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Is the Lakers biggest problem really Kobe Bryant? No.

Dec 19, 2012, 8:42 PM EDT

Lakers Bryant reacts after hitting a three-point shot against the 76ers during their NBA game in Philadelphia Reuters

While Steve Nash and Pau Gasol were out, Kobe Bryant has carried the Lakers. He is leading the league with 29.5 points per game, scoring more points per game than he has since before Pau Gasol arrived as a Laker. Back when Kobe had to carry Kwame Brown and Smush Parker (remember they both started).

But the Lakers have struggled to a 12-14 record — and that is after a three game win streak.

It has led some people to say, “Kobe Bryant is shooting too much.” He is back to being a ball hog and that is what is holding the Lakers back.

I think those people are wrong — Kobe is playing as many minutes but taking fewer shots per game than either of the Lakers most recent title years. With Nash out, the playmaking has to fall to him because you can’t let Chris Duhon do it. But that is different than being an inefficient gunner.

Still you hear it — “Kobe is shooting too much.” And it’s not just fans. This is an assistant coach from another team, speaking to Chris Broussard if ESPN (the story is behind their pay wall).

“Absolutely, Kobe’s shooting too much. When we played them, we told our guys, ‘Look, we don’t necessarily want Kobe going for 50. I mean, we’re going to guard him. But we’re not going to double him, and we’re not going to try to get the ball out of his hands.’ Our main concerns were not to let [Antawn] Jamison hit a bunch of 3s and not to let Dwight [Howard] go crazy down low. There’s no question they would be a better team if Kobe shot less. Why do you think [Pau] Gasol struggles? He’s going to struggle in any offense where he doesn’t touch it.

“[At] the end of the day, it has nothing to do with [Mike] D’Antoni and his system. It’s all about what Kobe will allow to happen. When you play the Lakers, it’s like they don’t have a system. It’s whatever Kobe chooses it to be. If he wants to take all the shots, he’ll do that. He’ll pacify his teammates early in the game, but then he’ll throw up a heat check and if he’s got it going, nobody else touches the ball.

Thing is, who else on that roster (with Nash out) do you want to handle the ball? Darius Morris?

I think this scout hits the nail more on the head.

“Watching the Lakers play the Knicks this year was hard to watch because the other Lakers were just so bad. It was like Kobe was trying to do all he could just to keep that game close. And hey, if Dwight’s not going to try his butt off and if other guys aren’t going to try their butts off, then I’m going to give the ball to the guy that’s going to go for it, and that’s Kobe. I don’t think it’s that Kobe doesn’t trust his teammates; it’s just that he trusts himself more. A questionable shot by him still might be better than a good look for one of those other guys.

That has always been Kobe — he trusts himself to make plays more than he trusts anyone. If other guys are not knocking down shots early he will do it. The only question was always was he hitting shots and efficient or was he a gunner? This season has been his most efficient in a long, long time.

But it is no different than Kobe from any of the Lakers title years, particularly the most recent. He is who he is.

Let’s see what Kobe and the Lakers look like with Steve Nash in the lineup, then we can discuss what needs to change. But through it all, Kobe is not.

  1. losanginsight - Dec 19, 2012 at 9:04 PM

    Now there are anonymous GM’s having a say about the Lakers EARLY season struggles? He’s not timmy tebow Chris. Chris should ask the imaginary GM if he would liked having Kobe for the past 16 years on his team.

  2. progress2011 - Dec 19, 2012 at 9:11 PM

    Hmmmmmmm ….

    Let’s see:

    1. One guy takes more shots than 3 other All Star caliber stars (D12, Gasol & MWP)
    2. The one guy jacking up all the shots, never works within an offense to involve others
    3. Wanna-be-like-Mike takes Harlem Globetrotter type shots over 3 defenders, when others are open or single man coverage
    4. And1 jack-up-artist turns the ball over 4 times a game, at the most inconvenient times
    5. Ball Hawk is only shooting 47%

    So, any respectable coach, with “TEAM BALL” in mind, would sit the offender on the bench, beside them, until they understood and comprehended “FUNDAMENTALS”.

