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Kobe Bryant loves life too much to take charges in NBA game

Five-time NBA champion says he has learned about one of the ways to prolong his career by learning from mistakes from retired greats.

Kobe Bryant believes taking charges in basketball will hurt one's back in the long term.
Kobe Bryant believes taking charges in basketball will hurt one's back in the long term.

OKLAHOMA CITY // Kobe Bryant, the Los Angeles Lakers star, says he does not take charges, and he has got a reason for it.

Based on his own analysis of NBA greats from Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen to Magic Johnson and Larry Bird, Bryant believes there is too much of a health risk to get run over by an opponent and go crashing to the floor repeatedly.

"I learned from my predecessors, man," Bryant said yesterday. "Pippen had a [messed] up back taking charges. Bird had a [messed] up back taking charges.

"I said, 'I'm not taking charges.' I figured that [stuff] out at an early age."

The five-time NBA champion says no one ever presented the theory to him that he could prolong his career if he did not try to draw offensive fouls against his opponents. It was just his own observations.

"I've seen them take charges and lay there with a messed-up back. I've seen Michael not take one ... charge and he's healthy his whole career, and the same thing with Magic," Bryant said.

"I might not be the smartest guy in the room but I can figure that [stuff] out."

The topic came up after the Lakers forced only four Oklahoma City Thunder turnovers in a 119-90 blow-out loss in Game 1 of the Western Conference semi-finals. The NBA record for fewest turnovers in a game is three.

Oklahoma City had averaged a league-worst 16.4 turnovers in the regular season, but Los Angeles had the fewest steals and forced the least turnovers.

Bryant rejected the idea that the Lakers should try to extend their defence and disrupt Oklahoma City's passes and said: "We're not a passing-lanes kind of team. We're a pack-it-in type of team."

Yet he also does not think the Lakers are willing to stand in the way when opponents come charging in.

"We've got a couple guys that take charges but for the most part the one guy that took charges [Derek Fisher] is now playing in Oklahoma," Bryant said.

"I don't take charges, Metta [World Peace] doesn't take charges. Steve [Blake] will take a charge every now and then, but most everybody else just stands up and plays."

Bryant said that drawing charges is "definitely a skill", pointing out that coach Mike Krzyzewski does drills to teach it at Duke University. He singled out Miami's Shane Battier, a former Duke star, for being among the best at it in today's game but said he has no interest in learning.

Bryant's coach, Mike Brown, has the opposing viewpoint.

"I'm a big charge guy. I'm more a charge guy than a shot-blocking guy," he said, noting that even 7ft 3in centre Zydrunas Ilgauskas would drop to the floor to take charges for him in Cleveland.

While some NBA teams keep track of how many charges their players draw, Bryant certainly isn't keeping up with his own.

"I probably took one last year. By accident probably," he joked. "I couldn't get out of the way."

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