Throughout what will soon be a Hall-of-Fame career with the Los Angeles Lakers, Kobe Bryant shot over 10,000 free throws. So it’s safe to say that he likely had the favor of the referees.
As one of his most fierce defenders, Richard Jefferson got to witness Bryant engage with officials plenty of times. Jefferson was known as one of the NBA’s better defenders throughout his 17-year career and faced off with Bryant in the 2002 NBA Finals as a member of the then-New Jersey Nets.
One moment, however, has stood out with Jefferson when it comes to the Lakers legend. During the Lakers’ game with the Brooklyn Nets Jefferson, now a color commentator on the YES Network, shared a story about Kobe manipulating officials into granting him a shooting foul, via ESPN:
“They were trying to figure out whether or not he was shooting. And Kobe straight told the official, ‘I haven’t passed the ball all night.’ They just ended up giving him the free throws. They accepted that. We were like, ‘He was passing.’ Kobe was like, ‘Man, I haven’t passed it all night.’ And they kind of looked around and were like, ‘Yeah, let’s give him the free throws.’ It was great logic. At that point in time there was nothing as players that we could argue.”
This is a great anecdote from Jefferson who undoubtedly has plenty about many of the NBA’s greats. Most times spectators have no clue what players are saying to referees when talking to them, but Jefferson gave an insight this time.
There are many players who argue about fouls, but Kobe coming up with that reasoning as to why he was definitely shooting is an all-time great one. The fact that the officials believed him and granted him free throws makes this even better.
There is a famous video of Michael Jordan getting called for traveling, telling the official that there was no way he traveled, and the referee agreeing with him and saying he didn’t. If video of this Bryant moment could be uncovered there is no doubt it would go viral.