Sacrificing your body to take a charge is one of the great momentum builders in basketball. Absorbing the hit from an opposing player coming at you like a freight train takes its toll on the body, but for a lot of players the turnover is worth the sacrifice.
Not for Los Angeles Laker Kobe Bryant. To paraphrase Meatloaf, Kobe would do anything for his team, but he won’t do that.
“I learned from my predecessors, man,” Bryant said. “Pippen had a (messed) up back taking charges. Bird had a (messed) up back taking charges. I said, ‘I’m not taking charges.’ I figured that (stuff) out at an early age.”
“I’ve seen Michael [Jordan] not take one … charge and he’s healthy his whole career, and the same thing with Magic. I might not be the smartest guy in the room but I can figure that (stuff) out.”
The irony of the timing of this quote is pretty funny. Kobe said this before the Game 2 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder, but during last night’s game, Kobe tried to take a charge but got called for a block instead. Bryant was clearly frustrated by the call, pounding the ground and yelling in protest. I guess the refs heard what he said and decided not to give him the benefit of the call since he doesn’t take charges.
It will be interesting to see if this changes the way teams play against the Lakers. If word gets out that Kobe is opposed to taking charges, will more players try and go at him? Will this result in Kobe being forced to take more charges because his opponents are looking to ram into him?
After the Thunder turned the ball over only 4 times in the first game of the series, they committed 13 in last night’s game and Thunder only won by 2 instead of 29. The Thunder turned the ball over more than any other team during the regular season, and if L.A. is going to have any chance at coming back in this series, they’ll have to force turnovers. Maybe it’s time for Kobe to step up and sacrifice himself a bit more for the team.