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Thursday, December 30, 2010

What's Wrong with Kobe Bryant? Nothing a Time Machine Wouldnt Fix

After a dreadful shooting night against San Antonio on Dec 28 in which Kobe Bryant went  8 for 27 , including a stretch of 13 consecutive misses, there were more than a few raised eyebrows and loud murmurs (see Phil Jackson and Pau Gasol) about #24's game. One Chicago talk show host called him "Michael Jordan in a Wizards Jersey" saying that Kobe's game has become "upfake,upfake, turn, fadeaway". If you are a hoops follower, you know that the Lakers are significantly better when Kobe takes less than 20 shots per game. There are some in Laker Nation calling for the team to be turned over to Gasol and let Kobe be his Pippen (yeah right, like that would ever happen). Let's take a step back and realize what we are dealing with when it comes to Kobe Bryant.

Because he came into NBA at age 17, many of us feel Kobe Bryant is still a young man. At age 32, he is young for a school teacher, doctor, or accountant but for an elite level athlete, Kobe is closer to 40. He is playing his 15th NBA season (1053 games, 38420 min) and has averaged over 36 minutes per game in his career,  and four times in his career played over 40 minutes a game for a season. Now let's add his extensive playoff career, throw in another 7811 minutes over 198 playoff games. If you are reading this, sorry for not warning that there would be math involved. That bring us to a grand total of 46231 minutes over 1251 games! Kobe Bryant has played 37 minutes a game for 15 years! I don't care who you are, unless you have the number to Greg Anderson and Victor Conte, you are just not capable of doing what you used to. He has played more games and minutes at a higher level than anyone in the history of league with the exception of Kareem and MJ

Many Laker fans will tell you that Kobe is going to be fine and I believe them to a point. Is it in Kobe's makeup to allow someone to be his offensive equal. Scottie Pippen was a great all around player and perfect sidekick to MJ because during MJ's later years, Scottie carried a lot of the workload on defense and rebounding to allow MJ to be an efficient scorer. While Kobe does not have an opposite wing player or backcourt player of that caliber, he has a better offensive player than Pippen in Pau Gasol. Pau Gasol is a the most skilled seven footer in the NBA and can score 20 to 25 a game if Kobe is willing to concede even 20% of his offensive duties. Stat to impress your friends: Pau Gasol in the last four seasons has either averaged 18.3 or 18.9 ppg, a statistical quirk to have only two scoring averages.  In the disaster in San Antonio, Kobe took 27 shots in 30 minutes; Gasol 8 shots in 34 minutes. If Kobe takes 20 shots and Gasol gets 15, is the outcome different? Maybe not, but for the betterment of the team, thats how it should go.  Let Pau do the work and save Kobe's legs for the closing kick.

For the record, in no way shape or form, should the Lakers be turned over to Gasol. Even at an advanced age, Kobe Bryant is still one of the best 3 players in the NBA. An "old" Kobe Bryant is averaging 25-5-5 which still makes him an elite player. Kobe Bryant right now is the basketball Michael Jackson. Like music , we loved the black year of Mike Jack "Off the Wall" and "Thriller" years with the soulful production, club bangers, and some classic duets. Kobe's black Mike Jack years were 1999-2003 wearing the #8, the nappy fro, lightning first step, Hardaway-esque crossover which would lead to a posterization or hanging reverse layup. Then came the "Bad Album" and "Dangerous", you look at the cover and something is different, Mike Jack skin's is lighter, the songs are intense and more angry and while you still like him as an artist, the change is noticeable. Kobe's "Bad Album/Dangerous" was the post Shaq-pre Gasol years. Still a prime performer but darker and creepier. The change in jersey number from 8 to 24, the self-monickered Black Mamba, similar to Mike Jack, Kobe seems hell bent on showing the edgier side. 81 vs the lowely Raptors,  62 in three quarters vs Mavericks, and the unforgettable Game 7 vs Suns in 2006 ECQ where Kobe decides "these guys suck and just to prove it, I won't shoot".  Mitch Kupchak saved Kobe from the same destructive fall that Mike Jack add by sending him a lifeline in Gasol.This was the basketball equivalent of sending  Dream to work on Mike's last album. The move pacifies Kobe and the Lakers are working on a three-peat.

