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Friday, June 15, 2007

Swept Away: Cavs’ Valiant Effort Not Enough to Stop Spurs From Claiming Fourth Title

The Cleveland Cavaliers battled back from an 11 point second half deficit to take a three point lead with 6:54 remaining in the fourth quarter but the San Antonio Spurs made just enough plays down the stretch to win Game Four 83-82 and earn the eighth sweep in NBA Finals history. This is the Spurs’ third championship in five years and the fourth since Tim Duncan joined the team 10 years ago. Only the Lakers, Celtics and Bulls have won more NBA titles—and those franchises have been in the league much longer than the Spurs, who started out as an ABA team and joined the NBA after the leagues merged prior to the 1976-77 season. Tony Parker scored 24 points on 10-14 shooting and was a landslide 9-1 winner in voting for Finals MVP. Manu Ginobili scored a game-high 27 points, including 13 in the fourth quarter. Duncan, ever the perfectionist and keen competitor, openly expressed his disappointment with his pedestrian numbers (12 points on 4-15 field goal shooting and 4-10 free throw shooting, 15 rebounds, two blocked shots and six turnovers). LeBron James had 24 points, 10 assists and six rebounds but he too was far from pleased by his performance and rightfully so: he shot just 10-30 from the field and 2-6 from the free throw line and he committed six turnovers. “If I don’t play well, our team is not going to have a good chance to win,” he said simply. “I’ve got a lot of things to work on to get better for next year. There’s no one thing that I want to focus on intensively, it’s just everything. I definitely need to get better and once I get better our team will automatically get better. I have to do everything that I’ve done well and continue to improve in order for us to be a better team next year.”

Cavs point guard Larry Hughes was placed on the inactive list for the second game in a row and rookie Daniel Gibson once again started in his place. Gibson (10 points on 4-10 shooting in a career-high 43 minutes) played better than he did in his Game Three start but still did not match the production that he provided recently in his role coming off of the bench.

Anyone who thought that the Cavaliers were going to quit in Game Four does not understand the type of team that General Manager Danny Ferry has put together or the mentality that Coach Mike Brown has instilled in his players. All year long, James has led the team in saying “1, 2, 3, championship” as they broke out of huddles, so they were not about to emulate Nick Van Exel's infamous chant, "1, 2, 3, Cancun.” The problem is that whatever blows the Cavs delivered in this series the Spurs always hit back harder, as if to say, “Is that all you’ve got?” Cleveland took a 10-5 lead to open the game and was very active on the boards, just like in Game Three—but by the end of the first quarter, the score was just 20-19 Cleveland and by halftime the Spurs led 39-34. I was seated next to a writer for Spurs.com and at one point I said to him that points have been at such a premium in this series that when a team scores four straight points it seems like a 10-0 run and the other team promptly calls timeout. He responded that he’s watched the Spurs all season and Coach Gregg Popovich tends to call timeouts quickly if he doesn’t like what he sees; Brown, one of Popovich’s assistants on the 2003 championship team, is very much like Popovich in this regard (and others as well).

The third quarter has been troublesome for Cleveland throughout the playoffs and it seemed like their season might die in the third quarter of Game Four when the Spurs pushed the lead to 60-49 after Duncan’s hook shot with :56 remaining. If the Cavs were ever going to give up, being down 3-0 and trailing in Game Four by 11 with little more than 12 minutes to go would be the time to do it—but instead they went on a 14-0 run to take a 63-60 lead with 6:54 left. The Cavaliers used their small, quick lineup of Anderson Varejao, Donyell Marshall, LeBron James, Daniel Gibson and Damon Jones to make this final push. The downside of utilizing that personnel grouping is that they can be attacked in the paint and on the glass. Ginobili hit a three pointer to put the Spurs up 69-66 with 4:15 left and James missed a three pointer on the Cavs’ next possession. Then came the key sequence in the game. Ginobili missed a shot but Fabricio Oberto got the rebound. A kicked ball violation by James reset the shot clock to :14, Bowen missed a jumper and Duncan snagged the rebound. Duncan missed a jumper but Bowen ran down that rebound. Oberto eventually scored a layup off of a nice Duncan feed—and then made a free throw to complete a three point play. The Spurs ran more than a minute and a half off of the clock while all this happened, emerging with a 72-66 lead with just 2:29 to go. Cleveland kept things close, aided by a Ginobili foul on Damon Jones that led to three free throws, but the Cavs’ inability to get a defensive rebound at that crucial moment sealed their fate. When Ginobili made two free throws with 1.9 seconds left the Spurs led 83-79 and began celebrating. Damon Jones closed out the scoring by making a three pointer.

