A few months back, after Kobe hit this ridiculous twisting gliding three at the buzzer to beat the Miami Heat, former LA Times writer and current ESPN analyst JA Adande called Kobe the “best tough-shot maker in the history of basketball”.
Apparently, many took offense to that, considering Adande had to defend his comment on twitter the next few hours. People were probably upset at Adande saying Kobe was better than Jordan.
Those people misunderstood, and Adande put them in their place. Jordan was still the better player, but Jordan has never proven he can hit ridiculous shots with hands in his face the way Kobe can. So yes, Kobe is a better tough-shot maker.
But that’s a backhanded compliment. Saying someone is a the best tough-shot maker is like saying a dude is the best at bagging desperate chicks at a bar. No matter how you spin it, a tough shot is oftentimes a bad shot.
As skilled as Kobe is, it is his willingness to take the tough shot that has limited the Laker’s potential. Now I know, every Laker fan is upset right now at Kobe’s supporting cast, because Kobe played out of his mind today and his teammate didn’t do their part. These cats are probably rolling they eyes at what I just wrote, thinking to themselves, “please, if Kobe wasn’t hitting those tough shots today the Lakers would have lost by 20”.
For tonight, that would be true. But the fact is Kobe takes those shots regardless of if they’re falling, and regardless of if his teammates are performing. Maybe he doesn’t jack them up as often when Gasol is hot, but he still has a tendency to take heavily contested shots. No one bites on his pump fakes? The fundamental play is to pass the ball. Kobe will try to pump fake a few more times, fake a pivot and then attempt a twisting fading double clutcher.
The continual bashing of Kobe’s supporting cast by Laker (Kobe?) fans after every loss is silly. No matter how bad Gasol or the rest of the crew played today, Kobe still had a better cast around him than the opposing yeams star player in 85-90% of the games this season.
Why is it that DWade and Lebron both shot better against the Celtics than Kobe this postseason (Wade 56%, Lebron 45% ,Kobe 42%) even though it is almost inarguable that they have less help around them? I’d say Kobe has more of a luxury–with the twin towers down low, one of the most best “4th option” in the league, and perhaps the clutchest role player in the league–all on his side compared to that team of clowns Wade is running with. Lebron’s got a better cast than Wade, but it still falls short of Kobe’s. You’d be lying or a fool if you’d rather take Antawn Jamison, Mo Williams, ancient Shaq, Z Ilgauskas and Delonte West over Gasol, Bynum, Odom, Fisher and Artest as your running mates.
This isn’t new. In 2004, while Kobe shot a horrendous (39%) percentage against Tayshaun Prince’s long arms and the Pistons D, both Wade and Richard Jefferson (LOL) had less trouble against the exact same team. The next year, Manu shredded that same Piston D that Kobe struggled so much against. It isn’t because Kobe isn’t as skilled, we can all agree on that. And while most of you would blame Kobe’s lack of help, it isn’t that either. It’s because Kobe takes bad shots. Yeah, he makes them at a better rate than anyone in the history of the game, but still.
I feel that the Lakers have underachieved the last two years even though they won the title last year and is still in the running this year. To me, the Lakers have three of the best four players, or at least two of the best three, in every series they’ve played again the last two years. Yet they let teams severely lacking in talent and size like the Suns and last year’s Rockets take them to the limit (or almost to the limit). I think Kobe’s continual bad shot selection is a factor.
If the Lakers lose, people will blame Gasol for being soft, they’ll blame Artest for not being more consistent, they’ll blame Odom for not notching a double double every game. But to put it bluntly, Kobe still hasn’t figured out, and perhaps doesn’t care about figuring out, how to utilize his teammates to maximum effect.