It doesn’t really matter that Kobe Bryant speaks after every game about getting back this player or the other. This time it was Steve Nash back in the lineup, also hitting the game clinching shot for the Los Angeles Lakers in a rare road win this season, but this game was once again, maybe more than ever, about Bryant ignoring everyone else, regardless of what was happening on the court.
When a player scored 34 points, you shouldn’t be complaining. Bryant is averaging 29.7 points per game this season, more than anyone in the NBA. He’s doing it while shooting a very good 47.1% from the field. After beginning December with six losses in their first seven games, the Lakers have now won four straight, heading into Christmas. Bryant averages 32 points in these four wins, playing at least 40 minutes every time. When you just look at the numbers, everything is OK.
And then you have the return of Steve Nash under the head coach that helped him become the MVP. Nash, who missed 24 consecutive games, played 41 minutes in the overtime win over the Golden State Warriors, finishing with 12 points and 9 assists including the shot that gave the Lakers a 3 point lead going into the last possession. For once, they actually managed to make it difficult enough for the opposing team to score, right on time.
But if you see the game, and then you hear or read what Kobe Bryant has to say about what went down, you almost cringe, not matter what team you support. This isn’t basketball, and the Lakers aren’t going to win anything with this kind of basketball. Bryant might get another scoring title and who knows, maybe an MVP. But taking 41 field goals is no way win to in a team sport, not in 2012.
You put two guys together who can do opposite things and it fits extremely well. When I get a rebound, I look to get the ball in his hands because I know I will be getting an easy shot. It was the collective energy we’re playing with, and that’s the most important thing. The fact we’re fighting together as a group through adversity.
Bryant has scored at least 30 points in eight consecutive games, 10 in the last 11. The Lakers might not have won if it wasn’t for his big time shooting in overtime. But he also forgot to look at anyone else when he took a tough shot to win the game in regulation, instead of finding the open man (there was more than one). Bryant talks about playing together, and D’Antoni’s system, not to mention the Princeton system that they tried to implement through the first couple of weeks, is all about teammates sharing the ball. Bryant talks about it, but does nothing that even resembles it on the floor.
This is the Kobe Bryant show, and the funny thing is no one has a problem with it. Despite the fact that it’s been proven over the last couple of years that Bryant forgetting about everyone around him isn’t the recipe for titles and success, not anymore. It helps him break records and establish and legacy as a great scorer, but doesn’t change what everyone think of him as a player, and probably a person as well. As long as the Lakers’ players keep looking from the side helpless, and their head coach is powerless to even say something to stop this dangerous trend, Bryant will keep shooting as much as he likes.