Last night, we were all surprised by the reports of an alleged near-fight between Dwight Howard and Kobe Bryant that supposedly took place following the Lakers‘ upsetting loss at the hands of Jrue Holiday and the Philadelphia 76ers on New Years Day. I only use the term “surprised”, because it wouldn’t have made sense for the story to have not been reported for 4-5 days given the enormous amount of media/fan scrutiny surrounding the team.
I was comfortable openly questioning the validity of the story, because I am quite certain a member of the local media would have been all over the story prior to some supposed “source” based out of New York ever having the opportunity to steal a few headlines and clicks. This suspicion was all but confirmed, when Sports Illustrated’s Sam Amick joined Brian Geltzeiler as a guest on today’s Sheridan Hoops Radio Podcast and chimed in with:
The reports of Dwight and Kobe getting into a fight are completely false. Maybe, this is a case of the (Brooklyn) Nets trying to rattle some cages…
Geltzeiler went on to add:
I think that both of these guys have enough passive aggressive in them that there won’t be any kind of face to face confrontation. Most dissenting will be through third parties
Again, I can’t say that I would have been surprised by an argument, but it simply wouldn’t have made much sense for individuals like ESPNLA’s Ramona Shelburne or Los Angeles Times Lakers Blogger Eric Pincus to have not been the first to report such an incident. The level of tension must be high, but what this team does not need are outside “sources” trying to muddy the water even further. We’ll be sure to monitor the situation, but as far as I can tell the reports about the alleged near-physical altercation seem to be unsubstantiated and false.
Remember that feeling of utter agony and pain you had while watching Kobe and Co. stumble and fumble around at the end of games, and in key stretches over the last couple seasons? No need to reply, as I already know the answer. Of course you do, just as I remember each maddening misstep, and every last-second bailout where Bryant was forced into a leaning (double, triple, quadruple pump-fake) “Kobe-shot” with 2 guys literally hanging on him. Folks, rightfully, complained of the anemic offense in crunch-time. Disgusted by indecision, frustrated by predictability, and upset over the reality of Bryant no longer being able to simply “create” or impose his ‘will’ at any given time. No, that is not a knock against Bryant, rather it is simply an unfortunate reality of playing 16+ years in this league.
In steps a 38-year-old Steve Nash. I acknowledge his age, as a courtesy to everyone mentioning his inability to defend. Don’t worry, we’ll get to that later. On offense, there may not have been a better fit (of players actually available) in terms of skill-set and timing.
The Lakers look COMPLETELY lost in the half-court set!!!
Nash is the best point guard (over the last 20 years) at probing through traffic, maintaining the dribble, and finding an open man. Dude made Marcin Gortat an All Star-level player. I mean no disrespect to Gortat…wait, yes I do, he’s MARCIN Gortat, for goodness sakes! Gortat was a guy that averaged eight points, 6 rebounds on his career, and was best known for his God-awful Jordan/Jumpman tattoo, but Nash utilized him as the main and only option on a depleted Suns roster this season.
The Lakers don’t use the big men enough…
Refer to previous answer.
Mike Brown‘s offense is HORRIBLE!!!
That’s debatable, but I would also remind you of the fact that the Lakers played a majority of the season with a small forward that couldn’t hit a shot to save his life, and point guards that as 710ESPNLA’s often pointed out didn’t deserve to be called “point guards” since they “couldn’t score/generate points, and couldn’t actually guard anyone.” Again, I’m certainly not going completely excuse Coach Brown, as the team was totally lost while out on the court, at times. I’m just not willing to fully blame the man for not being able to back me a cake without the flour and eggs.
Nash can’t defend ANYONE!!!
First of all, there are only about five point guards that actually (consistently) play defense at a high level. Yes, at 38, Nash is going to have nights where his man takes him to lunch on defensive end. Difference is, Laker point guards have been trashed for years, only, Nash has the ability to actually throw a counter-punch of his own. He’s the best pure shooter I’ve seen at that position. Yes, better than Mark Price. Definitely, better than the artist formerly known as Ason Kidd, the all-time leader in 3-pointers made as a point guard. For those unaware, the guy shoots nearly 50% from the field (career), 43% from the 3-point line, and over 90% from the free throw line.
