When Kobe Bryant scored a Madison Square Garden record 61 points on Monday, the buzz around the NBA world was deafening. And why not? Players often put on special performances in New York, but Kobe's was one that will be remembered for many years to come.
Phil Jackson however, was not as thrilled with the performance as the rest of us. When asked whether he thought Bryant could sustain that type of effort, Jackson was very clear in his response: he would rather that he didn't.
"We don't want him to because we have so many other players that can contribute," Jackson said. "Obviously with Andrew [Bynum] out, we're missing a piece of scoring there that's been effective for us. At the end of the game [against New York], Pau [Gasol] was feeding Kobe and finding him in certain situations where he probably could have persisted in the post himself.
"I talked to [Bryant] after the game and said, 'Why don't you let me know when you're going to go off like that before a ballgame so we can measure it out accordingly?' But when he started out that hot, everybody fed into it and it just kept accumulating."
First of all, Phil's right in his assertion. It's not good for the team over the course of the season to rely so heavily on one player for their offense, even if that player is Kobe Bryant.
And let's be honest: Kobe himself probably doesn't know to start the game that it'll be one of those 50 or 60-point type nights; there are just too many factors that play into that. The notion that he could simply let Phil know, "hey, coach? I'm dropping 60 tonight" is ridiculous. What if his shot is a little off? What if the opponent starts double or triple-teaming him? It's not something that can be predicted in the team's pre-game meeting.
While Kobe's performance was one for the ages, he knows that the Lakers' ultimate goal this season is to win a championship. And the best way to do that is to keep his teammates involved and engaged offensively, so they're ready to win games for the Lakers on the nights when Kobe is unable to do so by himself.