The Other Kobe-LeBron Debate

J.M. Poulard —  October 20, 2012

For the past few seasons, Kobe Bryant and LeBron James have been the two biggest names in basketball and thus have been endlessly compared to each other.

The conversation is about to take a new turn as people in the media and fans alike have begun to stir the narrative in a different direction as it pertains to both athletes.

Although there will be times when it happens, the argument of rings (five versus one), MVP trophies (three versus one), Finals MVPs (two versus one) and All-Star game MVPs (four versus two) is now a thing of the past.

Instead, the conversation has slowly shifted to the inability of both players to consistently deliver late in ball games, but with a twist: both are now being compared to each other.

In what has become perhaps the most fascinating and yet somewhat under the radar topic in the NBA, many are clamoring for one superstar to emulate the next one.

Advance analytics has made it as such that many feel as though Kobe Bryant is overrated in crunch time, and thus should take a page from LeBron James’ book and hit the open teammate if the situation calls for it late in a tightly contested ball game. Mind you, those that “simply watch the games” will stand by Bryant and speak of him in reverential tone given the many hearts he has already cut out.

On the other side of the spectrum, the game watchers will tell you that LeBron could learn something from Kobe’s assertiveness down the stretch of games given his penchant for dishing off the ball whenever he senses the extra defender approaching whereas Bryant is more than happy to take the big shot regardless of the amount of defensive attention. However, stat geeks will argue that James’ production in the clutch goes far beyond just the shot, as he defends at a high level, rebounds well and helps his team produce high percentage shots.

In a nutshell, the argument has become as such: Kobe needs to be more like LeBron; but James needs to embrace his inner Black Mamba.

It’s an intriguing conversation considering the many views involved with respect to the Mamba and the King. Seriously, both players faced heavy criticism last season for their shot selection or lack thereof late in ball games and yet the narrative has become that they should both try to follow in each other’s footsteps.

Try to wrap your head around that one.

Obviously, the debate completely ignores how terrific both athletes are in the last five minutes of the game in facets other than scoring.

Kobe may coast during games on defense, but when things get tight late in the fourth quarter, he typically turns on the intensity as well as his level of aggression and bumps, grabs, pulls and gets into the personal space of whichever perimeter player has it going. His brilliant 16-year career has afforded him a level of respect with the officials that most players can only dream of, but the Lakers superstar still understands how to get up into his opponent and force him towards his help defenders all the while avoiding getting exposed off the bounce.

Also, he is a terrific playmaker that understands how to anticipate defensive rotations and either takes advantage of them by creating a shot for himself before the help can get to him, or by feeding a teammate on occasion for an easier shot.

Lo and behold, LeBron James has some of the same qualities in his game.

The newly crowned NBA champion is an excellent on and off the ball defender late in ball games that uses his chiseled frame to keep opponents away from the basket by bodying them up, and much like Bryant, he keeps his hands low into his defensive stance but high enough to contest jumpers without fouling. Watching both players operate on the defensive end late in ball games is a thing of beauty, given that they not only take advantage of angles and the knowledge of where their help is coming from, but they also understand how to defend areas as well as individuals quite physically all the while avoiding the whistle.

Furthermore, some may lament LeBron’s assertiveness in late games, but he actually does a good job of creating shots for both himself and for teammates. Many will point out that he shrinks in the big moment and prefers to defer to either Dwyane Wade or possibly another teammate; and there is some truth to that. There have been occasions in which he has been more than comfortable relinquishing the reins to Wade and camp out on the weak side of the court as his superstar teammate went to work and brought the game home.

Mind you, to think such has been the case for the entirety of his tenure in Miami would be completely erroneous considering the plethora of plays he has made with games hanging in the balance.

Part of the problem for Kobe and LeBron is perception.

During the 2010-11 regular season, LeBron missed a couple of game winning shots in a couple of nationally televised games in a row and the narrative eventually became that he could not seal the deal in crunch time. As it pertains to Bryant, once clutch statistics became available, people started paying more attention to the amount of missed shots in the final minutes of ball games and thus the perception has become that both players need to learn from each other because of perceived failings.

