The Lakers did NOT give my boy B Budd a Happy Birthday last night. . .more like a reminder that getting older is a disheartening proposition. . .and once again, old is exactly who they are at their core; even while playing a victorious style for 46 minutes, it was more reminiscent of the recent Celtics rather than the Showtime Lakers. . .this is a defensive, experienced team and they need to win with grit, toughness, heady play. . .and the ability to close out & hold on in the last two minutes. . .
Et Tu, Kobe? last year we realized that Kobe was indeed on the quote-unquote downside of his career, but when the peak is 10x that of a mortal man, the visions of late-era (pre-Wizards) Jordan are emblazened in Laker fans’ collective minds: he can dominate until he’s 36, at least with that basketball IQ. . .alas, there have been more misses than makes in clutch moments for these past two years, and last night was no different. . .except for the preponderance of those mistakes. . .two turnovers and two misses in those fateful two minutes. . .that’s simply too much to handle. . .
especially on a night where the (seeming) win was a gift. . .fault not Mike Brown, Laker fans, the obvious target of vitriol right now. . .his job – and only talent? – is to coach defense, and that’s exactly what the Lakers did, smothering, swarming & silencing the most explosive offense in the league. . .and while Brown is absolutely clueless with play-calling or instilling offensive discipline & planning, some personnel formances were too porous to overlook. . .
Ramon Sessions was outplayed by Derek Fisher ironically and again. . .I had a difficult time finding out if he played by looking at the box score. . .Sessions totaled two points and ZERO assists. . .ZERO. . .ZERO. . .which is also about as much defensive value as he has. . .it’s not that I fault Sessions, though. . .he is simply not a Laker, much like Yankee fans embrace Nick Swisher and still outcast Alex Rodriguez. . .the pressure of wearing the Purple & Gold is too much for Ramon to handle, and between him and Steve “Big Shot” Blake, you can bet that Kobe would even take the vaunted Smush Parker (anybody?) as his backcourt mate right now. . .
but once again, the frontcourt was nowhere to be found. . yes, Bynum had 20 points and – gasp! – almost a double-double, but Gasol was yet again too content to play third fiddle. . don’t get me wrong, he is and should be third option, but I want to see the fire, I want to see him want to prove that he should be a second option. . .and the first option when he’s out there without Bynum & Kobe. . .holy moly, how many high-block-fake-spin-turn-around-awkward-one-hand-jumpers can a guy shoot. . .and it should be conclusive by now that Bynum just doesn’t have the heart. . .he doesn’t. . .let’s all admit that greatness is not a concern of his. . .
and the Lakers are coming home. . maybe the lackluster Staples crowd can provide a lift. . .or perhaps not. . .as the dreams of achieving something worthwhile in 2011-2012 are slipping away like an errant pass from Sessions. . .
A look at the six players drafted immediately before Kobe Bryant in the 1996 NBA Draft (and yes, it’s been 15 years):
|7||Lorenzen Wright (C)||Los Angeles Clippers||Memphis-So.|
|8||Kerry Kittles (SG)||New Jersey Nets||Villanova-Sr.|
|9||Samaki Walker (PF)||Dallas Mavericks||Louisville-So.|
|10||Erick Dampier (C)||Indiana Pacers||Mississippi State-Jr.|
|11||Todd Fuller (C)||Golden State Warriors||NC State-Sr.|
|12||Vitaly Potapenko (C)||Cleveland Cavaliers||Wright State-Jr.|
|13||Kobe Bryant* (SG)||Charlotte Hornets||Lower Merion HS|
Here’s looking at you, Todd Fuller:
Thank you Bob Bass. Jerry West, you’re a genius.
. . .Kobe is in the gym right now shooting jumpers and working on left-handed post moves.
THAT, my friends, is what it takes to truly be legendary.
. . or what Kobe should say:
“Not much to say here, guys. We know the situation, and we put ourselves in this predicament. But we’re Home now. This is our floor, and our war, and we’re going to win. I’ll personally see to that. And I’m not talking 81 here – I know that I’ve taken some ill-advised shots; I realize that I’ve demanded the ball, been a little unsupportive at times. . .. . but I want to win, dammit. And we ALL should want to win.
“Lamar, I love you like a brother. . .but right now I’m talking about YOU. You’re bored, you’re mentally absent. . .you’re playing your way out of the City, my man. I see it in your face, I see it in the locker room – you’re distracted
“Maybe it’s me – maybe I just need to love you and coddle you. . .but it’s time you STEP back up and play like you are capable of playing. I’m not asking you to do that every day; you can go back to Khloe, go back to Miami in the off-season. Just give me TWO games. . .
