Los Angeles Lakers coach Byron Scott defended Kobe Bryant's poor shooting and aggressive -- if questionable -- shot selection Monday by telling reporters the 37-year-old shooting guard's lengthy NBA career has earned him "that privilege, basically."
Bryant, who is in his 20th NBA season, is shooting a career-worst 33.1 percent from the field, including 20 percent from 3-point range. He is 1-of-14 from 3-point range in his past three games. Bryant shot 6-of-22 from the field Sunday in the team's 107-93 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers and missed all five of his attempts from beyond the arc.
Scott said prior to Sunday's game that he wanted Bryant to be more of a facilitator, yet Bryant took 12 shots in the first 10 minutes and later said he was "just trying to get us off to a good start."
Scott was asked about Bryant's shooting and how it sets the tone for isolation basketball rather than ball movement, which Bryant and Scott have both said has been lacking.
"It could be [that], but first of all, he's had 20 years of experience in the league," Scott told reporters. "We might not have six players that have 20 years in this league combined. He has that privilege, basically.
"From a coaching standpoint, I want Kobe to be Kobe. Other guys haven't earned that right yet. So when it gets to their hands and it's sticking and you're a first-, second-, third-year player, you haven't earned that right yet."
Scott and Bryant were teammates during Bryant's rookie season with the Lakers in 1996-97.
While Bryant has often said he needs to defer more to the team's young core of Jordan Clarkson, Julius Randle and D'Angelo Russell, he still leads the Lakers in field goal attempts per game (16.6). Clarkson is second (12.8), and Russell and Randle are tied for third (10.2).
Bryant is tied with Jordan Clarkson for the most minutes per game (31.1), yet Bryant has the worst field goal percentage of any Laker. Bryant's true-shooting percentage (43.8), which weights free throws and 3-pointers, ranks 291st in the league this season.