5 – Kobe’s no longer a good defender. Age has caught up and Kobe is no longer the “shutdown corner” he once was. Yeah, but after 14 seasons who is. There are nights that Kobe plays free safety off his man doubling on the perimeter and playing the passing lanes. Scottie Pippen did this with the Bulls in the late 90’s. His length created havoc, tipping passes and causing a fair share of turnovers.
But then there are those few nights where Kobe’s inner-competitor takes over and he ratchets up the defense and harkens back to the athletic days as No. 8. The best example was the Heat game last December. Wade and Kobe went at it all night with Kobe getting the final word with a …. (wait for it)….. sick game winning three at the buzzer.
Kobe’s hoops IQ allows him to realize his defensive limitations to where it won’t hurt the team defense. Plus he gets by with experience and smarts to make up for the slower wheels.