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Laker and Sun Staffers: Lakers are Better When Kobe Bryant Shoots Less

In Jack McCallum's new book about the Suns, Seven Seconds or Less (which I have already raved about so much that I am beginning to impugn my own credibility) there is a fascinating bit of Kobe Bryant news:

  • When the Lakers were in Phoenix, McCallum reports, someone left a page of the Laker scouting report at the Ritz Carlton which found its way to the Suns. It reportedly read: "Everyone must contribute offensively. We can't win this series if Kobe shoots over 30 shots a game. Balance our attack."

  • Meanwhile, most of the Suns' coaching staff totally agrees. For instance, Marc Iavaroni is quoted saying " ...for every shot he makes, the other guys are saying, 'Oh shit, Kobe's doing it all again...'" On the other hand, Iavaroni says, the Lakers sometimes play with a team concept that's tougher to handle. The Suns want to avoid that.

Kevin Pelton's article from a while ago made a case (I'm paraphrasing dreadfully) that Kobe Bryant makes his teammates more effective even when he's being a ballhog. Guess that's true compared to when he's not on the floor at all. But it's fascinating that at least some of the basketball professionals on the staff of both sides in that series thought the Lakers would have a better chance of winning if Kobe Bryant shot the ball less. It's the superstar's burden, and Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James, Allen Iverson, and others all have to deal with it.

What's especially interesting is that the Lakers ended up losing a game seven in which Bryant was criticized for not shooting enough.