Former Los Angeles Lakers forward Kobe Bryant will go down as one of the all-time great NBA players. With 18 All-Star appearances, five championships, two Finals MVPs, and a host of scoring accolades, he was also known for his fierce competitiveness.
But he doesn’t spark the greatest of memories for one anonymous member of the 2004 edition of the Lakers that became infamous for their defeat at the hands of the underdog Detroit Pistons in the ’04 NBA Finals.
Author Jeff Pearlman is penning a book about Bryant and the Lakers and interviewed an anonymous former teammate of Bryant’s during the shocking Finals loss to Detroit. According to that former player, it’s because of him:
Interviewed a Kobe teammate for my upcoming book. We talked about 2004 Finals loss to Pistons. Much blame was placed on Karl Malone injury. Guy told me, "That loss was on Kobe. He wanted to be MVP of that series, and he just … kept … shooting."
— Jeff Pearlman (@jeffpearlman) August 28, 2019
Despite 22.6 PPG in the Finals, Bryant also shot only 38% and turned the ball over a paltry 18 times. Of course, the loss was the final straw for fellow superstar Shaquille O’Neal, who was then traded to the Miami Heat that summer.