From New Orleans
Love him or hate him — and most nights it's both — beyond five championships, you just never know what you're going to get with Kobe Bryant.
Sometimes he's the facilitator, and boring.
Sometimes he's the ball hog, and when that goes well, he takes a bow as one of the game's great closers.
When it doesn't go well, he's selfish, ignoring his teammates and crippling his team's chances of winning.
After all these years, why can't he be both facilitator and scorer in the same game?
Ask him, and he answers in gibberish.
"Last game I was trying to send a message to my teammates that you don't have to be a scorer to make an impact," he said.
I might have just told them at practice or over breakfast, but instead he opted to go missing in Game 2.
As for this game Friday, the one the Lakers finally won going away, "The message was sent," he said, "and my responsibility is to be me and score first."
Enough with the messages, how about some consistency?
In Game 1 the Confounding One took 26 shots, scored 34 points and the Lakers lost. Afterward Lamar Odom suggested the team would've fared better had everyone been given the chance to be involved.
He didn't mention Bryant's name, but of course he was talking about the ball hog — who tried, but failed to single-handedly close out New Orleans.
So Game 2 begins and Bryant comes out the facilitator, and how many times have we seen this before?
Someone says something a la Odom, and Bryant just shuts it down as if saying, "Let's see how well you guys do if I'm not the guy with the ball in his hands."
For such an intense competitor, he too often displays the thin skin of someone who can't help the fact he has rabbit ears.
Bryant took one shot in the first quarter of Game 2, had three points at the half and finished the game having taken only 10 shots. Kobe Bryant taking 10 shots in a playoff game? Come on.
The Lakers won, but it wasn't a dominant performance from a team that should crush this lightweight opponent.
So I put it to Phil Jackson before Game 3, knowing there will be lots more playoff games to play?
"Why does Kobe Bryant have to sometimes be the facilitator and take no shots, and other times be the ball hog and take every shot? Why can't there be middle ground?"
Jackson replied: "He'll show you that tonight."
Then he was a nudged a little more.
"A lot of times he can do both, but you're right. A lot of times he goes overboard in either direction."
I wanted to know if he had spoken to Kobe about his all-or-nothing approach, and he said, "Many times we've talked about it," including, "[Thursday] morning."
So did he assure Jackson he will be a more balanced player?
"I'm not sure about the balance," Jackson said. "But I know he's going to take more than 10 shots. That part I know."
Bryant took six in the first quarter, 11 by the half and finished with 20 shots and 30 points, the Hornets never getting the chance to establish any upset opportunity.
Everyone who has watched him play knows Bryant is very much the team player — when he wants to be. When the defense moves out on him, he feeds the ball to Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol, and the Lakers are almost unbeatable.
When he's a scoring threat, he changes the game, which doesn't mean he always has to score.
Now that I've explained this to him, I'm sure we won't have this problem again as the Lakers continue in the playoffs.
JACKSON WAS actually moved to clap for Bynum after Bynum went strong to the basket in the first half.
When asked later if he can ever remember clapping for one of his players, he said, "To be honest, I cannot."
WHAT A surprise to learn the Screaming Meanie has a Screamer for her newest PR rep. Jamie McCourt probably has had as many image makers as new outfits, the latest out of New York calling to yell rather than talk about the Screaming Meanie's desire to go Hollywood.
Word is she's being represented by Los Angeles entertainment attorney Clifford Gilbert-Lurie, who also represents Tina Fey.
No question Jamie has made people laugh, but apparently she was making the talent agency rounds to let everyone know she's going to be coming into money.
She's expressed an interest in investing in the entertainment industry, and now that her plans to run for president seem to have hit a bump, she's let it be known she'd like to one day run a studio.
How about a remake of "The Carpetbaggers"?
Her PR rep said Jamie was out of the country. I wonder if she flew first class?
IF SOMEONE can explain what Steve Soboroff is doing, please advise.
Soboroff, who has less than a week of experience working for the Dodgers, told the media, "We need more people like Frank McCourt" at the same time Commissioner Bud Selig was saying enough is enough.
Soboroff has been a land developer much of his career, and McCourt had designs on developing Chavez Ravine, but that game appears over. About the only thing McCourt can develop now is an exit strategy.
THERE'S A rumble in baseball circles that McCourt might consider bankruptcy, using a judge to protect his interests while keeping Selig from taking over.
Remember, McCourt feels most at home in a courtroom
WHERE'S THE mute button?
When Matt Kemp homered the other day to give the Dodgers a 5-3 win in 12 innings, broadcaster Charlie Steiner went wild as Kemp rounded third.
"And his Dodgers are waiting to beat him to death at the plate," Steiner shouted, and yes, that's what he shouted, concluding, "and here he is and there they go."
That's what you get when you don't listen to Vin Scully.