Kareem Rush Blames Kobe Bryant’s Selfishness For Lakers’ 2004 NBA Finals Loss

(Photo credit should read HECTOR MATA/AFP via Getty Images)

We can only wonder what could’ve been if the Los Angeles Lakers had won their fourth title in five years if they had defeated the Detroit Pistons in the 2004 NBA Finals

If you ask Kareem Rush about it, he’ll tell you straight up that Kobe Bryant was the reason for that loss.

During that year, the Lakers had Shaq, Kobe, Gary Payton, and Karl Malone on the team, but Rush says Kobe wanted recognition so badly during that series that he basically sabotaged their chances of winning.

Via Brandon Robinson on The Scoop B Radio podcast:

“I mean, they simply outplayed us. Karl [Malone] was hurt in that series. And I think Kobe selfishly wanted MVP,” said Rush. “I think that we were favored by everybody to win the series you know, and at the time Shaq had the first three Finals MVP’s. So I think Kobe had the mindset with that as the primary focus, but I think he was really itching to get that MVP – and we got caught off guard by a better team.”

“The Pistons were — they went on to do seven straight in the Conference Finals so that team was a winning team for the ages and they had a starting five that was very formidable. Those were all All-Star caliber,” said Rush. “They had a couple of Hall of Famers in Ben Wallace and Chauncey – and maybe even Rip [Hamilton]. So they were definitely a formidable team and they were BETTER than us at the time.”

The Lakers lost by double digits in 3 of their 4 losses against the Pistons, including a 20-point beat-down in Game 3. Kobe’s game-tying shot in Game 2 was the only win the Lakers would experience in that Finals.