The irony of it all of course is that both players are not only great in clutch situations, but one could make the argument that they are the best perimeter players in the league when the last five minutes of the game rolls around. Have a look at how they stack up against Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony and Dwyane Wade; players that currently carry huge reputations for clutch production; below is a spreadsheet with their clutch figures — clutch situations are defined as the last five minutes of the game with the scoring margin within five points — courtesy of NBA.com’s advanced stats tool, projected over 40 minutes (points, rebounds, assists, field goal percentage, field goal attempts and free throw attempts per game):

Player

PPG

RPG

APG

FG%

FGAG

FTAG

Carmelo Anthony

38.3

10.5

2.1

37.8

37.9

8.8

Kevin Durant

38.2

10.5

0.5

39.2

31.6

11.1

LeBron James

33.6

12.7

6.4

45.1

23.9

14.2

Kobe Bryant

32.5

6.8

5.2

36.1

27.7

12.5

Dwyane Wade

25.3

5.1

6.0

42.2

20.7

11.0

Between scoring, setting up teammates, rebounding, defending, making shots and getting to the free throw line, there might not be two players better than James and Bryant in the NBA when the game is up for grabs. Their output during the entire course of the game as well as its final moments is matched by very few; and yet the current debate centers around their inability to come through with the game on the line.

Superstars that can avoid these situations are far more valuable than those that cannot, but should it arise nonetheless, there are very few players in the league that are more trustworthy in the clutch than the pair.

Neither needs to become the other one, instead we should simply embrace how unique both superstars are and how they achieve success in different ways.

A basketball player is far more than his final shot, and yet this seems to be how superstars are measured at the moment. But if we look at the totality of the contests, we’ll notice that there is far more to being great than just making the final shot of the game.

*Statistical support provided by NBA.com.

J.M. Poulard

Posts

45 responses to The Other Kobe-LeBron Debate

  1. Wow… Great write up. Not surprised to see LeBron be statistically the best clutch player in the league. I am surprised to see his FG percentage is THAT superior to his contemporaries

  2. Btw… Is anyone else concerned about Gasol’s athletisism (or lack there of) this preseason? He seems slow with a lack of his typical agility and absolutely no explosiveness. I hope it’s the fact he said he doesn’t have his legs yet but… It might just be he is old now. Something to keep an eye on since Pau is already in postseason form.

  3. That’s all well and good, but the empirical evidence I see watching the games still tells me that on final posessions at least, Lebron defers a little too often, and Kobe tries to take over too much. Which is who they are, so that’s no surprise. But in each case, it’s a less than optimum situation.

    In my mind, this is what primarily separates each of them still from MJ, who though he wasn’t always successful, seemed to make the CORRECT play about 90% of the time. In fact, his passes leading to knockdown jumpers by the likes of John Paxson and Steve Kerr seem to be remembered as much as the clutch buckets he made himself.

    Especially concerning the Lakers this year, instead of the Kobe iso’s, I would really like to see them try and run their offense on final posessions. While Kobe can still get his shot off in most situations, far more frequently these days he ends what with is not even close to a ‘good’ shot, with results indicative of the difficulty. They simply have too many weapons this year to have to rely on that strategy exclusively.

  4. Jon, you hit the nail on the head. One reason Kobe becomes ineffective in the waning moments is everyone in the arena knows what the Lakers are running. They need to kill the isolation plays for Kobe and run some real sets at the end.

    Seeing Kobe at the top of the key dribbling as the clock dies literally makes my eyes hurt.

    Regarding LeBron: His performance in the Olympics shows he starting to figure it out. He seemed to make at the right plays at the right times.

  5. 81 Points though.

  6. jm: another excellent, insightful write up.

    pumpkin pie is what i had for dessert last night and yet marie’s $7.99 special soured after another laker defeat. laker diehearts like myself see a defeat in pre-season, regular season and the post season as just that, a defeat. mired and lost in the aftermath discussions of any laker defeat is the fact that there is still hope. because of the players currently assembled and a new season about to unfold, laker fans everywhere are excited and hopeful of another upcoming successful laker championship year. pumpkin pie tastes so much beter when that happens.

