Kobe Bryant explains why Pistons should have foreseen Kwame Brown’s struggles

Kobe Bryant, via Michael Lee of The Washington Post:

But like, the game before we traded for Pau, were playing Detroit and I had like 40 points towards the end of the game. This is back when Detroit had Rasheed [Wallace], Chauncey [Billups] and those guys, so we had no business being in the game. So down the stretch of the game, they put in a box and one. So I’m surrounded by these players, Detroit players, and Kwame is under the basket, all by himself. Literally, like all by himself. So I pass him the ball, he bobbled it and it goes out of bounds.

“So we go back to the timeout and I’m [upset], right? He goes, ‘I was wide open.’ ‘Yeah, I know.’ This is how I’m talking to him, like, during the game. I said, ‘You’re going to be open again, Kwame, because Rasheed is just totally ignoring you.’ He said, ‘Well, if I’m open don’t throw it to me.’ I was like, ‘Huh?’ He said, ‘Don’t throw it to me.’ I said, ‘Why not?’ He said, well, ‘I’m nervous. If I catch it and they foul me, I won’t make the free throws.’ I said, ‘Hell no!’

“I go to Phil [Jackson], I say, ‘Hey Phil, take him out of the game.’ He’s like, ‘Nah, let him figure it out.’ So, we lose the game, I go the locker room, I’m steaming. Steaming. I’m furious.

The next offseason, the Pistons gave Kwame Brown a two-year, $8 million contract. Maybe they should have paid a bit more attention to that 2008 game.* I understand you can’t get a perfect player for $4 million per year, and Brown played well for a stretch in Detroit, but I wouldn’t want him helping to shape the team’s identity.

*Kobe had 11 turnovers to Brown’s none in, but I supposed Kwame can’t be charged with a turnover if he never gains possession of the ball. It’s a good example of how blindly relying on stats can be misleading.

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