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James Worthy wonders if Kobe can dial game back, let teammates flourish

Sep 17, 2013, 10:44 AM EDT

Los Angeles Lakers shooting guard Bryant and point guard Nash of Canada after shaking hands after beating the Charlotte Bobcats during an NBA basketball game in Charlotte Reuters

Kobe Bryant’s psychology is such that when his teammates struggle on offense he quickly fills that void — he believes he is a better offensive option even if the defense is focused on him than a passive or cold teammate. That has led to some bad choices and miraculous shots over the years.

Now at age 35 coming off an Achilles injury, can Kobe change is ways?

It’s not me asking that question (well, not alone anyway), it is Laker legend, broadcaster and Hall of Famer James Worthy. He spoke with Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News.

“One of the biggest challenges for Kobe this year is, can he step back?” Worthy said. “He’s been in the league for 17 years, has a lot of miles on the body and has had a lot of injuries. Can he find a game that will allow other guys to flourish?”

While all reports are his recovery is ahead of schedule there remains no timetable for Bryant’s return. It is possible he misses the entire Lakers preseason and maybe the start of the regular season as well (they open the season Oct. 29 against the Clippers).

As big a question is what this Lakers team looks like on the court — they are better suited in some ways to run Mike D’Antoni’s offense but there will be a talent step back without Dwight Howard and Metta World Peace. The bigger questions are at the defensive end of the floor — they were a pedestrian defensive team last year that lost their two best defenders.

In a sign of how optimistic some Lakers fans are, Worthy thinks the Lakers will be the five seed and finish ahead of the Houston Rockets and Memphis Grizzlies in the West. Most prognosticators have them missing the playoffs (I think they finish around .500, which will be 10th or 11th in the West, so they miss the postseason).

But a lot of that comes back to Kobe, when he returns and how he plays when he does. Can he be even more of a facilitator, even when things aren’t going well?

  1. shockexchange - Sep 17, 2013 at 10:50 AM

    The Shock Exchange has a saying for moments like these: “Well, if ya gotta ask …”

  2. adamsjohn714 - Sep 17, 2013 at 10:54 AM

    Worthy has them at a 5 seed? What?

    • musician0785 - Sep 17, 2013 at 2:15 PM

      Just type the word Kobe and see how long it takes these notoriously idiotic trolls to say something dumb like Kobe always had the best players and best coach ignoring the fact that he went to the finals with quite possibly the 2nd worst team ever..fisher , radmanovic, odom and gasol…….then you have the Lebron loving trolls who are so quick to point our how much more efficient he is, but fail to see that Kobe isn’t 6’9 270,cant power his way through anyone to score, forget that Lebron’s jumper is as consistent, as Dwade’s health and the fact that except for a stretch between 2000-2004 lebron has ALWAYS had a better supporting cast…and lastly they’ll tell you how much of a ball hog he is becuase he takes more shots than his teammates, but they’ll ignore how awful those teammates are…..Odom, fisher, vujacic, farmar, steve blake, MWP (on offense) radmanovic, ariza, chucky atkins, jumaine jones…i could go on but u get the point….

      • adamsjohn714 - Sep 17, 2013 at 2:24 PM

        odom and gasol were both better than Kobe on a per minute basis those championship years…
        Besides not being as efficient, Kobe’s size disadvantage is another reason he isn’t as good. I’m afraid you’re pretending Lebron isn’t a better jumpshooter now than Kobe is.

        Nothing in my post prompted your off the cuff response, and I really don’t have a stance either way, but you can’t just say a bunch of stuff that’s wrong and expect people to agree with you.

      • shockexchange - Sep 17, 2013 at 2:35 PM

        His skill is aligning himself with “exceptionally more talent than the rest of the L” so he can win a chip. Why else would the Streets call him “Horry Jr”?

      • musician0785 - Sep 17, 2013 at 2:38 PM

        nothing in your post? i read this site all the time, and you’re a Laker troll plain and simple…..

