They Made Camp There, And Torched It

If you were planning on reading this website today, I would instead recommend you spend your time here. Then, and only then, should you bother dragging your skin back this way.

I'm not exactly sure why I became a Kobe Bryant fan. I have no connection to Los Angeles and never rooted for the Lakers. Kobe's time in Ardmore, PA came to an end at the same time mine began, and it's not like I cared about sports then, anyway. When I returned to basketball after a self-imposed hiatus, Bryant and the Lakers were the antithesis of a novel or personal choice in allegiance. But as readers of this site know all too well, I've always been struck by Kobe's intelligence, moodiness and showy mastery of the game.

The Recluse wrote earlier this week that Nash and Duncan see the game as a series of logical problems, which contrasts sharply with Jordan's in-the-moment bloodlust. Bryant has inherited MJ's ruthlessness. Here's the tricky part: He's also got that Duncan/Nash brain-type thing going, except it's applied to the abstract pursuit of the game writ large. And the way Kobe undertakes this is pure Jordan, like he's going for bragging rights off of standardized test scores.

This meta-competitiveness always leads back to going after wins; you'd never call Bryant a cold technician unable to apply or animate his knowledge. But it serves to make what Kobe does on the court both supremely credible and profoundly disturbing. He's a student of basketball, and it shows, and yet his condescension often seems directed at the too-mortal scale of a single game. Yes, Kobe wants to trample opponents. But enlightened thinker that he is, Kobe sees the big picture; to truly be the best, you must see the game itself as the challenge, the trial to be overcome. Everything else should follow naturally from that. It's a twisted form of idealism you kind of have to respect.

The thing is, he's never made the game his enemy. He respects it, holds it in awe, and throws himself at it exactly because there's so much there to work through. It's never been ugly, or personal, between Bean Thousand and the game. So while so much about Kobe's last few years has come off as petty, spoiled, evil, immature, or misguided, I always keep this version of him in mind. And that's why I stay such a fervent Kobe supporter.

On Tuesday, all that was gone. Anyone thinking Kobe was going to "dog it" to prove a point is fucking stupid; I'm not the first person to say this, but it's probably physically impossible for him to not somehow try to win. His pride can't be separated from basketball, and to half-ass games to prove a point would make a mockery of his devotion. But the way I see it, this week he found another way to rot out his very core. Against the Rockets, Kobe didn't just go for his above the team, or shoot too much, or fail to give the ball to Andrew Bynum. He played with a chip on his shoulder that did violence against basketball itself. This wasn't a supremely confident Kobe saying "fuck you" to the difficulty posed by basketball; this was a "fuck you" to the game itself, to everything sacred that justifies seeing it as art and science.

Allen Iverson's made a career out of this same gesture. Love him or hate him, Iverson's someone who has an adversarial relationship with the basketball tradition, or at least the canon. IN PURELY BASKETBALLULAR TERMS, he's a revolutionary, a rebel, who believes that one scrappy, blazing, bad-ass individual can take over the league by doing what he feels. Iverson's style is improvisatory not because he doesn't know the fundamentals, but because he doesn't see the game in those terms. What makes him important, and exciting, is how brazen he is on any number of levels. That's where the audience polarization comes from, and why it makes no sense that I'd love the Warriors but still sometimes grate my chompers at AI's play.

The difference is, Iverson's an underdog, the voice of the streets, and in every way an outsider. Even now, with his influence in the league almost inescapable, he's treated like a problem, or a man looking for redemption. When Allen Iverson dares to take on the sanctity of basketball, it's exhilarating and, not surprisingly, has been taken by a lot of people to mean a lot of very empowering things. He's the worker smashing capitalism, the peasants storming the castle, and all other sorts of liberating, if flawed, scenes of protest and renewal.

Kobe, on the other hand, is so establishment it hurts. He's an apprentice of Lady Basketball, born into the sport in the most ostentatious way possible. If Iverson is the angry rabble, Kobe's the free-thinking nobleman, whose desire to rebel is both comical and self-destructive. The guy that always ends up in bad way in Russian novels, doomed by both vanity and fatuousness. Except in Kobe's case, history is not coming to an end. There's no external pressure for him to suddenly lash out at all he holds dear. All I can conclude is that, definitively, Kobe Bryant has lost his way amidst all this latest drama. In addition to taking his frustrations out on his incompetent teammates, drunken bosses, quizzical coach, scavenging media, and incidental opponents, Kobe's taking a chunk out of the one thing he loves best: good, old-fashioned, complete and universal, basketball.

