Pondering Kobe as a Consolation

Danny Chau —  December 12, 2012

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fgQxdnt5oaU

“I won’t lie, man. They’re really f—— with my s—.”

- Kobe on his teammates and the sun and the moon and the universe right now (0:31).

1-10.

Chances are, you know what this figure means. The Lakers are 1-10 when Kobe Bryant scores 30 points or more. It’s one of those stats that obscure context for dramatic effect, but given the state of the team, figures like have at least some merit. If it doesn’t explain why the Lakers are losing when Kobe’s playing his most efficient season ever (it doesn’t), it should shed some light on the present condition of Kobe himself – or at least the mythos that defines and directs his career path.

The stat itself is incongruous to the notions that are affixed to Kobe’s greatness. Of course, it falls into the idea that a particularly tunnel-visioned Kobe is detrimental to the team’s success, which is probably true. But he’s playing really, really well. And in past seasons, one of his torrential downpours would have netted them more than one win out of 10. Part of the myth-building around Bryant revolves around his ability to carry a team with nothing more than will. Equipped with an incendiary glare, a snarl, and a jutted row of teeth, he’d singlehandedly right the ship, all the while elevating the dreaded sense of inevitability in the opposition. This often wasn’t the case with elite running mates in Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol, but neither player is above disappearing for stretches. And so, to the rescue, Kobe would appear, making miracles out of the failure that the rest of the team had scraped on to his plate. That just hasn’t happened this season.

Eight of the Lakers’ nine wins came with double-digit margins, and in those games Kobe has looked like a consummate all-around player. In these games, he is still a force of nature, but he is no longer nature itself; no longer does the team orbit around the gravitational pull of his shot attempts. As depicted in Bill Simmons’ interview with Bill Russell, Kobe’s trying hard to figure out his teammates. It shows in his assist numbers and in his assist percentage, which is at the highest it’s been in almost a decade. This is partially to fill a void left by the prolonged absence of Steve Nash, but he’s also laying the groundwork for his unavoidable departure. The team will go on without him at some point, and simply commandeering the shots as he’s done in the past leaves the future of the team in dubious territory. In wins against Dallas and Denver, the Lakers demonstrated the historically rare ability to dominate games despite quiet efforts from Bryant. It’s a bizarre notion to believe this generation’s most potent (and willing) scorer can take a backseat as the team flattens opponents, and indeed, it’s only happened in fleeting instances. It’s the idyllic dream that comes by to torment you every other week, each time seducing you with its pseudo-reality. As the case has continually been, the next game leaves you awake in a ditch.

This isn’t exactly rocket science. In good times, sharing the wealth is the sensible thing to do. There just haven’t been many good times. And so Kobe’s Altered Beast manifestations are, game after game, lured out of their rattling cages from frustration and anger. The results? Absolutely staggering. He’s averaging almost 11 more points a game in losses with spikes in makes, attempts, and percentages across the board. Tom Haberstroh wrote a great ESPN Insider piece in November on Kobe’s shift in priority and (as a result) efficiency on the floor. Chief among Kobe’s adjustment this season has been leaving the bread and butter off the table. Kobe’s favorite shooting distance on the court last season was from 15-19 feet, a zone that almost begs of Bryant to give into his most self-destructive vice: toying with the improbable. Last season, according to the NBA.com stats tool, almost a quarter of his shots (23 percent) came from that distance. This season, it’s down to 12 percent. Where’d the shots go? Mostly to the painted area, where 45 percent of his shots are coming from; a huge bump from 33.8 percent of last year. Bryant’s recommitment to the most effective spaces on the floor—around the rim and behind the arc—has given the mythical beast that is Kobe’s career a new shiny coat. Maybe Kobe’s staggering efficiency levels off a bit soon – that doesn’t really matter. He’s changed his approach in a way that invites efficient numbers; he’s not fighting against it in hopes of the same result. This latest battle in the ongoing war against age has been as inspiring as Tim Duncan’s over in San Antonio. If only it came with the same number of wins. Kobe’s always been the savior, but despite his best efforts, precious little is working. And that’s a very confusing, very humbling, thing to think about. Even kings are mortals.

Trapped in all these losses is a version of Kobe that we may very well remember decades down the line, but a version sullied by the crushing weight of expectations and a truly horrid start. Kobe’s undeniable 30,000-point milestone has given fans something to celebrate as a standalone. Since Kobe’s emergence as a star, he’s proven himself exceptional; as a part, he’s always been greater than the whole. Maybe in a different context, Kobe could be celebrated for what he’s been able to accomplish this year without an asterisk. In a vacuum, without the expectations of a proud and perpetually contending franchise, Kobe’s remarkable turn toward efficiency might be held with the same isolated reverence as Blake Griffin’s rookie season, when he mattered more than the Clippers franchise itself. Griffin was the beautiful diversion, a spectacle that expanded far beyond the team he played for. He was also shielded by the complete and utter lack of expectations then. It’s impossible to pull Kobe’s body from the burning wreckage when he’s melded to the rest of it.

