Kobe Bryant has a history of flailing his arms out of frustration.
In 2006, Kobe was suspended two games for elbowing Mike Miller.
In 2007, Kobe was suspended one game for flailing his shooting arm and striking Manu Ginobili.
Less than six weeks later, Kobe was suspended again for flailing his shooting arm, which resulted in Marco Jaric getting whacked in the nose.
By no means do I consider Kobe to be a dirty player. He doesn't come into games with intentions of flailing elbows. The problem is that he easily gets frustrated and let his emotions control him.
Kobe is so used being able to do whatever he wants on the court, that when he gets challenged by a tough defense like the Rockets, he gets frustrated.
Kobe may have had 40 points last night, but as Charles Barkley noted, it wasn't an easy 40 points.
Kobe's frustrations result in him not only faliling elbows, but in general negativity being brought to the team.
Curt Schilling's post on his official blog, 38pitches.com, after Game Two of the NBA Finals last year, shows a detailed look on how exactly Bryant behaves when he is frustrated.
From the first tip until about 4 minutes left in the game I saw and heard this guy bitch at his teammates. Every TO he came to the bench pissed, and a few of them he went to other guys and yelled about something they weren’t doing, or something they did wrong. No dialog about “hey let’s go, let’s get after it” or whatever. He spent the better part of 3.5 quarters pissed off and ranting at the non-execution or lack of, of his team. Then when they made what almost was a historic run in the 4th, during a TO, he got down on the floor and basically said ‘Let’s f’ing go, right now, right here” or something to that affect. . . . But as a fan I was watching the whole thing, Kobe, his teammates and then the after effects of conversations. He’d yell at someone, make a point, or send a message, turn and walk away, and more than once the person on the other end would roll eyes or give a ‘whatever dude’ look.
As you can see from Schiling's blog, when a team like the Celtics plays hard-nosed defense similar to the Rockets, Kobe becomes frustrated. A great team leader has to always keep his cool and not let his emotions get the best of him.
The player that he is often compared to, Michael Jordan, never let his frustrations show. Jordan wasn't just the greatest because he was the most physically talented player, but because mentally he knew how to carry himself on the court.
Kobe's frustration and inability to keep his composure may have cost him the championship last year. This year it may cost him the title again.