        Lamar odom per 36 min 2009: 13.8 pts 9 rebs fg% 49
        pau gasol per 36 min 2009: 18.1 pts 9 rebs fg% 50
        Kobe brynat per 36 min 2009: 27 pts 5rebs 5 assists fg% 46

        “but you can’t just say a bunch of stuff that’s wrong and expect people to agree with you.”

        maybe you should take your own advice and look up some stats before you mouth off

      • musician0785 - Sep 17, 2013 at 2:41 PM

        exceptionally more talent like 40 year old ron harper, 41 year old ac green, sasha vuajacic, trevor ariza, derek fisher, 39 year old robert horry, smush parker, jumaine jones, kwame brown, chris mihm, jordan farmar, vladmir radmanovich, isiah rider, mitch richmond, you mean that exceptional talent? hahahahahahaha ok sure

      • musician0785 - Sep 17, 2013 at 2:43 PM

        I dont know what streets you’re in but NOBODY CALLS HIM THAT BUT YOU

      • dirtydavis - Sep 17, 2013 at 4:14 PM

        @ Musician0785

        SO what if Odom and Pau were better per min. Kobe was waaaay better per seconds

      • adamsjohn714 - Sep 17, 2013 at 4:24 PM

        you do know there is an inescapable mathematical relationship between minutes and seconds, right?

      • divan22 - Sep 17, 2013 at 9:40 PM

        Hahahahahaha.

        If LeBron’s size is the reason he’s better than Kobe, SO BE IT. Advantage: LeBron. Basketball is a size/speed/strength sport.

        It’s not really true anyways (LeBron is Magic Johnson as a passer, Kobe isn’t), but let’s pretend it is for the sake of your argument.

        Should we dispute Shaq’s entire career? After all, he was bigger and stronger than anyone who ever tried to guard him!

        Another pathetic line of reasoning from Kobe fans to try covering for the reality that LeBron’s simply the much better player.

      • mtd20 - Sep 17, 2013 at 10:14 PM

        @adamjohns is a revisionist hack.

        2009 Lakers play-offs per

        Bryant 26.8
        Gasol 21.9
        Odom 18.0

        2010 Lakers play-offs per

        Bryant 24.7
        Gasol 24.0
        Odom 15.4

        but go ahead and make things up troll.

      • adamsjohn714 - Sep 18, 2013 at 3:40 AM

        ummm PER is the joke there. A hack stat if I ever saw one. I don’t know if it’s deliberately incorrect, or just wrong due to sheer laziness.

      • badintent - Sep 19, 2013 at 3:00 AM

        you forgot Smush.But you dead wrong about fisher and Odem

      • sprint32 - Sep 22, 2013 at 11:09 PM

        Lebron has a very consistent jumper the last 3 yrs he ha shoot 40% from 3 and close to 50% on shoots between 15-18 ft. No team goes to the finals with a bad team especially 3 yrs in a row and winning 2 of those titles. Odom & Gasol were allstar caliber players and they had a very solid bench. Fisher was a clutch shooter in his prime when they were winning those rings. Your knowledge of basketball seems to skewed. Lebron never had a better supporting cast while with the Cavs than Kobe. And without MWP shooting in the Boston series Kobe doesnt get his 5th ring

      • musician0785 - Sep 23, 2013 at 2:26 AM

        averaging 4 points a game on 39% shooting is your idea of a starting pg on a championship team…lmaoooo not to mention he couldnt guard anybody when he was young (steve francis, troy hudson etc) seems like your knowledge of basketball lacks facts to back em up

      • musician0785 - Sep 23, 2013 at 2:27 AM

        i guess u think chris mihm, kwame brown, jumaine jones, smush parker and vladmir radmanovich was better than a team lebron had? oh really?

  3. wkl21 - Sep 17, 2013 at 11:10 AM

    how does a ballhog “dial it back”?

    • shockexchange - Sep 17, 2013 at 12:45 PM

      He takes 29 shots/game instead of 30. *Welp*

    • program33 - Sep 21, 2013 at 3:30 PM

      LOL…Big smile:)

  4. m4a188 - Sep 17, 2013 at 11:25 AM

    Nope.

  5. dexregeant - Sep 17, 2013 at 12:03 PM

    Dial it back? Hell, he’ll have to hoist up just as many bad shots just to keep this team in games. They are going to be awful on defense and will find themselves behind big in alot of games because they have no athleticism, no perimeter defenders and no real shot blocking threats. The Lakers best bet is to pray that Nick Young can be a huge offensive help and that Pau and Nash can get the pick and roll working at such a high level that defenses have to sag off Kobe. But how old is nash now? 63? I see no way these guys can make the playoffs in the West. NO.WAY.

