People often say that Kobe Bryant does not share the ball enough. Well in the last six games Kobe is averaging Magic Johnson type numbers in terms of assists with 10apg. The Lakers have won five of their last six games as the Black Mamba has turned into the Magic Mamba. This new look Lakers team has looked very exiting these last 6 games with excellent ball movement spearheaded by #24 himself. Kobe came up one short (with 14assists) in back to back games versus Utah and OKC both constituting wins. His career high in assists was set back on February 12, 2002 with 15.
The fact however is that Kobe now is instilling trust and confidence in his teammates. This whole season Kobe Bryant has had to bail out the Lakers and will the team to victories because nobody else was stepping up. Kobe’s “Magic” Johnson type numbers have soared recently because his teammates are now actually making their shots and converting on their field goal opportunities. Kobe has consistently been sharing the ball even prior to this last assist heavy stretch. For this season Kobe is already above his career assist average of 4.7apg with 5.4apg. So to say that Kobe Bryant has just started passing the ball is wildly inaccurate and off kilter.
Kobe has been sharing the basketball and is actively trying to get other teammates involved. The difference these last 6 games have been his teammates actually making shots when Kobe has passed it to them hence the hike in the assists per game. Yes Kobe is shooting less shots but that is because his teammates are starting to make more of their own. Over the last six games Kobe is averaging 14 field goal attempts per game and is scoring 17ppg with 7.6rpg. In this stretch Kobe has averaged numbers rivaling the Big O Oscar Robertson and Earvin Magic Johnson. These stats are point guard like numbers not shooting guard numbers. Not only has Kobe been actively finding his teammates for open shots but he has sacrificed his own game for the sake of his team. Kobe lead the league in scoring with almost 30ppg going into this six game stretch and now has fell to 3rd in the NBA in scoring at 27.7 ppg.
The most unselfish act I have ever seen from any player in any sport came from the Black Mamba Kobe Bryant on Friday’s victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves. Kobe had a wide open fastbreak dunk with nobody even remotely in sight, but Kobe flipped the ball to his pal Pau Gasol and unselfishly gave the big man a two handed slam to boost his confidence. What Kobe did for Gasol was beyond just a regular assist, it was an act of belief. He showed Gasol with his actions that he believes that #16 is still one of the best big men of the NBA and that even in this tough patch D’Antoni making Pau “ride the pine,” that Kobe Bryant still has his back. Another example of instilling confidence in his team was in the same game, Kobe drove into the lane then kicked the ball out to the artist formerly known as Ron Artest aka Metta World Peace for three, then Metta missed it and Kobe had the audacity to pass it to him again. This time Metta drained the trey and was smiling ear to ear. This is the sort of leadership and trust that Kobe has taken upon himself to elevate his team to start winning games and become actively involved in all aspects of the game. Since guys feel confidence offensively they have became more engaged defensively.
After the Lakers had a players meeting in Memphis, they have come together as a collective group to play team basketball. The team went from a get mine mentality to an all for one mentality. These Lakers now play for each other and it stems from the top down with the alpha dog Kobe Bryant leading the charge. Kobe has showed a willingness and trust in his teammates believing in them even when they might not have belief in themselves. When asked if the Lakers talked about Kobe becoming more of a play-maker and facilitator, Kobe said it just happened. He didn’t discuss it with anyone; he just took it upon himself to do what he thought would help the team win games. Will Kobe remain as the great play-maker and facilitator? Well as long as the Lakers keep winning games he will. All that matters to KB24 is wins. At this stage of his career Kobe Bryant could care less about his personal numbers and more about the team winning and hopefully making the playoffs with championship aspirations. As for now the Lakers are taking it one game at a time.