Kobe Bryant faced LeBron James for the final time on Thursday, and each player’s performance was a fair representation of how they’ve gone about playing the game throughout their respective careers.
Bryant gunned his way to a team-high 26 points on an efficient 11-of-16 shooting, but had just two assists as his Lakers lost by double-digits at home to the Cavaliers. James, meanwhile, poured in 24 points of his own, but filled out the stat sheet a little better with seven assists and a couple of blocked shots, while Kyrie Irving led Cleveland in both points (26) and field goal attempts (20) during the victory in Los Angeles.
To be fair, this might have been Bryant’s best individual performance of the season, especially when taking into account the fact that he finished the night without a turnover in 32 minutes of action. But there’s no denying that Bryant has always been the type to shoot first and ask questions later, and even in what will be his final NBA season, he’s leading the Lakers in field goal attempts per game while shooting a lower percentage than any of his teammates who receive a starter’s share of the minutes.
This is how Bryant has always chosen to operate, and though this philosophy is partly responsible for his many moments of greatness, it’s also been a point of contention for those who prefer a more team-oriented style of basketball.
But whether you’re a fan of Kobe’s or one of his detractors, it’s hard not to chuckle at this anecdote from ESPN’s J.A. Adande, which perfectly reflects the way Bryant has approached the game in all 20 of his NBA seasons.
[Kobe] saw LeBron's mother, Gloria, in the hallway outside the locker rooms and told her he'd been watching her grandsons' blossoming basketball talents. He had only one critique:
“They pass too much,” Kobe told her. “Send them my way, and I'll fix that.”