A little bit of insight on how the mind of Kobe Bryant works was given to the world from the mouth of Antawn Jamison, who used his experience in the NBA in general, and specifically after playing next to Gilbert Arenas in the time from before his Los Angeles Lakers tenure.
The likeness? Both of them are players who think about the basket first. While it’s silly to compare Arenas, who didn’t have too many dominant years in the NBA to Kobe Bryant, who might be the model for longevity and excellence by averaging 27.1 points in his 17th NBA season. Still, great scorers, regardless of whether they kept it going for three seasons or 15, have a few things in common.
Being selfish as their basic agenda is one thing – they always think that the best option for their team is if they take the shot. Most great players, great scorers, think that. They should be thinking that, or there’s probably something wrong. The criticism against LeBron James was that he runs away from the responsibility too often. That changed after last season. Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony, they have that. Russell Westbrook also those, although it’s probably a bit much in him, especially when playing next to a more talented player.
Short memories is another. You can’t let 5-20 days pull you down. Some go in, most will, but these nights will happen. The main thing is not thinking about changing your game, most of the time at least. The way Bryant thinks is about him taking as many shots as possible being the best thing for the Lakers. He doesn’t see open players. He doesn’t look for them. All he sees is the basket, even if he’s triple teamed by taller, bigger and faster players. Unless you shout to him the magic words ‘I’m Open!’, the ball is going from his hands to the basket.
Kobe will tell you, he’s like, ‘Look, you guys as my teammates, yell at me. Let me know that you’re open because I’m so programmed. And this guy has told me this. ‘I see nothing but that basket. You could be open. It could be three guys on me. But the only thing I see is that basket. So, you have to tell me, Look, I was open. Or yell at me in mid-play.’ He said, ‘That doesn’t affect me at all, and I respect that.’ So, you know, I’ve dealt with Gilbert, who, ‘Look, I’m going to shoot with three guys on me, and that’s it.
So the main difference? Arenas is going to shoot not matter what. Bryant gives his teammates an option to convince him to change his mind. Considering his assists per 36 minutes are 0.8 higher than his career average, he has some pretty vocal teammates playing for him this season, which isn’t stopping him from putting up 20.4 field goal attempts per game, second in the NBA.