“And Ronnie, my beloved RonRon. I’m not asking you to be Ronnie Pippen, and I’m definitely not asking you to be Dennis Rodman, but something in between would be nice. You know, kind of like you were in Indiana, Sacramento and even Houston – what happened to the Artest that would intimidate the sternest foes in the league, the Ronnie that could throw an elbow and rip a steal on one end and finish with a pull-up J so ugly that only a momma could love it?
My point is, you can BUST, my man – you are indeed a gifted offensive basketball player. . .you dropped 20 a game in Sactown for an entire season! Forget Phil, forget the Malice in the Palace, forget Plaschke. . .be YOU. Make Queensbridge proud, Son.”
“Pau, you were holding your own. You are soft, but let’s be honest – you stepped it up and you won us a Title, and for that I’ll forever be thankful. But we know you outsmarted Howard & Co. This is the Celtics. Kendrick and Big Baby and KG – they know how to box, they know how to body and they damn sure know how to play. And last game worried me, Espana. . .last game flashed me back to 2008, when you’re European ass was clowned by players, media & fans alike But then a new you emerged – a beast, an animal, a true champion- THAT is the Pau that we need, that is the Gasol that will play Kareem to my Magic. You bust ass and we WILL win this title.
“Fish, you’re on the hook here too. You’ve been with me since I was a kid, and I respected you then the same I respect you now. And we need you; I’m not the leader of this time, you are. I’m depending on you here to tell me when I’m trying to do to much, when I’m letting the Mamba take control of my personality. It’s always been you to provide the calm, and the big shots
We need you now more than ever, D-Fish, so keep doing what you’re doing.
“Drew, I’m certain that the parking lot incident is forever emblazoned in your conscious the same way knee injuries are forever representative of your ability to play. I’m not calling you soft, but real ‘TOUGH’ guys don’t make an issue out of the fact that they’re playing through injuries *ahem: pinky, knee, back, elbow, ME cough* – I’m truly glad you’re out here but seriously, if you’re going to pull this single-single crap then move over and let Josh Powell get some burn, at least he will give me 100% without fear of exacerbating injury. Memo to you, Bynum: this is the FINALS – if you get ‘reinjured,’ you have all off-season and most of next season to recover. Everybody knows this NBA season is just about Playoff seeding. Get your head in the game, and bring your heart – unfortunately we didn’t get Bosh so we can’t do it without you. . .
“and Bench Mob, I’m saving the best for you. Sasha, you’re not the machine but you’ve been hitting a few shots; otherwise, Jordan – you already talking about where you’re playing next year? Let me tell you something, Farmar – you grew up in the Valley, went to school over the hill and now work downtown, and you already want to leave? I’d be surprised, except your post-season play has shown exactly that. Either step it up for for 96 more minutes or good riddance. . .and believe that I’m coming down your throat when we matchup when you’re in Washington. Shannon, you’re not playing much better – in fact, you’ve disappeared recently. You and Farmar have combined for 34 points this series. You think that’s acceptable?!?! Get to the hoop, get some points and help a brother out. We NEED production from you, and you will provide it – you hear me?!?! Bytheway, Luke – have you been suiting up? I haven’t really noticed. . .
“In short, fellas, we have two games to win, and there’s no way we’re losing. I’m not putting the onus on any player, because it’s on ALL of us. We’ve been here before, and I’ll do the heavy lifting – y’all just go out there and get dirty, play tough and execute. With that, the Title is OURS.”
Since coming to the Lakers together in 1996 , backcourt mates Kobe Bryant & Derek Fisher have now won 115 NBA Playoff games together, an NBA Record.
YKI visited the parents last night, who dusted off this copy of Michael Jordan’s 1993 picto-biograpy, featuring a cover photo that was starkly similar to Kobe’s maligned L.A. Times Magazine “All-White” photo shoot.
Take a look at the similarity:
All YKI can say, is that this portends well for Kobe’s continued quest to not only to be like Mike, but the surpass the legend in rings. . .as well as rarefied outfit wearing.
Hey Kobe, YKI can’t hear those people that were calling LeBron the best player in the game just a week ago. . .can you?
Didn’t think so.
End of discussion – Kobe IS the best player in the game.