How is Kobe going to mesh with Nash? I heard on ESPN First Take that…
Excuse me, but you can go ahead and stop right there. That show is all about drama, hyperbole, hype, and ratings. They are not a viable news source in the slightest. Much like this article, First Take is merely based on opinion. Unlike this article, or anything you will see on this website, we are not bound by friendships, nor relationships with these professional athletes. We have no hidden agenda, for that matter, either. All of that said, look at things logically. If Kobe were not willing to make necessary adjustments to his game, would he have called/recruited Nash in the first place? Of course, Bryant wants to win, and look good while doing it. Unfortunately, the “Kobe Show” hasn’t been successful in several years. As intelligent as Bryant is, he realized this even before you had the time to think, tweet, or cry about it to a friend, or even radio talk show host. If Bryant were not fully on-board, then this wouldn’t have been an option. Plus, let’s face it, Kobe can always refer to this moment…if so inclined:
With the rumors of Dwight Howard (potentially) on the horizon, I will wait in order to make any predictions or assessments on this roster. Whether a deal is made for Howard, or Pau is involved in a transaction, regardless of the front office saying “not much is coming”, I do not believe this roster will look anywhere near the same as it did last season. One thing is certain, the addition of Nash was a positive move, and one that places the Lakers in the right direction.
Be sure to vote on the poll:
Jabari A. Davis
@RealTalkOnSprts on Twitter
————————————————————————————————————————————I jokingly posted this picture in response to some of the unrealistic demands and expectations from my fellow Lakers fans. I call it Laker-Mania induced myopia. ”WE should win EVERY YEAR!” Yeah, because there’s a team in the history of professional sports that can win every single year. Save your Boston Celtics of the 60′s references, unless you can even name 5 players from the team without ‘Googling’ them. ”FIRE Mitch!I He’s terrible!” Really? Putting together a team that went to the NBA Finals 3 consecutive times, winning 2 of them isn’t enough? Do folks not remember what things looked like following the Shaq trade? Yes, we had the excitement of Kobe Bean Bryant, but it took several moves to get things back on the ‘winning side’ of things. ”Oh, SEE, that proves how terrible Mitch is, why would you trade Shaq???” That argument makes me laugh. Kobe comes to Mitch and essentially tells him, “Me or Shaq.” Which direction did you think he would go in? Also, when moving a piece as integral as Shaquille O’Neal, it’s going to take several years to completely turn the roster over in order to re-center it around Kobe. I would venture to say, Mitch has done so. Listen, I’ve been every bit as guilty of being that maniacal fan. I can openly admit, I wanted Mitch to trade Bynum for Jason Kidd. Also, I openly campaigned for Bynum to get traded for Melo, last year. I also have no problem acknowledging that I had NO clue what I was talking about, when I was calling for those trades. How many of you are willing to do that same? While I’m every bit as impatient as all of you, let’s give Mitch the opportunity to build the best team he can possibly place on the court. He’s been doing so for 12 years, and those of us mature enough to comprehend how NBA negotiations work haven’t been disappointed thus far. Also, can we end the madness of thinking we can trade our ‘spare parts’ that aren’t any good on our bench for better players on opposing teams? If WE don’t want an unproductive player with a a couple years left on his contract, then why would another team want them? This isn’t fantasy basketball, nor is it NBA 2k12. Just because the finances of a trade work in an online trade machine, doesn’t mean those teams have any desire to just hand us their players so that Kobe get his 6th ring? Sorry folks, as much as I would LOVE for it to work that way…it doesn’t. I’ve added one of the many conversations I’ve had on the matter, purely for your entertainment.————————————————————————————————————————————From Facebook:
B****** coron for kawmbe? l o for no one
B****** kobe….THATS HOW….MITCH HAS HELD US BACK JUST LIKE HES HOLDING US BACK NOW
B******* i guess we look at thing differently… whenever i have the best player in the league with unlimited money to spend i expect to win every year no excuses jerry west gave us gasol kupcheck got lucky he didnt get fired right before that he was bout to be gone now were in turmoil again and guess what jerry west isnt handing us shit….kupcheck doesnt even know how to draft for 10 years whens the last time we had a good player out the draft u know gm’s draft right?
