Did Kobe Bryant ever once, in his entire career, pass the ball? Well, duh, of course he has. The Lakers legend may have been known for chucking shots, but nobody can survive in the NBA without passing sometimes. However, Bryant’s reputation was that of a gunner. If he had the ball, then his first, second, and third options were to find a way to score.
That reputation benefitted Bryant throughout his career. Not only did it make him a feared scorer by defenders — he was considered the toughest person to guard in the NBA — but it gave him a great line he could use on unsuspecting referees. Richard Jefferson told a story while broadcasting Tuesday’s game between the Lakers and Nets about a time Bryant managed shoot free throws by telling the refs he hadn’t passed all game. They believed him.
“I’ll tell you a Kobe story,” Jefferson said. “They were trying to figure out whether or not he was shooting and Kobe straight told the official ‘I haven’t passed the ball all night.’ They just ended up giving him the free throws! They accepted that!”
This is about as unsurprising of a Kobe story as you’ll hear. It has everything you expected about his profile as a player summed up in one story: His reputation as a ballhog, his influence on the refs, and that the refs honestly believed he didn’t pass all game, because he never passes. It’s all here. Besides, nobody can really blame the refs, because who honestly would have ever believed that Kobe was opting to pass when he could shoot instead?