Why Kobe Bryant Gets More of a Free Pass Than LeBron James for Failure in Clutch

Nowadays, Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant is probably better at escaping criticism than he is escaping defenders.

While LeBron James suffers through a list of endless grievances issued by fans and talking heads alike, Bryant's decision-making has been virtually irreproachable. If the Lakers have any problems, conventional wisdom blames them squarely on Andrew Bynum's immaturity, Mike Brown's incompetence or a roster without depth.

Sure, five rings and a long history of brilliant performances probably have something to do with that.

However, it appears a mass case of short-term memory loss has played its part as well, as should probably be expected in a city with marijuana dispensaries on every block.

Whatever Kobe's fans are smoking has clouded their present-day assessments of a deservedly beloved icon. Bryant's flashes of brilliance notwithstanding, he does make mistakes—sometimes very costly ones. In Los Angeles' Game 2 collapse against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Bryant made nearly two minutes of mistakes.

Bill Plaschke put it best:

Leading the Oklahoma City Thunder by seven points with two minutes remaining in Game 2 of their second-round series Wednesday, the Los Angeles Lakers put the ball in the hands of the great and trusted Kobe Bryant.

He muffed it. He dropped it. He bricked it. And in the final seconds, when the Lakers needed him most, he never even touched it, watching Steve Blake clank a three-point attempt that put the finishing fumble on a monumental collapse to give the Thunder a 77-75 victory.

Of course, those last two minutes belong in proper perspective. The much-maligned Bynum had just put the Lakers up by seven points on a baseline chip shot, only for Los Angeles to then force the ball to Bryant for the brief remainder of the game.

And Bryant was all too happy to take the shots.

Despite shooting his team out of a lead...

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