    He has always been a cancer on this team:

    Add Bynum to the list of GROWING folk that understand “FUNDAMENTAL” basketball and know that kobe is a cancer to “TEAM BALL”.
    I’m sure there are more HOF and future HOF players and coaches that have complained but here’s my list.
    1. Phil Jackson (read his book)
    2. Shaq (the MVP of the first 3 chips, where kobe was his side-kick).
    3. Robert Horry (7 Chips on his record)
    4. Karl Malone
    5. Gary Payton
    6. Rick Fox
    7. Derrick Fisher
    8. Charles Barkley
    9. Gregg Popovich (a FUNDAMENTAL basketball genius)
    10. Pat Riley (HOF inductee 2008 and another FUNDAMENTAL basketball genius)
    His legacy will be a “GOOD VOLUME SHOOTER” and the root cause of continual controversy on EVERY TEAM the lakers rolled out !!!
    Not to mention his indiscretions off the court !

    • Mr. Wright 212 - Dec 19, 2012 at 10:26 PM

      You spent all that time typing that, which only further illustrates the pathetic existence of you and other vapid Kobe haters SMH.

      • loungefly74 - Dec 19, 2012 at 11:38 PM

        its been going on for at least 2 years now. i dont get it either…spending so much time on something/someone he hates. i dont know, man…i usually just stay away from crap i dislike…ya know…stuff like country music, prison, FoxNews, etc…

      • fanofevilempire - Dec 20, 2012 at 1:10 AM

        he copies and paste………….

        he said the same thing a week ago.

        he dislikes Kobe, which is fine but make a good argument.

        oh boy

    • badintent - Dec 19, 2012 at 11:18 PM

      you left out Vanessa Bryant ! The horror !

    • torrigjp - Dec 19, 2012 at 11:22 PM

      “Let’s see:

      1. One guy takes more shots than 3 other All Star caliber stars (D12, Gasol & MWP)”

      Metta world peace is not an all star, Gasol is injured, and D12 is primarily a defensive player…Kobe is a top 5 player in the league

    • bozosforall - Dec 19, 2012 at 11:44 PM

      Poor promdress size2011…his hatred and jealousy of Kobe knows no bounds. Is that you, Jason Witless?

    • saint1997 - Dec 19, 2012 at 11:58 PM

      If you NEED to capital letters to get a POINT across, then you have WRITING issues

    • fanofevilempire - Dec 20, 2012 at 1:05 AM

      you said the same thing a week ago……….

      did you know that Air Jordan never won a championship without Scottie Pippen?

      did you know that Kobe has Two championships without Shaq?

      how many rings did BIG SHOT Horry ( who is awesome) win without the BIG fundamental?
      shaq?
      Kobe?

      your data is flaws!

    • fanofevilempire - Dec 20, 2012 at 1:05 AM

      you said the same thing a week ago……….

      did you know that Air Jordan never won a championship without Scottie Pippen?

      did you know that Kobe has Two championships without Shaq?

      how many rings did BIG SHOT Horry ( who is awesome) win without the BIG fundamental?
      shaq?
      Kobe?

      your data is flaws!

      • tralse - Dec 20, 2012 at 6:02 AM

        Big Shot Rob won 5 championships without the Big Fundamental and 4 championships without Shaq or Kobe.

    • teedraper - Dec 20, 2012 at 7:56 AM

      Kobe has more rings than everyone on that lost except Phil!

      & how is Kobe a side kick to Shaq that never won a thing before Kobe? LOL
      Deposit rejected!

      BTW, Player A: .600 true shooting%; usage 30.7; 5.0 assists/gm
      Player B: .592 true shooting%; usage 30.5; 2.0 assists/gm

      Both are clearly amazing players. Who is helping their team more?
      Today there was an article about player A saying he is the reason his team is losing. There was an article about player B begging people to calm all the MVP chatter.
      This is sensationalism, pure and simple.
      Remember: “there are lies, da** lies, and statistics” -Mark Twain

      Player A=Kobe

      Player B=Carmelo

      LOLOLOL SHUT YOUR PIE HOLE!

