LOS ANGELES – Kobe Bryant is 12 missed shots from another milestone in his hall-of-fame career: the record for most missed field goals in NBA history.
Bryant, who is missing an average of 14.3 shots per game this season, may break John Havlicek’s record of 13,417 missed shots in Memphis Tuesday, when the Los Angeles Lakers face the Grizzlies.
“This is his 19th year league, his aggressiveness has gotten him to that status but his longevity has gotten him to that status as well,” Lakers coach Byron Scott said. “I think it’s a combination of both. He’s never been shy. He’s always been aggressive. His rookie year, he threw up three air balls against Utah. His first one didn't deter him. That was my last year playing and the thing we knew about him at that time was that it was going to make him stronger and it did. He’s come back with a vengeance.”
Through six games this season, Bryant is averaging 24.7 shots per 36 minutes, which would not only be the highest of his career, but the highest for any player since Michael Jordan (25.0) during the 1986-87 season. Jordan was 23 years old back then; Bryant is currently 36. Another big difference is Jordan hit nearly 50 percent of his shots that season while Bryant is currently shooting 39.4 percent from the floor.
Scott said he would like to see the rest of Bryant’s teammates more involved in the offense, but knows it will take some time.
“When you got a bunch of new guys and you’re playing with a legend, it takes time,” Scott said. “A lot of those guys have watched Kobe over the years be one of the best players that has ever played this game, so of course when they throw it to him sometimes they have a tendency to stand around and watch because they want to see what he’s going to do. After about six or seven weeks, they’re starting to realize we have to help him as much as possible and that’s a challenge. If you are a professional basketball player you like those types of challenges.”
The Lakers signed Bryant to a two-year, $48.5 million contract extension last season, in which he played only six games because of injuries.
“He still believes he can be the best player in the league every time he steps on the court,” Carlos Boozer said. “He believes he’s the best player on the court and a lot of nights he shows that. You got to give him a lot of credit because it’s hard to do, the eras he went through in the late '90s, 2000s and now 2014. It’s incredible for him to be that great over so many different eras of basketball.
"He has the ultimate confidence. I’ve seen Kobe make shots that most guys couldn’t even think about doing. That’s why fans come every night. You might see him do something that night that you’ll never see again in your life. He’s worth the admission price.”