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Kobe Hate Will Fuel Lakers to Second Consecutive Championship

Posted in NBA on February 19, 2010 by tonysinclair

If anything is clear this season, it is that Kobe Bryant may have finally been surpassed by Lebron James as the best player in the league. With Lebron projected to finish in the top five of all time in Player Efficiency Rating (PER) for the second consecutive year, an argument can be made that Lebron is the most statistically dominating player ever.

Kobe still holds on to the crown, but the advanced statistics are harder and harder to argue with every day.

PER, Roland Ratings, Efficiency, Value Added, and Win Shares all suggest that Lebron is superior to Kobe Bryant.

With Lebron making a strong case for best player in the league and Kobe on the sidelines because of injury, some commentators have taken the opportunity to once again question Kobe Bryant.

Just about every reputable publication from Foxsports to ESPN to SportsIllustrated toSportingNews has named Kobe as the NBA Player of the Decade. There’s a good reason why. Kobe Bryant has been a top three player for the entire decade. He’s been the consensus best player for half the decade. Nobody—not Shaq, not Duncan—can say the same.

That still didn’t stop Charles Barkley from essentially calling the fans stupid when they voted Kobe Bryant last week as player of the decade. Barkley and Kenny Smith thought that Shaq’s three years in LA earlier in the decade were enough to carry him for the other seven years.

It is not enough that Kobe’s made the All NBA team every year this decade. It isn’t enough that he’s made the defensive team nine out of 10 years, or that he’s been to the finals six times winning four rings. It isn’t enough that he’s scored more points this decade than any other player both in the regular season and the playoffs or that he’s been the leading assist man on four championship squads.

It still isn’t enough for a seven letter word: R-E-S-P-E-C-T.

Kobe heard Charles and Kenny. He’s heard the noise about Lebron being better. He’s heard the criticism that he still shoots too much. He’s heard the knock that he’s not efficient enough.

Four rings and counting and he’s still being second-guessed. He’s still being questioned.

But Kobe doesn’t mind. The hate and the criticism are fuel for Kobe. It pushes him to prove the haters and the doubters wrong.

In 2004-05 after having a coach quit in midseason and having substantial injuries for a significant part of the year, Kobe missed the playoffs for the first time in his career. The haters reveled in the Lakers’ misery. They said he couldn’t even lead the Lakers to the playoffs without Shaq.

Kobe came back the next season and drug Kwame Brown, Luke Walton, and Smush Parker as starters for most of the season to the playoffs. In doing it, he had an 81 point game that will go down as the greatest individual performance the league has ever seen.

Still, after having one of the greatest seasons of all time and taking the second place Phoenix Suns to seven games in the first round, the haters ignored the accomplishment. Instead, they accused Kobe of giving up on his team in a game seven.

In the MVP race, it was clear to anyone with a pulse that Bryant was not only the best player in the game, but that the Lakers would be in last place without him on the team. That’s the year when this ridiculous notion of “making your teammates better” became the criteria for MVP. Instead of Kobe hoisting a MVP trophy that should have been his, some writers left him off the MVP ballot completely.

Another year, more disrespect.

To be fair, Kobe sometimes rubs people the wrong way. After the 2006-07 season, he demanded a trade from the Los Angeles Lakers. Unhappy that he wasn’t getting any closer to a championship, Kobe thirsted for a competent running mate. He’d settle for an older Jason Kidd. He’d settle for Luol Deng. Just give the guy somebody…anybody that could take just a little bit of the responsibility and he could deliver a championship.

There were those who were overjoyed. They thought Kobe had made his bed with forcing Shaq out of L.A., now it was time for him to lie in it. As good as Kobe was, they said the Lakers would never contend with him at the helm.

No trade was made, but by January of the 2007-08 season, the Lakers were in first place in the West.

That little detail gets lost because a couple of weeks later, the Lakers traded for Pau Gasol. But the Lakers were contenders before Gasol ever got into a Lakers uniform.

Again, doubting Kobe proved to be wrong.

That year, Kobe led his team to the NBA finals where they were overwhelmed by the league leading Boston Celtics.

