Kobe Bryant comes away from Tuesday night’s contest against the Memphis Grizzlies with a distinction that only seems fitting at the outset of the Los Angeles Lakers’ seemingly doomed season.
The 36-year-old passed John Havlicek’s all-time NBA mark for missed shots, reminding us that those nearly-32,000 points have come with a bit of a cost.
To put that in perspective, a relative few have even attempted as many shots as Bryant has missed.
|Only 87 players in NBA history have taken more than the number of shots that Kobe has missed: 13,418.|
Havlicek—a sixth-man pioneer who won eight titles with the Boston Celtics—missed 13,417 field-goal attempts from 1962 to 1978.
Though it’s not a record anyone was racing to beat, Bryant finds himself in fine company. He’s taken a high volume of shots since he was drafted in 1996, but he’s also been called upon to carry the scoring load—as recently evidenced by the 37 shots he took in a 112-106 loss to the Phoenix Suns.
“I was just being aggressive,” Bryant told reporters after the game. “I played with a lot of energy today. It’s easy to look at it and say 37 shots, but you don’t see how hard I was working to get easy opportunities, offensive rebounds and transition shots.
“Some of the easy ones I missed, but if you play with a lot of energy and are relentless, you’ll get a lot of opportunities.”
It’s hard to fault Bryant for taking the initiative, particularly on a struggling roster that lacks another premier scorer.
Some will argue that he’s been something of a ball-stopper over the years, perhaps looking for his own opportunities at the expense of others’ offense. But that’s not how head coach Byron Scott sees it.
“I don’t care about that crap and I’m sure he doesn’t either,” Scott told reporters this week, including one reporter who was asking him about Bryant’s looming accomplishment. “I don’t mean to cut you off, but to me it speaks of his aggressiveness and his longevity.”
From Scott’s perspective, the 36-year-old doesn’t have much of a choice given the extent to which he’s pressured to keep the Lakers afloat.
“It’s almost damned if you do, damned if you don’t,” he added. “The games that he don’t take shots, people ask why didn’t he take more shots. He can’t win neither way, which is unbelievable to me for a guy who gives it everything he’s got every single time he’s on the floor.”
Unbelievable, and yet totally predictable.
Those with Bryant’s larger-than-life profile are bound to generate mixed opinions. NBCSports.com’s Kurt Helin seems to get it right, though.
“You don’t get this kind of record without having a long career in which coaches and a franchise want the ball in your hands—and that doesn’t happen if you’re not elite,” Helin recently wrote. “Everybody near the top of this list is in the Hall of Fame (Kobe will be).”
Indeed, it’s not about the missed shots. It’s about the burden of being great, Bryant’s long history of putting the Lakers on his back and doing whatever it takes to get the win—even when it means attempting 37 shots.
Bryant will eventually own this record by a significant margin. He’ll remain a central contributor this season, and it’s too soon to say when he’ll call it a career. There are plenty more missed shots in his future.
Unfortunately, there are probably quite a few losses, too.
And that’s the only number Bryant really cares about.