I know some of you will argue that I'm overstating Kobe's responsibility on the floor. But even if you question some of his decisions in the past, I defy you to think of a game in which he's looked as stupid and obtuse (at least that Game Seven against the Suns had a kernel of rationality to it, something me and Phil Jackson could defend with a straight face afterwards). That was not the Kobe Bryant who even in his most headstrong moments gave off the scene of concentration and deliberation. That's not the player we watch even if his smirk makes us queasy. And it certainly wasn't a Kobe Bryant who could be made sympathetic or engaging; it was an extraordinary man forcing himself to be ordinary, undermining his genius to prove a point about its presence.

Kevin Durant didn't have a good game tonight, but it was certainly an auspicious one. All those shots he missed weren't horrible ideas, nor did they clang off the side of the backboard; his versatility was apparent, he was all over the flow of the action, and he had a few truly deft moves. We got the first few glimpses of the expanse that is Durant's game, a body of enacted knowledge that will only grow as the years go on. In a way, this is what I admired about Kobe without the dark prince aspect: Durant is a conduit for many strains of the sports, sometimes synthesizing them into something wholly new, sometimes parsing them as the situation demands it. He's not a fiery conservative in the way Kobe is, an Iversonian iconoclast (nihilist?), or a Garnett or LeBron-like visionary. Kevin Durant is basketball, past, present and future, even if he's only just beginning to come into focus.


At 11/01/2007 5:18 AM, Blogger Justin said...

Kobe's most adversarial relationship isn't with basketball. The divorce between him and the Ethos of the Game that you cite I'd argue to be an incidental one, and a manifestation of a general animus with the machine of fame. I'm admittedly one of the biggest Kobe fans alive today, but I can still see the egomaniac striving for victory over enemies real and imagined - tilting at windmills, almost. In those moments of clarity when the game slows down, or whatever developing cliche you want to use, he can focus and concentrate his egomaniacal conquest to a singular purpose. I don't think his on-court competitiveness is evidence of an overarching competitive desire to win at everything in the mold of Jordan so much as the ragged, incessant desire TO FIGHT funneled toward an ostensibly noble purpose. Kobe has to fight. His world is paranoia and anger and to fight is to survive and feed. On the court, he can fight and sometimes win and 17,000 people will stand up and chant his name.

At 11/01/2007 7:26 AM, Blogger John said...

dead souls?! i expect nothing less from FD.
but you completely ignored kobe's game 7 against the suns two years ago when he categorically refused to shoot just to make a point in losing. i think the point (in his mind) was: the game will always exist, it is what i do with it that matters

At 11/01/2007 9:12 AM, Blogger Matthew said...

What about game 7 against the Suns two years ago. Kobe pouted his way through the entire second half.

At 11/01/2007 9:13 AM, Blogger Daniel said...

Allen Iverson is the Pistol Pete of his generation. Even though I'm a HUGE fan of Maravich, this isn't necessarily a compliment. He's a warrior, he holds nothing back on the court, and he's gotten a terrible rap from old white sportswriters.

But I don't think it's any surprise that the Sixers got better with Andre Miller running the point instead of him, and I don't expect Denver to do anything special this year. He and Melo are better suited to be on the same fantasy team than they are on a real one.

At 11/01/2007 10:02 AM, Blogger Captain Caveman said...

AHHHHHHHH LOOK OUT that camel's on fire!!!!!!!11!!!

At 11/01/2007 10:17 AM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

something else behind the camel is on fire, so that camel needs to get the fuck out the way.

i didn't forget about game seven. i've added a sentence that explains how i've explained/excused it all along.

At 11/01/2007 10:37 AM, Anonymous matt said...

the idea of kobe as kafka's idiot is kind of cool, except it's more of a i told you so about everything than it is a shock to it..or at least it is now.

iverson as the kid singing a body catch a body or some hybrid of micheal douglas in falling down is also alright.

i like your site.

At 11/01/2007 12:31 PM, Anonymous Jake said...

I love it when you talk in purely basketballular terms ....

At 11/01/2007 12:57 PM, Anonymous djslickwatts said...

