobe’s arms measured 6’11 (211 cm). That gave him one of the longest reaches across the NBA, especially for both shooting guards and small forwards. Reach is always important, but outside players tend to be able to use it more effectively than big men.
That’s because guards are going up against players with shorter reaches on average than forwards and centers. Being able to create a mismatch, even if it’s an extra inch, is often the difference between being able to get a shot off or getting it blocked.
Longer arms also allow players more freedom when it comes to passing, dribbling, and finishing layups. Combining those advantages with Kobe’s IQ and innate scoring abilities, it’s easy to see why his longer wingspan ended up being such a huge advantage.
It wasn’t just that he could get out and reach around opponents, it’s that he was able to move with the ball in much more creative ways.
Kobe didn’t just have long arms, he had arms that were extremely long compared to the rest of his frame. That allowed him to do things other 6’6 players couldn’t do, and it helped him become a star. It gave him the ability to play larger, and it enhanced his offensive capabilities too.
The Lakers guard was known for his shot, but his jumper largely came about due to his arms. He had plenty of skill in making shots, but a big part of what made Kobe so unique was his ability to get up or around players and find a clear look at the basket.
His vertical played a key part there, but his arms did too. The Lakers guard could reach incredibly high into the air, which gave him a release point defenders couldn’t hit. That’s why his pull-up was so effective, and why his turnaround seemed unblockable.
Kobe would have been good with a smaller wingspan, but losing a few inches may have turned some of his iconic game winners into blocked shots.
Kobe’s arms weren’t the only thing that made him good. He had a ton of skill, a lethal jumper, ample athleticism, and a great vertical. Even so, his wingspan enabled his shots and gave him a huge edge. It wasn’t his entire game, but it was a key piece of what made him special.