    Go Lakers !

  7. Mind you, I knew who wrote this when reading the sixth paragraph.

    Kidding aside, considering EVERYONE in the world knows what’s coming, 36% is an obscene percentage.

    Still, wouldn’t mind the percentage to go up a bit ;)

  8. Like to see those stats broken down by age. Guessing Kobe’s numbers much better when he was 21 to 26 or 27. Kind of a Apple/Orange thing as who knows what Lebron will be like at 32 plus.

  9. I was inspired to do a little Kobe-watch style rankings research by this post and found some interesting stuff.

    1. Kobe’s at 5th in career regular season points with 29.5k. If he scores 1800 points a season over the next two years, that will bring him to 33.1k, enough to overtake Wilt and Jordan for 3rd all-time. He would probably need three or four more years after this contract expires to crack the top two (36k for Malone and 38k for Kareem).

    2. Lebron watch: he’s sitting at 19k career regular season points (currently 47th all-time) and is only 27. If you assume that he gets about 2000 points a season for the next 6 years (not unreasonable, given the numbers he’s put up in his career so far), that puts him at 31k, which is where Wilt sits (currently 4th all-time).

    3. Kobe is 3rd all time in playoff points scored with 5640, behind Kareem (5762) and Jordan (5987). He’ll likely pass both to claim 1st at some point in this year’s playoffs if they make it out of the second round. He might want to put some space between himself and Jordan once he’s at the top though, because…

    4. Lebron is already at 3275 playoff points and seems like a lock to get at least 500 a year for the foreseeable future. If he keeps that average up for the next six years that puts him at 6200, over 300 points more than #1 Jordan has. And it doesn’t seem that likely that the Heat will get knocked out in the Downy-soft Eastern Conference any time soon.

    Go Lakers!

  10. And the preseason cuts begin. Aguilar & Nelson gone, so we’re down to 18.

  11. Anti Dwyer-Abbott October 20, 2012 at 3:47 pm

    Quite Henry Abbott light article citing his cherry picked numbers/time frames etc.
    Main question is do refs favor Lebron and Dwyane or what?

  12. 1st of all, Basketball is not baseball. Unlike Baseball which is almost an individual sport (batter all by themselves facing a Pitcher), basketball is a true team sport with variables a thousand folds more than Baseball. Advanced Stats in baseball are a million times more useful because it easier to normalize variables therefore making it possible to sensibly compare players. On the other hand, what is referred to as advanced stats in basketball is clearly very flawed. Too many variables ignored; reffing crew, opponent, road or home game, 1st game of road trip or last, east or west coast, injury situation, etc. With that being said, I have to say projected basketball stats over 40 mins might be the most meaningless/senseless use of numbers ever (Even more silly than stats for the Last 5 mins in a game being used to measure who is or isn’t clutch..SMH). The numbers in this piece do not offer any insight into who is better late in games. Until a more sensible way to analyze basketball stats comes along, the eye test is just as valid as these so called advanced stats. PS. This is why Henry Abbott makes me laugh and why I pity the stupidity of those that think PER is an end all be all Stat.

  13. After watching preseason games around the league, I’m convinced that the Lakers will go as far as their reserves take them. Without strong contributions from their bench, the Lakers will expend too much energy in the regular season to have ultimate success in the postseason, IMO.

  14. I’m starting to wonder why certain commenters even stick around here. We value advanced stats here. Whether they reflect kindly on a Laker or not. We like nuanced analysis here, whether it reminds you of Henry Abbott or not.

    As an aside, people seem to be missing the point of this post and are just making up something to complain about, it seems.

    The point is that at this point in their respective careers, it seems that people want Kobe to play more like LeBron and LeBron to play more like Kobe with the game on the line. Meanwhile, both players have proven to be two of the better players in the league and do quite well for themselves and their teams by the way they currently play.

    So, rather than just appreciate these players for who they are, we try to force them into a box and be someone else.

    But, some commenters here would rather just turn themselves into the “Kobe rulezzzzz crowd”. Sigh.

