Back when he was a young child growing up in Italy, Kobe Bryant always imagined he’d exude greatness as a basketball player.
But his initial visions didn’t exactly pan out as imagined.
Idolizing Lakers great Magic Johnson, Bryant says he envisioned becoming another 6’9″ point guard that would dazzle everyone with his amazing passes.
“After that I realized I wouldn’t be 6’9,” Bryant said, “it was the end of that dream.”
And apparently, so was Bryant’s quest to become an elite passer. Instead he channeled his competitiveness into becoming the NBA’s fifth all-time leading scorer and possibly even more. Yet, the Lakers’ three-game winning streak has coincided with Bryant facilitating the offense, while Steve Nash mostly scores off the ball.
The Lakers’ 111-106 victory Tuesday over the New Orleans Hornets featured Bryant posting 14 points, 11 assists and eight rebounds, his third consecutive near triple double. Bryant has averaged 13 assists in the past three games, an effort that exceeds the league leaders including Celtics injured guard Rajon Rondo (11.1) and Clippers guard Chris Paul (9.7).
“What do you think I’m going to stand here and say I wasn’t going to be the best?” Bryant said with a smile. “Most of you guys thought I couldnt do it. “That’s pretty funny.”
Well, not exactly.
Everyone saw Bryant feed Shaquille O’Neal for countless lobs. Bryant has dropped at least 10 dimes in three consecutive games five times in his career. But since when has he been willing to do this at the expense of his thirst for scoring?
“I can do it,” Bryant said. “I’m like Neo out this mother [expletive].”
And with his new role, Bryant has adapted the same perfectionist mindset that describes his game.
He often points to teammates where to go on the floor. Bryant constantly high fives and pats heads after making a pass. He also looks genuinely happy his role reversal has helped spark the Lakers’ winning streak, despite finishing against the Hornets as the team’s fourth-leading scorer behind Dwight Howard (24 points), Earl Clark (20) and Antawn Jamison (16).
“You’re seeing everybody gain confidence and play well off of it,” Bryant said. “I enjoy doing it. I prepare for each game looking strategiaclly where denese are coming from and how to put guys in the right lace to be successful.”
Perhaps Bryant will fulfill his early childhood dream after all.