Kobe Bryant's Missed Shots Have Helped Make Him Great

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Say what you like about Kobe Bryant — no, really, say it — because the man isn't listening to you anyway. Love him or loathe him (or maybe just view him as an amusing sociopath who commands your affectionate respect), Bryant doesn't care about anything other than how he performs by his own metrics — championship rings, points scored, teammates left as gibbering wrecks in the wake of his specific brand of leadership.

All of which is to say, the fact that Bryant has now officially missed more shots than anyone in NBA history won't bother him a bit. It shouldn't really bother anyone else either, because it's largely a meaningless statistic: All it really indicates is that Kobe has shot the ball more than nearly anyone else. Stephen Curry missed more three-pointers than any other player last year, but so long as he keeps making 42 percent of them, who cares? At some point he'll likely pass renowned bricklayer Ray Allen on the list of most three-point field goals missed during a career, and again, no-one will (or should) bat an eyelid. 

But then, there's also a certain mentality required to keep shooting. Curry recently went 0-7 from three-point range, but it didn't matter since you knew he'd be back out there blazing away the next game. You don't score if you don't take a chance, and you score more if you have the talent, experience, and drive of Kobe Bryant. So he'll keep shooting and probably miss a whole lot more during his last few seasons. As much as anything else, this record is a testament to his longevity, and also, in a perverse way, to his success: You don't get to make 24,542 field goal attempts in the NBA if your teammates and coach don't think you're bound make a decent amount of them.

Most of all, the record testament to Bryant's own will — it takes cast-iron confidence to do what he does, night after night after night, a borderline deranged self-belief that characterizes pretty much all sports greats. After all, look at who else is on the missed shot list: John Havlicek, Elvin Hayes, Karl Malone, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Michael Jordan.

Sometimes this sort of confidence is misplaced, of course — we've all played pick-up with the dude who keeps calling for the ball despite the fact that he shoots the sort of jump shots that make you feel sorry for the rim when the ball cannons into it. But as Jordan, Kobe's idol, said years ago, "I've missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I've been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed." 

Kobe would no doubt say the same, if he cared. Which he doesn't.