The mantra that summer was initiated by Kobe’s arch nemesis, Shaquille O’Neal. “He couldn’t do it without me. Hey Kobe, tell me how my (expletive) tastes.”

Kobe didn’t respond. Fuel. Next year.

That summer, people questioned whether he could fit in with a team of all stars and check his ego enough to help Team USA win gold. Nevermind that Kobe wasn’t on the embarrassing team that brought home a bronze medal in 2004, the questions about winning focused on whether Kobe would “fit.”

Not only would Kobe fit, he would lead. He willed Team USA to the gold by being the go to player in the championship game against Spain. Hitting clutch shot after clutch shot, the best players in the world deferred to his greatness. The Redeem Team was able to redeem itself by simply adding the player it was missing four years earlier.

Still, could he do it without Shaq? Could he lead the Lakers team to the championship?

Nevermind that Shaq has never been on a championship team that didn’t also feature one of the top five players in the league at the time, Kobe was dared to win without Shaquille.

Hoisting the Larry O’Brien trophy up at the end of the 2008-09 season, Kobe had answered every criticism. He had answered every question. The haters had to begrudgingly give him his props. They just had to respect him, didn’t they?

“He had Gasol.” “The Lakers were stacked.” “Fisher had to bail him out.”

Nevermind the fact that Gasol had never been considered as good until he played next to Kobe. Nevermind that Andrew Bynum was injured and ineffective. Nevermind that Kobe gave Fisher the game winning assist.

Another year, more disrespect.

Kobe hears the criticism.

Fuel.

Recently, as Kobe has been sitting out to nurse an ankle injury, the Lakers have been winning without him. Some have suggested that the Lakers are better without their star.

Fuel.

Turn on ESPN and you’ll hear Bill Simmons or John Hollinger claim that Lebron is better than Kobe, and it isn’t even close.

Fuel.

Kobe knows that as he ages, another young player will snatch the reigns of best player in the league. The ironic thing is that as he passes on the reigns to Lebron, he’ll be getting closer to his ultimate goal: being the best player of all time.

He’ll need rings to do it. Six of them.

But people doubt that Kobe can win like Jordan.

Fuel.

Now with Lebron playing out of his mind and with the Cavs recently adding Antawn Jamison, the stage has been set for an epic battle in this year’s finals. Cavs-Lakers. Kobe-Lebron.

The world will be watching. Lebron will stand in the way of Kobe’s fifth Championship. A tie with Magic is at stake. The legacy toward Jordan is in the balance. Questions will be asked.

How do you think Kobe will answer?

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Cavs Get Jamison! Title to follow??

Posted in NBA on February 17, 2010 by tonysinclair

The Cleveland Cavaliers completed a trade for Antawn Jamison today.  The move came as the highlight of a 3 team trade between the Cavs, Wizards and Clippers. The Cavs received Antawn Jamison from the Wizards and Sebastian Telfair from the Clippers.  The Wizards got  Zydrunas Ilgauskas  and Al Thorton while the Clippers received Drew Gooden.

Two things jump out at me: 1) The Cavs are REALLY good now; and 2) The Clippers are REALLY stupid.

The Clippers, for their part, are devoid of rational thought. Explain to me how one thinks it is a good idea to clear cap space to go after Lebron James by helping the Cavs win a championship? Well, that made sense to the Clippers and that’s all that needs to be said.

The Wizards are irrelevant, but one has to wonder whether they’ll buy out Big Z and let him return to the Cavs. If they buy Big Z out, they could avoid paying his salary and save some extra money. In that scenario, Z can return to the Cavs and provide a backup to Shaquille O’Neal in case of injury or even spread the floor at the PF position with his ability to knock down mid range shots.  Still, you’d have to wonder if an arch-nemesis like the Wizards is really going to want to do anything extra to help the Cavs’ title hopes.

On second thought,  they’d probably do it just to piss off Gilbert Arenas.