I have always hated the Lakers; I have always hated Kobe and the bizarre mix of noblesse oblige and Blue-Devil soullessness that I see in his game; I find myself rooting for him. I usually explain it with the fact that the mainstream sports media is united with every jackass in the Boston hat on every next barstool in America, against Kobe, and the enemy of my enemy is my rooting interest.

But you're right, Shoals, it's more than that: KB has more in common with the Answer than those of us who united behind Iverson the day he walked out of jail will ever admit. Remember the airballs? Remember him balling all over the ASG his rookie year, without treating it like a playoff game? When Kobe pulled that crazy-ass right-to-right crossover, and MJ was taking fadeways?

Dude is complicated. He'll just never understand why the proles don't love him back, when he lets them work in his factories, and he prays for their souls every Sunday.

At 11/01/2007 1:15 PM, Blogger stopmikelupica said...

Kevin Durant looked a little slow last night. Twice he got called for charges because a defender beat him to a spot; a couple of other times he beat his man, but another Denver defender beat him to his destination, forcing him to shoot. Not many layups/dunks, or even good looking jumpers.

He'll be fine once he adjusts to the speed of the NBA game, and learns the angles a bit better. His learning curve will be aided by the struggles of the this season, particularly in the first half.

The Sonics are destined to be the worst team in the league this year. I think somehow that fits the narrative of KD... that his first season, the team finishes dead last in the NBA. It seems an appropriate starting point for the Next Legend.

As for Kobe, Shoals is absolutely right in that not giving his all on the basketball court is not an option. But sitting out a large portion of the season with an "injury" is. Certainly he's earned the break - he's played more games over the past 10 seasons (including playoffs and Olympics) than any other player in the league. He might see some value in sitting out a 20-30 game chunk of the season, and giving the Lakers management the ultimate FU. No Kobe = no fans. That might force the Lakers hand a bit, and they might trade Kobe to the Bulls at that point.

At 11/01/2007 1:25 PM, Anonymous Disciple of Clyde said...

You're 100% right that Kobe will never dog it, and that anyone who thinks otherwise is just thinking lazily.

I think what we're seeing with Kobe is something from the outside finally distracting him. Previously, it seemed that anything outside (Shaq, Colorado, etc.) only caused him to focus even more on his dominance on the court.

Now, though, he appears to be actually distracted, bothered by everything. And this is manifested as the chip on his shoulder.

He'll continue to play hard, but it won't be as fun to watch him. Because who wants to watch a guy who hates his job, since we all probably hate our own jobs plenty?

At 11/01/2007 1:45 PM, Blogger Joey said...

The other day, I wrote that Kobe would try to spite the Lakers by playing so furiously well. Then I felt validated two nights ago, in a sort of sad way.

I don't disagree with the thrust of this post, Shoals, but I also don't find that I am upset with Kobe. Even more disconcerting, I am a proponent of the idea that most of Kobe's problems are of his own making: the Shaq divorce, the immature disparaging of his teammates, the trade demands. My bemusement likely stems from the fact that I was a long-time Kobe hater only recently won over by his manifest devotion to the game. I really do like Kobe, but I don't feel it, I more sort of think it.

At 11/01/2007 2:17 PM, Blogger stopmikelupica said...

Oh, and to answer the question of what's behind the camel... it's the camp. They torched it.

Stating obviousness,

At 11/01/2007 2:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Darkofans: This post is subtly profound and requires a second read, but , in the meantime, is that the cover art to Dostoyevsky's "Demons", or "Devils" or, as some experts now argue is a mis-translation : "The Damned ' or the "Possessed".

A great work on an at time comedic terrorist cell.

Scott Skiles could not shake his devil last night. Perhaps he will beat Kidd in hell.

At 11/01/2007 2:41 PM, Anonymous Kaifa said...

Hadn't considered seeing Iverson and Kobe connected in such a way, but it makes a lot of sense to me. And the peasant/nobleman analogy is perfect.

When reading the post and the comments about Kobe's approach to the game, the first thing that came to my mind again was that maybe Kobe fails to understand this:

"ILT. On Winning

For the leader of any team, there is an individual zone of concentration that carries over to his teammates, which can be stepped in and out of. The thing to remember is that you aren’t playing to win every possession; you’re playing to win the game. If you miss a shot or your opponent beats you, the only thing is to allow it to happen. Let the other team worry about possessions. There should be no difference in the mindset between one play and the other, or between offense and defense, only a steady push of concentration, like running the wrong way up an escalator."

