Originally posted on Midwest Sports Fans  |  Last updated 5/22/12

You all know I love and respect Jon Washburn. He produces some fabulous work for us here at MSF, and I always look forward to reading and editing his pieces.

However, I’ve really never been able to wrap my head around Jon’s assertion that Kobe Bryant is somehow in the same class as Michael Jordan.

And after Jon insinuated a few days ago that the alpha-dogness of LeBron and Dwyane Wade was somehow diminished because Danny Granger was clowning them – Jon wondered if MJ or Magic or Bird would have “allowed” that – I think it’s only fair that, as a staunch advocate of Jordan as undisputed G.O.A.T., I bring this up:

Would MJ have ever been clowned publicly by…Brian Cardinal?

I think not.

Yet that is exactly what happened last night during Game 5 of the Western Conference playoff series between the Lakers and Thunder, a game that sent the Lakers home for the season with barely a whimper.

Hat tip: r/NBA

Really, Cardinal was just stating a fact, a rather amazing one: Kobe Bryant, one of the greatest players of all time, was indeed 10 assists away from a double/double last night with his team’s season hanging on the line.

Kobe finished with 42 points (box score here) on 18-33 shooting, which actually is a damn good percentage for taking that many shots. However, he corralled only five rebounds in 42 minutes, and yes…dished out a grand total of zero assists.

When LeBron James’ back is pushed up against the wall, he turns in near-triple doubles of epic proportions and gets his superstar teammate going.

When Kobe Bryant’s back is push up against the wall, he just starts shooting. And shooting. And shooting.

What was that about “clutch” again? (I agree with Jon on this point!)

For the record, Kobe Bryant is the first player in NBA history to take over 32 shots in a playoff game and not record a single assist. That is actually remarkable in its own pathetically selfish way. Certainly it could be rationalized if Kobe’s 42 points had led to victory, but 42 points in a 16-point loss means nothing.

Even Brian Cardinal could have told you that.

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