  3. clevelandschronic2 - Dec 19, 2012 at 9:13 PM

    I been screaming this for the last 3 years. Lol. Kobe is selfish and this only proves that almost everyone but the laker fans see it. Maybe this will help those who ride his jock.

  4. chargerdillon - Dec 19, 2012 at 9:22 PM

    As a big Kobe fan, I’m just going to call it like I see it, I love Kobe but he is absolutely the problem with the team.

    When you jackup 3’s you have no business taking as your being heavily guarded, and you have none of your big men or ANY MEN in the paint because they’re running the play the TEAM is supposed to be running, and then you follow up a big clanker on the rim by allowing Ramon Sessions to blast right past you for an easy undefensed layup it’s a double strike.

    Kobe is overcompensating on offense showing he has NO TRUST of his team, all the while play halfassed defense making smaller and faster players blow right by him like he’s 10 years older than he really is.

    For every great shot Kobe makes, he’s allowing the other team easy points off his poor defense. But it’s twice as bad when you have one of the most dominant bigmen in the game standing away from the rim because he’s not expecting to see a basketball.

    Kobe was always able to win with a one-two punch ie Kobe/Shaq, Kobe/Pau. But now we have Pau and Dwight who it seems Kobe doesnt trust, I just don’t get Kobe. The way he’s utilizing Pau makes me think he knows Pau will be traded, and the way he’s not going to Dwight in the paint makes me think he’s trying to tell Dwight to leave town.

    Kobe I love you……you’re killing the Lakers

  5. jgray30 - Dec 19, 2012 at 9:43 PM

    so the question is, how long do u sit and watch your team suck before taking over? Kobe cant make thesevscrubs better. Jordan cant either. Nor did he in Chicago. The only thing that made the bulls players better was everyone gave extra attention to MJ, leaving their man to help defend MJ. now back to the lakers. With Nash and Gasol out of the game, wtf makes consistant shot besides Kobe????? No one. So thats y kobe shoots as much. thats y its his team. when chips r down, or they r short manpower, someone has to pick up the slack. Kobe cant make them make their wide open shots. Kobe is the ultimate competitor. U haters enjoy it while u can. The days of prideful players, toughness, and playing with dignity r coming to an end. wtf wouldnt u wana shoot more when the whole team is stinking it up, and one guy cant make a free throw to save his life? lol.

    • chargerdillon - Dec 19, 2012 at 9:49 PM

      Everything you said is a knock to the GM and owner of the Lakers franchise and does nothing to address Kobe killing his teams willingness to be a team.

      Fact: Kobe is the best shot! But no single player is going to win in the regular season, and especially not the postseason.

      Fact: Everything you do in the regular season is the chemistry that builds into the postseason.

      Kobe is playing on a team with ZERO CHEMISTRY, because Kobe is killing any chance of that.

      Fact: If Kobe continues to play selfish they will be one and done if they even make the playoffs.

      I can accept the Lakers have the worst bench in the game, and very little depth once stars get hurt, but I cannot accept Kobe throwing in the towel on this team when the way he’s playing is going to chase out the best defensive bigman on the team which is essential to any team winning a championship.

      • borderline1988 - Dec 20, 2012 at 10:23 AM

        I think people are talking about 2 different sample sizes.

        With Gasol and Nash out, obviously Kobe has to shoot a lot. There’s no one else on the team who can shoot, and Kobe has actually played pretty well this year (he has an above average shooting % this year). So that second assistant coach was completely correct in his assessment of the Knicks game.

        But when Gasol and Nash comes back, things change. And then, Kobe DOES screw up the system and the chemistry. Gasol’s play has deteriorated consistently, b/c the offense rarely if ever goes through him. He’s not the kind of guy who’s going to use energy to rebound the ball to find his offense (neither is Kobe btw…). Gasol needs the ball in his hands to make plays. He’s perhaps the best passing big man in the league, and the Lakers NEVER use that skill even though the best finishing big man in the league is on the court (it makes no sense..).
        Kobe’s style definitely puts Gasol behind the 8 ball. I’d say the same for Howard, but when he’s shooting a terrible FT%, teams are just going to foul him whenever he has the ball, so Howard has himself to blame before Kobe.