I like this paragraph from Jake even though it goes against the crunch-time/big-defensive-stops-at-the-end mantra. If we take the above to be true or at least a viable alternative, then Kobe trying to force his will on the game becomes problematic. It seems like with every break against him during a game he tries even harder to take the direction into his own hands, and just loses (his/the team's/the game's) balance.

My own personal Samson-like theory on Kobe is that he lost his way as soon as he got rid of his hair (the baby-fro). If I remember correctly he shaved it the season after the Finals against the Pacers. It seemed like a symbolic gesture of self-determination at the time, and maybe it really was. He started distributing less, clashed even more with Shaq and always appeared actively trying to change either his image or his role on the team after that.

At 11/01/2007 2:54 PM, Blogger Martin said...

Really good post Shoals touching on the major style/motivational contrasts between AI and KB24. AI's well documented indifference to off-season conditioning and his disdain for practice, paint the picture of a man that does not view the game of basketball as his ultimate foe. AI is not driven to subdue the game and make it his subservient biyatch that he summons and commands at will. Rather AI's crusade is against the 5 players on the opposing team, their horde of jeering fans and the multitude of critics that doubt AI's physical stature and trigger-happy style. In that vein, switch AI with Kobe in the infamous 2006 game 7 against the Suns and in all likelihood, AI would have gone out in a flaming blaze of glory scoring 50 to 60pts on 35% FG% in a losing effort.

I think therein lies the fundamental difference between Kobe and AI. Kobe’s experience-to-date and intense pursuit basketball perfection have made him ill-fitted for an underdog status. As the last few years have shown, Kobe is not built for life outside of the walls of the dynasty castle where Kobe is forced to mingle with basketball peasants like Bynum and Smush. Put Kobe on the 2001 Sixers and the team probably flames out in the first round. Ironically, Kobe's best year came in 2001 when he combined with Shaq to form one of the most dominant teams of ALL-TIME. The 2001 Lakers totally humiliated some pretty formidable Spurs and SAC teams and would have run the table were it not for the scrappy AI-led Sixers stealing game one. If Kobe were on the Sixers, would he have put up AI's finals numbers despite knowing that at best the team could only win one game? The tragedy of the 2000-2002 Lakers is that instead of reflecting Kobe’s relentless Jordan-like intensity the team took on Shaq’s lackadaisical “on-off switch” personality (Horry was definitely an enabler on this btw). By assuming Shaq’s personality the team became both a gift and a curse to Kobe- the perfect environment for Kobe to flourish but also a hellish and hostile environment of clashing philosophies. Now Kobe finds himself in no mans land- he can only thrive on an elite team but to maintain his sanity must have a team that reflects his personality.

At 11/01/2007 3:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shhhish, and it's only game one. God help us get through this coming season.

At 11/01/2007 3:14 PM, Anonymous djslickwatts said...

In much more important news, Baron Davis has started a book club on the Dubs:

From the article:

At Foyle's book club, Adonal would lead a discussion that invariably phased into a group-therapy and personal-support session. Davis' club will be more loosely structured. He will launch discussions on flights and bus rides, and at team breakfasts.

"My club isn't as organized as Adonal's," Davis said. "Mine is a little thugged out. We'll let it take its own form. This team doesn't do too well with too much structure."

That is, I submit, amazing. Only B Dizzle would come up with a thugged out book club.

At 11/01/2007 3:52 PM, Blogger stopmikelupica said...

DJ: Baron discussed it on his blog (!), which is on Yardbarker. It also mentioned that Stephen Jackson is, in fact, in the book club.

Martin: That was one of the best breakdowns of Kobe/AI I've read. It's the perfect footnote to Shoal's post. Stuff like this is why I love Free Darko.

At 11/01/2007 5:11 PM, Blogger Ty Keenan said...

I fear I'm too late to make any reputable Kobe points, but a few off-topic observations:

The news that Baron's book club is not structured makes me insanely happy. I keep imagining Baron yelling "Book Club!" after which Jax, Barnes, and everyone else run through some kind of urban obstacle course like in the old Surge commercials.

