I pulled this from ESPN's Daily Dime...
"Kobe Bryant (28 points), Pau Gasol (25) and Lamar Odom (25) shared the scoring load in the Lakers' 111-108 victory over the Timberwolves. It was only the third time in the last 13 seasons that three Lakers players scored at least 25 points in the same game. Bryant, Gasol and Odom also did it last April. But take a bow if you can name either of the other two players who joined Odom as 25-point scorers in a 2005 loss to the Hawks. They were Tierre Brown and Chucky Atkins."
Read that last sentence one more time. Now enjoy the rest of this season and ask yourself one question. Who the hell is Tierre Brown!?!?
Monday, February 23, 2009
I pulled this from ESPN's Daily Dime...
Friday, February 20, 2009
Thursday, February 12, 2009
"Reunited and it feels so good"
Quick recap of last night's game at Utah. Are you ready? It's going to be quick...Lakers lost.
Now that we got that out of the way, here is what I'm looking forward to for All Star Weekend...
• The Dunk Contest: I'm pulling for Dwight Howard trying to make change for a dollar.
• Not Horse: The NBA completely missed the boat. Durant, Mayo and J. Johnson? Why? Aside from Durant, who cares? There may be ramifications beyond my understanding, but how can it not be Kobe, Lebron and Wade/Paul/Howard/Other Superstar? My guess is that they didn't want to do it or maybe there are some contractual issues. Mychal Thompson (Lakers radio) had a fantastic suggestion. Put up one million dollars. Give 250K to the winner, 250K to second place and the rest to the winners favorite charity? How can you say no to that?
• David Stern's in game "State of the NBA interview" by Craig Sager.
• Kobe vs Lebron for All Star game MVP and league superstar supremacy. With an ailing Kobe and a not quiet ready to take over the league Lebron, Lakers vs Cavs didn't deliver on the legend vs future legend hype. What happens when they play against each other on Sunday where no one plays defense and everyone is trying to make the ridiculous dunk, pass, shot or play. OH YA, it's coming. (You know it's coming. Can anyone else possibly win the MVP this weekend? No.)
• Phil, Kobe and Shaq: "Reunited and it feels so good!" Up until yesterday, I completely forgot that Shaq was not only an all star, but playing on the Western Conference team for the first time since he left the Lakers. It's going to be cool to see the three of them on the same sideline one more time. Hey, this could be the final time. Anyone else getting misty eyed? Oh come on. We had some good times way back when. If anything else, Shaq did expose the most rhythmless human in the world (43 second mark). We should all be grateful.
And with that, I bid farewell to the first half of the NBA season with the greatest song ever written (courtesy of Bill Simmons)...
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
"I just brush them haters off"
I love Bill Simmons. It's safe to say that I have a substantial man crush on him. I'm obviously not the only one. A huge part of why I write and this site exists is a direct result of his prose. Nine times out of ten, I agree with his comments. But when it comes to green, purple and gold, we're more black and white.
Before we can go any further, I urge you to read Bill Simmons ESPN the Magazine's article on why he is not a Kobe hater.
Now that we understand Simmons' views, let me explain why he's right and wrong. Immediately after reading his article, I felt compelled to email him. Here's what I wrote...
"Anyone who says you blatantly hate on Kobe is dumb. The only thing you are guilty of is wearing green blinders when it comes to anything purple and gold. It's not your fault. You have been conditioned to respond this way, just like every Laker fan is programmed to despise Boston. My one problem with your article on why you are not a Kobe hater is the comparison of Lebron's MSG game. While it's obvious his line is much more "team" friendly, you conveniently left out Pau's 31-14-5 (which would not be possible without Kobe making close to every single shot he put up) and Ariza's 13-8. No doubt you may respond with how crummy New York’s front line is, but it’s the same front court that Lebron played against two nights later. You are 100% right about one thing. Because of who Kobe is, it’s much easier to dislike the guy, then say, Michael Jordan. Jordan would put these kinds of numbers up daily. The problem is that unlike Kobe, the press hid all of Jordan’s indiscretions until after his playing career was over."