Jabari Davis That’s a very unrealistic expectation, but feel free.*CRICKETS*
Jabari A. Davis
@RealTalkonSprts on Twitter
So, by now, we’ve all seen or at least heard about that play. For the record, I do not believe Dwyane Wade intended to ‘hurt’ Kobe on the play. That doesn’t mean he wasn’t trying to send him the same message he’s been ‘trying’ to send him for years: My career could have been legendary…if not for your maintained dominance. Think I’m guilty of conjecture? Look at Wade’s actions and comments towards Kobe over the course of their careers. Whether it is a shove in the back on a fast break, a bloodied eye on another play, comments about Kobe “trying to go for the MVP” in the All Star Game while on the bench…Wade has always seemed to have an extra level of ‘competitive fire’ when facing Bryant. In fact, it can be summed up by Wade’s backhanded compliments aimed towards Kobe’s career milestone (Most All Star Points) following the game:
Wade on Kobe’s accomplishment:
“LeBron said it best, it’s a testament to him being healthy, staying healthy. Obviously being in the All-Star Game for 14-plus years, I mean, he’s an unbelievable scorer. That record he got, with K.D. (Kevin Durant) in the league, I don’t know how long it’s going to last. But Kobe is a scorer. Tonight he does what he normally does. He got 27. He’s Kobe Bryant. He scores the ball.”
Think about Dwyane Wade’s career for a moment: He comes into the NBA and takes the league by storm while Kobe wassuffering the results of the Eagle, Co. fallout. After an impressive showing in the playoffs in his rookie year, Wade received the largest gift a shooting guard could ask for in a near-prime and motivated Shaquille O’Neal. The two of them went on to win a title together while Kobe struggles to get out of the first round (and doesn’t). The Shaq/Wade era ends after a brief run, and Kobe’s stock was already on the rise, again. Insert Pau/Bynum, and Kobe makes another 3-year run while Dwyane Wade was back struggling in mediocrity in Wade County. Then, in the 2008 Olympics, while in your prime and playing extremely well, you still can’t get the starting nod over Kobe, and Kobe ends up being the ‘man’ in biggest moments of the Championship Game vs. Spain. Then there was this:
Not to mention, the fact that Wade has to look at his list of career accomplishments, and silently fume over all of the 2nd Team All NBA, 2nd Team All Defense, lack of regular season MVP acknowledgement whether he would admit it or not. If you still don’t believe it, consider Wade’s comments about “still owing Kobe a foul” for the “two he got away with” earlier in an All Star game. The Los Angeles Lakers and Miami Heat face each other this coming Sunday on ABC. While the game shouldn’t be all that competitive, given the Lakers roster deficiencies and stellar play from the Heat all season… something tells me Kobe Bean Bryant has this game marked on his mental checklist/calendar above all others.
Jabari A. Davis
@RealTalkOnSprts on Twitter
NBA Real Talk on Facebook
By this point, if you haven’t been exposed to the LinSanity, then I simply can’t help you. No need to rehash the compelling background and path every sports writer/blogger has already done 10x’s over. We’ve seen the New York Knicks win 7-consecutive games with Lin playing big minutes, and Lin has already proven to be a viable ‘international star’. Sounds crazy (after only 7 games), but that is the reality. Knicks fans, NBA fans, Asians, Asian Americans, anyone that loves a ‘Great American Underdog Story’…the world has taken notice of this young man’s exploits. All of the acclaim made me take a moment and reconsider Kobe‘s (now infamous) comments on Lin:
“I know who he is, but I don’t really know what’s going on too much with him,” said Bryant of the Chinese-American phenomenon. “I don’t even know what he’s done. Like, I have no idea what you guys are talking about. I’ll take a look at it tonight though.”
Asked about “LinSanity” and “Lin-ning”: “I don’t even know what the [fudge] is going on. What the [fudge] is going on? Who is this kid? I’ve heard about him and stuff like that, but what’s he been doing? Is he getting like triple doubles or some [stuff]? He’s averaging 28 and eight? No [stuff]…If he’s playing well, I’ll just have to deal with him.”