    • money2long - Sep 17, 2013 at 3:06 PM

      ” I see no way these guys can make the playoffs in the West. NO.WAY.”

      woah , is this “lakers won’t make the playoffs talk” de ja vu or not?

      • topdawg4ever - Sep 19, 2013 at 2:21 PM

        Well, yes. But c’mon. Are you really thinking they’ll make the play-offs? Last season they only got in because Utah folded and Kobe managed to heave a couple of miracle shots for the win. Their playoff appearance was a total embarrassment.

  6. raycharlesj - Sep 17, 2013 at 12:20 PM

    5 championships says Kobe has “allowed” others to flourish before!!!! Worthy should know that, lets see Fisher, Odom,Gasol,Shaq, Horry, etc, etc, seemed to have “flourished just fine at one time or another winning championships with Bryant, the real question should be if Bryant did take a step back who other then maybe Gasol is there to capitalize and step up to flourish?? A 40 year old who can’t play average defense Steve Nash???? Good luck with that!!! with all those young explosive guards he is surrounded by in the NBA now especially in the western conference.

    • adamsjohn714 - Sep 17, 2013 at 12:33 PM

      Fisher never flourished. He was pretty bad the whole time.

      • asimonetti88 - Sep 17, 2013 at 3:25 PM

        Fisher frustrated me endlessly the last few years in LA. But in the early part of the decade, he was a fairly solid player. Good shooter who didn’t need the ball in his hands to be effective, which is a key in an offense with as much ball movement as the triangle.

      • musician0785 - Sep 18, 2013 at 10:20 PM

        averaging 4 pts a game on 40% shooting makes u a bum in my book

    • sportsfan18 - Sep 18, 2013 at 5:16 AM

      Look up the stats that Shaq had in the regular season and in the NBA finals with Kobe when they won their 3 championships.

      Mostly, Shaq was a beast and in his prime then. Kobe didn’t play as well as Shaq in those yrs and finals because he was so young and nowhere near his prime.

      But, the fact is that Shaq led them to those titles. Kobe’s had some ugly numbers in his NBA finals, all of them as a matter of fact.

      For those that don’t know, Kobe shot 36% in one NBA finals.

      He shot .405% from the field in the 2010 NBA finals and was 6th on the team in shooting percentage for those finals. His FG% was below the teams average so he wasn’t helping the Lakers shooting at all.

      In the 2004 NBA finals, Kobe shot .174% from 3 pt range. He only made 4 out of 23 three pt shots in those finals. He shot .381% from the field in that series that the Lakers lost in 5 games.

      While Kobe was missing shot after shot only shooting 38% from the field and 17% from 3 pt range in the 04 series, Shaq was shooting 63% from the field YET Shaq only took 84 shots while Kobe took 113 shots while missing so many…

      For ALL of Kobe’s NBA finals games, he’s only shooting like 41% from the field, which is way below his career shooting percentage. Other so called stars haven’t played so far below their career averages as the Kobester…

      • topdawg4ever - Sep 19, 2013 at 2:42 PM

        Excellent stats and facts sportsfan. Problem is, those who drink the Kobe Koolaid STILL think he’s won his rings without any help- and that he will win another one this season LOL!

      • badintent - Sep 20, 2013 at 12:36 AM

        That series inspired Phil to write his book. While pulling out his hair and sticking voodoo pins in his Kobe doll. Dang

  7. divan22 - Sep 17, 2013 at 12:24 PM

    And people REALLY want to compare this guy to LeBron?

    LeBron is the ultimate “make your teammates better” player. Kobe is the ultimate “make your teammates hate you” player.

    Oh, and LeBron’s also the MUCH, MUCH, MUCH more efficient player.

    • money2long - Sep 17, 2013 at 3:08 PM

      by people, do you mean magic johnson, michael jordan, nba coaches…should i go on ?

