As Kobe chucks shots at astronomical levels, now would be a perfect time to step into the time machine and a take a look at a curious incident between Bryant and Deron Williams this past summer.
Deron was once considered a better point guard than Chris Paul by some NBA circles. After struggling in the playoffs last year leading the highest paid team in the NBA, Kobe had some choice comments:
“Deron Williams went like 0-for-9. I was like, ‘Can you believe Deron Williams went 0-9? I would go 0-30 before I would go 0-9. 0-9 means you beat yourself, you psyched yourself out of the game, because Deron Williams can get more shots in the game. The only reason is because you’ve just now lost confidence in yourself.’”
For some Bryant fans, this was another hall-of-fame quote to pin to his career wall. But I think it may be indicative of Bryant’s philosophy in what is sure to be a losing season.
Kobe is Kobe in part because he always believes he can make the shot; that he can single-handedly lead his team to victory. In his mind, he is the best option. But that can be a double edged sword, and we’ve seen it — Kobe has undermined his team’s success by taking high-difficulty shots over defenders rather than pass to open teammates, whether it be Gasol, Shaq, Lamar. That’s just not how many view the game, understandably so– Deron included. “If I’m 0-for-f******-9, I’m not shooting 20 more shots. Not going to happen”.
That being said, on a team composed of Carlos Boozer, Ronnie Price, and Wesley Johnson, Bryant is the best option. Those players will not be in the NBA next season. The pundits will argue– would they shoot as bad Bryant’s mid-30% average he boasts now? It remains to be seen. Can they create those shots themselves? That may be the more relevant question. But Ultimately, many fail to grasp that Kobe’s shooting isn’t for the sake of personal glory as much as it is a feeble attempt to win games. Just look at the quote above. It is his nature. Clearly, it is not very effective this season- the team, after all, is 0-5– but it at the very least shows effort and a sense of determination.
The day Kobe shoots 10 shots– that will be the day we will know Bryant has tuned out and turned the chapter on this season. That would be the biggest transgression on the game of them all.