Kobe Bryant is shooting as much as he is this year because it’s his last resort- and he simply couldn’t give a rat’s ass about what would be written in the papers.
Bryant has been under intense spotlight with virtually every aspect of his game sliced, diced and analyzed. It’s amazing how people still fail to understand him. For nearly 20 years he has been impenitent to himself, always believing that he can turn the tables at any time for his team. This is not some strategy he came up with by sitting on the sidelines, he has proved himself with consistency.
His injuries, not just the ones to his Achilles and knee that robbed Bryant off his 2013-14 season, but all the other stuff built up over the course of his career are starting to have an effect on his gameplay. His brain might be the same, but the body no longer allows superior skill to overcome, often spectacularly, questionable tactics.
It’s not simply a matter of age though. At his most successful, Bryant has been surrounded by an infrastructure checking his worst impulses. He had much more talent about him, which helps, and also greater continuity. Kobe and Shaq may have grown to detest each other but on the floor, they displayed a great deal of respect and understanding.
Now he’s surrounded by the weakest supporting cast of his career, without the self-enduring demands of a title chase. At a time when Kobe needs the most protection from himself, he has the least. Should anyone really be surprised how this is playing out?
The simplest explanation for something is generally the best. Kobe Bryant needs just over 200 points to catch Jordan on the all-time points list. At some point, most probably before the end of next season, Bryant will have more points than the illustrious Michael Jordan.
However, Kobe is smart enough to understand that passing Jordan won’t change how the critics view him. He learned a long time ago that it’s not an argument he can win.