It was vintage Kobe Bryant.
For the first half and a few minutes of the third quarter against Australia he was just not good — 0-for-5 shooting, three turnovers and Coach K had taken him off the Aussies best scorer in Patty Mills.
But if Kobe is 0-for-5 he is sure the sixth shot will fall and he will take it without fear. And in the third quarter Wednesday he knocked down a three, then on the next possession stole the ball and turned that into a corner three. After that it was on. He finished with 20 second half points as he rained down threes and looked invincible.
Kobe has that run in him at all times, his confidence never waivers. Never. For better or worse.
When a news reporter suggested Bryant was the best U.S offensive player in the low post other than center Tyson Chandler, Bryant stopped the question.
“No, no, no,” Bryant said. “Not other than Tyson Chandler. I’m the best post player on this team, period. Tyson Chandler is not in that conversation.”
Asked what it’s like to be the old guy on the team, Bryant said, “I’m where everybody wants to get to. I just happen to be still playing.”
“Can you learn anything from these young guys?” he was asked.
“You know everything?”
Bryant: “I don’t know if I know it all, but I know more than they do.”
What you think of those quotes is really what you think about Kobe. His fans love his brash confidence and point to his accomplishments and titles (count the ringzzzz!) and correctly note Kobe wouldn’t have that if he didn’t possess that level of confidence. The confidence to take and make big shots
His detractors will point to the missed big shots, the playoff losses, the times he shot the Lakers out of games late with isolations rather than getting the ball inside to mismatches on Pau Gasol or Andrew Bynum. They say he has something to learn still.
As usual, the truth is in the middle. Like the hero of a classic Greek myth, Kobe’s greatest strength can also be his undoing. His confidence is what makes him both great and infuriating. (Although Kobe is spot on about Chandler’s post game, the conversation is about LeBron, Kobe and ‘Melo.)
I’m not sure Kobe really does have much to learn from the guys on Team USA. But how he applies what he knows can be frustrating at times.
It’s just all part of Kobe.