Metta believes Kobe’s extreme desire to win 6th ring stifled Lakers from winning in playoffs

Jesse Cinquini
4 Min Read
Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-USA TODAY Sports

Former Los Angeles Lakers forward Metta Sandiford-Artest — who won a title while playing alongside Kobe Bryant back in 2010 — said that Bryant’s insane desire to win a sixth title prevented the team from winning in the playoffs.

“I thought we could have won more, but the dynamics was wild,” Sandiford-Artest said. “Yeah, but I definitely wanted that moment.

“Well I think ’cause after Kobe got five, he wanted No. 6. You saw it in his eyes. You know what I’m saying? He wanted No. 6, and so it was games where we was up after that Finals in the playoffs up seven points, up 10 points with a minute left.

“And instead of just letting it happen naturally, get to the Finals, I think Kobe wanted it too much. And then the lead was just — we lose Game 1. We up seven. We lose Game 1. Same thing in Game 2, we up whatever, bam, we lose Game 2. Now we in Dallas down 0-2 — we get swept.

“Next year we play against OKC (Oklahoma City Thunder). We up, and I think Kobe really wanted No. 6. And I know if he would have got No. 6, we’re talking about, ‘Alright — it’s a tie for the G.O.A.T.’ And I think he really — I think he wanted it a little too much.”

Sandiford-Artest, Bryant and the Lakers eliminated Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, Rajon Rondo and the Boston Celtics in seven games in the 2010 NBA Finals. The Celtics owned a 3-2 lead at one point in the championship series, but the Lakers won the last two games of the series at home.

The 44-year-old spent five more seasons of his NBA career with the Lakers after the team won the title, and Los Angeles failed to make it past the second round of the playoffs in any of those seasons. Plus, the team missed out on the playoffs entirely in two of those seasons.

Arguably the best iteration of the Lakers that Sandiford-Artest was part of following the 2009-10 season was the 2010-11 team. Los Angeles won 57 games during the regular season and eliminated the New Orleans Hornets in six games in the opening round of the playoffs. However, as Sandiford-Artest alluded to, Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks swept the Lakers in round two.

During Sandiford-Artest’s final season with Bryant on the Lakers, the 2015-16 season, Los Angeles was one of the worst teams in the NBA. The Lakers ended the regular season with an abysmal 17-65 record, which was the worst record of any team in the Western Conference by a sizable margin.

Sandiford-Artest’s last season in the NBA and with the Lakers came in the following season, the 2016-17 season. He averaged 2.3 points, 0.8 rebounds, 0.4 assists and 0.4 steals per game while shooting 27.9 percent from the floor and 23.7 percent from 3-point range across 25 appearances with the organization in the regular season.

Bryant is regarded as one of the more competitive players ever to play in the NBA, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that he badly wanted to win a sixth ring and be tied with former Chicago Bulls star Michael Jordan in that regard.

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Jesse is a sports journalist with extensive experience covering the NBA. He has worked as a staff writer covering the Lakers’ dreaded rivals, the Boston Celtics, for SB Nation. He has also covered the New York Knicks for The Knicks Wall.