    Also, If you’re just going to troll I respectfully ask you do it somewhere else. I won’t miss you.

  15. Off Topic:

    Guesstimation :-)

    Metta .. Pau .. Dwight .. Kobe .. Nash
    Ebanks .. Jamison .. J. Hill .. Meeks .. Blake
    Duhon .. Clark

    Morris .. Sacre .. DJ-Odom

    This is how I see it unfolding if there are not any trades (highly unlikely) or buy-outs before opening night and if they’re set on carrying a 15 man roster (If not and they decide to go with 14, subtract DJO).

    1. Blake: The only reason he starts the season as the back-up to Nash is because he’s a veteran (something that Coach Brown values) and more importantly, his competition for the position isn’t any better (Duhon), or inexperienced (Morris). While others within the FB&G Community might view Goudelock and DJ-Odom as PG’s, I don’t. They’re SG’s with the body/size of PG’s. So, IMO, the don’t qualify.

    2. Sacre: Has definitely earned a roster spot. Also, taking into consideration that 2 of our bigs have Back issues, he’s a neccessity/insurance.

    3. Duhon & Clark: If not for their guaranteed contracts, neither would make the roster (although I see some potential in Clark).

    As for Goudelock, he hasn’t improved and as I mentioned earlier, he’s a 2guard trapped inside a 1′s body. Also, with the acquisition of Meeks, Goudelock’s ‘Ace in the Hole’ (his shooting ability) has been replaced by someone with better size who has the ability to defend other 2guards. Chris Douglas Roberts is an individual who I would love to see make the team because he’s a scorer, but unfortunately, I believe he’ll get caught up in the numbers crunch. I’m also a firm believer in that our FO didn’t pay Dallas over a half a mil for DJO’s rights for nothing.

    It’ll be interesting to see how it plays out.

  16. Darius, since I called out advanced stats I want to assume I am one of the commenters you are referring to. If I have assumed wrongly I apologize in advance. Now, let me say that this piece could have been written without adding the meaningless 40 mins projection stat. Also, whether or not these so called advanced stats reflect kindly on the Lakers doesn’t change whether or not said stat is meaningful. Forgive me for assuming that this was a forum for Laker fans to engage in free flowing discussion. Forgive me for wanting to shed light on the meaningfulness of statistics because its my field of study. I like this forum because I assumed it allowed for all points of view; however if all views aren’t welcome let the people know. We cant all agree with the authors of the posts. Most importantly we all cant blindly agree that so called Advanced Basketball Stats are meaningful, especially when we can all see the abundance of variables not accounted for in these stats.

  17. Anti Dwyer-Abbott: Speaking of cherry picking he seems to have stole that from Wade. He was notorious for leaking out for cheap points last year and I’ve already seen Kobe do it far more than usual.

    Duhon and Clark are dead weight they were tag alongs in the Dwight deal. If Lakers can find a way to buy them out I’d take the rooks over those two. We already have a useless veteran PG anyway.

    Great post. The myth of LeBron not being aggressive enough or not clutch has been greatly exaggerated. There hasn’t been a player that plays bigger in big games the past few years than LeBron save for the Dallas series, but all the greats have games/series they like to forget. LeBron pleases his fans with his play and Kobe pleases Hollywood with dramatic finishes. Everyone wins.

  18. Joe,
    I wasn’t necessarily addressing only you as the “advanced stats” argument seems to come up a fair amount here. At the top of the page in the “about FB&G” section it talks about how we value advanced stats here as they help inform fans about the game with things the eyes don’t always catch.

    As for per 40 minute projections, I don’t even consider that an “advanced” stat. I will say, though, that nearly every site that tracks basketball stats will use a baseline control number (per 36 or per 40) for stats so we can effectively compare apples to apples. I’m no statistician, but I do think it’s easier to compare players’ production when the minutes are controlled to a constant. And every basketball analyst I respect uses some form or per minute or per possession stat as a foundation when they introduce stats to the discussion.

