Jackie MacMullan Discusses Kobe BryantBoston Globe columnist and ESPN.com contributor Jackie MacMullan has written two articles about how Kobe Bryant is playing this year. The first one appeared in the Boston Globe last week and is based on her conversation with Bryant prior to his 43 point game versus the Celtics :
Bryant Undisputed King of this Court
Bryant told MacMullan that he no longer focuses on one-on-one matchups with the league's other stars: "You know you're growing up when the big matchups don't excite you anymore. I used to crave all of them. Vince [Carter] to Tracy [McGrady] to Ray Allen to [Allen] Iverson. I was ready. But now? I've got other things I'm working on." Those "other things" are helping to develop the young talent on the Lakers' roster and transforming the team back into a championship contender.
MacMullan's piece about Bryant for ESPN.com is even more detailed. Here is the link, but it might not be possible to access it unless you are a subscriber to ESPN Insider:
The Transformation of Kobe Bryant
As I've indicated here more than once, I'm not a big fan of the idea that Bryant has "transformed" himself this year. Of course, intelligent people do grow and mature throughout their lives, so it is only natural for anyone to change somewhat as time passes--but that is a lot different than suggesting that someone did not understand how to play winning basketball and now has figured that out. That is like the "analysts" who cover their behinds by saying that Bill Belichick did not know how to coach when he was in Cleveland but "matured" before he got the New England job. Right--that's why his Browns beat Bill Parcells' Patriots in a playoff game and why Parcells never won a single playoff game without having Belichick by his side (you read that right).
Although I don't like the title of MacMullan's piece, the article itself is not bad. In fact, it contains a Bryant quote that basically dismisses the premise of the title. Talking about charges that last year's scoring explosion showed he is selfish, Bryant said: "It was hurtful to hear that kind of stuff. Did they think this was something I all of a sudden discovered I could do? I've been able to put up points since the day I walked into this league. But, in the past, I deferred from doing that to win championships. It was necessary last year for me to score. We had a new system and too many young new players. Phil and I discussed it. He told me, 'You are going to have to shoulder the load until everyone else catches up.'"
That, of course, is exactly the way Jackson explained the situation to me last year prior to the Lakers' game in Cleveland on March 19: "I think that early in the year, obviously, while the team got adjusted to playing with each other under the system we work that it was really a necessity for him to carry a load."
MacMullan writes that Bryant sometimes has to correct people who think that everything has been handed to him--even his own teammates:
Bryant reminds his young teammates he averaged 15 minutes a game as a rookie and can sympathize with their struggles to earn consistent playing time. "I remember Devean George telling me, 'You came into this league with a silver spoon in your mouth,'" Kobe says. "I told him, 'Your history isn't so good. Check the books.'"
posted by David Friedman @ 3:34 PM