The biggest losers here are the New York Knicks. Their hopes of landing Lebron James depended on the Cavs not being title winners going forward. Now that the Cavs appear to be, on paper, one of the best teams (if not the best) in the NBA going forward, it’s hard to see why Lebron would choose the Knicks now. Though New York does have Broadway and Lebron loves to sing and dance…

Speaking of New York, Eddie House is having a rough day. He’s getting traded from the Boston Celtics to the New York Knicks. Contender to laughing stock in one day and I thought my Wednesday was bad. House’s son, Jaelen, is not happy either. Rumors are that their TV show has been renamed from “My dad’s a Pro” to “My dad’s a Knick.” The kids at school are no longer impressed. Tough break, Jaelen, there’s always FUBU.

Despite the terrible day in New York, the people in Cleveland were ecstatic when news first broke of the Jamison trade. Then they remembered that they live in Cleveland and misery returned. Still, the Cavs have reason to celebrate. They get an absolute stud in Antawn Jamison.  He’s going to be a perfect compliment to Lebron on the offensive end because he plays pick and roll basketball and can spread the floor. He forces opposing power forwards out of their comfort zones. If a defender doesn’t come to cover him, he’ll shoot the J. If the defender comes out, he’ll use his skill to get to the basket and finish or set a teammate up.

The defensive end is another matter entirely. I’ll just say, Amare’s a better defender and leave you to fill in the blanks.

Still, Jamison makes the Cavs a lock for the NBA finals.

Then again, the Cavs were a lock for the NBA finals last year too.  (As an aside,  I think  Subhodaya and I were the only people in America who predicted that Orlando would have no problem dispatching of the Cavs in the Eastern Conference Finals last year. Well, Charles Barkley also predicted it, but he also thinks Shaq is player of the decade with only having 3 great seasons in the last 10 years so he doesn’t count.)

Although Lebron looked nervous, biting his nails, when told of the Jamison trade, sources say that he is very pleased with the acquisition.

But Lebron should be nervous. He needs to worry because there are no more excuses. He finally has a squad that, on paper, rivals the Lakers. Everyone is going to be expecting a Lakers-Cavs finals this season. They want to see an epic battle with the two best players in the game today – and possibly, with history as the judge, the two best players of all time – going head to head to determine who is 1A and who is 1B.  Lebron’s ascent to King has been in name only. The throne is still Kobe’s. Lebron knows that in order to get his crown he must take it from Kobe.

My prediction: Lakers in six because Kobe’s a champion. He’s got killer instinct and he’s playing for his place in history. Kobe won’t let his Lakers lose in the finals. Not this year. Not to Lebron.

I guess it isn’t such a bad day for New York after all.

Durant over Lebron for MVP? Better Believe it.

Posted in NBA with tags , , , , , , , , on February 11, 2010 by tonysinclair

The conventional wisdom is that Lebron James has already wrapped up the MVP award.

With Kobe Bryant being unable to compete at the level necessary to merit the award because of injuries, Lebron James had a clear path to grab the award for the second consecutive year after the Cavaliers demolished the Lakers for the second time in as many tries last month. Then Cavs point guard, Mo Williams, went down with an injury along with Cavs guard, Delonte West, who has not been playing. How does Lebron respond? By become the best playmaker in the league by averaging over 10 assists since Mo Williams went down. Even more amazing, Lebron has taken over the NBA scoring lead in that same span. Lebron’s PER this season is 31.64 and if he keeps it at that pace, it’ll be a top 5 PER of all time. The only other players in the top 5 in PER? Wilt Chamberlain and Michael Jordan. That’s how good Lebron James is this season. That the Cavs are the best team in the league record wise and that James is routinely considered, along with Kobe Bryant, to be the best player in the league only helps his case.  Add all this to the fact that the Lakers have been playing superb without Kobe and it seems difficult to see anyone challenging Lebron James for MVP honors.

Enter Kevin Durant.

I’m going to put it out there. If the Oklahoma City Thunder win 50 games, my vote would go to Kevin Durant. The Oklahoma City Thunder are on pace for 48 wins right now, but John Hollinger’s nifty ESPN playoff predictor has the Thunder winning 50 games by season end. Perhaps that didn’t register. The Oklahoma City Thunder might win 50 games this season!