        We’ll see what happens when Nash and Gasol come back. They will turn the ship around, but the offense will always struggle to integrate Kobe. And now with their early record, they are screwing themselves b/c they won’t land a top seed, and will likely face the Thunder in the 2nd round. There is no chance they can out of that matchup alive.

    • fanofevilempire - Dec 20, 2012 at 1:13 AM

      and when the shot clock is at 5,4,3,2,…….

      pass to the Mamba

  6. musician0785 - Dec 19, 2012 at 10:09 PM

    @progress lets say, hypothetically, that what u r saying is true….then how do u explain that hes taking less shots than EVER , right now AND averaging more assists…..but yet the Lakers are still losing? calling mwp an all star caliber player means u must not have watched him play since 2008….the problem is what is has always been….talent…outside of kobe and d12 right now the lakers talent is not even in the top half of the league……secondly if “selfish” gets me 5 rings.. i’ll go with selfish…. and when has Pop ever complained about kobe?

  7. musician0785 - Dec 19, 2012 at 10:10 PM

    or rick fox or Derrick fisher for that matter….dont just make things up for the sake of ur Kobe hate

  8. drunkenjunk - Dec 19, 2012 at 10:25 PM

    All you Kobe haters out their need to stfu. He has no choice but to carry the team. d’antoni is an awful coach, dwight is lazy and can’t hit free throws. Everything JGray30 said is the truth. It’s not in Kobe’s DNA to sit around and do nothing while most of his team plays like garbage.

    • rodyaugu - Dec 20, 2012 at 9:22 AM

      I’ve watched Dwight In Orlando, he needs the ball consistently to dominate. It’s seems he’s the only one making sacrifices, while kobe still jacking up shots after shots. It’s only a matter of time before Dwight start calling him out. IF Dwight leave the lakers after this season, it’ll be because of kobe and his selfish ways.

  9. hoodheisman - Dec 19, 2012 at 10:26 PM

    This is exactly why this team was perfectly suited for Phil Jackson’s triangle. If you don’t have a system in place that takes advantage of both 7-footers, then everybody will continue to defer to the guy with 5 rings. Run n’ chuck basketball is an epic fail. Both the Knicks and Lakers bear witness.

    • Mr. Wright 212 - Dec 19, 2012 at 10:27 PM

      Knicks? We’re only going to get better when Shump and Stoudemire are back.

      • hoodheisman - Dec 19, 2012 at 11:08 PM

        I don’t disagree with that. My reference to the Knicks was towards last season and how much they improved once they got rid of D’Antoni and his ridiculous style of basketball.

  10. justwannawinna - Dec 19, 2012 at 11:04 PM

    I mean i always knew Kobe was a ball hog, and never liked his game cuz it was so selfish. But at this point his PG is hurt Pau isnt playing hard and the system is making Dwights presence minimal on defense. They should have got a defensive minded coach. But thats history now. Let Kobe take his shots because he does and can carry his team they just have to wait til Nash is better and can give Dwight the passes and distribute the ball allot better. but personally if they beat the Heat in the finals if the beat the thunder first the this experiment does work, Dwight will be the reason not Kobe because if Kobe keeps taking these selfish shots when Nash comes back then theyll never beat a well rounded team like the Thunder or Spurs.

  11. bobbybouche305 - Dec 19, 2012 at 11:30 PM

    wow…what a dumb article..Jordan played with Cartwright,Purdue,Hodges,Kerr,the little Stockton guy forget his name…..hell he made Pippen a top 50 player……Kobe has Dwight,Gasol,Metta,Jamison…and he’s playing with garbage????????the difference Jordan made everyone better,Kobe is just a ball hog…..

  12. loungefly74 - Dec 19, 2012 at 11:51 PM

    since joining the Lakers…they have won 5 titles and 7 conference titles. I’m cool with that.