After Lin guided his Knicks to a victory over Kobe’s Lakers, plenty of folks (myself included) were left muttering, tweeting, texting “Hey Kobe, do you know who Jeremy Lin is, NOW?!?” Great for a laugh, but probably no more true at that point than before. Reason being, even though Kobe’s ultra-competitiveness would never permit him to acknowledge it, Jeremy Lin is definitely on Kobe’s radar…but not for anything to do with that Knicks victory. Once upon a time, Kobe was the NBA’s darling. McDonald’s, Sprite, and a line of other companies were falling over one another to have Kobe “pimp” their product. After his fall from grace, and subsequential loss of his major sponsors, ‘Team Kobe’ went into overdrive while carefully and meticulously reshaping his public image. Nike, whom Kobe signed with just 2 weeks prior to the Eagle, Co. incident, weathered the storm and opened the door to China for Kobe.
Even with national pride generated by Yao Ming playing well, Kobe has dominated the hearts of China for years. He’s made countless appearances, conducted Nike-endorsed basketball camps, and played in Nike-sponsored basketball exhibitions all over China. Kobe’s ‘Global Brand’ was never more evident than during the 2008 Summer Olympics (held in Bejing, China), where on a team chalked full of names like LeBron, Cp3, Melo, DWade, Kobe’s ovations from the Chinese crowds nearly dwarfed those of the other NBA stars (almost combined).
As competitive, prepared, and as calculated as Kobe is, do you really think Lin isn’t on his radar? Whatever you think of Kobe, a ‘fool’ is not something you can rightfully call him. In fact, when it comes to mental prowess and ‘mind game’ efficiency, you can place Kobe right alongside Phil Jackson, Michael Jordan, and maybe Larry Bird as the unofficial ‘Mount Rushmore’ of basketball ‘mind games’. Kobe realizes his ‘star’ is fading, but much like Michael Jordan (before him), Kobe already has his post-career image and ‘brand’ in mind. It isn’t that he is “jealous” of Lin, rather he is smart enough to see how a 6’3″ combo guard playing beneath the brightest lights in the land (MSG) has definite potential to resonate with Asian and Asian-American fans more than a 7’6″ big man playing in Houston. Quite frankly, people relate to guards more than centers, because it is much less of a stretch.
Only time will tell just how radiant Lin’s ‘stardom’ will ultimately be. As is, he’s already grabbed the attention of basketball fans around the globe. How long, before he begins wrestling their ‘hearts’ away from this current crop of NBA Superstars?
Jabari A. Davis
@RealTalkOnSprts on Twitter
Superman start with a Clark Kent finish?
“I want to become a closer,” Howard told FOX Sports Wisconsin. “The only way you get there is by getting the ball, and having coach have the confidence in giving me the ball.
“That’s how Kobe [Bryant] and the rest of the great fourth-quarter players got that way. It’s trial and error. When Kobe first got in the league, it took him a while to become the killer he is in the fourth quarter now. That’s because he went through that phase where he had to learn what shots to take and just get confidence in taking shots in the fourth quarter. That’s one thing that I want for myself, so I can become the guy who finishes games for my team. I want to be that guy whose team wants him to close games out for them. Coach just needs to have confidence in me.”
Full disclosure: I’ve grown increasingly weary of Dwight’s on-again/off-again trade demands. That said, let me be short and concise about this one…Dwight, you’re a 59% ft shooter, and you’re shooting a career low (49%) this year. While your running-hook looks good when it is dropping, you have failed to develop the necessary footwork and court awareness (while dribbling) to consistently offer a counter-move when defenders take away the turnaround hook. The fact that you don’t have enough of an offensive arsenal to manage/operate in traffic and in crunch-time situations and are shooting 49% from the free throw line makes it highly unlikely you’ll be a closer anytime soon.
