Every fan of the Los Angeles Lakers remembers Kobe Bryant's 81-point game, arguably the greatest individual scoring performance in NBA history. Bryant took 46 shots against the Toronto Raptors that day, 35 more than the next closest Laker, point guard Smush Parker. What most people forget, given the legendary nature of Bryant's scoring outburst, was how the Lakers tried to feed a different player during the first half.
With Friday being the 10th anniversary of Kobe's explosion, there has been a deluge of memorials, breakdowns, and retroactive eyewitness accounts by those who were there or recently re-watched it. Former Lakers guard Devean George played in that game a decade ago, and recently published a retro diary of his own on the Player's Tribune.
One of the more interesting nuggets contained in George's account: if Kwame Brown had better hands and was able to successfully catch a basketball more often, Kobe may not have needed to score so many points to drive the Lakers to victory that day.
At one point in the second quarter, we hit a low point. We were trying to run the Triangle, but we just looked lost out there. I'm not going to try to explain the Triangle here, but basically we wanted to get the big man involved early in the offense and run our guards off him with cuts to the basket.
Phil kept telling us to enter it down low to Kwame Brown.
But that wasn't working because Kwame kept bobbling the pass.
Phil called a timeout.
Another thing about Phil: He was hard on Kwame. He really rode him. I think he wanted the best for him, but he really rode him.
"Jesus Christ, Kwame! I hope the wife doesn't let you hold the baby!"
Brown, who averaged 1.6 turnovers per game over his three seasons in Los Angeles, had 2 turnovers and scored 3 points on 1-5 shooting in 32 minutes against the Raptors. Brown also had a tied-for-team-low plus-minus of 0. He was not good that day.
But overall that speaks to George's point that none of the Lakers' role players were good against Toronto, thus requiring a Herculean effort from Kobe to get a relatively meaningless win on what would have otherwise been a forgettable sleepy Sunday afternoon.
So really, instead of constantly making Kwame the butt of so many jokes, Lakers fans should really be thanking the notorious cake thief. Without Brown's stone-hands, Kobe may never have had to score so many points that day. Sometimes the inspiration for greatness comes from odd places.
All stats per Basketball Reference and NBA.com. You can follow this author on Twitter at @hmfaigen.