  13. camnellum12 - Dec 20, 2012 at 12:42 AM

    The truth lies between both of the quotes. Yes, Kobe has to take those shots when his teammates check out, but he also needs a fine balance of sharing the ball and making the most of his looks, all while the ball is moving. He seemed to get it together a few years ago when he was winning rings, but that’s because he hid in the Triangle. Now, there isn’t a lot of ball movement and options like he was so used to, he has to learn himself how to play within a team.

    • davidly - Dec 20, 2012 at 7:04 AM

      Nailed it.

  14. picks287 - Dec 20, 2012 at 12:57 AM

    The truth is , NOBODY ( except 4 MWP ) seems like there hungry , They are Lazy on Defense , on Offense everyone is on the perimeter No rebounds or Hustle plays made , Transition defense sucks , In the Championship years they were diving for balls , stripping opponents , fighting for rebounds , this year thy seem LAZY and looks like they feel Entitled and Arrogant , ATTITUDE must change

  15. BigBeachBall - Dec 20, 2012 at 1:06 AM

    Kobe isn’t killing this team, Jim Buss is… he photocopied his dad’s PHD and now he thinks he’s a doctor….

  16. sdlakerfan - Dec 20, 2012 at 1:30 AM

    Good job Kurt! Can’t believe they’re complaining about one of the greatest players of all time. What would their record be w\o Kobe…Yikes!

  17. progress2011 - Dec 20, 2012 at 2:23 AM

    Working my way thru my BUCKETS of salt ….ahahahahah !!!

    Doesn’t matter how many times I re-state the FACTS, the FACT remains – The FAKERS SUCK !

    It’s so enjoyable to watch Wanna-be-like-Mike/ And1/ Harlem Globetrotter/ Jack-Up-Artist throw up all that GABBAGE !!!!

    It’s even more enjoyable and comical to hear all the FAKER fans blame EVERYONE in the building for the losses and lack of team chemistry, over the past 17 years, when the ONE CONSTANT has been……..drum roll please……..

    kobe/ Wanna-be-like-Mike/ And1/ Harlem Globetrotter/ Jack-Up-Artist

    He will be remembered as a good VOLUME SHOOTER (47%) and TEAM CANCER……ahahahahah

    Going out to get more salt, for those oooozing, gaping wounds FAKER fans have!!!!

    • limonadamas - Dec 20, 2012 at 3:40 PM

      Personality disorder alert!

  18. lemfaxx - Dec 20, 2012 at 6:54 AM

    The problem he is too much kobe. If he has a flu he still plying, if he has a minor injury he still playing, if they lead by 20pts in the final qtr he still playing or even they are behind & no chance of winning he still playing. He is great but you need to give extra time to other team mates so they can develop their confidence in the court and that wont happend if all the time he is star in the court…

  19. lemfaxx - Dec 20, 2012 at 6:55 AM

    The problem he is too much kobe. If he has a flu he still playing, if he has a minor injury he still playing, if they lead by 20pts in the final qtr he still playing or even they are behind & no chance of winning he still playing. He is great but you need to give extra time to other team mates so they can develop their confidence in the court and that wont happend if all the time he is star in the court…

    • unxpexted1 - Dec 20, 2012 at 1:59 PM

      popovich is that you?

  20. davidly - Dec 20, 2012 at 7:07 AM

    He is who he is You’re right there, Kurt. But I think you have to take both the coach and scout you cited into consideration. They both make valid points.

    So he is who he is. Which is more like Melo than Mike. Unlike LeBron, Durant, or Wade, he’s just never gonna be a .500 shooter, nor will he straddle the top of the rebound or assist/TO ratio for at his position.

    This doesn’t mean that his team’s woes are his fault, but neither does it mean the team is good with him shooting more. They are best when the entire team’s FG% is higher, however that happens.

    I remember this with MJ: There were stretches–including entire seasons, especially the early years–during which his teammates on the floor would start to stand around once he started taking it all on himself. Eventually they learned to move off the ball better.

    That’s the thing: Whatever Bryant does, the other guys need to keep moving. But let’s not forget that Jordan was just all-around more efficient than any of the guys I previously mentioned. Only LeBron comes close.