World Peace with a piece of his mind on Coach Mike Brown
Metta World Peace may have changed his name and personality on the court, but he decided to throw some major verbal ‘bombs’ at Head Coach Mike Brown. Frustrated by his diminished role, Metta unleashed some fury on Brown:
“I’m trying to win, and right now, coach is a stats guy. His background is video coordinator or whatever. So he’s all stats. But Ron Artest is all feel. He doesn’t understand that. Having me in (Thursday night’s Celtics) game at the end, he was worried about me shooting bad from the free throw line. And I was like, ‘I could care less because I’m gonna get a stop at the end of the game.’ He didn’t understand the rhythm that we had—me, Fish, Kobe, Pau and Drew. I’ve been through games where I would have two points, go 1 for 9 and we’d win. That’s what matters. Stats are for people who need stats.“
Metta continued on Brown: “If I could count how many times another team went away from the best player when I was on him, I’ve got to be like No. 1 in the league,” “That’s not a stat, and coach doesn’t … you would have to play basketball to feel that. When Phil Jackson was here, that’s why I was in the game, because he understands that. Philly and Utah, I was on the bench because of stats… I think he just has to get a better feel of the players.“
Unnamed teammate on Metta: “World Peace is “walking around all crazy-like. We’re just waiting for him to go off.”
Another teammate on Metta: “He’s always talking about how he should be playing no matter how bad he’s shooting, but he can’t figure out that when he takes bad shots and misses eight in a row it puts us in a hole.“
First of all, publicly calling out your head coach is never a good idea. Then again, neither is speaking of your ‘former’ self in the 3rd-person. Metta’s playing time is down 22.4 minutes per game (33.7 mpg career average), and Lakers fans have been more than vocal about their displeasure with him even playing that much. Trouble is, as currently constituted, the Lakers are almost forced to give him minutes. Several reports have current (unnamed) teammates openly stating “the Lakers would be a better team if Metta were no longer on the roster.” Los Angeles, let’s face it…you all knew the risks attached to bringing in the Baller Formerly Known as ‘Ron Artest’. Artest brought an intensity the Lakers were seriously in need of, and that ferocity helped win bring a title to LA. That era has ended, as ‘Metta’ seems more concerned with the spotlight (Dancing With The Stars, name change, attention-seeking comments/behavior) than he does with winning basketball. Had Metta been focused on winning another title, then he would have been in shape at the start of training camp, regardless of the uncertainty of the season. What he is failing to realize/acknowledge is that his skills have eroded as his athleticism declined. Had he stayed in shape and remained focused on transitioning his game (like any/all players must do with age) rather than attempting to place his stamp on the ‘Hollywood scene’, MWP would have undoubtedly ended his career with the Lakers. By simply “reading the tea leaves”, as Max Kellerman (710 am ESPNLA) often says, Metta isn’t likely to be on this roster going into next season.
In the Mix: Rumor Mill
JR Smith looks as though he’s moving closer to signing with the Los Angeles Clippers. The loss of Chauncey Billups was tough, but the addition of Smith could make the Clippers a serious title contender. No matter how well they do, it might never feel comfortable even ‘typing’ that sentence without rolling my eyes. Although I am supremely confident in Chris Paul’s capabilities as a leader, I do have reservations about the potential chemistry/personality issues that could come from this current mix of players.
All of Chicago expelled a collective sigh of relief when the negative results of Derrick Rose’s MRI were released. Rose, listed as ‘day-to-day’, has already missed more games (7) this season than he did over the first three years of his career (6). At the risk of sounding like a broken record, the Bulls need additional roster help. Sure, they’ll win a ton of games in the regular season by grinding it out, but they are going to need a healthy Rose (current league MVP) in order to make a run once the playoffs come. More contributors = less wear and tear on Rose.
Mayweather on the LinSanity: “Jeremy Lin is a good player but all the hype is because he’s Asian. Black players do what he does every night and don’t get the same praise. Its OK for ESPN to give their opinion but I say something and everyone questions Floyd Mayweather, I’m speaking my mind on behalf of other NBA players. They are programmed to be politically correct and will be penalized if they speak up. Other countries get to support/cheer their athletes and everything is fine. As soon as I support Black American athletes, I get criticized.”