I'm also very happy that Durant looks like he's going to struggle for at least a chunk of this year. The team is so bad that he's going to have to learn to translate his end-of-game excellence to other parts of the game (like he did in the Kansas game last year), and that can only be a good thing in the long run.

At 11/01/2007 6:29 PM, Anonymous quick said...

Kobe is frustrated. Tuesday night he was playing angry--angry at the refs, angry at the fans, angry at his teammates, angry at the Rockets. The final play of the game was a fitting metaphor for the entire opening game, and I think ultimately will be a metaphor for the Lakers' entire season:
With only 2 seconds to play, Kobe, having almost singlehandedly overcome a 12 point deficit in a minute-thirty, is at the line shooting two foul shots. Lakers down by three--make the first, miss the second. He makes the first. He misses the second, misses so perfectly that the rebound comes right back to him. He grabs the ball over his head, starts to shoot...and is blocked from behind. He's blocked by Rafer Alston, a street baller, a thug, one of the "proles." Of course he cries to the refs, but replays show a clean block.
That, my friends, is Kobe Bryant's 2007-2008 Lakers: he will play with righteous anger, he will play as a basketball zealot, and with his ability and will, bring his Lakers to the edge, but will not be able to carry them over. They will consistently, and spectacularly, fall short. The stark truth is, his team just isn't very good. And as important as the individual is to the game of basketball (more so than any other team sport), the collective is still greater than the individual. Awards go to the individual; wins go to the team.
Kobe will have an amazing year, but the (p)role players surrounding him, and those teams that subscribe to the pedestrian ideal of "team as greater than individual" will only serve to frustrate (in every sense of the word) his efforts at winning.

Really, though, I was just glad to see my Rockets escape with a win.

At 11/01/2007 6:37 PM, Anonymous Tom said...

It's interesting that no one really saw Kobe as having a good game despite scoring 45 points and dropping 18 in the crunch. People are calling him disinterested or like Dan Patrick said, he was playing with a packed suitecase in hand. I agree with Shoals that there was something uncharacteristically boorish about it, though I saw it more as recklessness and self-loathing than an attack on the game itself.

At 11/01/2007 7:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Offtopic but amusing. I found this lil tidbit in an article about poker pro David Williams:

At the stakes he plays, Williams has found himself heads-up with not only well-known poker players who claim to be ballers, but with some actual NBA ballers as well.

"Antonie Walker mainly. He has a lot of heart, man. The guy tries. He's a nice guy, really friendly, and he wants to get there; and with some work he can get there," Williams said. "He's enjoying himself too much right now; he's got a lot of money, so it's a little easier for him to experiment. But no one wants to sit there and lose forever."

At 11/01/2007 7:35 PM, Anonymous iverson fan said...

Shoals. This was absolutely on-point. I know I've declared myself a Kobe hater in the past, but I can say confidently that I am intrigued by Kobe probably more so than any other athelete I've ever watched play. The battle within Kobe is at most times much more interesting than the particular game he is playing in.

As I watch Kobe struggle to help his team improve, it leaves me with feelings that are hard to express. On one hand, I am joyed that his arrogance and sense of self-perfection is finally meeting the dead end that it deserves.

On the other hand I can't help but think that Kobe's shortcomings have little to do with his own choices.

While Kobe is often compared to Jordan, his career is also comparable to Magic in that he was drafted into the perfect situation. While Magic succeeded early, regressed, and then triumphed again, Kobe struggled for a short time, triumphed, and has now skyrocketed as an individual athelete while plummeting as a teammate and complete basketball player.

And I can't help but think that it all had to do with being paired with Shaq and Phil so early in his career. I've said it before, had Kobe been forced to struggle year after year, only to finally succeed at his peak (like Jordan), his greatness would have been on par with Jordan. It would have been a story-like situation that would manifest into the amplification of a superstar individual and teammate.

As it stands, Kobe is a lost soul. While his career lacks the Shakespearean structure of a Jordan, Peyton Manning (still in progress) and possibly Iverson (if he were to finally get a ring), it is infinitely more interesting than those types of careers.

I can't think of an athelete or artist who has been so successful while being such a failure at the same time.

And as a trade looms, I worry for Kobe. If he stays, he is doomed to stagnate in the West. If he leaves, he essentially starts again back at square one (much like Iverson).

