Published May 15, 2012
OKLAHOMA CITY – Lakers star Kobe Bryant says he doesn't take charges, and he's got a reason for it.
Based on his own analysis of NBA greats from Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen to Magic Johnson and Larry Bird, Bryant believes there's too much of a health risk to get run over by an opponent and go crashing to the floor repeatedly.
"I learned from my predecessors, man," Bryant said Tuesday. "Pippen had a (messed) up back taking charges. Bird had a (messed) up back taking charges.
"I said, 'I'm not taking charges.' I figured that (stuff) out at an early age."
The five-time NBA champion says no one ever presented the theory to him that he could prolong his career if he didn't try to draw offensive fouls against his opponents. It was just his own observations.
"I've seen them take charges and lay there with a messed-up back. I've seen Michael not take one ... charge and he's healthy his whole career, and the same thing with Magic," Bryant said.
"I might not be the smartest guy in the room but I can figure that (stuff) out."
The topic came up after the Lakers forced only four Oklahoma City Thunder turnovers in a 119-90 blowout loss in Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals. The NBA record for fewest turnovers in a game is three.
Oklahoma City had averaged a league-worst 16.4 turnovers in the regular season, but Los Angeles had the fewest steals and forced the least turnovers.
Bryant rejected the idea that the Lakers should try to extend their defense and disrupt Oklahoma City's passes and said: "We're not a passing lanes kind of team. We're a pack it in type of team."
Yet he also doesn't think Lakers are willing to stand in the way when opponents come charging in.
"We've got a couple guys that take charges but for the most part the one guy that took charges (Derek Fisher) is now playing in Oklahoma," Bryant said.
"I don't take charges, Metta (World Peace) doesn't take charges. Steve (Blake) will take a charge every now and then, but most everybody else just stands up and plays."
Bryant said that drawing charges is "definitely a skill," pointing out that coach Mike Krzyzewski does drills to teach it at Duke. He singled out Miami's Shane Battier, a former Duke star, for being among the best at it in today's game but said he has no interest in learning.
Bryant's coach, Mike Brown, has the opposing viewpoint.
"I'm a big charge guy. I'm more a charge guy than a shot-blocking guy," he said, noting that even 7-foot-3 center Zydrunas Ilgauskas would drop to the floor to take charges for him in Cleveland.
While some NBA teams keep track of how many charges their players draw, Bryant certainly isn't keeping up with his own.
"I probably took one last year. By accident probably," he joked. "I couldn't get out of the way."