Imagine that ever since you were a young teenager you were a better basketball player than your peers – and many kids older than yourself. You are a basketball prodigy in high school. People keep telling you how good you are. The professionals risk a draft pick to select you out of high school. You are earning millions, while your friends are pooling together any found change to buy a beer. People say you might be the next Michael Jordan. Some even say you could be better than His Airness.
Yes, that is some of back story of Kobe Bryant.
Basketball coaches and executives regard Kobe Bryant as the best “closer” in the sport. He works harder than his peers. The gym and weight room are like a second and third home. He has the athleticism to make “did-you-see-that” impossible shots. And he relishes those critical moments at the end of the game, when he has to perform… when so much is on the line.
Now – and for countless time in the past – the Lakers coaches will be asking Kobe Bryant to use his team mates. They will be encouraging him to pass to team mates, who do not have his level of skill. He knows that and so do they. The Lakers coaches will be asking Kobe Bryant to put his fate in the hands of his team mates. He really wants this championship. Kobe has said repeatedly that he really really really wants this championship. So, if you were coaching against Kobe Bryant, do you think that he will pass that ball? Michael Jordan did. He passed to Steve Kerr (1997). He passed to John Paxton. He passed to Toni Kukoc. Michael Jordan didn’t always take the final shot.
Will Kobe Bryant pass the shot to a team mate when a championship series game – and possibly the championship itself – is on the line?