Putting Kobe’s “Selfishness” into Perspective

Because I’m sure you can guess the answers to these questions, I’ve put at least one trick question in the mix (whose answer isn’t Kobe Byrant).

1 — Who led the Lakers in assists when they won the 3 NBA Championships in 2000 – 2002?
a) Derek Fisher
b) Brian Shaw
c) Rick Fox
d) Kobe Bryant

2— Which player from the draft class of 1996 has more assists?
a) Ray Allen
b) Stephon Marbury
c) Tracy McGrady
d) Kobe Bryant

3 — Among active players, who has more assists so far in his career?
a) Grant Hill
b) Chris Webber
c) Jason Terry
d) Kobe Bryant

4 — Among active players, who has the higher player efficiency rating for his career?
a) Yao Ming
b) Amare Stoudemire
c) Shawn Marion
d) Jason Kidd
e) Tony Parker
f) Kobe Bryant

5 — Which active player has less shots per minute?
a) Allen Iverson
b) Tracy McGrady
c) LeBron James
d) Kobe Bryant

6 — Which inactive player has more shots per minute than Kobe Bryant?
a) Michael Jordan
b) Dominique Wilkins
c) Julius Irving
d) Elgin Baylor

7 — Which inactive player has more assists than Kobe Bryant?
a) Michael Cooper
b) Elgin Baylor
c) Toni Kucoc
d) Vlade Divac


1=d, 2=d, 3=d, 4=f, 5=c, 6=all of them, 7=none of them

About question #5, over the course of their careers, LeBron James has averaged less shots per minute than Kobe, but it is closer than you might think. LeBron has shot 0.51 shots per minute, and Kobe has averaged 0.52 shots per minute. For comparison, Iverson has shot 0.55 shots per minute, and McGrady has shot 0.53 shots per minute.
If this tempts you to comment, “Yeah, but Kobe didn’t shoot as much early in his career,” then I’d like to thank you for making my point for me.

For all the comparisons Kobe gets to Michael Jordan, he has actually played Scottie Pippen’s role for most of his career. Kobe Bryant led the Lakers in ASSISTS through their 3 championship years (and beyond), just as Pippen did for the Bulls.

And just as Pippen played second banana to Michael Jordan, Kobe did the same for Shaquille O’Neal … with one IMPORTANT difference:

Kobe Bryant had the talent to be top gun for his team, Scottie Pippen didn’t.

Think about that.

That makes what Kobe did for the good of his team a FAR GREATER act of unselfishness than what Pippen did for his.

Fast forward to TeamUSA, summer 2007.

We all wondered what adding Kobe to a team that had scorers such as Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James would do to TeamUSA. That year Kobe Bryant was without question the NBA’s best scorer, including on the perimeter. How much easier would those three-pointers be to launch from the closer, international arc?

Instead of looking to be the scoring leader, however, Kobe Bryant looked for how he could best contribute to TeamUSA, and then dug in and did it. What Kobe did to Leandro Barbosa, for example, was astonishing to say the least.

I have been looking for a quote from Magic Johnson (if you find it, please get me the URL) where Magic was comparing the original Dream Team he was on to Team USA as it played this last summer. Magic compared ‘Melo to Barkley (leading scorers at the forward positions), and he compared Kobe to both Jordan and Pippen. Kobe was like Jordan in that he was a deadly scorer that required attention from defenses every second he was on the floor, and Bryant was like Pippen in that he was the guy who wanted to defend the opposition’s best player.

Throughout history, Kobe has done whatever his teams needed to win. This is born out statistically, as Kobe went from defender / facilitator, to primary scorer, and back again.

When Team USA finished with the Bronze in Japan, it was universally acknowledge that they needed two things: better shooters and better defense. With one player, Kobe Bryant, they got both. For this reason, if there were such a thing as MVP of Team USA, I would consider Kobe Bryant that player (although LeBron James would be a close 2nd, followed by Carmelo Anthony and Jason Kidd).

At any rate, if there is one thing the world does not need is more debate about Kobe Bryant, but I just thought I’d take on the issue from a different approach.

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