    As for your comments about a free flowing discussion, that is what this site is about. Or at least, I hope for it to be that way. But I find it funny that you felt the need to try use this article to make your point when the author actually did talk about what he sees as well as talk about what the number say. That he never once tried to say the numbers are the only thing that matters. And, on top of all that, you felt the need to introduce Abbott as if relating what Henry does to what JM did would in some way discredit the entire exercise of this post.

    So yeah, I called you out. But I’m some sort of tyrant because I somehow discouraged a free flowing conversation. Last point here: why is it commenters can call out whoever they want however they want but if I come back and say something to them I’m somehow a jerk? That I’m limiting what people say? I’m not deleting ANY comments solely because they express an opinion that I don’t agree with (I delete or moderate comments that go against the commenting guidelines linked above). I can have an opinion just like the next guy and I’ll express it too.

  19. Off-topic: I just noticed that Jason Collins is now playing the Celtics. We better hope they don’t make it to the NBA Finals :-) He was as close to being single-handedly responsible for the Hawks beating the Magic in the first round of the 2011 playoffs after getting swept by them in the 2010 playoffs as a player of his… unique talents could be.

  20. As previous posters have mentioned, the problem with stats or advanced stats is they ignore too many key variables. Let’s compare Kobe’s stats versus Lebron’s with some context.

    For instance, Lebron plays in a fast break system that allows for easy transition buckets. Aybody who has played fantasy basketball knows that players in a fast paced run and gun system will generally produce more points, better FG%, and overall better stats across the board. Kobe is playing in a half court system, with very few transition opportunities. This has a significant effect on FG%, among other stats.

    Another factor is the Triangle, where if run properly, encourages hockey assists. Michael Jordan was known as a ball hog who did not trust his teammates before Phil Jackson and the Triangle. He started becoming a team player under Jackson, but ironically, his assist numbers went down every year, as he became more of a team player. In other words, the more he trusted the Triangle and his teammates, the lower his assist numbers. Kobe has played in the Triangle for most of his career, so comparing assist numbers to Lebron’s is ignoring the systems these players were in. Lebron has always been in a system where he was surrounded by outside shooters galore, and simply had more opportunities to produce assists, as opposed to hockey assists.

    Another factor is Kobe has played with the twin towers, which forces defenses to pack in the paint, while Lebron is in a system where he is the focal point, often surrounded by 4 outside shooters to space the floor. Miami’s system gives Lebron more space to operate and more options to pass to. Kobe on the other hand had very few outside shooters and ball handlers. Couple that with a crowded paint, and it’s pretty clear that FG% will suffer in this system, especially for a player, like Kobe, who excels in the post.

    This is not to suggest that Kobe is a better player or a better passer than Lebron at this point…he’s not……but the discrepancy when comparing stats is skewed because even advanced stats ignore important key variables…..and I haven’t even mentioned the injuries Kobe has been playing through.

  21. Rule number one of evaluating statistics…

    Any statistic that ranks LeBron above everyone else is probably a good statistic ;) I mean have you been watching this guy play? It’s an honor.

  22. Hey all. Let me just say that I am a huge Kobe defender…I claim that he gets roughed up by the media, and NBA fans in general, more than any other player. (Maybe in the history of the game.)

    Having said that- This article was fantastic! Kobe could absolutely benefit from playing more like Lebron and Lebron could definitely benefit from getting a little Mamba in his blood.

    I think that I have to disagree a little with JonM though. Jordan had all time great shooters that he was passing it out to hit wide open jumpers. Names like Paxson, Kerr, and Hodges to name a few. Kobe passes when he has confidence in the guy shooting the open shot. Also, if you can’t remember many iconic moments when Kobe has passed to either an open Fisher, Shaq, Horry, or RonRon then I can’t believe that you have watched much Lakers basketball.

    Great piece J.M.!

  23. Darius: I like reading your thoughts in the comment section, rather than just in your top of the page posts. However Kobe does rule : ) I post stats to back this up every time I write a Kobe Alert. I am not sure how “Advanced” the stats are, but they seem to indicate that KB is pretty good : ) In any case, one area where I strongly agree with you, is the impact that Dwight will have. He will change everything on both sides of the ball. That is why we needed him so desperately. One of us obnoxiously clamored for him twice a day for an entire year. The other one of us, was a little more reserved, however I know that both of us wanted him badly. And now we have him !

