MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Lakers coach Byron Scott initially sounded annoyed.
Kobe Bryant is on the verge of setting an NBA record for most missed shots in a career, and Scott hardly sounded thrilled with the implications that suggested he is a ball hog. Hence, why Scott politely cut off a reporter who brought up that Bryant enters tonight’s game against the Memphis Grizzlies (6-1) here at FedEx Forum only 13 missed field goals shy of setting the NBA’s all-time record.
“I don’t care about that crap,” Scott said following Lakers’ morning shootaround, which lasted around 90 minutes. “I’m sure he doesn’t either. It speaks of his aggressiveness and longevity.”
Bryant enters his 19th season missing 13,405 shots in 1,251 games, but Scott considers that a worthy investment that has resulted in five NBA championships and a fourth-place standing on the league’s all-time scoring list. Meanwhile, Celtics great John Havlicek holds the NBA record for missed shots (13,417 attempts), but won four NBA championships and finished 13th on the NBA’s all-time scoring list through 16 seasons.
“John was a pretty damn good basketball player back in the day,” Scott said.
Yet, Bryant has rarely escaped criticism regarding his own shot selection. After playing in only six games last season with injuries to his left Achilles tendon and left knee, Bryant has averaged 26.5 points, which ranks second best in the NBA behind Golden State’s Steph Curry (27.7 points per game). But Bryant has also shot a career-low 39.5 percent from the field.
Scott has largely defended Bryant, saying he has taken a large chunk of the Lakers’ shots namely because teammates haven’t matched his aggressiveness. In the Lakers’ 107-92 win on Sunday over Charlotte, Scott believes Jeremy Lin (21 points), Carlos Boozer (16 points), Jordan Hill (12 points) and Ed Davis (12 points) created a more balanced offense because they did not defer to Bryant as much.
“To the people who talk about how many shots he takes and things like that, it’s almost damned if you, damned if you don’t,” Scott said. “In the games he doesn’t take more shots, people ask why didn’t he take more shots. He can’t win either way. That’s unbelievable to me for a guy who gives everything he’s got every single time he’s on the floor. It’s unfortunate. He’s one of the greatest competitors we’ve seen in a long time. I take all that stuff with a grain of salt and he does too because the bottom line with him is championships.”