As a comparison, Dudley referenced the final years of Michael Jordan’s career with the Washington Wizards.
“If you saw Jordan when he played with the Wizards, he started toning it down a little bit,” Dudley said in a radio appearance with ESPN’s Colin Cowherd. “He knew he didn’t have it. Kobe is the opposite. He wants to show everyone so much. I remember seeing Kobe, I think it was 70 games in [this past season] and he had out-shot the whole Lakers team by like 100 shots. C’mon now. We love you, Kobe, but c’mon. It’s, like, it’s now time to start giving up. Most guys don’t want to play with Kobe.”
Bryant in fact led the Lakers by 10 shots with 70 games to play, though Carlos Boozer, who had attempted the second-most on the team at that point, had played in 31 more games than Bryant. Bryant finished the season third on the Lakers in total shots attempts (713) in 2014-15 despite playing in only 35 games; Jordan Hill led the team with 777.
Jordan had a 36.0 usage rate in his first season in Washington, the second-highest mark of his career, but that number dropped the next season, his final one in the NBA, to a career-low 28.7. Bryant had a 34.9 usage rate in 35 games with the Lakers last season, the fourth-highest mark of his 19-year career.
Cowherd mentioned that Bryant lacks the ability to tone down his style of play.
“Right,” Dudley said. “And that’s tough for guys and for him, obviously, being one of the greats. Also, the worst thing about it is, he can. Remember, Kobe gets in this thing where he doesn’t pass and then he over-passes and he’s trying to get triple-doubles every night.
“So we know you have [the ability to defer], it’s just not something he wants to do, and that’s why I think it’ll be a while before the Lakers can get good, because no stars — I mean, [Kevin] Love — I’ll be surprised if Love wanted to go there.”
Love can opt out of his contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers this summer and become an unrestricted free agent.
Dudley’s assertion that Bryant’s presence is a potential obstacle for the Lakers in acquiring certain free agents isn’t exactly new. Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak recently addressed that notion on the radio.
“If there is a player out there like that, that won’t come here for that reason, then we don’t want them,” Kupchak told Sirius XM NBA Radio. “Every great player is demanding and focused, and if you don’t want to play for a guy like him that’s driven to do nothing but win championships and work hard, then you shouldn’t be here. You should go someplace else.”