If it still hasn’t registered, let me kindly put it in perspective. The Oklahoma City Thunder were supposed to be an embarrassment. Mediocre at best. Teams were supposed to look at the Thunder as a gimme win. If a team was in need of a pick-me-up, they would look to the Thunder as a sure victory. And  who could blame them? Last year, the Thunder only won 23 games all season. They’ve already surpassed last season’s win total by 7 wins. If the Thunder make it to 50 wins, then they would have improved by 27 wins. That’s double the number of wins they had all season – and they’d make the playoffs in the tough Western Conference.  No longer are teams going to Oklahoma with a smile on their face. They know what I know. Kevin Durant is a bad, bad man.

It may take a while for the world to notice, but Kevin Durant is a top 5 player in the NBA. He is the reason why the Thunder are playing so well. Give credit to Scott Brooks for infusing this team with a defensive identity and Jeff Green for being a consistent stud, but it is Durant who is the floor general. Durant’s individual play is every bit worthy of MVP honors. He is second in the league in scoring pouring in 29.7 points per game (Lebron is #1 at 29.8) while pulling down 7.4 rebounds per contest. His shooting percentage is 48.5% which is exceptional given the amount of jumpers that he takes. He’s top 5 in PER and he’s been worthy of second team defensive honors this season.

Compared to Lebron, Durant isn’t nearly as dominant statistically. He doesn’t need to be. After winning 66 games last season, Hollinger’s predictive model puts the Cavs finishing at 62 wins – 4 games worse. This is after adding considerable talent to the Cavs roster including Shaquille O’Neal and Anthony Parker. Lebron, for all his stellar player, hasn’t been as good individually as last season either with his PER down a notch this year. As good as Lebron has been and as good as the Cavs are, they are merely meeting expectations. Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder are exceeding expectations.

But here’s what convinced me to put Kevin Durant over Lebron James if the Thunder win 50 games. Lebron plays in the Eastern Conference which is clearly inferior to the tough Western Conference. The Celtics haven’t been nearly as good as expected and Orlando has been considerably worse than last year after losing Hedo Turkolu to the Toronto Raptors. Consider this, the Thunder are 16-6 against the Eastern Conference. That’s almost a 73% win rate. If you put the Thunder in the East, where Lebron James plays, they’d win 55 games. And admit it, if the Thunder won 55 games, you’d have to give the award to Kevin Durant, wouldn’t you? I can’t in good conscience punish Durant for playing in a tougher conference.

Perhaps all this talk about individual play and wins is missing the point, though. Kevin Durant has also given Oklahoma City something to cheer about. A franchise that couldn’t give tickets away a few years ago is selling out 90% of their home games. The team is going to make the playoffs for the first time since they moved from Seattle to Oklahoma City and they are built for the future. Just as Lebron put Cleveland on the map; Durant is doing the same for Oklahoma City. He’s doing it in a tougher conference and massively exceeding expectations.

Next time I see Kevin, my only two words to him will be: MVP, MVP!

Marketplace Economy or Greed: Are NBA Salaries Out of Control?

Posted in NBA on February 10, 2010 by tonysinclair

A spectre is haunting the NBA – the spectre of salary caps.

It’s the classic case of the bourgeoisie against the proletariat. The high, mighty and powerful NBA owners are ganging up against their poor and overworked players. Or are they?

You see, this isn’t a case where the executives are gaining unreasonable profits while the factory workers suffer. This is a case where individual greed on the part of the NBA players has reached the point of absolute hilarity. How can you keep a straight face when Adonal Foyal, the Vice-President of the NBA Players’ Union, calls an attempt to bring some reasonableness to the NBA salary structure “ridiculous” and “unfair?”

If you haven’t heard, the NBA Collective Bargaining Agreement expires at the end of the 2010-2011 season. Negotiations for a new agreement have already begun. Despite the negotiations, little headway is likely to made and a lock-out is all but assured. The conflict, essentially, is one of money. The owners do not want to continue to pay NBA player exorbitant amounts of money while average NBA players insist that they can’t feed their families off of $5,000,000.

