Contrary to Popular Belief, Kobe Has Always Been a Willing Facilitator

Kobe Bryant dumps a pass behind Mobley

Written by: Fern Rea

Kobe Bryant continues to get portrayed in the media and by fans as a selfish, high volume shooter who refuses to trust his teammates. Such things have been said as Kobe having tunnel vision and only caring about his statistical achievements. Some say that he only cares about his legacy and catching Michael Jordan as the greatest of all time.

This couldn’t be further from the truth.

People seem to ignore the fact that Kobe has always averaged around 5 assists per game each season, which ranks at the top of the league every year for shooting guards. This year he is 3rd in the league in assists for shooting guards, only behind James Harden of the Houston Rockets and Monte Ellis of the Milwaukee Bucks.

They forget that in his career (not including his first 3 seasons where his role was limited) he has never averaged less than 4.5 assist per game and has averaged as many as 6 per game. Even in those years when he lined up next to Luke Walton, Smush Parker and Kwame Brown, when nobody could blame him (even though many did) for taking a ton of shots, he found a way to average 4 and half assist per game.

Keep in mind that assists are only counted when the player receiving the pass actually puts the ball in the basket. Assists do not count when that player misses the shot, turns it over or gets fouled. Kobe averaging 5 assist per game means that there were at least 7 and as many as 15 assists opportunities that were blown by the recipient of Kobe’s pass.

Kobe is coming off 3 straight games of double digit assists; in two of those games he compiled 14 assists which is 1 short of his career high. The Lakers have won all 3 games and suddenly looked like a harmonious bunch on offense and energized on defense.

Because of the way the media incorrectly portrays Kobe as an unwilling passer that does not trust his teammates, it shocks many to hear that Kobe has strung together a few games of double digit assists. What will surprise many is that these stretches of generosity are not uncommon for Kobe. In fact if you’ve been following Kobe’s career and not been brainwashed by the media’s portrayal of Kobe being a selfish player you already know the truth.

Lets take a look a back in Kobe’s history:

Kobe’s career high in assists: 15 (occurred on 2/12/2002 against Washington)

Kobe has had 81 games of double digit assists, including the playoffs.

Here is a break down of Kobe’s 81 double digit assists games, which include the playoffs:

15 assists: 1 time

14 assists: 6 times

13 assists: 6 times

12 assists: 10 times

11 assists: 25 times

10 assists: 33 times

Here is a break down of Kobe’s streaks of consecutive games with double digit assists:

4 consecutive games of double digit assists: 2 times

3 consecutive games of double digit assists: 6 times

Back to back games of double digit assists: 12 times

Here is a snap shot of some of Kobe best string of games where he dished out double figure assists:

Pic 1 to 2002 03

  • In the 2002-2003 season, Kobe had 3 different streaks of back to back games where he had 10 or more assists. Kobe also had a stretch where he had 10 or more assists in 4 of 6 games (12/1/02-12/10/02 displayed above).

Pic 2 to 0809

  • The last time Kobe Bryant has had 4 consecutive games of double digit assists was in 2009 (during the 2008-2009 season).

Pic 3 to 2012 13

  • The last time Kobe had at least 3 consecutive games of double digits assists it was against the Phoenix Suns in the 2010 Western Conference Playoffs. Kobe Bryant and the Lakers went on to beat the Boston Celtics in the NBA Finals to earn the franchises 16th NBA title.

Over the course of Kobe’s career, the formula for success has proven to be Kobe being the go for the throat, relentless scorer that he has always been.

At times, Kobe’s uber competitive spirit and history of success of him playing as an agressive offensive weapon does go too far with him trying to do it all himself on the offensive end. Its not that Kobe doesn’t trust his teammates, it’s just that he trusts himself a whole lot more.

But make no mistake, Kobe is, always was and will continue to be, all about winning; no matter how it’s done. As I have illistrated, Kobe has been a willing and able facilitator when it was necessary. If that is needed to win with this current squad, he’ll do that, as he has been doing. That can change as the season goes on.

Kobe summed that thought up pretty well in one of his recent tweets:

– Fern Rea “@fullcourtfern” and “@raining3sdotcom”

  • Kobe has to ability to make his teammates better by being more of a facilitator (the one intangible he doesn’t display on a consistent basis). MJ learned to get the team involved then take over in the 4th if need be. But Kobe wants to call out other players when they lose but needs to look in the mirror. Really, “Big boy pants.”

    In the past 4 games guys like Earl Clark (who?) knocking down 3s and playing so much more comfortable on the court, MWP playing the way he did before coming to Lakers. And the overall increased energy the Lakers have been playing with is hard to deny. So in these past 4 games do they look like a team with a record of 20-26? What if Kobe played like this a little earlier in the season, would they be in the playoff standings?

    In my opinion Kobe should be more of a leader than a scorer. Yes I know he is a shooting guard but if he could make team better by facilitating more, wouldn’t you want him to? Also he puts more pressure on the defense by being more of a treat to pass. And who does that benefit? You can on and on talking about how Kobe is having one of his best years statistically and for his age but if it doesn’t translate into wins does that even matter to the team?

    • Thank you for commenting.

      I think the main point of the article was to show that Kobe has always facilitated throughout this career and is not this so called ball hog that many try to make him out to be. You don’t average 5 assist a game throughout your career from the shooting guard position if you don’t facilitate the offense.

      As far as comparing him to Micheal Jordan, during those years that he was winning championships, he shot the ball FAR MORE than Kobe Bryant ever did. Also, Kobe has always had a few guys on the team that did contributed more than Jordan’s counter parts.

      Jordan averages 5.3 assists per game for his entire Career. Kobe averages 4.7 assists per game career.