  24. but if I come back and say something to them I’m somehow a jerk?

    Because you’re the head moderator and site proprietor, with the power to delete comments and to kick people off the site. I actually agree with you to a large extent, but sarcasm and snark are different when they come from the guy who has the keys to the office. True in any context.

  25. A year late on this comparison. I’m not sure I’m convinced LeBron will make a habit of it the rest of his career, but as of this writing, James’ last series of playoff games didn’t see him shirking an inch from late game pressure.

  26. agree with rr here. unfortunately, being in a supervising position comes with some burden (won’t call it ‘responsibility’) fair or not. That’s why in most cases I advocate anonymous ‘admins’ so that even they are free to contribute as individuals since it’s a non-paying job.

    I love advanced stats, but it would be irrational to not see their flaws. However, any rational debate must have SOME reasonable data, and unfortunately stats are all we have until we get to an age where every move and counter move, every variable can be searched and posted like box scores.

  27. Stats are important to help confirm or refute our biases; at least that’s their most common usage in sports.

    However, to rely on them to come to our opinions doesn’t seem such a good idea. LT mitchell put it quite well a few comments above.

    It is sort of like paying a saleman on their sales and not taking into account returns. It encourages a ‘winner-take-all’ mentality (rings above all else in a team game) and doesn’t account for the hidden cost of the sale (the systems the players operate in).

  28. With modesty aside, I can share my knowledge on stats since I worked in Market Research during my formative years doing Consumer Surveys and Poll Surveys. One of the heart and soul of any statistics is methodology, how the random sampling is designed. If it is not done correctly by an expert in that field, then any analysis derived from it is flawed. Secondly, the size of the sample like for example Kobe’s number of games vs. Lebron or anybody, if you compare a small sample vs. bigger sample, the results would also provide confusing results.

    IMHO, I would always make the comparison after their playing days like comparing Magic, Bird and Jordan. They all play different positions but it is safe to compare their games because they’re all now in the same playing field – retired. In the case of Kobe and Jordan, one has played for 17 years while the other has not reached his pinnacle yet. History is the best judge for them and their history is still being written as we speak.

    Lastly, the best statistics is actual performance. Stats are used as guides, predicting tendencies and trends still the main decision maker is actual sales/performance at the end of any season.

    What is the use of rosy statistics like in the case of Howard and Nash with several MVP’s, ASG’s if they can’t translate them into a ring. They, themselves would tell you the main reason why they are here is to win Championship with Kobe, Pau and Peace. (They are not here to watch Sacre or Morris grow and prosper as full bred NBA caliber.) So far with the bench support from games played, it doesn’t yield any confidence builder. Anyway, we dice it, these games are also true guides at this time of the bench performance but no clear analysis yet because the sample is so small.

    PS. Darius, as a moderator you may not like posts that are antagonistic to your writers with enormous power to strongly comment or delete or even threaten. You don’t have to show it in your response. A wrong cannot make it right with another wrong approach by appearing to be angry. There is a gentle way in responding that will make everyone happy.

  29. Erratum: Not kobe & Jordan but on Kobe and Lebron, my bad.

  30. I’ve got no issues with a site owner moderator being snarky or having contrary opinions. You don’t like the site, go somewhere else. There is no first amendment protection here.

  31. KenOak – I’ve been watching Laker basketball since idolizing Jerry West as a kid in the late ’60′s, so you could say I’ve seen a few games in my time. The instance cited of Jordan assisting on buckets by John Paxson and Steve Kerr were last posession, playoff basketball iconic moments. I do remember several comparable iconic buckets by Horry and Fisher (and of course the putback by Artest against Phoenix); I don’t however recall Kobe assisting on any of them. The one I do recall is his driving the lane back and throwing up the lob for Shaq against the Blazers in the 2000 West Conference Finals. But that’s it.