I will preface this by acknowledging the fact that I am a HUGE Floyd Mayweather fan. I’ve supported him throughout his career, and will continue enjoying his ‘act’ as long as he is willing to keep it up. I simply cannot get with him on this subject. While I can see where he is coming from regarding Black Americans (not just athletes) being somewhat “programmed” (conditioned), he’s absolutely missing the point on this subject. Does the fact that Jeremy Lin is an Asian-American play into his fanfare? Of course it does. If you were an Asian American basketball fan, why wouldn’t you love this story. In fact, forget about the Asian part, this is a great ‘American’ story.
Lin is a kid that led his high school team to a state title (CIF Division II) and won just about every major California Player of the Year award during that season, but couldn’t get a scholarship from any major Division I college. He played at Harvard even though his play garnered a bit of attention the Ivy League isn’t headlining ESPN College BBALL coverage any time soon. He wasn’t drafted, and was cut by the Warriors and Rockets. Lin was only granted the opportunity to play due to multiple injuries to teammates, and he came in the game and knocked it out of the park.
Mayweather’s comments are unnecessary, because what does it matter why folks are rooting for someone? Whether they are in favor of an Asian American in the NBA, an undrafted player sleeping on his brother’s couch and sliding into stardom under the lights at Madison Square Garden, or simply the underdog story of the bench player becoming a star…what’s NOT to love about this story? Also, as a minority, why not embrace the accomplishments and achievements of a fellow minority rather than adhering to the ‘crabs-in-a-bucket’ mentality that continues to plague our community?
Jabari A. Davis
@RealTalkOnSports on Twitter
NBA Real Talk on Facebook
LeBron James- Miami Heat SF (19-7)
28.5 points: 56.4% FG, 38.6% 3p FG, 74.9% FT
LeBron says he is an “easy target” for criticism, in the wake of Kendrick Perkins and Larry Legend landing two very different types of ‘hay-makers’ at his sensitive psyche. Well, time for you to get your props, Mr. James. We all witnessed that NBA Finals meltdown against the Mavericks last June. No need to re-hash that, as LeBron has come back with a vengeance. The 2-time NBA MVP has actually managed to increase his career scoring, largely in Wade’s absence (Heat were 7-1 with LeBron leading w/Wade out w/injury), is right on par with his career average in assists (7APG), and has managed to increase his rebounds (8.2>7). Say what you want about his tweeting, posing, and “playing the game for fun”, LeBron is the clear-cut favorite for MVP this year. Real recognizes real, and in the regular season, LeBron is the truth. All those folks that love seeing him fail had better absorb/enjoy it while it lasts. With the West looking wide open, and the Chicago Bulls’ collective health being an ultimate question, we may be ‘witnessing’ a few big celebrations (for James) that would finally bring validity to his self-assigned nickname.
Chris Paul- Los Angeles Clippers PG (15-8)
18.4 points: 50.4% FG, 47% 3p FG, 83% FT
Full disclosure, CP3 was my preseason prediction for MVP. Some laughed, but it really wasn’t all that much of a stretch. The Clippers have been the butt of NBA jokes for the better part of 30 years, and even with the added pieces, the expectation/pressure surely wouldn’t be as high as that of James’. Definitely not taking anything away from Paul, just placing perspective. All that said, CP3 is back to playing like the best point guard in the league. Whether this label is aided by Derrick Rose being beaten up, is an argument for another day. The Clippers are in 1st place in the Pacific Division, and don’t look like they are going anywhere anytime soon. With Chauncey Billups being lost for the season (torn achilles), CP3 has the opportunity to truly prove his winning mettle and poise. The Clippers’ progress and ultimate success may ultimately decide this race.
Kevin Durant- Oklahoma City SF (20-5)
27.3 points: 50.4% FG, 32.5% 3p FG, 81.1% FT
Durant fans won’t want to hear it, but Russell Westbrook‘s emergence as a legitimate star ultimately hurts KD’s chances at the league’s MVP. Fair or not, Westbrook’s improved play may siphon off some of his votes. That said, Durant is a scoring beast. Most impressively, Durant doesn’t seem to be a guy that cares about individual accomplishments. OKC fans are definitely thankful of that fact. The guy is a walking/talking/balling daily reminder to Trail Blazers fans of just how big of a mistake their previous GM Kevin Pritchard (Oden>Durant). Not to rub salt in in any wounds, as Porty has a NICE squad. Just sayin’, folks in Portland clinging to those old/tattered Sam Bowie jerseys still have yet to recover. I will say, while not criticizing Durant, I’d be remiss not to mention the fact that he doesn’t receive anywhere near the scrutiny of players like Kobe and LeBron. If he did, ESPN, Twitter, and the blogging world would rant and rave about his low career assists numbers (2.7 apg) even with the slight improvement in that department (so far) this season.
