I confess: I'm one of those guys that never really liked Kobe Bryant. In part, because he plays with the Lakers, and I'm a Celtics fan. Also, because of his arrogance, his implicit self-labelling as the league's best player. But most of all, because, as objectively as possible, I never considered him a team player, in a team sport. And I believe that the facts continue to prove me right.
Please, don't get me wrong. I'm not saying that he's not one of the best ball players in the league, individually considered. I'm taking a look at his contribution to his team and, in particular, to the success of his team.
So, please read this article giving it the necessary discount, as you feel it being my partisanship. But do try to take my arguments into consideration, have a look at the bottom line and share your thoughts with me.
And the bottom line is, whenever Kobe is in the mood to play for his team, rather than for himself, the Lakers end up winning more games. You simply need to watch ten or fifteen Lakers games to realise this. If you pick games from several seasons and go back to when he and Shaq were exchanging more than words of advice, you'll see it clearly.
Being the believer that I am (some may call it naïvete), I used to defend Kobe by saying that he had little to work with or that Shaq was himself just an obnoxious, self-centered egotist.
But if you take a look at the current Lakers roster, you have to conclude that he his surrounded by a pretty good pack, with Gasol, Odom, and Bynum, to mention only above-average players.
So, why am I writing this article, in a season where the Lakers went 65-17 to lead the West, only one game short of the league's best record, and are 4-2 in the playoffs?
Well, because the Lakers have lost 15 out of 18 games where Kobe's attempted field goals are above his season average. You see, Kobe is averaging close to 21 FGA per game and of the 18 games (regular season and playoffs included) where he shot 21 or more field goals, the Lakers lost 15.
My point is that this is more than just a coincidence or the result of Kobe having to shoot more because the Lakers are falling behind, the latter being the most logical argument.
Also, please note that I am not referring to shooting percentage, but only to shots attempted.
My point is that these figures are evidence that whenever Kobe is playing more for himself and for his numbers than for the team, the Lakers tend to lose more often.
And if you come to think of it, one may argue it is not also just a coincidence that Kobe shot the ball 31 times in yesterday's loss to the Rockets, the same day Lebron James was named the league's MVP.
Sure, Kobe's got his share of rings, which counts for something in terms of team achievement. But at the end of the day, I just think that he continues to carry his own private agenda everyday, to the detriment of his team.
P.S. If, by any chance, you played "NBA Stock Exchange," one of the fantasy games at the NBA's website, you may have noticed that Kobe was the player with the highest cost-to-value rate, at $3.99 per point earned and came only ninth overall in points-per-game, which would make him only second team all-NBA if you were to take the game's scoring formula into account.
By the way, the first team would be formed by Chris Paul (No. 1 overall), Dwayne Wade (No. 3), Lebron James (No. 2), Al Jefferson (No. 5) and Dwight Howard (No. 4). The second team would be formed by Deron Williams (No. 8), Jason Kidd (No. 6), Kobe Bryant (No. 9), Chris Bosh (No. 10) and Tim Duncan (No. 7). I'm guessing no one will realistically argue against the results. And all this comes from facts and figures.