I can see both sides (sarcasm alert).

Owners of the NBA Teams are generally smart business people. They want to invest in enterprises that make money. The best way to make money is to ensure that revenue exceeds expenses. Well, as any owner of a business will tell you, hiring the right people is probably the biggest expense a company will have. Payroll can be a tremendous expense and in the NBA that is an understatement.

Take Adam Morrison. His wild wild west mustache puts him in the running for ugliest NBA player and his 2.5 points per game on 37% shooting puts him in the running for worst player in the league. He was a national embarrassment after crying on the floor during a nationally televised NCAA game and has only played in 21 games this season. He is a bona-fide scrub. He gets no respect from the national media or bloggers. And you know what? I would trade places with him tomorrow…without question. I can make fun of and insult Adam Morrison all I want and he doesn’t care. He’s laughing all the way to the bank. This season he’s due to make over $5 million.

You see, when I pay my ticket prices, I’m not just paying to see Lebron James, Kobe Bryant or Kevin Durant. Those high ticket prices are also designed to absorb some of the costs to pay Adam Morrison’s salary of $5,257,229. Larry Hughes shoots a worse percentage than Adam Morrison and yet he’s due to make over $13,000,000 this season alone. And I wonder, why do I have to pay money so that Adam Morrison can sit on a bench and smile because every game he’s $60,000 richer? And why do I have to subsidize Larry Hughes’ bad play? What incentive does he have to shoot better when he collects a check for over $150,000 every single game?

I’m sorry, Mr. Foyal, but it is the salary structure in the NBA as it exists that is ridiculous.

Some will counter with the idea that the market sets the salary. In some cases, that is true. Owners have vigorously competed with other owners over player talent. The battle over potential and prospective talent has led to over-inflated salaries for many players. The idea is that the more talent a team has, the better chance the team has to win. The better the team is, the more fans who will come to the games. Fans attending games means major money for owners.

Here’s the truth, though. Most NBA players shouldn’t be making more than teachers, doctors, scientists and engineers. Most NBA players are riding on the coattails of great, great players. Because, when I think about it, I pay my entire ticket price to see Lebron James or Kobe Bryant or Dwight Howard or Kevin Durant. You can bring their teammates along if you have to, but that’s who I’m paying to see. In rare cases, I’ll pay to see a team – a team that truly plays inspired, team basketball. But let’s face it, teams that work together and win without a superstar are rare in the NBA.

What has been lost in the negotiations between what owners want and what NBA players demand is what the fan is willing to pay for. It’s like we have to buy an extra value meal when we only want the fries. And I suppose that’s the luxury of having a superstar. You can raise ticket prices to absorb $5million for Adam Morrison as long as you put Kobe Bryant on the floor. But what happens when there’s no Kobe to back Adam? What happens when you’re the Nets? Empty seats.

Why should any player on a team that has only won 4 games and lost 47 be able to collect full salary? In the real world guaranteed contracts don’t exist. If you are bad at your job, you get fired. At will employment is a harsh reality. But NBA players can produce a poor product and still get paid more in one year than most hard working and competent people will see in their lifetimes.

You know, I don’t have a monopoly on morality, but that’s what seems unfair. It isn’t just unfair to the teachers and doctors and engineers. It is also unfair to the NBA fans who want a better and more cost effective product on the floor.

The owners are expected to ask for a hard salary cap and shorter contracts for NBA players. That is a step in the right direction. But let’s not take baby steps here. Let’s also eliminate the guaranteed contracts and put more incentives in the contracts for winning. Let’s reward players who are good at what they do and get rid of players who are not good. This doesn’t just make good financial sense, but getting rid of guaranteed contracts really allows players who aren’t yet in the NBA to compete for open roster spots when guys who aren’t good enough get ousted from the league. A better and more robust D-League would result along with more inspired play from all players.

The offseason negotiations to create another collective bargaining agreement is not just a chance for players and owners to outlet their grievances, but also an opportunity for the fans to demand a better, more cost effective product.

Are the Lakers Better Without Kobe??

