On Tuesday, Los Angeles Lakers shooting guard Kobe Bryant set an NBA record — and it's one that may never be broken. But Bryant likely isn’t celebrating. The 16-time all-star has now missed more shots than any other player in NBA history.
BL: Baxter, after the game Kobe said he wasn’t aware that he had set the record. Do you believe him?
BH: Not exactly. A player as meticulous as he is about every kind of detail, I think he certainly knew. And people were talking about it leading up to the game. He's very aware of where he is with most records — coming up close to, I think he's 380 or close to 400 points away from passing Michael Jordan on the all-time scoring list — I can assure you he's well aware of exactly where he stands on that one.
The game has kind of changed from the time when there were hero-ball gunners like Michael Jordan and like Kobe Bryant now.Baxter Holmes, ESPN
BL: But you don't think during the game, every time he threw up a shot he was saying, "Oh man, I hope I don't miss this one. I'm getting close to that record?"
BH: No, I think in the throes of the actual game he probably wasn't as aware. But, he did act — he tried to act surprised after the game. Maybe he didn't know, I don't know.
BL: Kobe Bryant entered the NBA when he was 18 years old and he’s been playing for 19 seasons — many of them as the Lakers top scorer — so of course he’s had plenty of opportunities to miss. But there’s more to it than that, right?
BH: Yeah, I mean, he's also one of the highest-volume shooters. He's lead the league in field goal attempts many times. But there's a lot to it. He's kind of from another era, too, when players like him and Jordan were asked to take a ton of shots and try to carry their teams. The game's a little different now.
BL: Well that was going to be my next question. All of these statistics that you're talking about — are they the result of Kobe Bryant's personality and the way he plays, or more the result of the way the Lakers want him to play because that's their plan?
[sidebar title="Los Angeles Lakers Off To Dismal Start" width="630" align="right"] Without a second star to play alongside Kobe Bryant, the Lakers have sunk to the bottom of the Western Conference. Is Kobe responsible for the Lakers' inability to land talented free agents? [/sidebar]BH: It's more indicative of his playing style. Certainly the Lakers understand that, with his talent and his aggressiveness, that they want him to be this way. But he is a guy who — he's going to shoot these many shots; he's going to try to score as many points; he doesn't care how many times he misses. I think it's very much indicative of not only his longevity but of his playing style.
BL: In your story about Kobe Bryant's record you referenced one play from the 2007 Eastern Conference Finals involving Cavaliers star LeBron James. Why is that play significant?
(Skip ahead to the 1:24 mark to see the play.)
BH: I was talking about how the game has kind of changed from the time when there were hero-ball gunners like Michael Jordan and like Kobe Bryant now. That play is kind of one that people will look back, I think, in time — and I know certainly some basketball people look at it right now.
LeBron James passed on that play to a wide-open shooter in the corner for a potential game-tying three-pointer. The player missed. A lot of critics said after the game, "Bryant, Michael Jordan," players like that, "they never would have passed in that situation." But what Lebron said was, "I made the smartest play. I made the basketball play."
As the game has evolved, especially with analytics, really dissecting it like never before, there's been much more of an emphasis on efficiency, on making the smartest play, even if it's not the gutsiest play.
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This segment aired on November 15, 2014.