For the sake of winning, Kobe Bryant willingly took a back seat to his scoring. But for the sake of his competitive streak, Bryant couldn't help but take issue with Nuggets Coach George Karl.
So after the Lakers' 96-87 Game 7 victory Saturday over the Denver Nuggets, Kobe Bryant didn't just approach Denver's coach to rub it in that the purple and gold were advancing. He also questioned why the Nuggets double-teamed him, leading him to focus less on scoring (17 points on seven-of-16 shooting) and more on facilitating (eight assists).
"All I said to him is, 'You don't have to double-team me that much,' " Bryant said. "I'm too old. I can't score the ball anymore."
Of course, that's hardly the case. The Nuggets often sent him single coverage early in the season so they could throw their resources at Andrew Bynum. Bryant's 43 points nearly proved enough to bring the Lakers back to win Game 5; they lost by three.