I'm not sure that Kobe will have the same willingness to change his game and continue to struggle like Iverson will probably continue to. But if Kobe can go to a new team, and somehow prove that he is willing to grow within a new structure rather than signing on to an already established powerhouse, succeding in doing so would create a career story arc that would be unparalelled.

Though it may take well into Kobe's mid 30s. At what point will Kobe's decline in athleticism clash with his quest for perfection?

At 11/01/2007 7:53 PM, Blogger The Cruise said...

yeah, you added a sentence in parentheses.
you're still glossing over the fact that always kobe quits whenever he doesn't see himself winning. game 7 against the suns, game 5 against the pistons, game 6? against the suns. he plays the game to impress himself, not anyone else.

you're a very talented writer with a flawed theory.
kind of like updike.
write but not right.

At 11/01/2007 8:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I, as well as Updike, would like to offer you a hearty, gravely, "Fuck you" Cruise. If you ain't flawed, you're lying and flawed.

At 11/01/2007 9:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can the next FD report contemplate LeBron's whining about the refs after his horrendous game last night? Just one game, yadda yadda yadda, shades of destruction, then what've we got?

At 11/01/2007 9:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

didnt james boice write an entire (and very thinly veiled) fictional biography of kobe just this year? for the record, that book made me take a barf

At 11/01/2007 9:18 PM, Blogger salt_bagel said...

anon 218: If he can't win the fight on this earth, he won't get another chance. Skiles will go to Hell, Kidd will be reincarnated in a higher caste.

At 11/02/2007 12:09 AM, Anonymous Sweat of Ewing said...

Jason Kidd is basketball metempsychosis.

At 11/02/2007 3:24 AM, Anonymous berts said...

Can we discuss Kevin Durant's idoleological clash with Phoenix tonight? That is, if Phoenix represents the need in sports for an ant-like role fulfillment scheme, or is the central ideas and objectives of Basketball writ large in some preconveived--dynamically and mechanically speaking--schema of team, individual role, and position (think the Patriots in football), then KD is the idea and objective of Basketball writ personal--that is, in his ability to will a game to conform to his own narrative.

The question is whether KD is aware of that ability, in the way Kobe is and Michael Jordan was (in a sort of commercial or cinematic way). What makes him so much more promising than Lebron as a savior is that his narrative isn't rooted on the promotional campaign of his promised revelation, isn't grounded on those pregnant expectations of advertising mythmakers that has informed Lebron's growth psychologically as a player and made his narraitve within the Game answerable to the narrative that gets presented to the People through media.

Or do we believe Shawn Marion (unfairly granted sage status by too many around FreeDarko, entranced by reflected glow of Amare and Steve Nash) who says, "Oh, he ain't shy to put that thing up. You shoot 23 times, you can get 27 points, easy."

How are we going to keep Durant from the stultification of Oklahoma?

At 11/02/2007 8:31 AM, Blogger personalmathgenius said...

Berts, it's simple. We must destroy Oklahoma's infrastructure to make basketball: attack them for their oil.

The Suns and the Sonics were compelling end to end last night, but never did I really think the latter had a chance to lead for all 4 quarters. It smacked of a cat playing with its foot. There was one point though, I think right after Phx had taken the lead, where KD hit two long jumpers in a row, I thought maybe that was the beginning of his legend right there...and then he turned it over and got called for a charge. Still, he looked a lot better than he did against Denver.

At 11/02/2007 9:07 AM, Anonymous Sweat of Ewing said...

I don't think I realized just how big Durant is for a guard. Yeah he'll have to defend guys that are faster than that, but he's going to have a size advantage virtually every night this season. As long as he doesn't have to defend too many small forwards (Ron Artest is going to eat him alive), I'm excited.

At 11/04/2007 12:36 AM, Blogger Anthony Wilson said...

Cruise, what the hell are you talking about? Kobe has only quit once in the playoffs: that Game 7 against Phoenix. In that Game 5 against Detroit he played 45 minutes and took 21 shots and 11 free throws. He played his heart out, he just played stupidly. And I guess you're referring to Game 5 (not 6, I see you have a ? after the 6) of the Phoenix series last year, when of course he took 33 shots. The sign of Kobe quitting is when he won't shoot and not being aggressive, which you can't say about those latter two games.


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