The 2012 Summer Olympics have come with polarizing success for the Team USA national basketball team. From their 83-point blowout of Nigeria to a five-point escape against Lithuania, absolutely nothing has qualified under the term "predictable."
As for why this team has been so inconsistent, the answer may reside with one Kobe Bryant.
While guns have been blazing and shots have been falling, the Americans have never truly looked like a team. Instead, each game has been highlighted by one superstar taking over at one point or another and dropping in points in bunches. From 'Melo to LeBron to Durant, someone always seems to save this team from disaster.
One player who seems to be out of rhythm with the strategy, however, is Kobe Bryant.
Bryant, like every other player on Team USA, has had games where he's struggled. He's also had games where he's taken over for an entire quarter and paced the team to victory. What Kobe has never done, however, is appear to be in the flow of the American's makeshift offense.
If there was a chemistry to ruin, Kobe Bryant would be doing just that.
While there may not seem to be a defined game plan on offense, the team certainly moves the ball very well. This comes as a result of three elite point guards and the presence of another point forward on the roster.
With Bryant on the court, however, we often see Team USA defer to him in post-up or slashing attacks when there may be a better shot to attempt. Although the results have been generally strong, Bryant has been a ball-stopper.
But here's the kicker.
Kobe Bryant may be breaking up team chemistry with the way he plays, but his style of attack is the only consistent form of offensive execution this team has. Kevin Durant has seemed uncomfortable with his shot selection, while LeBron James appears afraid to have the ball in his hands until his teammates force him to take over.
Bryant, meanwhile, knows his role as a scorer. He's not afraid to pull the trigger and seems like the only player on this team set to reprise their role played in the NBA. Fault him if you'd like, but a consistent style of play is something this team lacks and Kobe Bryant, for one, does not.
The question moving forward will be a matter of whose strategy works best.
Is it Team USA's decision to avoid stepping on toes, thus making too many extra passes and spoiling solid possessions? Or Kobe's approach of attacking the basket every time the ball finds him?
As we look into our journalistic eight-ball, the answer does not favor Kobe Bryant.
One could argue on behalf of Bryant's form of attack, stating that it is more favorable for overall success. What one cannot argue, however, is the fact that one outlier in a 12-man game plan can only damage the team's attempts at execution.
As it sometimes appears in Los Angeles, Kobe Bryant is going one against the world with this plan. A plan that can only work with his teammates on board.
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