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Saturday, December 16, 2006

Kobe Bryant is Amazing

I was tempted to just cut and paste the Lakers-Rockets box score into this post to justify the title. The Lakers beat the Rockets 112-101 in double overtime on Friday night/Saturday morning. I missed most of the game because I was at the Pacers-Knicks game but I saw the end of regulation and both overtimes. Bryant had 36 points when I tuned in with a little over three minutes remaining in regulation. He proceeded to score 17 points in the next 13 minutes of action, willing and propelling his team to victory without the injured Lamar Odom (granted, the Rockets were playing without the injured Tracy McGrady). In addition to his scoring, Bryant also delivered three assists (and he should have had more--see below) and grabbed three rebounds during that stretch. Bryant's line: 53 points, 10 rebounds, eight assists.

The numbers do not tell the whole story, though. Here are a few snapshots of Bryant's brilliance--just from the second overtime.

*** The reverse dunk around and over Yao Ming's outstretched arm for the first two points in the second overtime.

*** The Pistol Pete Maravich no-look pass to a cutting Luke Walton, who was fouled and made 1 of 2 free throws.

*** The even more amazing mid air, one handed pass to Kwame Brown. Bryant jumped in the air, bobbled the ball, recovered it and delivered a perfect feed to Brown...who blew the layup. As ESPN's Jon Barry said: Kwame, you're 6-11--dunk the ball.

*** The fadeaway jumper from the right baseline that gave Bryant 51 points and put the Lakers up 108-99 with 2:23 remaining.

*** Perhaps the most amazing thing of all is that Bryant does all of these things and does not seem tired. After the aforementioned shot, Houston called timeout and Bryant ran off of the court doing something that vaguely resembled Jason Terry's "jet" motion. Bryant looks like he could play 10 overtimes and score 153 points without running out of gas. Look at the tape of Jordan's 63 point, double overtime game versus the Celtics in the 1986 playoffs. Jordan looked gassed at the end. Bryant never looks tired--not in the 81 point game, not in the 62 points-in-three-quarters game, not tonight.

*** As if to reinforce the point about never being fatigued, Bryant caps off his night by grabbing a defensive rebound, dribbling through Houston's entire team and scoring a layup for his 52nd and 53rd points.

*** With less than four seconds left and the shot clock winding down, Bryant hits Brown with a gorgeous pass. Brown, of course, blows the layup. If Brown had converted the two point blank shots that Bryant spoon fed him in the second overtime then Bryant would have had a triple double on top of his 53 points.

Barry summed it up: "Kobe Bryant is, in my opinion, the closest thing that we will ever see to Michael Jordan--because of his mind and how hard he competes."

Kobe Bryant is special. Maybe you think that he tries too hard to be like Mike, maybe you think that he shoots too much, maybe Shaq is your favorite player and you feel compelled to hate Kobe. All I can say is that he is the best player in the game and we should all savor the opportunity to watch him play.

Two more little tidbits: The Lakers overcame a 21 point deficit and they are now 10-3 when Bryant scores at least 50 points.

posted by David Friedman @ 2:34 AM



At Saturday, December 16, 2006 5:00:00 PM, Blogger illest said...

He is definitely a joy to watch (I see the love affair continues) but you left some things out.

When Barry made those comments about Bryant being the closest to Mike, Walton said "unfair comparison." Which it is. Barry then said because of his competitiveness and Walton says, "He is Michael....Jordan." Exactly. (Walton also had to put Heinsohn in his place when Heinsohn said the Pierce was the best scorer in Celtics history. Walton said, "Have you been taking you medicine lately? There was a player named Larry Bird.) In this microwave world we live in people forget quickly. And I know if you ask Mike whos the best in the NBA he will say Bryant. Mike knows; hes not stupid. And I think Bryant is a great basketball player. I enjoy watching him. I was watching it with my brother and I after the 2 point 1st quarter he had I said," I bet he ends up with 40 or 50." He said, "I know." But hes not Mike. Yeah I know he scores (the 81 game, 62 in three quarters, 58 in three quarters) but relax. And he does try to be like him too much from the fist pump, the walk, pointing the finger, double pump moves etc. All of his moves are from Come Fly With Me. Ive seen it before. But who cares if he is the closest to Jordan. I could care less. Its a shame because no one does this to Magic, Bird, Doc, Akeem, or anyone. Comparisons are great for conversation but I dont care for them because I havent seen all of the greats. A few years ago people were saying Nowitzki is the next Bird. I cant even get my mouth to say something like that. Well I just typed it but you now what I mean.

