More than just proving that he still has plenty left in the tank, Kobe Bryant’s 33 points in the Los Angeles Lakers’ 103-90 victory over the Detroit Pistons last week showed me something else.
Not only did he look healthier, quicker, and lighter on his feet, but Bryant utilized a tool he’s been perfecting the last couple seasons, the fadeaway jumper. Even as age and games-played take their toll on Bryant over these next few seasons, Bryant should be able to maintain a high level of play because of additions to his game, like the fadeaway. He’s probably utilizing this more now just because he’s recovering from his 3rd knee surgery, but the day will come where this may be his primary mode of attack.
In the next few seasons, Bryant will take more steps following in the path of the great Michael Jordan, the shooting guard who, later in his career, perfected the art of the fadeaway jumper.
Jordan’s game-tying fadeaway in the 2003 All-Star Game
Of course, that Bryant’s jumper reflects Jordan’s should surprise no one since Kobe Bryant played against Michael Jordan from the time he was drafted in 1996. Bryant got the chance to go head-to-head against MJ between 1995-1998, when Jordan played for the Chicago Bulls, and 2001-2003, when he played for the Washington Wizards.
Even though Bryant is one of the best shooting scoring guards in the NBA, during this time, Bryant may have picked up some of the nuances of the fadeaway from Jordan.
Jordan schooling Kobe with the fadeaway in 2002
Jordan, a born leader and teacher, even showcased his ability to make and teach to fadeaway in this skills-building-video, a video I Kobe may have watched once or twice.
Clearly, Bryant inherited Jordan’s mantle as the dominant winner of his generation, but Bryant also inherited the best fadeaway jumper in the game today. See for yourself:
Kobe’s Beautiful Fadeaway Jumpers
Kobe (like Mike)
If you had to pick the next great player to inherit the fadeaway jumper, who do you think it is? Dwayne Wade? Carmelo Anthony? Maybe, but right now I might have to go with LeBron James.
Kobe v. MJ: What’s the Difference?
R.S. De France is a College and University instructor of English Composition living in Los Angeles. He has a B.A. in English and an M.A. in Rhetoric, Composition, and Writing. De France has played, coached, and officiated competitive high school basketball in California for many years. Recently, De France, his wife, and another colleague started an internationally read magazine at Shwibly.com.