Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Black Mamba Kobe Bryant, A True Shooting Guard

When the final buzzer rang at the end of the regular-season Lakers-Jazz battle that April 13, 2016, it signaled the curtain call in the 20-year basketball love affair of longtime Laker Kobe Bryant. As he gave his final address to the fans, his team, the NBA and his family, the Black Mamba of basketball was at that moment an unquestionable hero to Los Angeles and basketball fans all over the world, an uplifting conclusion to a decades-spanning career that while full of victories and records, was also battered by obstacles, trials and bad circumstances that threatened to ruin his performance, his reputation and his personal life. None of this was evident ever since he announced his retirement at Regular Season’s end November last year. As the day of his final game drew closer, Kobe was not merely respected but utterly loved, with tributes and feature pieces following one after another, more so now that he has officially retired.

So it was that the day after his last game, April 14, the LA Times posted on their website a statistical chart graphic detailing almost all of Kobe Bryant’s 30, 699 individual field goal shots, as laid out on a half-court diagram dotted with the approximate locations of each shot made in his career. The markers cover the diagram in an interesting pattern illustrating Bryant’s shooting habits and tendencies, with the purple dots indicating made shots and the gold ones denoting misses. Hovering over each dot with your mouse pointer opens a pop-up text box describing the type of shot made or missed, the distance from the basket, the name of the team opposing Bryant’s own and the date of the game where he shot it. All this interesting data was gathered from official game statistic provided by the NBA website, although the graphic also notes that the stats do not include two of the over thirty thousand field goals from the 2012-13 NBA Season that were not accounted for and are therefore not displayed.

The chart also includes a navigation tool that enables viewers to navigate the shot distribution in more detail. They can choose to follow a brief seven-page tour of Mamba trivia, such as how over one- third of his career points come from free throws (which, not being field goals, are not on the chart), and highlighting areas of interest like his strong side of the half-court (45% of his shots); or they can opt to explore on their own by sorting through shot results, shot types, opposing team and season. In addition, three special buttons display shots from Kobe’s career buzzer beaters, his 81-point game (vs. Raptors, January 22, 2006), and finally his triumphant swan song against the Utah Jazz last month.

Only three days after the chart appeared on their site, a hardcopy version appeared on the April 17, 2016 Sunday edition of the print LA Times. Laid out as a commemorative editorial graphic (“A True Shooting Guard”) over a two-page spread, this much larger chart also includes a diagram of shots the Black Mamba made from beyond mid-court (some 30-40, only with one sunk near the half-court mark), bar graphs detailing field goals per season in his career, a comparison with fellow high-scorer Michael Jordan, and his placing in the All-Star NBA Rankings by minutes played, total points, per-game points and field goals. All these meticulous and painstaking research drive home some of the facts that built the legend of Kobe Bryant and assured him his place among the best ever in the NBA.

You can view the interactive graphic version of Kobe’s shot chart at the LA Times website (http://graphics.latimes.com/kobe-every- shot-ever/). Also, the 2-page spread hardcopy version can be ordered from their online store. Printed in broadsheet poster paper, hardcore Kobe Bryant fans can frame it on their wall and look over their retired hero’s long career in a glance.

Photo Credits to JM Yang Youtube account