NBA Finals 2010: Believe It or Not, Kobe’s Shooting Lakers Out of the Finals

The dirty secret of the NBA Finals: Kobe hasn’t mattered, at least not the way you think.

Wait, what?! Kobe effing Bryant?!

The Man who hit seven straight shots in the third quarter of Game Five?!

The Man who absolutely cannot be stopped?!

The Man who single-handedly eviscerated the Suns while being pestered by Jared Dudley and Grant Hill?!

No, I’m talking about the guy who hasn’t won a championship without playing alongside the best offensive centers in the league (Shaq and now Pau Gasol.)

I’m talking about the guy who didn’t make one lay-up or dunk in Game Five.

I’m talking about the guy who hasn’t shot over 50 percent ONCE in this series.

I'm talking about the guy who is 9-32 in the fourth quarters of this series. (Check out Jordan’s Finals shooting percentages before anyone comments about how clutch Kobe is.)

It’s strange, Kobe Bryant is playing the exact same kind of basketball that he did when he was widely criticized for being selfish and nearly evil.

I was never amongst those who think he is some diabolical a-hole intent on ruining his teammates for his own benefit. However, I’ve long believed that Kobe lacks the instinct , but not the ability, to make his teammates all play better.

It’s just not as natural for him to be a passer/creator,  he is built to put the ball in the bucket.

I understand he is personally inspiring: the man works on his game like no one else in the NBA and leads by example. He also understands basketball at a level that few players have ever approached (think Bill Russell and Magic Johnson).

Even Kobe’s defense, rebounding, and all around hustle has been strong this series. The play in the fourth quarter of Game Four in which he chased down a loose ball and, while flying out of bounds, snuck a pass past...

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