22 points: 46.2% FG, 31% 3p FG, 84.1% FT
Derrick needs some help. Strange way to start an MVP candidate explanation, but the facts are the facts. Chicago has done a decent job at throwing together a few cats that were once-good or almost-good at this point, but none of them are good enough to warrant being called an NBA Title-contending roster. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to determine that asking SO much from one player (smaller guard, at that) is simply too much to ask. It is unrealistic to think one guy can dance under so much water and not get wet. The injury bug has limited his numbers, but he still deserves to be in the conversation if only based upon his team’s overall record.
29.3 points: 44.4% FG, 30% 3p FG, 84.5% FT
Second verse, same as the first? Kobe needs some help. Sounds even crazier, when you consider the fact that he has Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol towering around the court with him. Problem is, Andrew Goudelock (a rookie) has been their most consistent and reliable 4th option on a team that was once considered one of the deepest in the league. Rumors of trades for Superman-lite and just about every other scrap-heap guard in the league won’t change Kobe’s approach. In his 16th season, Bryant is still bringing it at MVP levels each night. Plenty of folks will point towards the questionable record, but those that have watched each game would tell you the Lakers might be something closer to 8-17 without Kobe going to work with such regularity.
Jabari A. Davis
RealTalkOnSprts on Twitter
NBA Real Talk on Facebook
LeBron must have felt like it was coming at him from all angles, as two very different individuals came forth with some real talk about his personality and (most indicting) about his game. Kendrick Perkins, which should come to no surprise, finally responded (publicly) to LeBron’s tweets about the Blake Griffin dunk . LeBron, in case you forgot, responded to the Griffin/Perkins dunk with this tweet:
“Dunk of the Year!! @blakegriffin just dunked on Kendrick Perkins so hard!! Wow!! I guess I’m #2 now. Move over #6.”
That patented ‘Perkins Scowl’ must have been at playoff-level heights as he uttered these words about James:
“You don’t see Kobe tweeting,” Perkins said. “You don’t see Michael Jordan tweeting. If you’re an elite player, plays like that don’t excite you. At the end of the day, the guys who are playing for the right reasons who are trying to win championships are not worrying about one play. They also are not tweeting about themselves talking about going down to No. 2. I just feel (James) is always looking for attention and he wants the world to like him.”
Sounds like Perk isn’t ready to let his dislike for LeBron go, whether in a Celtics uni or not. Some would chalk Perkins’ disdain for LeBron up to competitive vigor, or maybe even a simply a case of contrasting personalities. Although, I do think some of Perkins’ anger stems from a natural sense of embarrassment that would come from being ‘posterized’ like that, I do think Perkins has some valid points on LeBron. Larry Bird, however, nailed it right on the head in this video:
LeBron is the most freakishly gifted player I’ve ever witnessed on the basketball court. As a proud, lifelong Lakers fan, it almost pains me to say that, but it is true. Anyone arguing otherwise, is simply permitting their “fanaticism” get the better of them. No one can question LeBron’s skill, but Larry Legend manages to question his “will” in a very polite and matter-of-fact manner. By his response, it’s evident that he’s given the subject a great deal of deliberation, and Bird encapsulated the opinions on so many basketball fans, historians, and ex-players. If LeBron were to ever “take his talents” and gifts as seriously as he takes himself, the league wouldn’t have an answer for him. Bird, like so many of the ‘All-Time Greats‘, values winning over anything else. He appreciates LeBron’s incredible physical capabilities, but (like us) seems to wonder if James will ever focus on winning above all else?