Danny Chau

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76 responses to Pondering Kobe as a Consolation

  1. Nice article, Danny.

    I do not look forward to the years post Kobe. He is a maniacal basketball beast, it will be years before the Lakers find another franchise player of his magnitude. A man that did not sign on the dotted line, collect his check, and use every excuse in the world to not perform on the court.

    I’m already nostalgic.

  2. Last few interviews I’ve seen of Kobe he looks as lost and confused as everyone else. In 17 years I’ve never seen him so puzzled.

  3. Excellent article, well written with fine analysis. My only disagreement is with the representation of Kobe’s lower shot attempts coinciding with big Laker wins “happening in certain (rare) instances.” What Chau is describing has occurred often throughout the past several seasons. Kobe takes 12-16 shots, directs traffic, draws multiple coverage, Lakers win big. Lakers struggle, Kobe’s attempts go wayyy up as he tries to bring the team back into contention. The Laker’s problems are they need Nash and Gasol healthy – and D’Antoni needs to use his offensive ‘genius’ to maximize the talents of the roster he’s got, rather than continuing to sink or swim with his precious system. As he said himself, “If I can’t figure out a way to use Gasol, I’ve got a problem.” Oh yeah, an actual defensive system and some real attention to that side of the court wouldn’t hurt either. Unfortunately, D’Antoni appears to be 100% invested in “it will all be fine once Steve gets back.”

  4. Kobe should not be so confused. While Howard has good stats, the lack of energy and fire with which he plays infects the rhthym of everyone else’s game.

  5. From the Game Recap Catergory two post ago, I asked this question:

    I wonder how Kobe feels about the fact that the majority of fans and mainstream media are stating that it’ll take Nash to come back in order to save his – Kobe’s – team?
    ———

    KenOak,

    Where, from that question/statement, are you getting that I’m saying that Kobe is shooting too much or that I’m blaming him for our pathetic start to this season?

  6. The bottom line is as stated in this article. It’s an issue that has been mentioned before, but is receiving a lot more attention now because the Lakers are playing so badly. We’re talking about Kobe’s usage. Contrary to what many fans believe, most NBA players like to get an opportunity to take their share of shots. It’s almost insane to expect you teammates to do all the dirty work while one guy gets to take all the shots and get all the glory even when they are winning, let alone losing. Especially when that guy is not a guy you would ever confuse for being humble.

    Yes, Kobe has five rings, yes, Kobe is a winner. But he’s never been able to do it alone. He has only won when he’s teamed up with a top level 7 footer, twice with Gasol, three times with Shaq. Now we can concentrate on a lot issues the Lakers have that won’t be cleared up until players return. However there are some they can address. One is that Kobe simply has to trust his teammates more on the offensive side. Personally I can’t see the situation being any worst then it is now. I mean the Lakers can’t win on the road and are a .500 team at home.

    Now is Kobe open to trusting his teammates more? I hope so, but probably not. Shaq, Gasol, Bynum, & now Howard have all had issues with Kobe’s usage. Kobe will be remembered for a lot of very positive things he accomplished in the NBA. But a lot of public figures are also remembered for what they say, and no one will ever forget Kobe’s motto: “I eat first”.

    And to Chearn, yes Kobe will be missed once he retires, but that’s sport. And one of the great things about being a Laker fan is that the franchise will replace him with someone just as dynamic in their own way. I’ve been a Laker fan a long time. I felt bad that Elgin Baylor retired just months before West & Chamberlain won the Lakers 1st title in L.A. I was sadden when Jerry West, hung them up. Didn’t think it could get any worst until Magic & Kareem (favorite player all-time) played their last game. But the Lakers always re-boot. So many fans of other teams still talk about that only franchise player they had 40 years ago, lol. (see the Wizards, Trail Blazers, Hawks, & 76ers as prime examples). Laker fan have internal beefs about their best ever player.

    Don’t be suprised if the next great Laker is here before Kobe’s #,s 24 (& 8) are hoisted to the rafters.

  7. Darius won’t like this, but I am not a big fan of having a Hardwood Paroxysm guy here writing about Kobe; I am aware of their history with him. Chau’s piece here shows some of that, and I think it should be kept there, at that site.

    But other people seem to like it, so there you go.

  8. The reason Kobe Bean is so perplexed is simple. He is having a great year stats wise, but the team is floundering. When you have done something for as long as he has you expect certain results when the work has been put in. This year his effort is not indicative of how this team is playing, which leads me to belive that he is having an even harder time trusting his teammates and coach than in the past. Trust issues have been brought up before but the results on the court were similar to what worked to bring championships and MVP’s. The thought process of just grinding it out and the results should fall back to mean when I can impose my will on everyone on the court is past tense, that title belongs too LeBron now.

    PJ is gone, only three players remain on the roster from that championship team in 2010, this is a totally different group of personalities that need Kobe to trust them to do their job. Im not knocking Bean for the drive that has put him in the conversation to be mentioned as one of the best Lakers to have ever put the uniform on. The results are telling the story this season and even for the past two years when early exits in the playoffs have been a normal occurance. Jason Kidd made a comment on how this year Melo is finally trusting his teammates on the court and the results are speaking for themselves.