I’m not finished.
Simmons, like many sports writers and fans are always writing and hoping for greatness, the sublime, perfection, but consistently finding ways to knock it once its achieved (unless of course it’s the Red Sox, Celtics or Patriots). The purest reaction to Kobe’s 61 was PTIs Michael Wilbon. He gushed about how sublime the performance was, finishing the segment with one word, Jordan. Exactly. I grew up in the Jordan era and when Jordan was pulling the same feats, we are all in awe. When Kobe does it, its more well how many assists did he have? The man put up 61 points after his team’s starting center’s knee exploded.
Kobe was not being selfish. Kobe was sending a message to his teammates and the rest of the league. Above all, Kobe is mentally stronger than every player in the NBA. His reaction after seeing Bynum collapse to the court was pure disgust for another season potentially down the drain. Simmons is quick to make this point. How would any other competitor react to seeing their season go down in flames? Joy? There’s a reason it’s called a reaction. What Simmons doesn’t say and what Kobe does better than anyone, is bouncing back from adversity. Sure, Kobe can be faulted for not immediately being concerned for Bynum’s health. But he should be revered for quickly putting his emotions aside, picking his teammates up and reminding them that the season is not over. He gave his teammates a glimpse of what someone can do if they are mentally stronger than their opponent.
Sports is 90% mental. You can have all the talent in the world, but if you can’t put it together when it counts, you’re just A-Rod. Not everyone has this ability. That’s why Kobe put up 61. That’s why Dwayne Wade turned to Kobe in the Olympics and told him “It’s Mamba Time.” That’s why Kobe re-asserted his status as favorite to win another MVP. That’s why Lamar Odom all of a sudden thinks he’s Kevin Garnett. That’s why the Lakers finished 6-0 on the road. That’s why Lebron is referred to great and Kobe a killer. That’s why Andrew Bynum will return this season. That’s why the Lakers will not go gently into that good night. And that’s why this year will not be like the last.
To all Kobe haters, please, don’t stop. If you think 61 was selfish, another MVP and Finals trophy must be borderline narcissistic.
Monday, February 9, 2009
Prior to the Lakers most recent road trip, me and the Hype Man had the following argument. Given the choice between a 4-2 (defeating everyone but Boston or Cleveland) or a 2-4 record (losing to everyone but Boston and Cleveland), which one would you choose? The Hype Man chose 2-4, arguing that the Lakers would be sending a message to the other elite teams in the league, especially on their home courts. I took the opposite and probably less popular stance. My argument was that even though short term it would feel great to beat the best in the east, long term, the Lakers need all the wins they could get to secure home court throughout the playoffs. We were both wrong.
Ending the whose the best player in the world conversation, a flu ridden Kobe Bryant and the Lakers snapped yet another streak defeating Cleveland handing them their first home loss of the season. If the roles were reversed and Lebron was sick playing at Staples, what do you think Kobe would have done? Given him some flintstone vitamins and matzo ball soup? No. Kobe would have ripped his heart out with a dull spoon and shoved it back down his throat. LBJ has all the talent in the world, but he isn’t and may never be the killer that Kobe is. Not many ever have been. So please, enough of the comparisons. It’s not even close.
Lebron was actually outplayed by the enigmatic and consistently inconsistent Lamar Odom. Aside from the 28 point, 17 rebound outburst, the most impressive stat of LO's game was Lebron shooting 1-6 when being guarded by him. After the game, Lamar said that it was his responsibility to pick up a sick Kobe and that the first time he touched the ball, he was going to drive down the length of the court and go straight to the rim. That’s what this Laker team was missing; Attitude.
The most pleasantly surprising aspect of this road trip has been the attitude and intensity that this Laker team is playing with on both ends of the floor. They all but eliminated any type of home cooking from the refs. That’s a direct product of their sudden dedication to physical play. If you play a consistent physical brand of basketball, you’re going to consistently get the calls. That has to be worrisome for a suddenly vulnerable Celtic team at home and a Cavs team that can’t beat a Bynumless and Flu ridden Lakers team in Cleveland.
