Last night was an awesome night for the NBA.
The Golden State Warriors set a record for wins in an NBA regular season and marked the end of Kobe Bryant’s illustrious career. Bryant was masterful in his final game in a Laker uniform, scoring 60 points, on 22 of 50 shooting (including 6-21 from 3-point range) from the floor along with 10 of 12 from the free throw line.
And even though it was tremendous to see a soon to be 38-year-old dude score 60 points in an NBA game, seeing Bryant take 50 shots (!) in his final game was the microcosm of his career. He scores a lot of points, but he takes a whole lot of shots (more on that later).
Look, this rant is not to poo-poo Bryant’s accomplishments nor his legacy. After all, he did put up epic numbers and achieved a lot during his soon to be Hall of Fame NBA career.
Let us count the ways:
- 5× NBA champion (2000–2002, 2009–2010)
- 2× NBA Finals MVP (2009–2010)
- NBA Most Valuable Player (2008)
- 18× NBA All-Star (1998, 2000–2016)
- 4× NBA All-Star Game MVP (2002, 2007, 2009,2011)
- 11× All-NBA First Team (2002–2004, 2006–2013)
- 2× All-NBA Second Team (2000–2001)
- 2× All-NBA Third Team (1999, 2005)
- 9× NBA All-Defensive First Team (2000, 2003–2004,2006–2011)
- 3× NBA All-Defensive Second Team (2001–2002,2012)
- 2× NBA scoring champion (2006–2007)
- NBA All-Rookie Second Team (1997)
- Los Angeles Lakers all-time leading scorer
And for the record, even though I am a big fan of Shaquille O’Neal’s, Shaq wouldn’t have won three of those titles without Bryant.
However, if we tell the story of Bryant’s career, we have to tell the WHOLE story. As the saying goes, “stories are like pancakes, they have two sides”.
While Bryant is considered by many (including me) an NBA icon, he is also arguably the most selfish player in NBA history.
During the famous (or infamous) 81-point game vs. Toronto? Bryant took 46 shots (though he made over 50% of those shots)! And let’s just say that he was not the most willing assister.
Bryant was also not the best teammate.
One can find many infamous stories on how bad of a teammate Bryant was. He’d often not socialize with his teammates. Former teammate Derek Fisher would often have to play a good cop to Bryant’s bad cop.
And we all remember the Kobe/Shaq dynamic.
Again, this is not to poo-poo Bryant’s career. This is not to dispute his greatness (though I STILL consider Magic Johnson to be the greatest Laker of all time).
I am merely saying that Bryant is perhaps one of the most complex, and controversial superstars ever seen in the NBA.
By the way, if y’all want to check out a cool and different take on Kobe, check out the article “The Truth About Kobe Bryant” from the sports blog Swish NBA.
Here’s an excerpt:
“When you compare his [Bryant’s] FG% to other elite scorers; both past and present, it’s shocking to see how low is FG% is not only in the regular season (45%) but also in the NBA Finals (41%).
To give you a quick summary regarding the negatives of Kobe’s shooting/ scoring here’s some records that Kobe Bryant holds:
- Second all-time in total missed shots in the regular season.
- All-time leader in missed shots in the playoffs
- All-time leader in missed shots when you combine the regular season and playoffs
- Most missed game winners and buzzer beaters
- Only Finals MVP not to shoot above 50% in a single finals game (did this both in 2009 and 2010)
- Worst shooting performance by any NBA finals MVP in history (40%)
- Out of the top 20 players in points per game all time, the only player from the modern era with a lower career FG% than Kobe is Iverson
- There are only 13 games in NBA history where someone has scored 50 points or more on sub 50% shooting, Kobe is responsible for 7 of those 13 games.
- Only 5 players in NBA history have missed over 2,000 more shots than they’ve made; Allen Iverson, Bob Petit, John Havlicek, Elvin Hayes and Kobe Bryant.
- Kobe hold the record for most consecutive NBA Finals games shooting under 50% (15)“
Bet you didn’t know that, huh?