    Dwight needs to be invovled, Pau needs to be involved, AJ needs to be involved, MWP needs to be involved through success and failure Every player on the roster needs to feel as if they have a seat at the table even if its sitting on the sideline cheering on teammates. Thats the single biggest asset Nash brings to the table over anything else, his ability to make those around him on the court feel worthy. Right now doing it Kobe’s way( he is the leader of the team) is not working, maybe this was the best way for Mr. Bean to learn that his old way of doing things will not yield team success no matter how great his personal numbers are at this stage of his career.

  9. Highly reccomend Darius’s twitter for another voice of reason @forumbluegold

  10. rr,
    If you have an issue, go away. And I mean that as respectfully as possible. You seem to have issue with nearly every Kobe comment or column that appears around the web. Not all, but many. I think that speaks to your own tunnel vision on the topic as much as it does the tunnel vision you claim others to have. I want diverse voices at this site and, so, again, if you don’t like it, you can go to countless other sites that cover this team. There are literally hundreds of them.

  11. Kobe is the only player on this team who is playing beyond expectations, aside from possibly Duhon. He is playing as efficiently as he ever has, while playing an absurd amount of minutes in his 17th season in a new system that does not fit the roster, while missing our top two PGs and our starting PF. Yet, the same ole haters are pointing the finger at Kobe for the team’s struggles? Of all the REAL issues on this team (injuries, transition defense, lack of athleticism and depth, poor coaching, etc), the haters are now citing lack of shots from Kobe’s teammates as the main reason for the team’s struggles??? This is hilarious and wrong on so many levels.

    Let’s take a closer look at the shot attempts from the starters.

    Artest is shooting MORE than he ever has as a Laker. Duhon, a third stringer, who hasn’t gotten steady minutes in years, is having a career resurgence playing with Kobe. Morris belongs in the DLeague. Jordan Hill is a limited offensive player whose main strength on offense is offensive rebounding. Dwight, who’s still not fully recovered, is shooting a career low in FTs, while getting constantly double/triple teamed, while being the victim of the Hack-a-Dwight strategy that opposing teams are using with more regularity. Dwight is also getting constantly stripped for two reasons. One, he is not yet 100%, and two, he does not have the space that he was accustomed to in Orlando when he was surrounded by four 3 point shooters. Its a lot easier to double team Dwight on this team than when he was in Orlando. Even with his struggles, Dwight is only taking two less shots per game compared to when he was option 1 and 2 in Orlando.

    All the while, Kobe is taking 20 shots a game, which is the lowest, or tied for the lowest amount of FG attempts he’s taken in the past TWELVE years.

    In other words, Kobe taking shots away from Artest, Duhon, Hill and Dwight is NOT the reason why this team is struggling, and any suggestion otherwise wreaks of the same ole Kobe haterade.

  12. After 17 years Kobe will not change. He eats first and everyone else is his waiters. At this point I honestly feel Kobe has zero trust in the others. I believe he would rather lead the league ion scoring then average 15 a game and have someone else lead the team. Also why MikevD was the wrong coachvas he dosen’t commend the respect that a Phil, Sloan or Popovich type coach would have to control him.

    This is what we will have the next few years and why guys like
    Anthoney or other shoot first guy won’t come here or work. This is Kobe’s world the rest are just here to watch.

  13. @Tra
    I totally apologize- you’re right. I made a quick mental note of all the posts that I was responding to and your name stuck. Possibly because so many others have you in their responses.

  14. Great post LT mitchell! I couldn’t have said it any better. If you guys want to call Kobe out, then focus on his defense because his offense hasn’t been a problem this year. When Duhon, Jamison, Meeks and MWP are hitting their open shots then Kobe racks up the assists and Howard gets cleaner post ups. When those players are missing their shots then Kobe doesn’t get the assists and starts shooting in order to get the team points. Does it always happen that way? No, but more times than not, this year, it has.

  15. LT great comment

    If Kobe is averaging less FGA/Game than at any time in the past 12 years than it cant be that he is the problem.

    Like I mentioned in the game post – the offense we are using is all ISO related – we need movement both with the ball and off the ball so that the defense cant use simple doubles and we can hit cutters instead of trying to space the floor with guys who really cant shoot from distance that well – this is including Jamsion who has been weal as a 3pt shooter so far.

    Gasol will be key when he gets back and if we put him in his spot near the block with howard looking for the offensive rebound/lob/drop off from gasol on a cut it would work wonders for howard because his ISO game has been horrible to watch

    Kobe and Meeks have been the only watchable players so far with Morris and Artest regressing from their good starts

  16. “Kobe is the only player on this team who is playing beyond expectations”

    I think thats the point that everyone is trying to make, Kobe playing at a high level being a scorer does not have the same results on wins and loses as it once did in his career. Teams want Kobe to have the ball in his hands now, 4 to 5 years ago that was blasphemy, because they know the more he does the easier it is to guard this team at the end of games watching Kobe go Iso on every possession. They know once Kobe gets in that mode it is hard for him to fall back, the killer instinct in him takes over. Players that have thrived in other enviroments(reason why FO signed them) have come to LA and dont look like they even belong in the league anymore. If I am a leader of men and they are not giving their best for me and dont seem engaged then I might have to look at the way I am approaching the situation. What has worked in the past, apparently does not now, so why not try something else. The outcome cant be any worse than it already is.