*****************************
Notes From Courtside:

Cavaliers forward Ira Newble has taken a keen interest in the human rights catastrophe that is taking place in Darfur, Sudan. He put together a petition about the issue that most of his teammates signed and he hosted 15 Sudanese refugees for Game Four. These men are known as the Lost Boys of Sudan, members of the Dinka tribe (like former NBA player Manute Bol) who came to Cleveland in 1991. They have received help from Catholic Charities and St. Agnes Our Lady of Fatima Parish.

***

About two and a half hours before the game began, Spurs assistant coaches put rookie James White through a very organized practice routine. He worked on cutting off of screens, catching the ball and then driving to the hoop, all while being bumped and held. Then he did some dribble drive moves from the top of the key, working on splitting traps and finishing strongly at the hoop. Another sequence involved catching the ball on the baseline and either shooting a faceup jumper or driving to the hoop. After White performed poorly in the baseline drill—missing the first several shots that he took—he was told that anybody else in the arena could have done just as well and “you have to earn the right to play offense.” He then had to play defense for a few possessions and make some stops before he was allowed to play offense again. He then practiced postup moves and wrapped up the session by shooting free throws. I don’t know what kind of NBA player James White will become but this kind of attention to detail, focus on defense and emphasis on preparation indicate why the Spurs are considered the model organization in the NBA. Their methods of teaching and player development seem to be very similar to those employed by Bill Belichick with the New England Patriots, which is not coincidentally the model organization in the NFL.

***

It has been said that success breeds success and failure breeds failure. Games Three and Four were very competitive but the Spurs found a way to win both of them. In his pregame press conference, Popovich said, “I definitely think that if a team has a core of players that have been together a while it follows that execution is probably a little bit easier for that group under pressure because they’ve done it before and they know what situations are best for them, offensively and defensively. If you haven’t been together that long, it’s a little bit more difficult to react, because five people have to react in a team defense or in an offense. If one person doesn’t react properly or the timing is off or the communication isn’t there, then execution can stop.” After the game, Ginobili echoed these sentiments: “We knew today we had a great opportunity, that if we kept the game close until the fourth quarter we were going to have a great opportunity and that’s what happened. We showed our experience in the last five minutes, we made great plays, good defensive possessions.”

posted by David Friedman @ 5:57 AM

33 comments

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33 Comments:

At Friday, June 15, 2007 12:47:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

anymous 2

not dissing the spurs but they are a product of shaq and kobe break up the lakers beat them 3 out of 4 years and robert horry missed the 3 to win the game in 03 if you remember game 5 or they woulda won that series as well. I always said the lakers should of won 5 straight rings 2000-2004 shaq also came out of shape in 03 and the implosion in 04. they wouldnt of won the last two if they were still together. this nowhere near a dynasty there good but the pistons bulls celtics both lakers 80's and 2000 were better. jerry buss got be shaking his head so does kobe. buss for not paying shaq or coming to some comprimise and trying to work it out more, kobe for not doing more to keep shaq there he was too quiet and seem like he didn't care as much as he should thats been my beef with kobe. he should said hey I know were not getting along but also my best chance to win is with shaq here so he should put more pressure on the lakers to keep him there you didnt get along for 8 years and still got 3 rings so that shouldnt of matter or not. oh well the spurs will be back next year to try to win it agian and lets see what happens next year

lebron will get better this is his first oppoutunity and he bombed but i think he will come back next year and they will be better. he need to develop mid range game, stop falling back shooting 3's, wotk on jumper and free throws and please get him more help i twas amazing he won with this lineup and they got this far.

 
At Friday, June 15, 2007 1:49:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

You make some good points, but now that we have the advantage of hindsight it can be said that--regardless of what happened when the Lakers and Spurs faced each other earlier in the decade--part of the Spurs' greatness as a champion consists of how they have held everything together as an organization, particularly considering how the Bulls and Lakers broke up prematurely.

By the time that Buss decided not to re-sign Shaq for the max there was nothing that Kobe could say or do. Buss said as much at the time. If Shaq would have stayed in shape then Buss may have been more apt to re-sign him. Buss has always been disinclined to venture into luxury tax territory, though, and Shaq's age and lack of conditioning concerned Buss greatly at that time.

