Kobe Bryant details the sacrifices he’s made to ensure longevity

Kobe Bryant’s made it look easy with his breathless game winners and efficient footwork. Even at 34 years old, Bryant also has thrown down a fair share of dunks, including one Sunday over Atlanta forward Josh Smith that kept everyone abuzz.

But beyond his unmatched skillset, Bryant points to a more important variable that’s helped distinguish himself through 17 NBA seasons.

“There’s a certain commitment, a lot of sacrifice and attention to detail that goes into trying to play at a high level for a long long time,” Bryant said. “To me, it’s worth it.”

Bryant enters the Lakers (30-30) game tonight at Oklahoma City (43-16) averaging 27.3 points per game, third behind New York’s Carmelo Anthony (28.6) and the Thunder’s Kevin Durant (28.6). In the past five games, Bryant has averaged 35 points on 57 percent shooting and six assists.

“Some poor souls recently have caught the end of it,” Lakers guard Steve Nash said. “He’s looked as good as he ever looked.”

Bryant attributes that to losing 16 pounds this offseason mostly by improving his diet. He’s replaced sweets and fast food with lean meat and vegetables.

“Diet is always the hardest thing,” Bryant said. “We’re accustomed to eating what we want to eat whenever we want to eat it. You become comfortable with that. A change in that is a change in your lifestyle. That’s been the most difficult.”

Bryant maintained he never lost focus with his diet, workout regiment or sacrificing time with family for the sake of maximizing his play.

“After so many years, it becomes easy to lose focus,” Bryant said. “Some guys lose focus from game to game. I take it as a challenge to try to be challenged for many many years.”