  17. Watching Sessions playing tonight aganist Clips. How many bad personal moves can one team make in the past year. Sure think Lakers would be much better if Sessions and Barnes were still Lakers. These guys were there for the taking. Even LO would be our best forward on defense.

    Going for the home run every time up causes a lot of strikeouts. Sometimes a bunch of singles wins more games.

  18. i really think people need to have more patience with this team and give it some time. image okc playing without westbrook and ibaka and losing games. would anyone question their coach oandtheir system or simply understand that it´s tough to win with 2 of your 4 best guys out? what about miami without bosh and wade? look how the nets are struggling with just one important piece out (lopez) after being so good early on.

    we are missing our point guard. the guy who knows this system inside out and trusts the coach. i know that people keep mentioning the fact that nash wont help defensively, but he will. how you ask? by commiting less to´s and running the offense with more efficiency (getting everyone involved while also balancing the shot selection of the team) nash will be able to limit the other team´s transition buckets while at the same time make everyone try harder defensively because being able to touch the ball consistently in the offense gives guys more energy (something everyone who ever played basketball will admit).

    another thing thats been holding us back defensively: i´ve been a fan of kobe his entire career and to this day believe that he is one of the best to ever lace em up and will continue his brilliance for years to come but he always had one thing about him that he really needs to get a hold on soon: he can´t control his emotions during the game and it affects the entire team. if he doesn´t get a call he thinks he deserves (almost every call) he starts clapping his hands, jumping but forgets one thing: get back on defense. he does this at least 5 times a game and those posessions usually end up being baskets for the other team. kobe really needs to stop complaining…

  19. @kenoak – my one last word on Kobe’s fgas. I don’t think he’s the prob in and of himself and maybe overall he’s taking less shots – but when he shoots over 20 the Lakers have only won once (against phoenix). And the ugliest games as a team have come when he’s shoots even higher than 25. Its not that Kobe is shooting too much – its that they need other people to score to open up the flr and keep The other defense from loading up on him and Dwight. They have to win and lose as a team – which means when games get tough Kobe needs to get in his zen place – relinquish control, and trust his teammates – even if they miss shots – he needs to keep feeding and setting them up and enabling his teammates to succeed.
    At the very least if the team loses then Kobe has done his best for his team to succeed and keep everyone involved.

    I know this prob kills him right now and he wants to take over – but he’ll need to trust his other guys. There is shooters on this team – Lakers are ranked 6th in 3pt and 8th overall. Its far enough into the season that there is some consistency to those numbers. The reality is it just isn’t efficient anymore for him to carry the load, and for better or worse, he has to allow his teammates to help. Even if they shoot and miss, at least they’re a threat.

  20. So if the Lakers sign West and add Kenyon Martin will West, Martin and Hill become the lynch mob?

  21. Barnes has repeatedly stated he wouldn’t come back with Mike Brown in charge and Sessions went elsewhere when Nash was pickedup because he didn’t want to be backup. FO didn’t have any say in those decisions.

  22. Sessions is the back up PG Jerke. walker is their starter and if Kobe wanted Barnes back it would have happened.

  23. Barnes killing in Clipper game. 16 points and many fast break points.

    Clips are better at PG, SF and PF starters and Bledsoe, Barnes and Crawford are miles better then Meeks, Jamison and Duhon.
    That’s 6 of the first 8 players.

    The hustle and speed down court of Clips is stupid good.

    Even Ronni and LO would be among our best on defense and boards.

    How did this happen?

  24. Make that 19 for Matt as ge hits another 3. He is miles better then Mr. Dribble Metta.

  25. KenOak,

    It’s all good. The teams disappointing play in the 1st quarter of this season has gotten all of us hard-body Laker fans on edge. Especially after the excitement we all felt after acquiring Nash and then Howard this off season. While I’ve been critical of the squads performance thus far (stand outs include the Indiana and Orlando games, along with last nights debacle), on a whole, I’m reserving judgement until we get our full compliment of players back on the floor. Only then, IMO, can one guage the future success of this team.

  26. By the way Golden State beat Heat in Miami tonight. amazing what Jerry West can do when he is left alone.

  27. That was Sessions reasoning in the summer – said he didn’t feel there was a plan for him once Nash was signed.

    Guess by your reasoning Kobe didn’t want Barnes back then.

  28. No Jerke I feel that between Jim and Brown Kobe has not felt part of the decisions. See Brown hire and Mike D hire as proof.

  29. Lol fair enough – I can only go by what the players publicly stated.

  30. I think barnes arrest may have had impact on lakers not resigning him. Sessions opted out wanted more years maybe lakers felt slighted and decided to go with morris. Sessions, fisher andbarnes would help this team.

  31. Sessions would be handy right now – but I don’t know if dfish or sessions especially help the dribble penetration plaguing our pgs. Not that Nash will – but his offensive production more than outweighs the defensive liabilities.

    You’re prob right about the Barnes arrest- that being said there’s a reason why he keeps moving around – he plays good for one season but no one seems to want to keep him around which makes me wonder if there is more baggage there.