The question going forward for the Lakers and Kobe is transitioning to the end. I believe Kobe has two more years of elite level basketball in him before he and Lakers will have to decide how to end this movie. The wear and tear on his body has been too great to allow him to do what MJ did in his last season with the Bulls and average almost 29ppg and play almost 39ppg  in 1997-1998 (note: do not underestimate the 18 month hiatus for Jordan, and how it extended his career). Will Kobe allow himself to become a second banana to Gasol or another great player? Does Mitch Kupchak have the fortitude to bring in a heir to the throne? Look back at NBA history and look at how many legendary players were allowed to play out their careers with no plan B. Larry Bird retires in '92 ; Celtics make playoffs 5 times in next fifteen years. Magic retires in '92; Lakers only missed playoffs once but weren't a contender until the two headed monster of Shaq and Kobe came to full fruition in '99. MJ/Pip leaves Bulls in '98; no playoffs for next six years. The common thread in every situation, there was no one to capable of stepping into being a capable lead dog.  The Lakers have a centerpiece in Gasol but with Miami's Big 3 together for the next 6 years, the impending Carmelo Anthony move to somewhere out (joined by Chris Paul?), Chicago with Rose and Boozer, OKC with Durant and Westbrook, the Purple and Gold have to think about the future. Joining forces with another great player has become the new wave and while you may not like the trend, this is how it goes and even someone as great as Kobe can't stave off a tidal wave of great duos and trios without another great player. Is he willing to accept help in the name of more championships and a lesser individual resume?  Stay tuned...

http://www.basketball-reference.com/ (All Statistics used in this article are from Basketball Reference)

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

These are a Few of My Favorite Things

Just a few list of my favorite hoop related items...

Favorite Current Players (not playing for the Bulls)
1. Stephen Jackson- tough, intelligent, clutch, and just doesn't give a Fck
2. Joe Johnson- versatile, smooth, and if i was 6-7 and 240,  he has the game i would probably have or wish to have
3. Monta Ellis/Stephen Curry- best backcourt in the NBA, just hope GSW keeps them together
4. Gerald Wallace- fearless, plays with great effort, versatile and one of the few dues older than 30 who can acceptably wear braids
5. Ray Allen- the prettiest "J" in league history, if given a choice between his jumper or Prime MJ's hops,
 I would rather have Ray's Shot

Favorite Teams that Never Won the Big one
1. 2001-2002 Kings....Bad Luck, Questionable Officiating, and Lack of Toughness stopped the most entertaining team of the 2000's...Two of the best passing big men (Divac, Webber) along with a clutch performer in Bibby. Great team chemistry and spirit...If they only secure that rebound before the Horry shot..
2. 1999-2000 Blazers....If you were picking a team to against And 1 in a game played outdoors, these were your guys..Rasheed Wallace, Bonzi Wells, Steve Smith, Greg Anthony, Damon Stoudamire brought the streets. The Euro flavor of Arvydas Sabonis and Detlef Schrempf.. The glue guys like Stacey Augmon and Brian Grant all held together by the savvy of Scottie Pippen...One bad quarter kept them from a title and doing the impossible, making Mike Dunleavy look smart
3. 1993-94 Sonics...This is Gary and Shawn in their primes...The year after MJ skipped down , the NBA was up for grabs with teams having their first real chance.. 6 players scored in double figures for the team with NBA's best record. Their fatal flaw was no real go to guy when they needed a basket. Became first #1 seed to lose to a #8 in playoff history when Mutombo's Nuggets beat them 3-2 in a memorable series that birthed the legend of Nuggets reserve guard Robert Pack who probably is selling Boost Mobile phones
4.1991-92 Warriors...What's not to love about a team that averaged almost 120 points a game, had no regard for defense and played like a Sunday Afternoon Men's League team on steroids. That was Golden State...Despite trading 1/3 of the popular Run TMC trio, the Warriors rolled off 55 wins coached by Don Nelson and his "Nellie Ball" style. Chris Mullin averaged 26points per game and Tim "Crossover" Hardaway averaged 23ppg and 10apg...GS also featured the first European guard to make it big in NBA , the forgotten
Saruna Marciulonis who aveaged 19ppg. The problem was the lack of rebounding and this thing called defense.. They were eliminated in '92 ECQ by the Sonics when Shawn Kemp put on a personal Dunk contest and shot blocking exhibition
5. 1984-1987 Bucks...166 wins in a 3-year stretch...Talented, Balanced Small Market team who played in an inconic arena, The Mecdca....Scorers all over the place led by All-Stars Sidney Moncrief , Jack Sikma and Terry Cummings. Great role players in Paul Pressey, Ricky Pierce, Craig Hodges, John Lucas...Two things held them back:  A dirty work guy who could defend the post and rebound and this small obstacle called Bird, Mchale and Parish (eliminated by Celtics in '86 and '87)

Hidden Gems or "I should hit record on DVR if I ever catch it on NBA TV or ESPN Classic
1. 1995 McDonald's All-American Game- Count the Future Pros including KG, Pierce, Carter
2. 2002 ECQ Game 5  #8Pacers vs #1Nets...Questions you will ask yourself: How the hell did Nets earn a #1 seed  with Jason Kidd and the Washington Generals?  How the hell did the Pacers earn an #8 seed with Reggie Miller, Ron Artest, Brad Miller, Jermaine O'Neal, Al Harrington and Jalen Rose?
3. 1988 NBA Finals Game 6 or 7- Basketball at its best, Physical, High -Tempo, and Well played. Heroic performances by Isiah in Game 6, Magic and Worthy in Game 7
4. March 1999 Lakers at Orlando- Shaq returns to Orlando but 20 -year old Kobe erupts for 38 points, 33 in second half as the Lakers as the Lakers defeat Penny Hardaway's Magic on national tv. The game that establishes Kobe as the Lakers go-to guy for the next 12 years.
5.December 1986- Dominique gets one over on MJ as the Hawks beat the Bulls. The Human Highlight Film pours 57 on the helpless Bulls whil MJ gets a ho-hum 41. Might as well have cleared the court and let them just play one-on-one...Later in this season, MJ would exact revenge with a 61-point night in the Madhouse on Madison

