The recent dubious honor of Los Angeles Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant becoming the NBA’s all-time leader in missed shots has likely fueled the schadenfreude for “Kobe Haters,” but a closer look at other great players’ statistics may raise some eyebrows.
A look back at the player Bryant surpassed after 19 seasons might quell arguments about how career missed shots are not nearly as disparaging as they might seem. Boston Celtics Hall of Famer John Havlicek, who played on a team of other Hall-of-Famers and won eight titles, missed almost as many shots, yet still put up excellent numbers. In 16 seasons, Havlicek averaged nearly 21 points per game and shot nearly 44 percent. The 13-time All-Star also dished out 4.8 assists per game, a high number for a swing man in an era when statisticians were stingier in their definition of an “assist.”
Bryant, who has won five titles, has shot better than 45 percent from the field and is currently third in most field goals converted (24,542), ahead of Havlicek (23,930), who is fifth.
In short, Bryant has missed a lot of shots, and has made a lot of shots as well. No surprise there.
Because he’s made so many three-pointers and free throws, Bryant is a much more efficient scorer than many might suspect. The future Hall of Famer has averaged just over 1.3 points per field-goal attempt, better than perennial top scorers like Carmelo Anthony, Allen Iverson and Dominique Wilkins. The Lakers have needed Bryant to shoot in order to win games, and they’ve won four titles when Bryant has finished in the top six in the league in field goals attempted.
He has also averaged 4.8 assists per game over his career. These are facts Bryant supporters can freely offer against his often vocal detractors. Not that the missed field goal milestone has fazed the 36-year-old, who in the post-game interview made sure to reference the one player who he has been indelibly linked to over his entire career.
"I don't care about it, to be honest with you," Bryant told reporters about the record. "It is what it is. I remember when I was a kid and I watched Michael [Jordan] shoot 49 times in an NBA Finals game. Can you imagine if I did that and lost? Puts things in perspective."
Jordan missed over 1,000 field goals in three separate seasons. Bryant has only done that twice, despite playing in three more career seasons.
Bryant can also find perspective in the turnover list, as well, where he is currently seventh (3,776). Karl Malone is far ahead of him (4,524), as are point guards John Stockton (4,244) and Jason Kidd (4,003).
Stats from other sports can also provide a better understanding of how some individual numbers don't tell the whole story. Brett Favre, a future Hall of Famer, is the No. 2 leader in all-time touchdown passes but is also the all-time leader in interceptions (336) and incompletions (3,869). Favre is also the career leader in fumbles (166). The fumbles leaders among running backs happen to be Hall of Famers Tony Dorsett and Franco Harris, each finishing their careers with 90.
Shifting to baseball, when it comes to batters who have struck out the most, Reggie Jackson is the career leader (2,597) in the American League, and Willie Stargel (1,936) is the National League leader, while both are Hall of Famers. Legendary pitcher Nolan Ryan has walked more batters (2,795) than any other pitcher. Among active players, third baseman Adrian Beltre, who has won four Gold Glove awards, is expected to surpass Miguel Tejada in errors.
Goose Gossage and Rollie Fingers are two of just a few pitchers that made it to Springfield because of their accomplishments as relievers. Yet, they rank first and second all time with 112 and 109 blown saves, respectively.
All of the above-mentioned players have something in common: they all are exceptional players who had lengthy careers.
An IB Times staff reporter contributed to this report.