  32. Fisher 10 and 11 Points last two games shooting 50% just hit big 3 in Boston as he is in game in 4th and just great D by Fisher on Rondo. Mavs 5 and 1 since he joined them and looks in great shape.

    Another screw up by FO guys like LO and fish are the leadership Lakers lack. Not coming from Pau and Dwight that’s for sure.

  33. I liked some of what Barnes did his two seasons here but let’s not forget that he completely vanished both years during the playoffs.

  34. Fisher as a starter at 38 gets down court on defense faster then these pugs playing for the Lakers.

    Jim Buss personel agenda toward LO, Barnes and Fisher has stripped the team from guys who hustle and play for each other. if anyone should be fired it’s Jim. Makes me sick.

  35. Darius, rr is as reasonable and knowledgeable a commentor as any on this side, your favourite sites contributors included. I don’t think anyone needs to speak with an inflammatory tone here. You all contribute tons, and I enjoy your work.

  36. Ko, are you seriously criticizing the front office/ownership for turning Fisher, Barnes, McRoberts, Murphy, LO, Sessions, Walton and Bynum into Howard, Nash, Meeks, AJ,and Hill?!

    I know they’re struggling right now, but do you seriously see that personnel transition as evidence of incompetent management?! Because, even with their struggles and how unwatchable the team is right now, I still think it was the offseason of a lifetime. The coaching question is fair game for this kind of criticism, but personnel? Really?

  37. No lil Pau I am just so frustrated right now I am apt the blame my favorite cheerleader for being let go. I do think that Barnes and Fish would help this team right now on the hustle department but I am just being a wineries.

  38. I would have to agree that rr is one of the least “tunnel visioned” posters on this site.

    If anything, trying to force a correlation between Kobe scoring 30 points to the win/loss record without looking at context wreaks of tunnel vision.

  39. Simonoid,
    I agree on rr’s contributions as a commenter. But to say “he writes for site x, so I don’t like him here writing about y” is silly. Danny is a fantastic writer and has shown no bias whatsoever. So why should he not be welcome to contribute? If you don’t like who writes here, don’t read. Don’t comment. We’ll keep bringing in smart and talented people as often as we can in the meantime.

  40. LT,
    My point is Danny didn’t do that. My other point is that some commenters here have their own hangups about Kobe just as they accuse others of having them. I really don’t think that’s arguable.

  41. Fisher its move and fresh. Check into his play once a good 30 games has passed.

    But yeah, the lakers have made some poor decisions regarding picking up bench players. The last Hollanger article sited some pretty poor moves from the front office

  42. Yes, by all means. Bring back Odom, Fisher, and Barnes!! That would do it!!

  43. Scorchee – could you provide specifics on the hollinger article?

  44. It still amazes me how many Kobe-haters are out there. Any reasonable Lakers fan should acknowledge the 17 years of hard work and true professionalism. Just appreciate Kobe as who he is. It doesn’t matter what MJ, Magic, or Bird did. This dude gave you 17 years of good games, went to the finals 7 times, pulled out 5 rings, and along the way, beat our most hated rival Celtics for a classic victory. Now he is near the end of his career, with or without another ring, he is going to set some serious milestones for the history of this game. Celebrate his accomplishments and embrace him as the ultimate Laker. 17 years! Many of us cannot stay on the same job for more than 10 years. Mitch has delivered as many great players as any good GM possibly can. The FO also opened up serious wallet money to build this team. If it does not work out, it just means the chemistry is not there. It’s not Kobe’s problem if other players don’t live up to their potential. Spoiled Lakers Fans, you have a very special player here. If you just run up and down the court for 10 mins, you will know how difficult it is for Kobe to do this 40+ mins a game for 17 years. It has been an amazing run. Even if Kobe just quit tomorrow, you have to respect all that accomplishment.

  45. It is frustrating to see players we let go thrive elsewhere, and conversely, players that look good on other teams disappear when they don the B&G. There are exceptions (Ariza) but they prove the rule.

    Part of it is just the grass is greener syndrome. Also, we don’t see these players nearly as much and only notice them when they have particularly good games. The rest has to do with them playing with all stars, particularly Kobe, a massive talent with dominant personality.

    Re Kobe’s shots, I think the Lakers are caught in a vicious circle. The team is struggling, so Kobe has to take over on offense and takes possessions off on D, so the other players spectate on O and emulate Kobe and slack off on D. Kobe, being the leader, has to take it upon himself to break the pattern. He needs to keep people involved and plays harder on D to set the tone. Less cheating and gambling. They may lose more but in the long run they will be better off. As it is, they are losing anyway. Even with the higher efficiency, Kobe is not Lebron. He cannot carry the team like LBJ did in Cleveland. He can’t do it now, and he probably never could. Lebron is a physical freak; at the same time, his personality is such that he can take over games yet at the same time keep his teammates in the game mentally. Lebron has the Magic (as inJohnson) touch that Kobe does not.