Five Guys You Want as Teammates and Run Streets With
1. Chris Webber (retired)- Highly Skilled, Unselfish, Runs the Floor and Very Smooth. I can imagine at most All-Star Weekends after a practice or in hotel lobby, C-Webb is the guy even the biggest stars ask "What's going on later on?"
2. Chris Paul- Great Passer, Charismatic Leader, Competitive, and a Great Bowler (has own shoes and been   on cover of magazines). Type of dude who will always give you a lift and who doesn't need a good anchor when you at Brunswick
3. Anderson Varejao- Great Hustle, Rebounds, Plays D and Doesn't Need or Want the Ball much, and Brazilian. I don't care if you sell water on the side of the expressway, being Brazilian gets you a leg up with women
4. Kenny Smith (retired)- Mostly on his work for Inside the NBA on TNT, Kenny appeals to wide variety of audience which means he blends in well at any party. Kenny is good at the 40-40 with Jay-Z, He can also get you in at the older playas party  sponsored by your favorite Cognac. One of the few New Yorkers who doesnt give off that NY arrogance and pretty funny dude
5. Lamar Odom-Versatile Big Man, Stat-sheet stuffer, and probably the most popular Laker amongst teammates. Like Kenny Smith, a New Yorker without the standoffish vibe. Very down-to-earth cat. Above Kobe, probably the one Laker you feel good to get a title. Classic Lamar moment: 2001 appearance in Jadakiss "Knock Yourself Out " video wearing his own Clippers Jersey

Welcome To Big Shot Ron's!

Be Sure to check me out at http://www.societyandsports.com . I co-host the Section 357, a weekly sports podcast with my good friends and fellow sports fanatics, Master Dee and J Navaho

Who am I? Long -Time Basketball fan, very amateur blogger so be patient. Just another hoop fanatic who has to get his "two cents" in.  Growing up in both Central Illinois and Chicagoland, my favorite team was of course the Chicago Bulls. There was no more enjoyable year of sports in my life than following the 1990-91 Chicago Bulls when MJ finally got over the Pistons and won the first one. Of course , five more titles followed each unique onto themselves but there is nothing like the first time.

How did my hoops obsession begin? I would have to say it began as early as five years old. I remember watching MJ hit the shot over G-Town to win the NCAA title. I also remember the bitter disappointment on my Pops face when G-Town lost to 'Nova in 1985. Like many kids, my father was my introduction to sports and basketball was our thing. I would go over his place on Friday night, we ordered a large pizza from Domino's , flip on TBS for their Friday Night Doubleheader. The vocal stylings of a Pete Van Wieren and Rick Barry accompanied some combination of Celtics/Hawks/76ers/Bulls. Then Pops  had to flip over to Miami Vice and then back to TBS for the second half, usually some combo of Jazz/Lakers/Sun/Sonics. This was my introduction to hoops.

I had the Nerf hoop over the basement door which led to many stoppages in play when Mom had to go get laundry. I begged and pleaded Mom to renew my SI subscription three times to get all three NBA SUPERSTARS videos. I remember being one of the few kids who on nice spring days could sit down and watch playoff games (Yes, playoff games used to come on primarily during the day on *gasp* Regular TV).

When did I know I was offcially a fan? Basketball was the first sporting event to make me cry.  1990 Eastern Confernce Finals Game 7 aka "The Migraine". My beloved Bulls had their first real shot at a title and after trouncing the Pistons in Game 6 at the Stadium (Yes, i am dating myself again lol). I just knew this was our year. Unfortunately, someone hit Scottie Pippen in the head with a hammer during the layup line and it went downhill from there. As it became more apparent that Detroit had done it to us again, i felt water in my eyes. I did suffer from allergies so i just wiped eyes and get watching. With each Bulls miss, more water and then sniffling. Hold up, "Am I crying?".  Yes, I was in sob mode and couldn't figure out why. Looking back on it, i know what it was. Its called being a fan. You are as attached to your team like your first love and when "she" breaks your heart, you feel it deep. That was my first introduction into being a fan.

By no means, am i trying to replace Ric Bucher or Chris Broussard and definitely not into "talking greasy about teams and players. This spot is meant to be a place to share my love of my favorite game regardless of  fandom. As this blog evolves, I hope that love across in blogs, videos, picture and whatever else i can figure out how to get on here without completely killing this ol' desktop (yeah im old school). As they say in the South, "Yall come back now, here?"