  32. United States is a nation guided by its laws. The Constitution is the fundamental law of the land. First Amendment is part of the Constitution. Can FB &G site separate itself from freedom of speech? As long as it is part of public forum, it has to adhere to fundamental law accorded to everyoneg. Getting out of the site is not an alternative solution but choosing another country where you are free to run a site w/o 1st amendment would a better alternative.

  33. JonM,
    How do you think Horry/Fisher got their wide open shots? You think Fisher broke his man off the dribble? Or jab stepped and rose up for a fade away? They hit open clutch shots like Battier and Miller did in last Finals… Because their star player attracted extra defenders.

  34. Having said that… All too often Kobe attacked multiple defenders instead of passing to the open man in late game sittuations.

  35. I distinctly remember Kobe driving the middle and dishing to the right corner for a game-winning 3 in recent years.

    None is a pretty harsh statement.

  36. Not that it matters, and has little to do with the post, but it’s a common misconception that MJ passed to Paxon for that game winner. MJ passed to Horace Grant who was cutting to the rim. It was Grant that recognized the collapsing defense and passed it to Paxon. (That is, if we’re actually talking about the same play.)

  37. JonM,

    As Aaron and Craig just said, you can’t say that Kobe doesn’t do these things. I claim the 2 most iconic plays that stick out to me from Jordan’s playing days are the game winner that he hit over Craig Ehlo and the Game winner that he hit over Bryon Russell. 2 shots that he took in isolation.

    I can think of two huge iconic passes that Kobe made just recently. (Within the last few years.) Kobe to Ron Artest against the Celtics. Late game 3 by Ron. Then Kobe to Fisher against the Magic. (Kobe got doubled and he passed to Fisher for the 3.)

    I can also remember a pass that Kobe made to a wide open Robert Horry for 3 against the Spurs. (Horry missed it.)

  38. darius: we get it, you’re running an asylum here sometimes. what are you, a middle child? I get it, you get it and most of us get it and those who don’t, reserve or should we say deserve the right to leave.

    awww, but it’s the curiosity and the intrigue that draws them back to this site tells me they are drawn like a moth to a flame. you’re doing something right, so keep up the good work.

    today’s sermon is brought to you in memory of the late , great chick hearn, god rest his soul. it’s been over 10 years since his passing and i for one think, if they haven’t already done so, laker organization should honor his memory by dedicating this upcoming season to his memory, to his legacy and to his knack of describing in game situations second to none.

    http://www.nba.com/lakers/history/chickhearn_chickisms.html

    Go Lakers !

  39. Kobe threw a great pass to Ron Harper to win game 3 against Portland in the 2000 WCF. Kobe also blocked Sabonis’ shot attempt at the buzzer to seal it. (The “Scottie Pippen throwing the towels on the floor” game.)

  40. Also, Kobe’s no look fast break pass to Pau in game 4 of the ’09 Finals in Orlando (to cut the lead from 5 to 3 with under a minute remaining) was one of the most amazing plays I’ve ever seen. Without that play, Fish’s 3 to tie the game wouldn’t have happened.

  41. Darius,

    You’re completely right about that Paxson play. Jordan passed up the court to Pippen who passed to Grant, who then passed to Paxson for the game winner. Jordan passed out of a double-team to Kerr for the game winner versus Utah.

    Jordan to Pippen to Grant to Paxson:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GnAr4I3-Z48

    Jordan to Kerr:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S2BlOTeoZVE

    Kobe to Horry for 3: Crazy thing is that he actually passed to him twice in the last 45 seconds for 3 pointers.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m6V1-UraQAs

    Kobe to Fish vs Magic:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TWabHLi2rJY

    Kobe to Ron Artest vs Celtics:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q-mT99HCFFI

  42. 32, JonM,

    How about the assist to Ron for that huge 3 at the end of Game 7?

  43. I’ve got no issues with a site owner moderator being snarky or having contrary opinions. You don’t like the site, go somewhere else. There is no first amendment protection here.

    I simply pointed out–correctly–that Darius is not just another guy on the site. How he deals with that is up to him, but it is nonetheless an accurate observation, with implications.

  44. How about last year, Steve Blake draining the 3 in game 4? Either off a kobe pass or a kobe to pau to blake pass.