    Dwight has been a disappointment but at his best I always thought he was a poor man’s Shaq. He shares Shaq’s FT woes and lack of range but is nowhere as dominant in the paint. He is a better defender (Shaq tended to play D “when it counts”) but I think Shaq had more post moves and more ways to score when he was not in dunking range.

    Re the FO, in retrospect it does seem like we traded away too much chemistry (LO), hustle (Barnes), and Kobe anchor (Fish, Phil). The prospect of four all stars was just too irresistible, never mind the age thing (hmm, when did we see this movie before?) I know we can’t blame it on the coach but even with Pau and Nash healthy, hiring Djantoni (the D is silent) still looks suspect. As far as i can tell, his system hinges on a great guard and shooters. Nash is great all right, but he’s old. Shooters, well, we have them, if you don’t mind inconsistency. But he doesn’t seem to know what to do with one big guy, much less two, unless it is a big guy who can shoot 3. Otherwise, they just clog the lane as far as he is concerned.

  46. LT, I totally agree, and I tried to expressly address that in the first graf. I have my biases as we all do, but I don’t think that steered me in one direction or the other for this piece. I was just interested in the constructs fans build around Kobe’s career and how that perception has fared in this trying season.

    I’m admittedly not a Lakers fan, but Darius asked me before the season began if I’d like to contribute some pieces to the site. I wasn’t going to turn that down. This blog is awesome and I was grateful that he thought my voice (an outsider’s) had a place ’round these parts. I’m just happy to contribute to the dialogue, whether my views are shared or not.

  47. Darius,

    My “issue” is with those who dress up their negative emotions about Kobe as analysis; HP has a long, long history of guys who do that and there are many high-profile guys elsewhere on the net who do it as well. If you want examples, I can easily provide them. And, since I specifically praised your post calling out Kobe’s defense yesterday, and have on any number of occasions criticized various aspects of his game, I think it is pretty clear that I try to be even-handed about him and his career.

    As far as Chau’s writing here, I think you both misunderstood and overreacted to my comment. My saying that I personally don’t like something and don’t think it has much analytical significance doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t appear here, that others should not enjoy it, or that it has no value–as I more or less said in the post.

  48. EX,

    You forgot to add Smush, Kwame, Cook and Walton, BINGO, they are better than Morris and Ebanks.

  49. This is really the last thing I’m going to say about this, but I respect Danny’s work and as long as he wants to write here, he’s welcome to. No one is going to agree with the premise of every post here and that’s pretty much accepted by anyone that writes anything, anywhere. That said no one here is guilty by association and that’s what was implied by the earlier comment. If you don’t see that that’s how the comment would be interpreted, then that’s on you. I’d prefer we move on now.

  50. Darius,

    The kind of stuff I am talking about has appeared in Chau’s work, it appears in this piece, and it is a long-running motif at HP–seems to pretty much be part of the site culture there.

    That noted, I was simply expressing a personal preference–nothing more.

  51. And yes…Barnes and Sessions would both be pretty good SSOL bench players. I thought of that this week, watching the Clippers and going back and forth with Robert about the Lakers’ roster. The veto and the system and coaching changes have negatively affected the team’s talent-decision outcomes at the margins.

  52. Perhaps Ex and Edwin you missed the point. Guys like Fish and LO bring things all of the Laker new guys don’t, “a champs heart”. That was quote from James Worthy who I trust knows more about winning.

    Word is that LO has been a real leader for Clips off the bench and already the Dallas media talks about Fisher impact who won 5 games since he joined them.
    Clearly this team is missing something. Meeks, Jamison, Duhon, Clark, Howard and the Mike’s have won nothing. If both Worthy and Magic see it perhaps you all should stop and consider the value leadership brings. Something is missing and both the Clippers and Dallas seem
    to have a better record then the team that plays with little passion.

    As for Sessions and Barnes I suggest you look at their numbers which are better coming off the bench then the Lakers starters in that position. Much more to winning then hype and big salaries.

  53. Danny Chau used to have this completely unique basketball blog called Plantar Fasciitis with the longest, strangest URL ever, making it almost impossible to find. It may have been my favorite blog ever. I will always read anything this guy writes, anywhere.

  54. rr, I can’t speak for my colleagues, but I’ve maybe written about Kobe twice since joining HP, and I’ve never drawn on negative opinions of the guy. My pieces have been laudatory, if anything. I’d like to know what of my writing you’re referencing.

    If you’re talking about my general approach to basketball writing, that’s another thing entirely. I’m just not comfortable with these generalizations, especially when you’re pointing out things that I’ve never done. Your distrust might be misguided. We are among friends!

  55. Sigh, these are dark dark times for the Lakers.

    You guys know about the Hobbit out today in theatres?

  56. So what do you guys think about Delonte possibly joining the team?

  57. So what do you guys think about Delonte possibly joining the team?

  58. If West is in shape Lakers Will sign him by end of roadie. How can a tough, good defender, go to the hole hustle guy who carries his guns in a violin case NOT HELP. Especially if rumors I hear that Nash won’t be ready till next year are true.

    Kind of foolish to put all your chips in on a 39 year old dude with a history of back problems to begin with. FO is playing this guys like my son plays NBA on his video game.

    Yes West will help! Have you seen Morris play? Sure a night out with Hill, West and Metta can make a great reality show. Call it the attack on LA.