Posted in NBA with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 9, 2010 by tonysinclair

Kobe Bryant called me up a couple days ago.  After a few minutes of chit chat, we got down to business.

Kobe: Nate, I saw your post on the new blog. You really think I should sit out?

Nate: Yeah. I mean, you need the rest, man. You gotta win another chip. Last year was last year. People think like Janet Jackson: “what have you done for me lately??”

Kobe: The team needs me. Pau is a wuss, Fisher got his first social security check last week and as for  Andrew…ship his ass out. How can we keep pace with the West if I don’t play?

Nate: Home court is overrated. You’re the Mamba. Road or away, if you’re healthy, no team can beat the Lakers in the playoffs. Period.

Kobe: Yeah, you’re right. I’m going to heal up.

And that’s how the conversation went. Kobe sat out and instead of the Lakers losing, something strange has happened. They won. Even more surprising, they’ve looked great doing it. In Portland this past weekend, the Lakers won there for the first time in the last 10 tries.  Last night, the Lakers did it again beating San Antonio 101-89.

Gasol looked like a franchise player against Duncan, netting 21 points, grabbing 19 boards, dishing 8 dimes and swatting 5 blocks. Those are GOAT numbers right there.  Lamar Odom was a beast on the glass contributing 10 rebounds in addition to his 16 points. Ron Artest was solid with 18 points and Derek Fisher shot above 50% en route to 13 points. Shannon Brown provided solid play as a starter in Kobe’s place, while Sasha Vujacic and Jordan Farmar looked better off the bench than they’ve done all year.

This all begs the question: are the Lakers better without Kobe?

To anyone who said yes, in the words of Rick James, “cocaine is a hell of a drug.” Of course the Lakers aren’t better without Kobe.

The Lakers are better without Andrew Bynum.

The Lakers these past two games looked about as good as they did last season – just a little worse offensively. Last year, they didn’t have Andrew Bynum for most of the season and won 65 games. They didn’t rely on Bynum in the playoffs and won the championship. In the San Antonio game, Bynum didn’t play. In Portland, he didn’t play in the second half when the Lakers really started to gel. I know it seems counter-intuitive, but Pau Gasol is a better center than Andrew Bynum and Lamar Odom is a better power forward than Pau Gasol.

It is crazy to think, but defensively, Bynum misses assignments and rotations constantly. His inability to play help defensive negates his special ability to block shots. Even in one on one situations, Bynum plays poor position defense and generally ends up fouling the offensive player. Gasol can also use his length to block shots just like Bynum, but Gasol is quick enough to stay with the centers. Pau is also a veteran, so he doesn’t fall for fancy footwork and doesn’t pick up cheap fouls. If a center gets too rough,  you can always count on Pau to flop draw the offensive foul.

Odom forces power forwards to make a decision. Offensively, he can start at the top of the key and beat you off the dribble. If you help on Odom, he’s such an accomplished passer that he’ll get someone else an easy bucket. If you don’t help, and you don’t force him right, he’ll finish at the rim. Defensively his 6’10 length bothers power-forwards and once the rebound is in his hands, he pushes up the floor creating tons of transition opportunities.

Bynum’s inability to get back on offense or defense fast enough prevents the Lakers from running at full potential and that is why we have seen what appears to be a better Lakers team in recent days.

So here’s my proposal: Andrew Bynum, Adam Morrison and Flea for Chris Bosh

In the words of the Laker faithful, “Do it, Mitch!”

Should Kobe Sit?

Posted in General with tags , , , , , , on February 5, 2010 by tonysinclair

Let’s be real. Lebron James is currently the best player in the NBA. It isn’t even close.  Let’s also be real, for the first two months of this season, Kobe Bryant was the best player in the NBA. It wasn’t even close. From the +/-, to the clutch shots, to the superior defense, to the efficient scoring, Kobe was on pace to have his best season ever. Then he got hit with a broken finger. Amazingly, initially after he broke his finger on his shooting hand, he shot even better from the floor and hit a last second buzzer beater against Milwaukee. Yet, as the season progressed and the stress on his broken finger has increased, his fg% plummeted. 

