Los Angeles Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant had his fourth consecutive game of nine or more assists Wednesday night. The new pass-first Bryant says his facilitating game, which had led to three wins in a row, has come thanks to a change in mindset.
"Look, it's no secret that I have long preferred to take a lot of shots," said Bryant. "But who says I always have to shoot at the basket?"
Lakers head coach Mike D'Antoni said he pulled Bryant aside last week and pitched him on changing his approach.
"I put my hands together and made a circle and asked Kobe: 'What do you see?'" said D'Antoni. "He said: 'You making a circle with your hands for some reason. Why are you wasting my time?' And then before he walked away I said: 'What if I told you this was a tiny basketball hoop you could shoot at?' His eyes immediately brightened."
D'Antoni then immediately held a practice with an enthusiastic Bryant in which Steve Nash, Pau Gasol, Dwight Howard and the rest of the Lakers made their hands into little hoops. "Shoot, Kobe, shoot!" D'Antoni implored. "Put it up every time! Live your dream!"
It was the best Laker practice of the year.
"I really liked shooting at the hand hoops," says Bryant. "My field goal percentage really went up. The hand hoops kind of catch my shots even if they're a little off target. The rim never does that. It's pretty neat."
D'Antoni says he will now try to convince Gasol that the bench is the most important position on the team.