2010 NBA Finals: Kobe Bryant Needs to Lead, Not Score

Joseph DeutschmannCorrespondent IJune 15, 2010

BOSTON - JUNE 13:  Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers reacts in the fourth quarter against the Boston Celtics during Game Five of the 2010 NBA Finals on June 13, 2010 at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images

After his impressive performance in a Game Five loss to the Boston Celtics in the NBA Finals, Kobe Bryant needs to get his team to play aggressively if he wants another chance at the title.  Last year's Finals MVP, Bryant put up a staggering 38 points in Game Five, but his efforts could not keep the Celtics at bay.

Now, Bryant needs to focus on his teammates, not his numbers.  After all, he plays for the L.A. Lakers, not the L.A. Kobes. 

Citing his laundry list of accolades, analysts often compare Bryant's career to Michael Jordan's.  However, the comparisons are usually qualified by a statement like, "He's one of the greatest to every play, sure, but he will never catch Jordan."

It doesn't matter. 

The Lakers will be in great shape if Kobe scores even half of what he scored in Game Five, provided his teammates do the same. That's what the Celtics have mastered: a team effort.  Four of Boston's starters put up double-digit numbers in Game Five, and a defensive strategy that's not any more elaborate than "stay on Kobe" is not exactly hard to maintain. 

If Kobe really wants to be compared to M.J., he needs to beat the Celtics. 

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Jordan never lost an NBA Finals series; Bryant has already lost two.  Big numbers don't mean much when they don't lead to victories and, more importantly, championships.  So Bryant's leadership—not his jump shot—is the key to Game Six. 

Sure, that's an easy conclusion, but it makes the most sense.  Kobe won't be able to  repeat what he did in Game Five and expect a win. 

Put simply, Kobe needs to aggressively motivate the other four Lakers on the court with him at all times.  They have the ability—Pau Gasol is the best big man in this series, and Artest and the rest are not bad.  They just need a true leader.

The Lakers are at home—there's no reason they should give up another game to the Celtics on their turf if Kobe lives up to his name.

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