    • asimonetti88 - Sep 17, 2013 at 3:33 PM

      They’re two different players with different styles. You may not like Kobe’s style, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t make the players around him better. I don’t think his teammates hate him, plenty of good players like Steve Nash and Metta World Peace have passed up more money for the chance to play with him.

      You can’t get along with all your co-workers, and there will inevitably be clashes of style. I freely admit I don’t get along with all my co-workers, but I hardly think I’m the ultimate “make your co-workers hate you” professional because of it.

      • divan22 - Sep 18, 2013 at 2:14 AM

        Better passer, better rebounder, scores at a MUCH higher %, and big/fast/strong enough to guard nearly anyone he wants.

        LeBron is the FAR more efficent player, therefore he’s the better player.

        It’s really that simple. You choose to deny it because you’re clearly a Kobe fan.

      • topdawg4ever - Sep 19, 2013 at 2:45 PM

        You are right to a point. It isn’t so much that other players “hate” Kobe. It’s that anyone who may want to actually get the ball every once in awhile know they won’t get it. Hence the problem of shooters not wanting to play with him. He’s selfish.

      • asimonetti88 - Sep 20, 2013 at 11:01 AM

        Geez, talk about projecting.

        Nowhere in my post did I say anything about one player or the other being better than the other.

  8. dirtydavis - Sep 17, 2013 at 3:24 PM

    What does this clown know about leading a team? Check out his stats post Magic Johnson

    • asimonetti88 - Sep 17, 2013 at 3:29 PM

      Yes, I’m sure that the major ankle and knee injuries had nothing to do with his decline.

      • dirtydavis - Sep 17, 2013 at 4:12 PM

        Don’t forget spending all of his money on escorts

  9. antistratfordian - Sep 17, 2013 at 4:02 PM

    “Kobe Bryant’s psychology is such that when his teammates struggle on offense he quickly fills that void.”

    That is about the kindest way to put that. Kobe is a quintessential “selfish” basketball player. I don’t mean to single him out because there are a lot of these types of players in the NBA, but he is the most well known at the moment.

    The other thing with Kobe is he will “hog” the ball even when his teammates aren’t struggling. I know, I know – this is not news. But perhaps there is someone out there new to the sport who is reading this…

    • asimonetti88 - Sep 17, 2013 at 5:27 PM

      “That is about the kindest way to put that. Kobe is a quintessential “selfish” basketball player.”

      Not really. Most star players try to take over games when the team is down. Does it always work? No.

      • sportsfan18 - Sep 18, 2013 at 5:21 AM

        But many stars, when trying to take a game over realize what is going on, if they don’t have it that night etc… They use themselves as a decoy etc…

        In the 2004 NBA finals, Kobe shot 38% from the field and 17% from 3 pt range (he made 4 of 23 three pointers).

        Yet, while Kobe was only shooting 38% in those finals, Shaq was shooting 63% yet Kobe took 113 shots to Shaq’s 84 shots.

        Kobe kept trying to take over and it’s no wonder they lost the series in 5 games. The Pistons weren’t stopping Shaq. Not when he was almost making 2 out of every 3 shots he took.

        Kobe should have fed the big man the ball.

  10. cambo0019 - Sep 17, 2013 at 6:05 PM

    so what exactly is a ballhog? or a selfish player as it pertains to Kobe? Please explain…….When other players take over a game, or “will” their team to a victory its all roses but for some reason when its Kobe; he’s being selfish and its not about winning.

    • divan22 - Sep 18, 2013 at 2:17 AM

      He was 2nd in the league in FGA/game despite having the best frontcourt in the NBA at his disposal.

      That’s the definition of a “ballhog”, since you asked.

      • musician0785 - Sep 18, 2013 at 10:15 PM

        you mean the front court of d12 and jordan hill/ antawn jamison? Pau missed about 3 months…..so im not sure how u can call them the best front court.

    • program33 - Sep 21, 2013 at 4:07 PM

      “so what exactly is a ballhog?” you ask…lol. Now write this down and memorize it.

      When it comes to Kobe it doesn’t matter. The man is not dumb. He is under 40 and rich. He is his own man and he does what he wants to do when he wants to do it. He is going to gun when he feels like it, no matter what the circumstances are…. even though that’s not what leadership is about. Plus he really doesn’t care half the time what other’s think…. partly because he is not held accountable by this coach, management or organization. And he knows it.

