While it’s not stopping Kobe Bryant from having one of the worst shooting seasons ever in NBA history, his performance in the Los Angeles Lakers win on the road against the Washington Wizards was pleasing to see, and maybe more than anything surprising, even to his own teammates.
Bryant scored 31 points on 10-of-24 from the field, including four 3-pointers. It doesn’t really make it an efficient performance, but considering he was barely hitting over 30% of his shots before the game, this is almost like having a perfect shooting game for the man who is retiring and doesn’t really care about ignoring everyone on the floor while he shoots like there’s no tomorrow.
While it’s not nice to get booed, the Washington Wizards, 24 hours after winning in Cleveland against the Cavaliers,lost to possibly the worst team in the league; a team that was the first to lose to the Philadelphia 76ers. It might mean that all the positives and development from the last two years are fading away in Washington, but it mostly mean they should take a close hard look and figure out how they allowed Bryant to score so many points.
This is a validation for Bryant, not that he needs it. The approach he and Byron Scott are taking are all about him not needing to prove anything to anyone. With tanking on their mind, this is about Bryant saying goodbye to the NBA. To his fans, and to his haters. He takes 18 shots per game (20.6 per 36 minutes, the fifth highest rate of his career) because of everything he’s done since 1996, and missing almost all of them isn’t going to make him slow down.
Now, the critics can shut up for a day or two, until the next game Bryant destroys for his team. Think about it. A player who hardly has any spring in his knees to hit 3-pointers is shooting more than twice is average 3-point attempt per minute this season. His 30.7% usage ratio is just below his career average, and while he’s had more “selfish” seasons, there’s still a long way to go, and it doesn’t seem like Bryant remembers the words “step back”, “defer”, “young players” and other things he talked about before the season and during the early parts. The Bryant retirement tour is upon us, and from time to time, he actually won’t be embarrassing on the court.