 
At Friday, June 15, 2007 3:21:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

anymous 2

youre right david i didn't look at that aspect of it they have showed great unselfishness and greatness to keep everything together where the lakers and bulls let ego and bad moves by the organization get involved.

there great how tony parker win mvp pippen never one mvp over jordan even though you could make a case the 97 finals pippen should of won finals mvp kobe never won it over shaq either yeah parker played great but part of his sucess is that tim duncan opens up the floor for him duncan should always win mvp.

 
At Friday, June 15, 2007 6:20:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Regarding Parker's MVP, I talked about this with other members of the media (none of whom were voters, though). After Game 3, I still would have voted for Duncan even though most people supported Parker. I just can't see Parker doing that well without having Duncan drawing so much attention. Duncan's stats in Game Four weren't great and Parker shone again, so I understand why Parker was chosen, but I would still lean toward Duncan--he's the glue and the constant.

In '97, when MJ accepted the Finals MVP he basically said that Pip was the co-MVP and that he (MJ) would keep the trophy but give Pip the car.

Kobe never played well enough to be the Finals MVP but he was still an indispensable part of the championship teams.

 
At Sunday, June 17, 2007 5:25:00 PM, Blogger jeff smith said...

yeah the spurs good but the lakers were a better team because of the shaq factor they had, they have players who accept there roles unlike mr kobe bryant who couldnt accept his. he has to ask himself wouldnt i rather be on a championship team even if im the 2 option. Rather than being the MAN on a terrible team that cant make the playoffs. I think if he had the desicion over agian he would of done everything in his power to keep shaq there even if he couldnt stand him.

Funny ray allen said that he was selfish and that a year or two from then 2004-2005 season he was either going to be asking for help or demanding a trade. Oh it cant be is kobe asking for help and demanding a trade? yes he is doing that right now flip flopping it seems for attention, i liked kobe previously. but cleraly believe now he made a HUGE mistake letting shaq go and he paying for it now.

spurs will be there again next year well see what phoenix can do theyll be better next season as well miami well be better cleveland will have a chnace lets see what happens.

 
At Sunday, June 17, 2007 5:26:00 PM, Blogger jeff smith said...

one more thing if the lakers cant get jermaine o'neal they should trade kobe he will be a dissuption next seson if this same team comes back he will not want to be there and play like that meaning 3 shots every half.

 
At Sunday, June 17, 2007 8:27:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

It was not Kobe's decision for the Lakers to trade Shaq, as has been well documented; owner Jerry Buss did not want to re-sign Shaq for max dollars and max years and he told Kobe that no matter what Kobe did (i.e., including the real threat at the time of Kobe signing with another team) the Lakers were not going to re-sign Shaq.

I don't understand why it is "selfish" for Kobe to expect the Lakers to make more of an effort to improve the team. If Kobe did not express any dissatisfaction then his critics would say that he is happy winning scoring titles even though the Lakers are not contenders. If the Lakers don't trade Kobe he will not be a "distraction"; he always plays hard and, barring injury, he will continue to be the best player in the league and to carry the Lakers much farther than they would otherwise go.

By the way, according to Roland Lazenby's account, it was Shaq who could not stand Kobe from the beginning, not the other way around. Keep in mind that Shaq was a veteran leader, while Kobe was a young kid straight out of high school. Popovich stressed throughout the Finals that a key to the Spurs' success is how easy Duncan is to play with and get along with; he makes new players on the team feel comfortable, both as people and in their roles on the team. Lazenby made it very clear in his book Showtime that Shaq was far from welcoming to Kobe. That is not to say that Kobe is perfect or that he did not make mistakes--but one would expect an 18 year old rookie to make mistakes, on court and off. Shaq should have viewed Kobe as someone who would help make him and the team great not as a threat to his status as the "King of L.A."

 
At Sunday, June 17, 2007 9:58:00 PM, Blogger jeff smith said...

kobe could of put more pressure on the lakers and should of too keep shaq. he signed with the lakers the day after shaq got traded like he was waiting to get rid of him. to me and most he should of told buss im not signing unless shaq stays but he didnt because he wanted to be the man and knew this was his only chance to do that.

I believe that buss would of found someway to work it out with shaq and phil ( like he did with phil the next season) and the lakers could of stayed champion and the spurs in the rear view mirror.