      Of course that’s just an opinion and you know what they say about opinions…lol

  11. pauliewalnuts90 - Sep 18, 2013 at 2:17 AM

    The fact that James worthy works the lakers games on time Warner yet makes comments like these makes me wonder if he watches the games. This team–like last year– will go nowhere if Kobe dials it down even a little bit. Last yrs team some nights would try to set records for poor Shooting performances ever for the franchise yet still managed to win because Kobe refused to lose. Who’s supposed to flourish on this garbage team anyways? Only way they get to playoffs if Kobe takes off. Don’t worry espn will still post stupid stats like the lakers are 4-10 when he drops 40 but won’t say lakers only won 3 games when he gets point guard stats.

    • topdawg4ever - Sep 19, 2013 at 2:53 PM

      Here’s the problem with your theory. No ONE player can carry a team through the season let alone the playoffs. Many have tried- most have failed.

  12. jimsjam33 - Sep 18, 2013 at 5:27 PM

    It should have been Kobe not Metta that left the team under the Amnesty provision . They could have used the 30 mil . to start re-building .

    • musician0785 - Sep 18, 2013 at 10:18 PM

      yea they should’ve amnestied the best player in franchise history, i’m sure that would’ve went over well…..

      • adamsjohn714 - Sep 19, 2013 at 1:08 AM

        They can’t amnesty Magic. He’s not on the roster. From a financial and basketball perspective, using the amnesty clause on Kobe makes sense. It would also have the added benefit of separating the kobe fans from the Lakers fans.

      • topdawg4ever - Sep 19, 2013 at 4:26 PM

        Yes, they should have amnestied Kobe (who is not the best in Lakers franchise history, BTW) because he’s on a downhill slide and they need every penny to rebuild. It’s a business- no room for nostalgia.

      • musician0785 - Sep 20, 2013 at 9:50 PM

        Well since Magic calls Kobe the greatest Laker ever, i think your opinion on the matter holds very little weight

      • program33 - Sep 21, 2013 at 4:11 PM

        Nope – Magic and Kareem are better than Kobe.

      • musician0785 - Sep 22, 2013 at 12:24 PM

        too bad magic doesnt agree with you

        http://www.sportsgrid.com/nba/is-kobe-the-best-laker-ever-jerry-west-and-magic-johnson-think-so/

        And neither does Shaq

        http://espn.go.com/blog/los-angeles/lakers/post/_/id/23766/shaq-calls-kobe-the-greatest-laker-of-all-time

        Next to those guys YOUR opinion holds very little weight

      • adamsjohn714 - Sep 23, 2013 at 3:58 PM

        that’s great that they’re so supportive of a current Laker. They’re wrong, though.

      • musician0785 - Sep 23, 2013 at 9:33 PM

        so now you know more about basketball than Magic and Shaq? lmaoooo im done…

      • adamsjohn714 - Sep 23, 2013 at 11:45 PM

        I can’t play as well as those guys, but I can tell that Magic is easily a better player than Kobe. Your logic seems to state that Michael Jordan is great at running a team, since he’s the best he must know the game the best…

      • musician0785 - Sep 24, 2013 at 12:31 AM

        No, My logic says that 2 guys who not just play better than you, but they KNOW more about the game than you could ever learn, made a statement. What you’re doing is telling me that they are wrong and you are right….MJ is the best, but im not comparing his knowledge to other greats. I’m comparing Magic and Shaq’s bball knowledge against what YOU say….and you disagree with Magic and Shaq…..which is HILARIOUS to me

      • adamsjohn714 - Sep 24, 2013 at 12:51 AM

        I get it. You love Kobe. I say Magic is a better Laker because the numbers lead me to that conclusion. It doesn’t matter what he says, I refer back to the numbers. The numbers cannot lie, they don’t change as time goes on, they don’t have opinions…

        Your argument is that Magic Johnson is right because he’s Magic Johnson. It’s flawed from the outset. If you can’t see beyond that, then you’re at the developmental stage of a 4 year old.

