It’s been widely (leaked) reported that Kobe Bryant took extra shooting practice after Thursday’s loss to the Miami Heat. “Look how hard he’s working!”
The message was sent: Kobe cares.
The message that should have been sent: Pass the ball.
The problem wasn’t that Kobe shot badly. It’s that he took 21 shots. Bryant couldn’t shake his desire to show Miami’s Trio that he was still The Man. But he knew better. He knew that the Lakers’ collection of 7-footers were too much for such a soft team. He knew the Triangle would confuse the still-learning-their-rotations Heat. He knew Big Z was too slow for the pick and roll. But instead, Kobe finished the game dribbling into traffic, launching turn-around threes with 23 seconds left on the shot clock, and implicitly blaming his shooting percentage–not his shot attempts, turnovers, or assists–for the loss.
On a related note
I don’t understand the “only the last two minutes matters” sentiment. In fact you could argue the last few minutes are the worst part of the game:
1. The offenses get worse. Isolation plays, random panic threes, dribbling out the clock; it’s just bad basketball. See above.
2. The officiating becomes even more frustratingly random. Some officials seem to “swallow the whistle” or “let the players decide the game” in the last minutes, while others seem to attempt to enforce the rules evenly throughout the game, so the last few minutes of officiating become chaotic and confusing. The Heat-Lakers game featured one spectacular sequence where Wade grabbed Bryant’s arm, causing Bryant to lose the ball out of bounds. Since it was the last few minutes the foul was not called, but hyper-specificity demanded a replay review of who touched the ball last. We were then treated to the super-slow-motion replays of Wade yanking Bryant’s arm and him losing it out of bounds, leading to the unfair result of Heat possession since fouls are not reviewable.
3. Multi-minute timeouts. It’s always funny when the announcers breakdown how many 20-second and full timeouts a team still holds, as if both don’t entail 3 minute commercial breaks. In fact, Phil Jackson lamented after this game that he had run out of timeouts. Since we needed more of them!
4. Superstar centers who can’t make free throws sitting on the bench. I feel justified including this because Shaq played for both the Heat AND the Lakers. Of course he does not currently play for either of them but that’s besides the point. No one wants to see poor Shaq and Dwight Howard sitting on the bench because of the potential Hack-a-Shaq ramifications. If only they would shoot underhand.