Kobe Bryant: Charges carry big risk

Updated: May 17, 2012, 1:12 AM ET
By Dave McMenamin | ESPNLosAngeles.com

OKLAHOMA CITY -- The Los Angeles Lakers forced only four turnovers from the Oklahoma City Thunder in Monday's 119-90 loss in Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals.

One way the Lakers could plan to get the Thunder, who had the most turnovers in the league during the regular season with 16.35 per game, to cough it up more would be to try to take charges in Game 2.

Just don't expect Kobe Bryant to be the one taking them.

"We got a couple guys that take charges, but for the most part, the one guy that took a charge is now playing in Oklahoma," Bryant said after practice Tuesday, referring to Derek Fisher. "I don't take charges. Metta [World Peace] don't take charges. Steve [Blake] will take a charge every now and then, but most everybody else just stands up and plays."

The 33-year-old veteran who is playing in his 16th season said part of the reason for his longevity is his aversion to sacrificing his body to draw offensive fouls.

"I learned from my predecessors," Bryant said. "[Scottie] Pippen had a [messed] up back taking charges. [Larry] Bird had a [messed] up back taking charges. I said, 'I'm not taking charges.' I figured that ... out at an early age."

Bryant said that Pippen and Bird didn't share their charge-taking horror stories with him to influence his decision, he merely noticed through observation. He also picked up on other legends who benefited from not taking charges.

"I've seen Michael [Jordan] not take one ... charge and he's healthy his whole career and the same thing with Magic [Johnson]," Bryant said. "I might not be the smartest guy in the room, but I can figure that ... out."

Bryant estimated he's taken only one charge in the last two seasons and it was probably "by accident."

"I couldn't get out of the way," Bryant joked.

Even though taking charges isn't in Bryant's bag of tricks, he credited players who do take them successfully.

"Shane [Battier] does a great job taking charges," Bryant said. "Fish actually does a great job taking charges too. ... It's a skill. It's definitely a skill. I know at Duke they teach that, they drill that, how to step in and take charges and sacrifice your body."

Bryant's comments on charge-taking came on the heels of commissioner David Stern decrying the epidemic of flopping going on in today's NBA.

"I think it's time to look at [flopping] in a more serious way," Stern said Sunday, "because it's only designed to fool the referee. It's not a legitimate play in my judgment. I recognize if there's contact [you] move a little bit, but some of this is acting. We should give out Oscars rather than MVP trophies."

Bryant, who made it clear, "I don't flop," echoed Stern's remarks.

"There's a difference [between taking a charge and flopping]. We all know what flopping is when we see it," Bryant said. "The stuff that you see is where guys aren't really getting hit at all and are just flailing around like a fish out of water. That's kind of like, where are your balls at?"

Lakers coach Mike Brown said that it will be difficult for the league to enforce some sort of anti-flopping policy, however.

"It is [a problem]," Brown said. "I don't know how you clean it up though because everything is a judgment call and when it happens, and it happens at the speed that it does, how do you clean that up? Because, it's human error. You see somebody get hit, a lot of times you're told to make a strong call. You're told to be strong with your calls and so you're going to hit that whistle real hard. You hit that whistle real hard and by then, it might be too late. It's like, man, he might not have done that but it's too late."

Dave McMenamin

ESPNLosAngeles.com

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