Dozens of people were great at making tough shots. But many(including all 3 you listed) were never gonna take the shots Kobe does. Not of the kind in question. They made absurd catch and shoot shots...and Hornacek for one made crazy layups around the basket look easy. But im talking the one on one create a shot out of nothing shots. Dan Majerle could wet a 30 footer and nobody was surprised. But hes not gonna:
on any kind of regular basis.
Kobes patience, focus, balance and footwork are all immaculate. At times I think he sees too much hate from some because he doesnt shoot well....on shots nobody shoots well.
It does at times come down to poor shot selection but he didnt score 30 something thousand points by not making shots.
I think years of highlights and stat reading have left fans with the idea that making contested midrange jumpers is easier than it is.
Everyone shoots like shit on those shots. A guy like Jordan who at his peak could get 8 layups a night and 2 dunks shoots 48-53% because of them not because hes wetting a high percentage of his turnaround jumpers and pullup 19 footers.
Nobody...and I mean nobody...is gonna make half of their 15+ foot jumpers vs a set defense. If they could they would shoot 60% because they are gonna make 75-90% of their easy layups, dunks, and uncontested jumpers.
Even guys like Wilt who might get 27 rebounds a game 10 on offense and dunk in 8 of them and get 6-7 more easy layups end up shooting about 50% when they are bigtime scorers because you just dont make that many fadeaways.
Now...guys like Jordan, Bird, King, and Dantley...given one on one coverage...10-15 feet...they can work themselves into a shot they can make like 70% of the time. But teams wont just watch them do it(well...they watched Dantley do it). Not that often at least.
You have to contend with doubles, teammates who make shitty entry passes or passes a second late, guys who dont know when to move off the ball to free you up to operate or force a rotation.
Kobe has played with some straight up idiots man. I love Larry Bird and I would take him over Kobe for the record....
But the difference betweem some of Kobes points and a Dennis Johnson....some of Kobes bigmen and a Parish/Mchale...Kobes 2s and a Danny Ainge? Gasol is sefless much of the time. Bynum was an idiot. Shaq played for Shaq and would give you the scraps(he was a great passer...but he wanted the ball first...not that he didnt deserve it).
The Celtics worked to make it easier on Bird. Even Mchale who I believe didnt have the best relationship with him. Dennis Johnson got Bird so many easy looks...Mchale wouldnt let anyone help off him to bother Larry because hes cutting to the basket the second you turn your head....Parish would not get the ball 7-8 plays in a row just keeping his man where Larry could see him. These are HOF talent being selfless playing to the strength of their best player.
Kobe has had that luxury less often. Possibly because hes a dick but whatever the reason...Kobe is fighting teammates as much as working with them. The number of times ive seen Ron Artest fail to even attempt to move his man away from Kobe on the block is disgusting. Or guys like Smush Parker see Kobe come off a screen ready to shoot nd give him that extra long look before passing thats the difference between easy shots and having to faceup and make something happen?
Far too often these days guys see Kobes shooting percentage and hate as if his skill or even...intelligence is the reason.
Kobe is probably as skilled a scorer as has ever been or ever will be. And hes smarter than a fadeaway 20 footer might make one assume if he didnt know why Kobe decided to take it.
What he does not have is the physical tools to make him need to rely on those skills less. Bird is 6'9''. That special tweener size that makes him too big for a 3 and too quick for a 4.
Jordan was Isiah Thomas quick at 6'6'' and could jump over anyone one footed, two footed, coming off a jump stop, or on the move...he also had Dr.J hands that gave him control Kobe never had.
Kobe...is a great athlete but hes not that kind of fast that makes man to man defense irrelevant. Hes strong but hes not the kind of strong that makes Lebron at 270 just drive through guys like they arent there.
And hes got good size but hes not big enough to be a physical mismatch on most wings.
Kobe has all time elite skills and only an above average body to work with. And hes not in the 80s where a team will run off made baskets to get a quick shot or have a center who cant shoot go to the 3 point line because illegal defense rules force his man to go with him.
A lot of things make Kobes life harder than a number of other greats.
And these things make him miss more shots because they force him to fall back on shots NOBODY makes that often more than a lot of the people hes compared to.
Hes not 6'11'' with a 7'5'' wingspan like Durant, hes not 6'8'' 270 with guard athletic ability like Lebron, hes not damn near 6'10'' playing outside forcing guards to check him who cant deal with him in the post or playing inside then stepping out to leave 4s on an island like Bird, and hes not Derrick Rose quick, Melo strong, with Vince carter hops, and Connie Hawkins hands like Jordan.
Now...all those things count which is why if you wanna argue hes not better than some of them you can.
But it does help explain his at times head scratching shot selection.
Comes right down to it...Kobe taking a fadeaway with 4 inches of space is more likely to go in than most of his teammates taking one with 4 feet. Its changed him over 15 years into a guy who kinda forgets those teammates are there.
But for the most part he does the right thing. He does have some pretty good result to show for it....