      Jordan averaged 22.9 shots per game over his career. Kobe averages 19.6 shots per game career.

      Jordan’s apg during his 6 championship years: 5.5, 6.1, 5.5, 4.3, 4.3, 3.5…he actually averaged more assists when he didn’t win, 8 per game in 88-89.

      Kobe apg during his 5 championship: 4.9, 5.0, 5.5, 4.9, 5.0

      As you can see, Kobe’s assists were pretty much there with MJ’s first 3 and actually higher than in his last 3 championships. So, Jordan shot more and actually got his team mates involved less.

      So, your recollection of MJ as a guy that got his team mates involved has been inflated over the years and the idea that Kobe is not a player that gets his team mates involved is incorrect. You’re a victim of the mass media’s incorrect portrayal of Kobe and infatuation of MJ over the years

      Fern Rea

    • Also, take a look at another one of my articles that shows just how much of a “ball hog” Michael Jordan was in his career, especially in the playoffs. Of course I dont consider him a ball hog, just an offensive weapon that is doing exactly what should be done to win, and that is attack the defense until they prove they can stop it, just like Kobe.

      http://raining3s.com/2012/12/20/you-cant-win-in-the-nba-with-a-volume-shooter-history-says-youre-wrong/

      • I understood the point of your article but argue the word “willing” in the main title. I’m not a victim of mass media; I actually watched just about every NBA final game of MJs when it happened (not on tapes or dvds). I remember the last finals against the jazz I was living in Japan, so the games were on at some crazy times due to the time difference. So I was taking a lunch break and ended taking almost 3hrs, lucky my boss was cool and I didn’t get fired. I’m a basketball junkie and coach who has been watching basketball religiously since the late 80s. This is actually my first time replying to anything online. I understand that everyone is entitled to their views and opinions but in my own opinion Kobe can be so much more or have more titles.

        We could compare stats all day but what comes down to actually watching that player play for his whole career. Because could you honestly say the stats of a player is a clear definition of how that player played? Can stats capture a player passion and dedication? Maybe Dennis Rodman, his rebounding stats for his height put big man today to shame. In basketball it’s the quality of the shot and the flow of the game that can determine whether the shot was good or bad. Does that make sense? How many times have you watched Kobe take a shot while doubled with a big man in the post (and not at the end of the shot clock)?

        Lastly, before Kobe’s rebirth in the past 4 games is the Lakers a better team versus all the other games prior?

        • To answer your question, Yes, the Lakers have been playing better with Kobe playing the role of facilitator and tapering his shot output. Forget tapering, he his shot attempts to half. My article also showed that this isnt uncommon, Kobe has had these stretches before, and for longer periods of time actually. The Lakers and Kobe had to do something different because everything they had done up to that point wasn’t working.

          Regardless of why its working (and I have an opinion as to why its working now and its not because of Kobe taking less shots or piling up assists) the main thing is that it is working and they continue doing it until it stops being effective.

          And yes, Kobe is notorious for taking bad shots, but he does make a lot of those bad shots, and I have always said you just have to take the good with the bad with Kobe, and part of that is riding out his moments when he feels he needs to take on the other team 1 on 5. Those moments are really as frequent as people like to believe and there is a whole lot more good with Kobe than bad. The people that continue to criticize Kobe will only focus on the bad and ignore or devalue the good.

          Again, Kobe doesn’t average 5 assist per game by ignoring his teammates. Kobe is every bit the team player that MJ was, and is actually better because he took less shots away from his teammates. Those are facts, not based on recollection.

          While I agree, stats can not always tell the entire story and can be manipulated, you cant dismiss them as irrelevant. Stats are tangible pieces of evidence that show a players production on the floor. If you only go by your recollection of a player, or even as it is happening, your eyes can lie to you. Reason? Subconsciously or consciously, We program our minds to look out for certain things and ignore others. Its called a bias. We have to research of facts and obtain different perspectives to come to a true conclusion.

  • Would continue this conversation but just wondering how long you been following the game of basketball? I’m a true student of the game, largely because I love watching and teaching it. But if the majority of writing is based on stats this will be a conversation with you just ignoring majority of what I’m stating. Have you watched the movie titled “Trouble with the Curve (2012) if not check it out, I know it’s a different sport but hopefully you’ll understand my point. You remind me of the scout with software program.

    • Actually I did watch that movie, but mainly because I think Amy Adams is adorable.

      I use stats to support my observations of the game. I don’t base my entire position or observation on stats. I also don’t base my entire position or make an argument solely on my observations. When I have a position that I have taken based on all of the information I have collected, I like to discuss that (or argue) with someone that has the opposing position, so that I can see the holes in my argument and maybe even see something that I am missing.

      When you provide an opinion and nothing else to support it, you are asking someone to just take your word for it.

      Because I do all of that when forming an opinion I understand I could still be wrong, but its not without my due diligence.

      Thanks again for stopping by and the exchange.

  • youdonthaveanagument

    Lol @Alvin. The OP is presenting facts to you and you’re ignoring them by playing the “I’ve been watching basketball longer than you and I’m a student of the game” card without really providing evidence to back up your opinion. Majority of kobe’s haters and jordan jockers would always resort to stats to argue who’s the better player and IMO Jordan is the better player. But when the very same facts (stats) people use to discredit kobe are being used to support the fact that he has always been a willing passer and a facilitator for kobe, people like you conveniently ignore them. You say you’ve been watching basketball for a long time, then I wonder which were you watching if in case you didn’t know that Kobe has always been the facilitator during the 3peat era, Smush, Kwame era, and Gasol era. Both stats and eye test show Kobe has always been a facilitator unless of course you’re one of the many people brainwashed by the media’s agenda against kobe.