Saturday was vintage Kobe… or at least vintage 2012 Kobe.
He looked tired — as he has a lot lately, which is why we have all watched his shooting percentages drop — and started the game 0-for-15 shooting with zero points through three quarters. Yes, you read that right. Zero points on 15 missed shots.
Then he went 3-6 in the fourth quarter, scored 11 points and did this in the Lakers’ 88-85 victory:
For Lakers fans that is a vintage “don’t shoot that Kobe, no, no no no no…. YES!” moment.
He is no longer the Kobe Bryant from 2003. The athleticism has taken a step back but because he is smart and so fundamentally sound he can still get to his spots on the court and hit his shots. He is still a force.
Well, when he feels right. Right now Mike Brown is running him into the ground — only Dwight Howard has played more minutes than 33-year-old Kobe. He’s played more than Kevin Love, Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, LeBron James and everybody else with younger legs.
He won’t admit it, but the minutes are clearly wearing Kobe down. You see it in his shooting percentages.
But Kobe’s unwavering self-confidence is still there — miss 15 shots and he is sure the next one will fall. He is sure there is nobody better suited on the planet to take the hero ball last shot. And that confidence, that belief that there is nobody better in the big moments, has upsides like that video above.
He can shoot you out of a game, or he can win it for you. But he always believes it will be the latter. Which is at the heart of what makes Kobe “Kobe.”