Commentary

Kobe Bryant laughs off critics

The Lakers' leader answered his detractors by dropping 40 points on Golden State

Updated: April 2, 2012, 3:38 AM ET
By Arash Markazi | ESPNLosAngeles.com

LOS ANGELES -- Kobe Bryant isn't on Twitter. He doesn't have a personal Facebook account. He says he doesn't usually listen to sports talk radio or read sports blogs.

Of course, that doesn't mean what is written about him doesn't eventually get back to him. When he struggles he isn't immune to the barrage of criticism directed his way, and there was plenty on Saturday after Bryant missed his first 15 shots against the New Orleans Hornets and was held scoreless through three quarters.

[+] EnlargeKobe Bryant
Kirby Lee/US PresswireKobe Bryant answered his critics following one of the worst shooting nights of his career with a 40-point effort against Golden State.

Bryant responded one day later by scoring 40 points against the Golden State Warriors. He hit 16-of-28 from the field and made all three of his 3-point attempts. It was Bryant's 112th 40-point game but he wondered how many people remembered the first 111 after the way fans reacted on Saturday.

"It's always interesting to hear people talk after a game like that, like I'm done and all this stuff," Bryant said. "The amount of idiots that live out here after 16 years is baffling. … I guess people just get dumber over the years."

Bryant was smiling but it was clear he was amazed he still had to deal with all the critics blaming him for the Lakers' ineffectiveness and inability to score. Yes, he was held scoreless into the fourth quarter of a game in which he had played more than 25 minutes, but when was the last time that's happened? It's actually happened only one other time in Bryant's career -- March 28, 1998.

"Yesterday, that's not going to happen again," Bryant said. "That's like the 81-point game. It's not going to happen again."

What will happen again, however, is Bryant being criticized for shooting too much and shooting too little, playing too much and not playing enough, and being too vocal and being too silent. It's a fact of life Bryant has come to expect in Los Angeles even if it's one he has never really embraced.

It is one of many reasons he has refused the urge to become active in social media and get on Twitter like the rest of the world. He laughed when he was told his poor performance was a trending topic worldwide on Twitter as fans chronicled his shooting ineptitude, one missed-shot joke tweet at a time.

"I guess on Twitter you don't have to respond to idiots, do you?" Bryant said. "You can block them, right?"

Bryant's comeback game 24 hours after arguably the worst game of his career didn't come as a surprise to Lakers coach Mike Brown, who also viewed Saturday as an aberration.

"He took the same shots tonight that he took last night; there wasn't much different in my opinion," Brown said. "He might have actually taken tougher ones tonight than he did last night, and they went in."

It only took 12 seconds for Bryant to hit his first shot and another 15 seconds to hit his second as he started the game 2-for-2, after needing 20 shots to make two on Saturday. Bryant's teammates knew Bryant would be aggressive Sunday after the way he played Saturday.

"That's what he's been doing his whole career," Lakers guard Ramon Sessions said. "He bounced back tonight and showed what kind of player he is. He hit the big shot for us last night and tonight he came out here and killed it."

After Saturday's game, Bryant cited fatigue as a reason for his performance but laughed when he was asked again about it on Sunday.

"Ta-dah! I'm all good," he said. "It's a miracle. He walks!"

Bryant came into this season as healthy and as rested as he has been in some time but is still dealing with nagging injuries to his wrist and his ankle and possibly other ailments he doesn't care to discuss because he doesn't think it matters. At 33 years old, he has logged more minutes than any player in the league this season and has scored more points. To him, that's all that matters and should matter.

"Even if I told people I came out here with a sprained ankle and all this other stuff, they know after 16 years I'm going to go out there and do my job and I'm going to perform," Bryant said. "Whether I struggle for three and half quarters, or whatever the case may be, I'm going to play hard and I'm going put my team in a position to win the game."

Bryant did exactly that on Saturday and again on Sunday, albeit by playing two completely different games. He is fully aware, however, he is just one bad game away from being back in the doghouse despite what he has done this season and for the past 16 years.

"We're all surrounded by idiots," Bryant said, smiling at the reporters surrounding him. "We're all surrounded by idiots. Take it as you wish."

Arash Markazi

ESPNLosAngeles.com