I never said kobe was selfish for asking for help now. he was selfish to get rid of the help (shaq) he had that put him in the predicament in the first place.

like he done all summer he will play hard during the game but he will complain during the season about he wants to be in a winning situation especially if there losing and this will be a distraction that the lakers shouldnt have to deal with.

this last one was the funniest thing ever shaq is one of the greatest teammates ever he didnt get along with kobe but most of the other players didnt either.only players who have not liked shaq was kobe and penny because they thought they should be the focus of the offense and shaq thought he should be. shaq clearly won that battle winning 3 without penny one with out kobe penny and kobe have not one a playoff series without shaq nuff said. As far as king of la always was shaq no player who played with shaq has ever been bigger than shaq off or on the court anybody knows that even though peny and kobe had commercials and wade a part of that was because they were winning aka playing with shaq cause when shaq left they stopped winning so nobody bigger than the diesel.

 
At Sunday, June 17, 2007 11:16:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Buss told Kobe point blank that he would not re-sign Shaq regardless of whether Kobe decided to stay or leave. What should Kobe have done--gone on a hunger strike? Shaq did not help his cause much in the preseason that year when, after a big dunk, he yelled at Buss to pay him his (expletive deleted) money--meaning to give him a contract extension for max dollars at the end of the year. I wonder if Kobe screamed something like that after one of his great games--Shaq did it in an exhibition game--if it might have received just a little more negative coverage than when Shaq said it. Anyway, that's all water under the bridge now. Buss made his decision and it had nothing to do with Kobe and a lot to do with Buss not wanting to have to venture into the luxury tax, the dollar for dollar fine imposed on teams that go over the salary cap. Don't forget that Buss is much less wealthy than most of the NBA owners.

Jackson's salary is less than what Shaq wanted, of course, and also does not count against the salary cap--that is one reason that coaching salaries have exploded in the past few years. Rather than paying big dollars to players and then paying the luxury tax to boot, many teams have tried to identify coaches who they think can win championships and then pay them top dollar.

I don't think that a player who complains that the team is not doing enough to win is nearly as big of a distraction as, say, a player who does not stay in shape or does other things that affect his performance on the court.

Shaq has many fine qualities as a player and as a person but he did not treat Kobe right when Kobe first arrived on the team and that set the tone for the relationship that ensued.

Shaq has yet to win a title without an All-NBA level guard. Penny got hurt right after Shaq left, so we will never know what kind of player he would have been on his own. He had some 40 point playoff games without Shaq. Kobe led the NBA in scoring two years in a row and made the All-NBA First Team and All-Defensive First Team this year. He could certainly lead a contending team to a championship; no one, not even a young Shaq, could do much with the current Lakers team, particularly after the injuries to Odom and Walton. The Lakers have done little to upgrade the roster since trading Shaq. Kobe is rightfully upset about that.

I'm not saying that the other players were bigger than Shaq; what I am saying is that Shaq, particularly in his younger years, was jealous of whatever "shine" Penny and Kobe got. I know that everyone loves Shaq and finds Penny and Kobe to be convenient scapegoats but those guys did not break up their respective teams; in both cases, Shaq chose to leave because he wanted more money and because he wanted everything (on and off the court) to center around him.

 
At Monday, June 18, 2007 12:57:00 AM, Blogger jeff smith said...

jerry buss wasnt going to lose both stars hahahaha after makeing the finals if kobe put enough pressure on him he woulda kept shaq there. theres no way the lakers would play the next season with no kobe and shaq come on dude a 10 year old knows that theyll lose all their fans and will take forever to get them back there.

if kobe took so much flack and lost alot for shaq leaving what would happen to the lakers if shaq and kobe left what type of flack buss would take then? as far as shaq being un motivated or out of shape at times true but his teams have still won and without him there afterthoughts like kobe and penny and the lakers and magic and the heat when he leaves.

kobe complaining is a big distraction i dont know how shaq out of shape is a distraction to the rest of the team. kobe telling the players around him you suck i dont believe in you and shaq always has won if he was in shape all the time or not so what youre saying is pointless.

shaq is alot better teammate and person than kobe has and ever was this undebateable youre the only one in the world who thinks shaq is bad person and kobe a good person. but reporters who talked to players on the lakers team asked his teamates about him when he wasnt around and they said they couldnt stand him meaning kobe he didnt even start trying to be a good teammate to the last couple seasons even he admitted he only cared about basketball then come on man.

kobe wanted everything to center around him everything has always centered around shaq he got like 90 precent of the credit for the 3 championships and got part of the credit for wade kobe and penny rise so that makes no sense. kobe wanted to be the man shaq already was kobe makeing this a big publicity stunt by saying he wants to get traded he doesnt want to get traded for publicity because noone cares about him as much as they did a few years back when he was winning.