      • musician0785 - Sep 24, 2013 at 12:56 AM

        My argument is that Magic knows more about the game of basketball than you, alot more, so his opinion holds more weight than yours…and you closed my case for me by saying ” It doesn’t matter what he says”…..by that measure it shouldnt matter what MJ says, or Lebron says or any great player….their opinions dont matter to you….right?

        Just say you think Magic is wrong and get it over with….but then again you realize how foolish you would look…

      • adamsjohn714 - Sep 24, 2013 at 1:02 AM

        Correct. It doesn’t matter one iota to me what they say in the media. Their performance on the court is what I judge them on.

        Scan a few comments up where I say that both he and Shaq are wrong. Or don’t. Here it is again: Magic is wrong.

      • musician0785 - Sep 24, 2013 at 1:20 PM

        Those guys forgot more basketball than you will ever know, the arrogance to assume you know more about the game than guys who actually played at a hall of fame level is ridiculous….

  13. basketballbicker - Sep 19, 2013 at 3:37 AM

    Kobe has not really been able to do this his entire career, so it’s far too late to expect him to suddenly do it now. The Lakers have an outside chance of making it to the postseason, and a very minimal shot at winning in the first round, so Kobe might just have the green light this upcoming season.

    • musician0785 - Sep 20, 2013 at 9:52 PM

      Kobe averages more assists than MJ for his career, not sure why ppl insist on calling him a ball hog…..

      • Emmanuel Altenor - Sep 23, 2013 at 8:08 PM

        Actually, MJ averaged more assists than Kobe in his career. But Kobe is Kobe, you can’t expect him to do something he’s never been able to do.

      • musician0785 - Sep 24, 2013 at 12:35 AM

        its not an assist if he passes guys the ball and they miss…and look who he’s passing to on the wings…BUMS

      • Emmanuel Altenor - Sep 25, 2013 at 1:36 AM

        A highlight video of his passing doesn’t prove that he’s been a willing passer in his career. It’s just not him.

  14. rumar1989 - Sep 20, 2013 at 7:20 AM

    All you Kobe dislikers are something else, despite James’s comments, he knows and yall know
    what type of competitor Kobe is. The guy is a proven winner, has shown that he can lead a
    team to titles. There’s never a concern with me, Any true Laker fan that has seen when the guys struggle, Kobe takes over. If they don’t play well, Kobe takes over, if they do, it makes it easier.
    The guy that said that Kobe should’ve fed Shaq the ball in the 04 finals, well the Lakers weren’t
    cohesive enough to win the series, anyway, plus it was time to build the team around Kobe anyway.
    I will tweet both James and Kurt Helin over their comments. They and some of you critics on here
    should understand the greatness of Kobe, it just pains me as a fan of Kobe. That yall just finding
    negativity to dish out, just to express yall’s personal thing with the Mamba. I know what type of guy and player he is, he’s a winner, clutchmen, a legend, a leader, and no question Hall of Famer. All you guys that trying to find a reason to be his critic, get a life. You don’t have to have him as your
    favorite player, but at least respect what he has done in his career, what he has done to make himself great, and will continue to do what made him great.

  15. rumar1989 - Sep 20, 2013 at 7:32 AM

    Musician0785, and Adamsjohn714. I think haters like yall would’ve love it if that amnestied would’ve happened. Even though yall knew deep down, that it wasn’t going to happen. 30 million cut back, but it’s not like he was the only option. There was Pau, Blake, and Metta, but Metta was chosen, as he was the amnestied one, plus he was a obviously choice, so there was option and Metta was the option to choose, which wasn’t a surprise, sure wasn’t a surprise to me. And Basketballbicker, Kobe has done things in his career, that made him what he is today, so at least a smart fan like you unlike some on here, realizes it. Kobe unlike other stars that’s in his 30’s have stayed at the top of his game, so it won’t change, nor should it change.

    • antistratfordian - Sep 20, 2013 at 7:47 PM

      I think from an objective basketball operations standpoint the right move for the Lakers would’ve been to let Kobe go. The sooner that happens the sooner the franchise can get back to restoring what they once had. Keeping him around because of sentimentality and PR fear is just delaying the inevitable reset that needs to happen.

      • musician0785 - Sep 20, 2013 at 9:49 PM

        I’m a lakers fan u moron

      • program33 - Sep 21, 2013 at 4:13 PM

        Agreed

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