  59. As hard as it may seem to many on this site, criticizing Kobe’s game doesn’t make you a “Kobe hater”. My point, quite simply, the way he’s playing now is not working for the Lakers. Kobe is the leader of this team. He’s the 1st one to get credit when the Lakers are doing well, of course his game has to be looked at when things are not going well.

    Kobe as leader of this team could set a much better tone by playing better defense. Save some energy by letting others work on the offensive side. Opposing teams don’t appear to care if Kobe scores. They know he can’t beat them by himself, not at this stage of his career. So stop everybody else and let Kobe get his. And you know what, it’s working.

    Bottom line:

    -Lakers are not winning on the road, and are only playing .500 at home. Over their last ten games (3-7) they have lost ground to all but two teams (Suns & Hornets) in the West.
    -The chances of them finishing in a top four spot in the West is becoming more difficult each day. Meaning they will start the post-season on the road vs the Clips, Thunder, Spurs, or Grizz.
    -Yes, the Lakers will be better when Nash returns, but so will Dallas (11-11) when Nowitzki returns.
    -It may be time to take a peak at the Warriors (15-7), currently in 5th place, five game winning streak & 8-2 over their last 10 games. Are these guys for real?
    -Nash is not going to just pass the ball to Kobe to shoot. Other guys are going to be involve on the offensive side. Why wait until Nash returns? Start doing it now. Except the Lakers next game is in New York. And everyone knows how Kobe loves to score big in New York.

    Let’s go Lakers.

  60. KO,

    “Guys like Fish and LO bring things all of the Laker new guys don’t, “a champs heart”.”

    ~~I know the players mentioned were leaders in the past and could still lead other weaklings who are in dire need of leadership. Our concern is – don’t we have any other players to go to, than cling on the yester-years glory players? In a nutshell, there are so many great leaders in the past but they are now part of history. We have to live with the present and seek solutions on the current roster. Why is it every time we have hiccups, we always call a doctor or dig on our success in the past?

  61. Edwin you may be right. I am hearing there us a problem inside the locker room the past 2 years. They appear to be void a leader to get them through the bad times. Kobe leads ny example not words. It’s not Pau or space cadet Metta. Howard came with baggage from Orlando.

    Someone has to call that meeting, put his arm around that player or shut up the media. I have seen none of that as the team is off to the
    worst start in a decade. Lakers are a high speed boat rolling around without a rudder. Unless something changes they could crash and burn.

  62. Edwin,
    Please leave your political rants off this site. And, to clarify, I run this site the way that I see fit and that means moderating comments that don’t fit into the commenting guidelines that have been posted since the site’s inception. If you don’t like those guidelines, there are other sites you can participate in.

  63. I should also add that the commenters don’t decided who is welcome to write at this site, I do. Rather than complain about who writes at this site by talking about it in the comments, save yourself some time and don’t read the site. I’m seriously not that concerned about whether or not you think someone should be writing here are not. What I am concerned about is the quality of the content that appears here. I hate to keep coming back to this topic at all but here I am since a certain commenter won’t let it go. (Note, I’m not talking about you, rr.)

  64. Ko,
    I remember people going crazy when I suggested Nash would have similar numbers to Sessions this season. Coming off of a serious leg injury… One could only hope now

  65. Great piece by Lowe on Dwight’s lack of athletisisim and Kobe’s lack of defense. Basically all you need to know as to why the Lakers suck.

    Here’s Why the Lakers Have Been So Terrible
    http://www.grantland.com/blog/the-triangle/post/_/id/45058/heres-why-the-lakers-have-been-so-terrible

  66. I’m going to get one of those WWJD type bracelets. The initials I’ll use are WSKD…What Should Kobe Do? That seems to be the question that’s pre-eminent throughout Laker Nation.

  67. @Aaron – good link. I think Lowe or someone else on Grantland has already pointed out the injury issues as well even though people still don’t get it.. If howard was 100% lakers would prob be closer to 500 or better at least. Its hard for him to lead on defense and hold people accountable when he can’t make the proper plays himself. Its not about rotations lacking – its also that guys are having to cover for Howard’s defensive lapses as well some games at this point.

    And again the extra benefits of having Nash on the flr can’t be understated on offense. At least the offense could roll up wins with w a healthy Nash and Gasol while the defense gets figured out.

    Injuries suck lots – but as lowe pointed out – this isn’t anywhere the team it was supposed to be with those guys missing. So no use freaking out and calling for people to be traded/fired/brought back when the situation is largely out of everyones control until Howard, Nash, Pau are all healthy.

  68. Darius,

    I said my piece and I am moving on.

    Good link by Aaron.

  69. “basically all you need to know is why lakers suck”. Exactly. To join the kobe discussion: the ball needs to move and players have to share the burden of the outcome of games. That was espicially true with pau playing. Now d’antoni is running plays for kobe and dwight. Kobe is used to playing a 2 man game and is doing his share right now. Dwight is not dominating or playing like a franchise players. 18 and 12 is pedastrian for great big men. With pau out dwight needs to shoulder responsibility, which he hasn’t, and play like a lakers great center. Seems so silly how we were saying his offensive game is comparible to drew. Dwight is lakers 3rd best post player. It’s a good time to dominate a game tonight in the city he wanted to play for. Let’s see what dwight is made of or will he continue to be content with his subpar play this year.