shaq also sacrificed with dwayne wade knowing he wasnt the player before he gave his spot and said it was dwayne wade team kobe would never ever do that he says one thing but does another.

shaq could take this laker team to the conference finals and so could like a wilt jordan etc shaq opens up the floor like few in nba history come on man kobe gets you good shots and shaq gets you wide open shots. shaq team would never be up 3 to 1 and lose 3 straight shaq team would never start 27-14 and finsh 15-26 hahahaha shaq has way more impact then youre beloved kobe any nba expert will tell you that.

one more thing you question shaq chracter shaq never disrespected a man like kobe did karl malone pubicly embarrasing him and accusing him of makeing a pass on his wife when he made a nice gesture, shaq never snitched on a player like kobe did saying shaq payed women hush money to get out certain situations, just because he got caught cheating on his wife and had no game and also possibly raped a girl come on kobe far from great chracter

 
At Monday, June 18, 2007 3:13:00 AM, Anonymous jn said...

Shaq never snitched on a player... except when he snitched on Van Exel's infamous "cancun" chat in his biography, didn't he?

I find it funny how Shaq leaves, read it again, decides to pack up and leave, and the fault is Kobe's because he did not block the roads and airports or something.

 
At Monday, June 18, 2007 3:26:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

anymous 2

shaq snitched on van exel never heard that one i crticized kobe as well for not sticking up for shaq it's over and done now kobe will possibly get traded to chicago bulls if not hell stay in la

 
At Monday, June 18, 2007 1:59:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Jeff:

You can say that Buss was not going to lose both stars, but Buss told Kobe that he was not going to re-sign Shaq and that his decision had nothing to do with what Kobe would do (Kobe was considering signing with the Clippers or the Bulls). You can believe whatever you want; I prefer to deal in facts.

Shaq being out of shape was a huge distraction and probably cost them the 2003 title. That was when Shaq declared that since he got injured on "company time" (during the previous season) that he would have his surgery on "company time" (instead of during the summer). He never really got back in shape and then grumbled when Kobe, who is always in top condition, shouldered a bigger part of the offensive load. Shaq said that if the dog is not fed (the ball) that he won't guard the house (play defense in the paint), to which Kobe replied that if Shaq got himself in good enough shape to get up and down the court then he would get the ball.

I am not saying that Shaq or Kobe are bad people or good people; I don't know them and neither do you--but I do know, better than you apparently do, what actually transpired on the team and that Kobe has received much more blame than he should for the breakdown in his relationship with Shaq.

If Shaq would have been willing to defer to Kobe the way that he deferred to Wade then he would have won two or three more titles in L.A. instead of just one more in Miami. At least it can be said that Shaq learned from his mistakes in how he dealt with Kobe.

If you think that anyone could have taken this Lakers team farther than Kobe did, with all of the injuries--that is why the second half record dropped off--then you are drunk. For your information, I have talked to plenty "NBA experts" and virtually every one says that Kobe is the best player in the league. If they read/heard some of the comments here about Kobe they would say that you have no idea what you are talking about--and they'd be right.

I don't care about what happened with Kobe/Karl Malone and the rest of that off the court junk. I'm talking about who is the best player in the game today, not a bunch of soap opera junk. There is always People Magazine or the National Enquirer for that. Still, I've been around the NBA long enough to know that if you really researched it that you could find at least as much dirt on Shaq and Karl Malone as you could on Kobe--and I would not be any more interested in discussing that here than I would be in hearing anything about Kobe's private life.

 
At Monday, June 18, 2007 4:10:00 PM, Blogger jeff smith said...

you got your facts backwards youre make up anything for kobe anyways when buss told kobe he wasnt going to resign shaq kobe said fine because he didnt want shaq there either. my whole point is if he said i wont resign then buss changes his whole tune because he wasnt going to lose kobe and shaq everybody knew kobe was already in the bag there he wasnt going anywhere thats why the next day after shaq got traded he signed. he was just waiting for shaq to get moved.

shaq in 03 wasnt a big distraction shaq was the only reason they won the 3 championships in the first place and btw in 03 the lakers started 3-9 when shaq came back they went 45-22 so he was the only reason they were relevant that year too. thats why kobe didnt wint the mvp because his team wasnt any good till shaq cmae back and why he aint won it the last 2 years.