Kobe decided not to sit out to let his finger heal. He’s a warrior and he doesn’t take games off.  I can appreciate that about Kobe and if it was just about the finger, I’d agree.

But since his finger injury, Kobe has encountered back spasms, been treated for fatigue and exhaustion, injured his foot and injured his ankle. Kobe missed practice yesterday after Lamar Odom reaggrevated Kobe’s ankle injury in Wednesday’s win against the Bobcats (as an aside, that the Lakers actually defeated the Bobcats is a minor miracle given the atrocious record the defending champs have against that team in recent seasons).

Kobe’s greatest strength is his dedication to his craft. That is why he has a legion of crazy loyal followers that defend or praise his every move. Kobe’s greatest strength sometimes becomes a weakness because he doesn’t recognize his limitations. Kobe, this and this to the contrary, you’re still human. Not only has Kobe’s shooting percentage taken a hit since his injury (49% to 46%), but his lateral movement has been poor and his turnovers are up. Kobe responded to these struggles by doing what Kobe does – keep shooting. The poor bout of play resulted in a normally wussy reserved Pau Gasol taking a shot (no pun intended) at Kobe suggesting that the team would be better off if Kobe shot less and threw the ball into the post more.

I have a different take. Kobe shouldn’t give Gasol the ball more or anyone else, he should just rest. Kobe centric ball produces championships and Kobe Bryant was the best player in the NBA at the beginning of the season. It wasn’t even close. Now he’s like a weary boxer in the 11th round after taking 10 rounds of body shots. As the injuries mount up, he’s eventually going to drop. Kobe needs to rest up and rejuvenate his body. He needs to trust that his teammates will hold down the fort for the 5-7 games he should miss and he needs to come back  ready to play as well as he did at the beginning of the season.

We all know Kobe’s quest is to be the best ever. But basketball immortality does not depend on what happens in January and February; it depends on what happens in June. If Kobe wants to remove any doubt as to who the best Laker ever is, he’ll need to win another championship this June. Kobe has to be healthy to do it.

Live, hoop and die

Posted in General with tags , , , , , , , , , , on February 3, 2010 by tonysinclair

What’s good? I’m Nate. I’m part of the transition 3 team. This blog got its name because we are three friends who grew up together playing and talking about basketball. Each of us also has a pretty deadly three point shot.  I’m originally from South Carolina, but I live in Washington, DC.  My motto is live, hoop and die. If you do those three things, you’ll have a successful life.

At the end of each day, you’ll find our parting shots. They are just a rundown of the important stories in basketball for that day so you don’t miss anything.  Here they are for today.

  • Kobe Bryant just surpassed Lakers legend Jerry West as the leading scorer in franchise history. Kobe’s all around game including his defense, his ability to come through in the clutch and his knack for winning championships makes him the greatest Laker ever in my eyes. Bill Plascke of the L.A. Times disagrees saying that Kobe is behind Magic and West…for now.
  • Is Chis Paul the best point guard on the planet? I’d say it’s close between Deron Williams and Paul, but the debate may shift in Williams’ favor. The New Orleans Hornets’ star is expected to miss some major time after he undergoes knee surgery tomorrow. Standout point guard, Chauncey Billups of the Dever Nuggets will replace Paul as a reserve guard in this month’s All Star Game.
  • Lebron James is making a strong campaign to repeat as league MVP. Has anyone been more dominating individually this season than Lebron James? If he keeps this up, his second MVP will be a lock in no time.
  • While the MVP will likely come down to Lebron or Kobe, the NBA needs to make room for Kevin Durant. The man is ballin! He’s a legit candidate for MVP and he might be the best player in the league in the not so distant future.
  • Boston fans, you can breathe a sigh of relief. Paul Pierce’s strained left foot is not a serious injury and he’ll be listed as day to day.  Celtic nation was understandably on pins and needles when Pierce went down against Washington on Monday. The 2008 finals MVP has a reputation as a warrior and has never been known to fake an injury…

Finally, the game of the night is Boston vs. Miami. I see Wade going off…and by going off, I mean going to the foul line 15+ times. In the end, though, Celtics by 9.