Until injury, Kobe Bryant was No. 3 in the NBA in minutes played

Jeff Gross

Did playing tons of minutes lead to Kobe's season-ending injury?

In his post-game interview about the apparent torn Achilles he suffered, Kobe Bryant said he didn't know whether playing a heavy load of minutes this season contributed to the eventual injury. As he also acknowledged, those minutes were all needed: even with Kobe playing extremely well on offense for huge swaths of each game with little rest, the Lakers are still in danger of missing the playoffs.

But there's no question that Kobe played an inordinate number of minutes compared to his veteran peers.

Here's a look at the top 10 in minutes played, with the age they were when the season began listed according to Basketball-Reference.com.

1. Kevin Durant, 3081 minutes, age 24
2. Damian Lillard, 3049 minutes, age 22
3. Kobe Bryant, 3013 minutes, age 34
4. Monta Ellis, 2999 minutes, age 27
5. Paul George, 2932 minutes, age 22
6. DeMar DeRozan, 2913 minutes, age 23
7. Stephen Curry, 2912 minutes, age 24
8. James Harden, 2874 minutes, age 23
9. Klay Thompson, 2862 minutes, age 22
10. Jrue Holiday, 2857 minutes, age 22

One of these dudes is doing his own thing. In fact, Kobe is the only player in the top 30 in minutes played over the age of 30. (Joe Johnson, age 31, is No. 34 in minutes played with 2586.) The first player on the list older than Kobe is Paul Pierce, who at No. 39 in minutes played has tallied about 500 fewer than Bryant. That's roughly six per game.

There are 25 players in the NBA older than Kobe this season. Only three of them -- Pierce, Andre Miller and Jason Terry -- are in the league's top 100 in minutes played. (Miller and Terry are in the 90s.) Again, Kobe is No. 3 in minutes played. He'll likely finish No. 4 or No. 5. This old man is insane.

Whether the crazy workload broke down his body enough to make it susceptible to a torn Achilles is a question for the doctors. Even Kobe isn't hazarding a guess at this point.

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