We know that Kobe Bryant has never been one to downplay his confidence in his basketball ability or be quiet, well, about anything. But he took that too far recently, telling T.J. Simers of the Los Angeles Times that he probably would have scored more points had he never played with Shaq on the Lakers.
From Simers' column:
'If I was playing in this [Mike] D'Antoni system when I was 21 or 23, forget it. The floor is spread and you just get to the rim.'
So I ask, 'Would you have 40,000 points by now?'
'If I wasn't playing with Shaq, probably,' he says. 'I would have scored a lot more for sure.'
But that's like a lifetime ago. And so knowing how much he wants to win championships and (tongue-in-cheek) I just heard him say he's going to retire after next year, is he panic-stricken, nervous or questioning his chances now of winning another ring?
I like Kobe as much as the next guy but this statement is just a little absurd and frankly, out-of-the-blue and inconsequential. Kobe is 5th all-time in NBA history in points, just ahead of Shaq in 6th place by roughly 1,500 points but, in all likelihood, would not be nearly as high on that list without the help he got from O'Neal.
Kobe was just beginning his career in the 1996-97 season in L.A. when the Lakers signed O'Neal in free agency, the same summer they traded for Bryant's draft rights from Charlotte.
Contrary to popular belief, Kobe was not all that effective when he broke into the NBA and did not even average 10 points per game in his first season. That eventually climbed up to 15.4 points in 1997-98 and 19.9 points in 1998-99, a fact certainly aided by the presence of a perennial All-Star, future Hall-of-Famer, and 25+ point scorer and 10+ board rebounder in the paint.
It is not just stupid to insult Shaq by saying he would have scored more points if the big man didn't play on the lakers with him, it is irresponsible. Give credit where it is due, Kobe, you should know better.