Jabari A. Davis
RealTalkOnSprts on Twitter
NBARealTalk on Facebook
Love him or hate him, as most generally do, Kobe Bryant just keeps on working. Turmoil within the franchise? Kobe goes to work. Drama in Eagle? Kobe goes on one of the more impressive scoring runs the NBA has seen. Injuries. Trade demands. Not-so-clever raps from ex-teammates…Kobe just kept shooting through it. Shot his way to an Olympic Gold Medal in 2008. Shot his way through the clouds…up and above Superman-lite for a title in 2009, and came back to do the same to an ‘Old Nemesis‘ (Boston), the following year.
His detractors will point to his poor shooting percentage in Game 7 of the Finals against Boston. His fans will roll their collective eyes, and point to the 5 rings. His ‘haters’ will chime in and claim he didn’t ‘really‘ win the first 3. The debate can go on and on, and undoubtedly will. Contrary to what you might think, Kobe isn’t concerned with his fans. As bad as it sounds, he knows he’s got them in the bag. He knows his truest fans will remember his 62 points through 3 quarters against Dallas, 81 points against Toronto, ‘posterizing’ dunks, buzzer-beaters, and 5 rings. There’s no worry in losing you. At this point, what Kobe is concerned with (and is driven by) are his doubters.
Think I’m crazy? Consider how he responded to being ranked “7th Best NBA Player” by some arbitrary ESPN Blogger Poll prior to this season. Bryant went as far as to actually address it to the media after one of his scoring outbursts, earlier this year. He feeds off the negativity. He hungers for ex-players like Charles Barkley to continue kicking dirt over his head with the doubt they pile upon his remaining capabilities. Back-handed compliments from Jordan and Shaq only make him yearn for more. There are even people within his own Lakers fan-base that seem to hold a certain amount of poorly-veiled disdain for Bryant. Evidenced by the amount of verbal/Twitter vitriol sent his way following losses and poor shooting performances. I can’t say that I blame him for feeling as though he almost has to embrace the proverbial “Bad Guy” role. His sanity would force him to, in order to be able to comparmentalize everything. How many of us would go “nuts” under such a spotlight? Weaker men, no names mentioned, have cracked beneath the weight of such an immense level of scrutiny. Not Kobe.
Even though he’s been speaking in terms of “eventual retirement” of late, leading the league in scoring with an injured wrist, at 33 y/o and in your 16th year doesn’t make it seem like Kobe has any intention of walking away anytime soon. Whether he gets that 6th ring or eventually passes all the ‘All-Time Greats’ ahead of him (Kareem, Malone, Jordan, Wilt) Kobe is going to keep on doing what’s gotten him here. It’s all he knows, and the thing he’s best at in life. With the resume he’s amassed, why would he be eager to drop everything and try to reinvent the wheel? If everything you’d ever done had led you to all of the success/wealth/accolades Bryant has enjoyed (along with the aforementioned scrutiny), would you change? Long after Kobe stops doing what he’s been obsessed with doing since he was first able to step a long/slender leg out of that crib, this debate will rage on. I, for one, am going to simply sit back and enjoy these remaining years. Regardless of where you place him among the ‘Greats’, even the most casual of basketball fans can acknowledge we have been treated to one of the more acrobatic and electrifying careers anyone could ask for.
Jabari A. Davis
You may ask, “Who makes a ‘Best-Of’ list at such an arbitrary point in the season?” To which I would ask you, ” Who doesn’t like ‘best-of’ lists?.. and who doesn’t like dunks?” It doesn’t have to be “all scientific and such” (that’s a technical term you may have heard before). Just for fun, check them out, and vote on which you think has been the best!
Not bad, Tyreke. Not bad at all.
Even if I’ve seen it before, still a nice play from Iggy.
If Hibbert’s nose wasn’t already broken…
Even though Bosh dunked on the entire city of Atlanta, I immediately take style points away for the way he constantly flops to the ground as though he were hit by a scud missile..dunk was nice though.
Uncle Shuttlesworth knew better than to get in the way of Durantula on the break.
Westbrook is so nice, he gives it to you twice. I don’t care what cats like Skip Bayless say, KD and Westbrook look like they like playing together to me.
At least, he didn’t fall down.
Admittedly, I only added this one in order to listen to Dirk…especially since his “Shut it DOWN” came in a loss.