As I’ve written about before, this years Laker team is much better equipped to handle the loss of Andrew Bynum. Gasol is stronger, Lamar is smarter, Fisher is constant and Kobe, well, what else can you say about the guy. This team is firing on all cylinders. Much like a machine, after blowing their transmission (Bynum) and suffering from a sputtering wheel (Kobe’s flu), the other parts worked harder and kept the machine running even stronger than before. Speaking of machines, even Sasha showed up against Cleveland. With All star weekend looming, the Lakers are poised to finish with the best record in the league. I guess me and the Hype Man are going to have to find something else to argue about.
Friday, February 6, 2009
It’s raining, cloudy, windy and cold in LA, but it couldn’t be a more beautiful day. The Lakers narrowly escaped the Garden last night with an ugly win over the Celtics. There were some questionable calls, even more non-calls and a certain psychotic 7 foot power forward that fouled out before things got really interesting. Maybe the referees felt bad that the Lakers were Bynumless?
Regardless of how it looked, the Lakers sent a message to Boston with Kobe saying it best in today’s LA Times, “I'm not going to sit here and let this team get punked any more.” Far from it. Playing a back to back in their fifth game on the road, the Lakers played with more physical intensity than they have all year. What missing center?
The Celtics can still be heard wining about the non-calls. Doc Rivers believes Ray Allen was pushed on the final play. Ray Allen asked how it couldn’t be a foul after getting a booboo on his little piggy. Coach Rivers later was seen putting on a Princess Power puff band aid on the ouchie. Replays clearly showed that neither Fisher nor Pau even came close to touching Allen. If anyone should be complaining, it’s Fisher. Prior to committing the foul on Rondo with 3 seconds left in OT, Kendrick Perkins actually tripped Fisher to the ground and Rondo simply walked right into him. The Ref’s were painfully inconsistent throughout.
The Lakers now take their 5-0 road trip into Cleveland. Much like the TV show Fringe, a pattern is emerging.
19 Game winning streak. Snapped.
12 game winning streak. Snapped.
23 home game winning streak.
...Um, Fear the Mamba?
To tight Mr. Bryant?
Thursday, February 5, 2009
I don't know if we win tonight, but I feel good. Even without Bynum anchoring the middle, I'm counting on one thing. Lets hope these Lakers remember what happened the last time they stepped on the parquet. The humiliation, the celebration, the pain. I trust even if they were able to move past it last year, it will all come back tonight. I believe that tonight's game is all about having a pair. And fortunately for us Laker fans, the guy with the biggest set, plays for us.
Tuesday, February 3, 2009
Have no fear; this is not another “Is Kobe Bryant the Next Michael Jordan” article. If you’re looking for one of those, try googling “Jordan compare Kobe” and pick one of the 2.5 million results. I’m not interested in who’s the better two guard or the better shooter or if Jordan is obviously better because he has three more rings. It’s been discussed and beaten to death and discussed some more ever since Kobe entered the league. There is no next Jordan and there never will be. So stop talking about it.
What if, however, Kobe and Jordan’s careers were reversed (Bear with me. I'm aware that this is completely hypothetical and I’ve already pissed you off if you think the word ‘should’, well, should be removed from the English vocabulary)? I’m not including their accomplishments, but the era’s they played in and the players they played with. For that matter, how would their accomplishments differ or remain the same? Would Jordan still be the greatest ever? Would Kobe have been able to achieve what Jordan did without having Jordan first to emulate? Would we appreciate Kobe’s defense more if he played with Pippen? Does the era of iced out watches, hip hop, cribs and makin it rain affect Jordan as it has Kobe? Would Jordan and Shaq get along? Am I ranting? Are you sick of these questions? Yes.
