Rip Hamilton Explains “How To Defend Kobe Bryant”

Easier said than done. That’s one of my favorite quotes to pull out every time someone pitches me a business concept or tries to explain what someone else is doing wrong. It’s also what I said when I saw a video called “How To Defend Kobe Bryant” with former Piston Rip Hamilton in the thumbnail.

The former Philly prep stars/rivals go way back to their high school and AAU (teammates on the infamous team with Vince Carter and Tim Thomas) days. But the days most people remember between Kobe and Rip were in early June of 2004, when the Detroit Pistons shocked the world by beating the “Super Team” Lakers in five games of the NBA Finals. Kobe shot just 38% in the series, which included these stat lines.

  • GM1: 25 PTS, 10-27 FG, 1-6 3PT
  • GM3: 11 PTS, 4-13 FG, 0-4 3PT
  • GM4: 20 PTS, 8-25 FG, 2-6 3PT
  • GM5: 24 PTS, 7-21 FG, 0-2 3PT

“It still eats at me. It absolutely does,” Bryant said. “And I’m upset that I gave Richard Hamilton something to brag about, because up until that point, he never beat me. And that just kills me.”

Well, it was a lot more than just Rip that “beat him.” They double-teamed him a lot, had supreme defender Tayshaun Prince guarding him like his life depended on it and 4 x Defensive Player Of The Year Ben Wallace near the basket.

Here’s Prince on guarding Kobe.

And here’s Reggie Miller, who played against Kobe in the 2000 NBA Finals (where Kobe had one of his worst NBA Finals games: 4-20 FG in GM5), giving his two cents on defending Kobe. In the middle of the video, he pulls out, “easier said than done.”

The only person I ever saw really shut down Kobe was Kobe. And that happened during Game 7 of the 2006 NBA playoffs against the Phoenix Suns. He did score 24 points and made 50% of his shots (8-of-16) but he was refusing to shoot the ball, especially in the second half. Down by 15, Kobe attempted just three shots in the final 24 minutes. The Lakers ended up losing by 31!

Many (including myself) believed the performance was a stubborn response to people calling him a ball hog and selfish (like Charles Barkley) after he he scored 50 points on 35 shots in a Game 6 loss.