The debate now is that LT is the best back ever. Most people who cover the league or people who call in to the radio never saw Jim Brown play. So you cant say LT is the best ever. There is no best ever. Just like Elliot Kalb said Shaquille O'Neal is the best ever; how can he be when you cant go to him at the end of games? Thats a joke.

At Sunday, December 17, 2006 1:23:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

You are right that Walton objected but I thought that Barry's comparison is quite apt; I never pretended to be providing a complete transcript :) On the other hand, perhaps it is worth noting that Walton objected, so thank you for adding that comment.

I don't think that there is anything wrong with making comparisons as long as they are made in proper context. Jordan had such a freakish combination of skills and competitiveness that it didn't seem likely that we would see anyone quite like that again. Kobe is eerily similar; the comparison is quite apt. That doesn't mean that Kobe is better than MJ or even as good; it means that he is similar in some respects. I think that comparing Pierce with Bird is insane, quite frankly, but comparing Kobe with MJ makes sense in a lot of ways.

People certainly are compared to Magic (LeBron), Bird (Dirk--and every other even halfway decent White player of the past 20 years who was 6-10 or taller) and Dr. J (MJ, Dominique, Ron Harper, Drexler). I'm sure that someone has been compared to Hakeem, but I cannot think of anyone off of the top of my head.

LT's own coach, who did see Jim Brown, made the comparison. I never saw Jim Brown (other than on NFL Films) but I don't buy that LT is better--at least not yet. Another problem with this particular comparison is that the two players' styles are not really similar. Kobe and MJ play the game in a similar way and have similar body types.

At Sunday, December 17, 2006 1:52:00 AM, Blogger illest said...

I understand Schottenheimer saying that because he coaches LT.
True people are compared but not as much as Jordan is. Bryant has definitely done is studying on Mike. He is probably watching Jordan tapes and games right now. I know he said when he was in Italy all he wanted in the care packages were tapes of Jordan.
I hate the white-white player comparison and black-black comparison.

Ron Harper was wonderful to watch when he was healthy. He gave Jordan fits. I know you remember

At Sunday, December 17, 2006 2:03:00 AM, Blogger illest said...

No one has been compared to Akeem. He is the best all around center ever. I know I didnt see Wilt, or Bucks Jabbar, but Olajuwon did all on both sides of the ball. 12 100/100 seasons that he had. Stats are misleading like the triple double stat but that is amazing for a center.

At Sunday, December 17, 2006 2:20:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

I don't like the white-white or black-black player comparisons unless the players' games are actually similar.

I do remember Harper playing very well against MJ. Harper was traded for one of the many "next Birds" (Danny Ferry) who turned out to be lesser fowl (that was bad, but I couldn't resist).

I still don't get why it is a bad thing that Kobe studies Jordan tapes. Should he study the tapes of (insert journeyman's name here) instead? Who better to study than MJ? Unlike some players who only copy MJ's dunks, Kobe has obviously studied MJ's footwork and fundamentals.

Hakeem was amazing but I can't take him over Wilt, who was much more physically dominant, particularly on the glass. That stat about 12 100-100 seasons is pretty cool, though; that must have come from an outstanding article :)

At Sunday, December 17, 2006 2:40:00 AM, Blogger illest said...

A lesser fowl? Haha that was good and Ferry was never good.
Ha your article. Wilt didnt get steals like Akeem but thats not a big deal.
There is definitely nothing wrong with watching Jordan tapes I love it. It shows how much Bryant cares about the game.

At Sunday, December 17, 2006 5:00:00 AM, Blogger vednam said...

I don't think Hakeem was as good all-around as Wilt or Kareem. Both were better passers than Hakeem, and they could block lots of shots without getting into foul trouble (as Hakeem often did early in his career).

I don't agree with Shaq being the best ever, but just because you can't go to him at the end of a game, that doesn't automatically disqualify him from the discussion. More than few people think Bill Russell was the best ever, and he wasn't a go-to guy on offense.


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