  70. this thread has been one of the best (since i´ve been reading FB&G) that i´ve read –
    y´all going at it like this with Darius, D. Murphy and even D. Chau having to intervene, it´s a gas..
    good thing is that for the most part the blog´s guidelines are respected and that´s one of the reasons i decided to try my hand at `blogging´ here at FB&G, apart from the solid articles of course, – so, thanks everyone for your opinions and insights, it´s all good -
    plus i just can´t help thnking that we´re all brislitng at how our season is going so far and funny enough, it makes for an entertaining thread such as this one -
    Hope we get a victory in NYC tonight! Big Apple…take a bite Lakers!

  71. that being said – don’t be surprised if the lakers pull one out tonight –

    1. knicks guards are Felton and Jkidd – not speedsters that are going to abuse Duhon/Morris like Irving etc… have on dribble penetration which means Howard can stay at home more.

    2. Howard only has to contend with Chandler – who isn’t a relentless offensive threat. or If melo goes into the post, he can switch with Hill – and Artest can take Melo outside.

    3. Kobe knows he’s under the gun and will look to step up and prove he’s not a weak defender – looking for a good effort out of him on Smith.

    4. Don’t let Novak or wallace go off on threes and ignite the team emotionally.

    A little help from Meeks and Jamison scoring off the bench would help quiet MSG. Plus Knicks are due for their first home loss. And don’t think D’Antoni isn’t coming into this game with a little extra prep.

  72. danny c: so a couple of weeks ago the two biker guys ahead of me in line over at boca del rio we’re huge as in large fans of the meat burrito there. so i gave it a try and because future wifey and i were going to share just the one, i had the cooks leave out the “works” and had just the plain meat burrito. my take: not bad but probably should have had it w/the works. the cooks we’re kind of chuckling to themselves as we left the stand….i call them hector and juan.

    so what’s up with all the heckling and jeckling going on about? first amendment, right? let’s just stay away from the right to assemble part. could get ugly, what with the laker fanbase in an apparent uproar due to the limitless expectations this year’s acquisitions/additions to this year’s laker edition. you just tell all the heckles and jeckles, i’m not a nose so quit picking on me.

    so here we are, what five weeks into the regular season and all hell’s breaking loose because our collective exceptations and to no end we continue to lose. fan or no fan, like or no likey the kobe as consolation is just that. could use some comfort, solace and relief but that would be redundant. what is worth repeating is, should have got it with the works.

    keep up the good work danny c, you have more favorable followers now and to those who are reading way too much into your thoughts are reading way too much into your thoughts.

    blowout in got ham? let’s not put too much thought into it.

    Go Lakers

  73. 1/2decaf1/2regular December 13, 2012 at 11:16 am

    not surprised Kobe shot selection is once again being scrutinized during their losses.. it’s the rite of winter. every losing slump same ole story and haters come out of the woodworks

    D’antoni even made it a point during his last presser the game plan was to feed Dwight.. kobe was even making and effort to forcefeed the big early in the game.. dwights FG doesn’t exactly indicate that but his FT attempts do as he went to the charity line almost a dozen times in first half alone. check the box score if you don’t believe me

    teams are now making it part of their game plan to intentionally foul Dwight every time. this in turn is stifling the offense and with no serviceable PG to run the offense, no SF that can hit an open shot, no heathy starting PF to facilitate.. so quite frankly there WAS NO BETTER OPTION than going hero ball.

    you would think after 5 rings Kobe would deserve the benefit of doubt to not have his shot selection or judgment questioned everytime. Kobe has proven his doubters countless of times that when you surround him with other capable scorers he will always make that necessary pass if it’s the better option for the team

  74. I will address this since it came directly from Mr. Chau; Darius of course can delete it if he feels that is better for the site.

    I’ve never drawn on negative opinions of the guy

    Go back and re-read your piece on the Nash acquisition. Also, check out Steve McPherson’s piece on the Lakers before the season, or anything that Matt Moore and Rob Mahoney wrote while they were there. I am sure there are others. One thing I would say is that a lot of guys who do this seem to want credit for recognizing that Kobe is a great player, as if that is under dispute. It isn’t. So, saying he is a great player is not being “laudatory.” It is acknowledging a fact.

    Like I said, there are a lot of high-profile guys on the net who work through their feelings about Kobe by pretending to analyze him and his career. Zach Lowe and Kevin Pelton don’t do this; you see that I praised Aaron’s link to Lowe’s piece, which is highly critical of Kobe’s D, and deservedly so. I also said that Kobe took too many 3s down the stretch in the Cleveland game, which he did.

    So, my personal preference would be that the kind of piece you wrote ,”The Lakers are 1-10 when Kobe shoots a lot, and here are some feelings I and other people have about him” not be part of this site, since there are many, many other places where people can read such things. But that is not my call, and I am of course free to leave or not comment, as Darius noted. and it is nothing personal.