Kobe Bryant is having a terrible season. He's putting up a team-high 16.6 field-goal attempts per game while shooting just 33.1 percent from the field. Kobe's three-point shooting has been even worse, making just 14 of the 70 attempts he's taken (20 percent). Things are not going well in what may be his final year in the league, and everybody knows it.
Yet Los Angeles Lakers head coach Byron Scott continues to turn a blind eye to his suffering play. Scott was asked if Bryant taking isolation attempts has affected the Lakers' ball movement, and his response is one of the most telling from him yet. "It could but first of all, he's had 20 years of experience in this league combined. We might not have six players that have 20 years in this league combined," Scott said, as quoted by Serena Winters of Lakers Nation. "He has that privilege basically. From a coaching standpoint, I want Kobe to be Kobe, other guys haven't earned that right yet."
The double standard he sets for the rest of the team in the full quote is incredibly alarming:
Scott being fine with Kobe bringing the Lakers' offense to a halt -- which is obviously not some roaring machine one way or the other -- because he's "earned" that "privilege" is an issue, but that he holds the rest of the team to a very different standard sets a terrible example for the locker room.
It's not even just that Kobe's been bad, but he's been terrible. He's taken the 46th-most field goal attempts in the league (166 total) and there isn't a single player who has a worse field-goal percentage than he does ahead of him in the shot count. A look at his offense via Shot Analytics shows how cold his shooting has been, but the strengths and weaknesses section really brings that point home. The strengths list is completely blank, so it felt like the right move to add some flair to it:
The lack or results, accountability and double standard could all lead to disharmony within a team full of young players or teammates who've never even played together. Or, as Eric Pincus of the Los Angeles Times put it following Kobe's 6-of-22 outing against the Portland Trail Blazers, becomes the "elephant in the Lakers' locker room."
A very mixed message is being sent by Scott to a team that's a horrific 2-11 to start the season, and it's damaging for reasons well beyond the loss column.