What I find interesting, is that no matter what Kobe does, he’ll always be chasing the ghost of Jordan’s past. It’s unfair, while remaining mildly appropriate. After all, Kobe admits to emulating his game after Mike as a youngster. He sets himself up for this type of scrutiny. However, Kobe has created a historic career of his own. Is it still fair to judge him based on another player’s merit? And for that matter, is it fair to judge any player after the greatest ever to lace up a pair of high tops? I don’t know, but I’m going to try to find out.
In that spirit, I present to you a five, six or possibly endless part series on the ultimate what if. What if Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan switched careers? Who would be regarded as the best, how would the league be different and would each achieve or exceed the others’ level of success? Most importantly, how would we care differently for two of the greatest and most compared to one another athletes of all time? And maybe even more importantly, can I write an entire article comprised of questions? Maybe?
Stay tuned for Part II to be posted today, tomorrow or maybe never.
Monday, February 2, 2009
All together now…1, 2, 3, jump! Collectively, that’s what every Laker fan is screaming out loud to anyone that will listen. News outlets everywhere are reporting that Andrew Bynum will be out 8-12 weeks with a torn MCL. If this sounds all too familiar, we’re pretty much right back where we started one year ago. Last year, if memory serves, the Lakers weren’t in first place in the Western Conference and if they were, it surely wasn’t by 6 games. So is it time to panic? Sell off those season tickets? Ride the Clipper broken down, rusted over, missing spokes, horses, driver and cargo band wagon? No, its not. You want to know why? History.
History tells us that barely one year ago to the day, the Lakers found themselves in the exact same position with four major differences.
1) Pau Gasol: The Lakers were already one of the best teams in the league without the Spaniard and adding him several weeks later, spurned the team’s success all the way to the Finals. The pessimist would insist that Gasol ignited the team and was the reason for their success, and his presence now doesn’t provide that much needed boost of new energy. I’ll argue that the Lakers are better off with a Gasol who has one year of triangle offense, a thick playoff run, Finals experience and his second All Star birth under his belt.
2) The Bench mob: Perhaps more than any other reason for the Lakers holding it together after Bynum’s injury last year, was the inspired effort of Sasha, Jordan, Vlad and the rest of the bench. The pessimist would probably argue that they were playing on another level last year and they’re not the same bench anymore. Can’t disagree. But they also were playing without Pau Gasol for half the season and by default, had much more playing time to hone their skills. If anything, last year’s bench has proved that through adversity, they excel. Why should this year be any different?
3) Lamar Odom: Once more, we look to history to tell us a player in a contract year usually puts up numbers that far exceed his previous production. Add the massive chip on Odom’s shoulder after being demoted to the bench and you have one serious recipe for a guy with something to prove. For all the inconsistency that is Lamar Odom, much like Kobe, his passion and work ethic are tops among the NBA. We’ve been waiting so long for Odom’s production to meet his talent. Well, no time like the present. Speaking of Kobe…
4) The Reigning MVP: Above all the other reasons I believe the Lakers will survive and thrive without Andrew Bynum, is Kobe Bryant. No one plays better, harder, tougher and with more purpose in the face of adversity than Kobe. Having actually been the cause of Bynum’s injury to boot, nothing Kobe does the rest of this season will surprise me. Triple figure point games? Hextipple-doubles? Making opposing players cry? Single handily forcing NBA organizations to shut down? What’s the limit? You think you’re pissed right now? I can’t even quantify the level of rage Kobe must be harnessing at this very moment. To the rest of the NBA, be afraid. Be very afraid.
Most would agree that Kobe is probably second in the MVP voting right now. The obvious argument is that Kobe has more talent around him than LBJ. So what happens when the Lakers lose their center and Kobe is forced once more to shoulder the load? I believe this will be Kobe’s finest hour. I believe that while he is obviously one of the greatest ever, the rest of this season will cement him as legend. Fear not Laker fans, you are in the best possible hands. And as that commercial says…”There can only be one.” Is there anyONE you’d rather have?
Now more than ever, Fear the Mamba.