Yes, in his 19th year in the league, Bryant set the mark for most missed field goal attempts by a player at 13,418, passing the great John Havlicek. To his haters, it illuminates their point that Bryant is a ball hog who shoots too much.
The other way to look at it is that he has unimaginable confidence and has never been afraid to fail. Those elements, combined with his immense talent, have made him one of the top two or three greatest players of all time. It’s about attitude.
Bryant handled the dubious feat as one would expect of a guy who has hoisted more than 24,500 shots in his career.
“Well, I’m a shooting guard that’s played 19 years,” he said, shrugging and smiling.
In other words, he built his status as one of the all-time prolific scorers by putting the ball in the air. And he does it better than most.
Bryant is a career 45 percent shooter from the floor with a 25.5 average. On an under-talented Lakers team this year, he’s making just 39 per cent of his shots. Not good, but surely a product of him taking more difficult attempts than even he usually takes.
Bottom line: Bryant does not trust his teammates on this Lakers squad. He’d rather shoot with two defenders on him than pass to cohorts who have given him little reason to believe they know what to do with the ball.
Michael Jordan missed 12,345 shots in his career, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar 12,470, Karl Malone 12,682. All Hall of Famers, all among the greatest of all time. Also, they all had lengthy careers and believed in their ability to score.
“When I was a kid and I watched Michael shoot 49 times in an NBA Finals game. Can you imagine if I did that and lost? Puts things in perspective,” Bryant said.
Interesting point. Jordan is mostly a beloved figure, even with his lack of interest in representing anything Black and strong. Bryant, meanwhile, is a lightening rod. He’s beloved by the masses for his brilliance as a player. His jersey sales were No. 1 for many years.
And yet he is disliked by a core group of hoop fans who consider him arrogant (they said that about Jordan), a gunner (said that about Jordan) and selfish (said that about Jordan, too). Many still hold against him that he threw in Shaquille O’Neal’s name when he was under investigation for sexual assault near Denver.
Whatever the source of the hate, Bryant has shot his way into rarified NBA air as arguably the best player to ever play the game. Jordan universally is regarded as the top to lace ’em up. After that, it’s an open, never-ending debate.
LeBron James, for all he has done, does not merit comparisons to Jordan. Not yet. He has not played enough or won enough. Magic Johnson deserves consideration, but even he says Bryant is the best Laker of all time, meaning he ranks the Black Mamba above himself.
That’s the end of the short list: MJ, Kobe, Magic.
Kobe Bryant made it through launching—making and missing—shots. At 36 and on a bad team, he will continue to miss, perhaps even more than he makes. But his greatness is that he is willing to take the shots.