    UPDATE: After the squeaker over Charlotte:
    When Bryant takes more shots than his team has assists:
    2-10
    When his team has more assists than he does shot attempts:
    10-4

  21. teedraper - Dec 20, 2012 at 7:47 AM

    Do the actual stat work to try to eliminate other factors before you blame Kobe’s shot count for losses. I’d tell you to ask John Hollinger to explain the difference between correlation and causation, but he’s left ESPN.

    Here are 5 other factors you can check to actually try to confirm or refute your conclusion:

    1. Check the shooting percentage of Kobe’s teammates in games where he takes 20 or more shots versus 19 or less shots.
    2. Check the number of shots taken by Kobe in the second half or 4th quarter of games where the Lakers are trailing versus when they’re leading.
    3. Check the correlation of turnovers to wins & losses
    4. Check the correlation of number of missed free throws by Dwight Howard and wins vs losses
    5. Check the correlation of opponent shooting percentage to wins & losses.

    The first two might help you ascertain whether the 20 shots & win loss record is causally related and in what direction. The third through 5th factors could show you other factors that contribute to losses. And no, number of shots by Kobe doesn’t cause the opponents to shoot better or Dwight Howard to miss free throws.

    Point number 1: In games where Kobe took 20 or more shots, he played 40.7 minutes on average. In games where he took 19 or less shots, he played 35.2 minutes per game.

    6 of the 11 “less than 20 shot” games were blowout wins where Kobe averaged even fewer minutes and fewer shots.

    Conclusion #1: in games where the Lakers are able to maintain leads with Kobe off the floor or build big enough leads that they can’t lose them, he plays less minutes, and thus takes less shots. Thus when his teammates …more

    Conclusion #2: In games where the Lakers fall behind or when they can’t maintain leads, Kobe plays more minutes and takes more shots.

  22. omniusprime - Dec 20, 2012 at 9:12 AM

    Kobe is forced to shoot too much because the Lakers lack a coach with the intelligence to install a good offense that gets all the players involved, regardless of talent level or experience. If Dumbtoni had a clue about how to run an offense or defense the Lakers would have won more games despite the injuries. We Laker fans are glad that Kobe will take charge and do his utmost to win, now we need to see the rest of the team follow suit. Kobe can’t do it alone and he needs some help if the Lakers are going to win another title.

    Best thing to do is fire Dumbtoni now and bring in Phil Jackson. With Jackson the Lakers will get a great offensive scheme as well as a much improved defense. With Dumbtoni expect more pathetic offense with Dumbtoni sitting Pau down at the end of games when we need him most on the court. Maybe Ancient Nash can help share the ball handling chores to free Kobe up more but any good he does on offense will be undone with his pathetic defense.

    Go Kobe!!! Fire Dumbtoni!!! We Want Phil!!! Fire the little idiot buss boy!!! We Want Jeanie!!!

  23. addict2sport - Dec 20, 2012 at 9:34 AM

    Progress, you’re not living up to your name. Progress is not cutting and pasting one your prior comments into this thread. That would be regression. Perhaps your username needs to be revised. Since you like to cut and paste so much here you go: REGRESSION. There, now you can cut that and paste it in as your username.

  24. kelsey412 - Dec 20, 2012 at 9:41 AM

    The man will not give up the ball the last 4 mins of any game they r behind. Takes horrible shots. It drives me nuts. He is killing the lakers even though they r really not that good

  25. bougin89 - Dec 20, 2012 at 10:25 AM

    This is a tough one. Kobe definitely isn’t anywhere near as bad as some of the posters on here calling him a cancer on the team, etc. etc. but he does go through stretches where he just ignores his teammates and most of the time it does not work(look at their record). How can you go 4 straight possessions at times with Dwight Howard on the court and he doesn’t even touch the ball unless he gets an offensive rebound?? Is it D’Antoni not installing a few sets to get more movement in the offense? Is it Kobe just going off on his own thinking he can win by himself? I don’t know but hopefully once Nash gets back everyone on their offense gets involved and ball movement stays more consistent throughout the game.

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