, left, will put an end to his in-game Twitter posts. (Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images)
Kobe Bryant will cease posting messages to his Twitter account during Lakers games after his commentary became a subject of discussion following L.A.'s Game 1 loss to San Antonio on Sunday.
"I see my tweeting during the game is being talked about as much as the game itself," Bryant wrote. "Not my intention ... To tweet or not to tweet... I CHOOSE not [to]. Focus should be on the team not my insight."
As the Spurs defeated the Lakers 91-79, Bryant offered running commentary from California, as his season-ending Achilles tear prevented him from traveling to Texas with his teammates. Bryant's messages included critiques of the Lakers' play on both sides of the ball and prompted post-game comments from coach Mike D'Antoni.
“It’s great to have that commentary,” D’Antoni said, rolling his eyes. “He’s a fan right now. He’s a fan. You guys put a little bit more importance on that kind of fan. He’s a fan, he gets excited, I’m sure he wants to be part of it.”
Bryant immediately responded to those comments, which some interpreted as a slight: “A fan?? lol”. He later added: “Nervous response. I’m sure he didn’t meant it that way. No big deal.”
While D'Antoni's tone and delivery could have been clearer and more respectful, the gist of his message was accurate. Bryant clearly misses being involved in the action and said as much on Twitter.
“Nothing worse [than] watching your brothers struggle and [you] can’t do crap about it,” Bryant tweeted Sunday. “It’s horrible not being able to at least be there with them.”
The discussion of whether Bryant should or shouldn't be tweeting came into focus after he offered some blunt assessments of his teammates' play. It's one thing to be a cheerleader; it's a different proposition for a star player, especially one as revered as Bryant, to be dealing out harsh critiques in permanent form online. All things considered, Bryant really wasn't over the top in his assessments, but he did chastise the Lakers’ defense on Sunday.
“Matador defense on Parker,” Bryant said. “His penetration is hurting us. … Gotta keep the Spurs offense in front of our [defense]. They [are] great at penetrating and pitching to their shooters.”
L.A. also struggled to score without Bryant, the focal point of their offense all season. His solution to their Lakers' perimeter woes in his absence was simple: go inside.
“What I would say if I was there right now? Pau get [your] ass on the block and don’t move [until you] get it,” Bryant wrote. “Post. Post. Post. Gotta get to the block. See [what] Spurs [are] gonna do with [Pau Gasol] and [Dwight Howard]. … Gotta milk Pau in the post right now and [Howard]. Will get good looks from it.”
The Lakers’ 15-time All-Star guard referred to himself as “Coach Vino” last Friday and has spoken about sending messages of support and advice to his teammates during their final regular season games.
Shuttering his Twitter during games is the right call: Bryant's posting is an unnecessary distraction for the Lakers, who hardly need it given their drama-filled season and top-notch playoff opponent. Although fans, media members and Bryant collectively got a kick out of his comments, this wound up being a situation that produced no real good and had the chance to do some harm. Bryant is a straight-talker and tension is high during the postseason: the potential for one of his flip remarks to be taken out of context or to be taken personally by one of its subjects was great. Above all, D'Antoni will surely be glad that he doesn't need to compare and contrast his moves to "Vino's" desired strategies and adjustments.