i never said any player could take that team i said jordan could of shaq in his prime could of wilt etc dont put words in my mouth please. shaq 35 now miami during the regular season didnt have dwayne wade for 23 games they won 17 of the 23 games he had old payton old walker udonis haslem jason willams nobody but average players on that team also shaq record without kobe was 41-12 when kobe got hiurt and he played and kobe record was 55-45 man. I know shaq could do alot with those players around him because he makes players better kobe does not you refuse to believe this because you love kobe too much

dont try disrespect shaq as a person because everybody dont love your super hero kobe he has done alot worse things then shaq has done to people nobody liked kobe on his team everybody liked shaq and no a gun wasnt up to they head where they were forced to like shaq like you would say you dont live in reality you think kobe perfect and everybody else sucks

 
At Monday, June 18, 2007 10:21:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

I'm not making up anything; I am relying on accounts in Lazenby's book and on Buss' public statements. What, pray tell, are your sources? I'd like to know how you "know" that Kobe told Buss that he was fine with the Shaq trade because he didn't want him there anyway. As for signing Kobe being "in the bag," there was a very real possibility that he would sign with either the Clippers or the Bulls. No, it is not I but people who obsessively hate Kobe Bryant who make up whatever "facts" they think suit their purpose. I'm just reporting what has been documented (and then supplying my own opinions about it).

You contradict yourself when you say Shaq wasn't a big distraction and that they started 3-9 without him. I think that a 3-9 start for a three time champion is a pretty big "distraction."

That team was built around Shaq, with role players who were suited to his strengths. They floundered for some time with Shaq out but the season was rescued early in 03 when Kobe had nine straight 40 point games, during which the Lakers went 7-2. Go back and look up those game recaps and what was written at that time, as well as what Jackson later wrote in his book: Kobe saved the season with his scoring, just like he carried the Lakers into the playoffs this year with his scoring down the stretch. It is just amazing to me how people either don't remember things (this was only four years ago!) or simply twist them to suit their own prejudices.

Kobe is the best player in the game today, as is widely recognized by KNOWLEDGEABLE basketball people, so since he carried the Lakers to the seventh seed I seriously doubt that the team would have done better if you would use a time machine to bring in MJ or young Shaq. ABC's Mark Jackson told me at the Finals that he voted for Kobe third in the MVP voting because Kobe did such a great job of carrying a subpar team. You seem to have forgotten that even MJ played on sub-.500 teams. Shaq has never carried a mediocre team without another All-Star to the playoffs; in fact, on several occasions he has been swept out of the playoffs despite helming teams that were much better than this year's Lakers.

You accuse me of a lot of different things in your comment but you cite no facts. I don't "love" Kobe; I report about the NBA and one of the facts about today's NBA is that Kobe Bryant is the best player in the league and you will simply have to deal with that until he gets old or somebody better comes along.

 
At Monday, June 18, 2007 10:26:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Jeff:

By the way, in 2003 Kobe finished third in MVP voting behind Duncan and Garnett, while Shaq finished fifth. So much for your theory about who was more valuable to the Lakers that year.

Here is how the voting went:

Duncan: 60 1st place votes, 962 points

Garnett: 43, 871

Bryant: 8, 496

McGrady: 4, 427

Shaq: 3, 126

 
At Monday, June 18, 2007 11:04:00 PM, Blogger jeff smith said...

you guys who obsessively like kobe believe everything he says if he said the sky was orange you believe him. anyway buss told kobe kobe never objected because he didnt want shaq there he wasnt going to chicago or clippers, wait excuse me he woulda if shaq didnt get traded but other than that was a ploy he signed the next day with the lakers because he was waiting for them to move shaq. he also was a little bit too happy for me when the press conference with grant caron butler and odom came he was smiling so much his jaw hurt.

if shaq was so much of a distraction to the team why were they 45-22 the rest of the season when he came back and when he wasnt there they were 3-9 makes no sense like most of youre argument.

kobe didnt start playing that way till shaq came back all that coincited with shaq being back thats why he got no respect from the media and came in a distant 3rd in the mvp. youre ther one twisting it you know they didnt start winning till shaq came back as well if he didnt play they would of one 20 games that year kobe didnt carry anything.

kobe carried a team to the 7th seed repeat carried a team to a seventh seed lol lmao hahahahaha. well they had a seventh seed last year and they won 45 games last year and 42 this year. and they started 27-14 and finshed 15-26 thats carrying a team? to a 15-26 finish allen iverson carried a terrible team in 01 to 55 wins lebron carried a bad teamn to the finals or okay team to the finals wade carried a team in the finals to 4 straight victories kobe team was worse this year and only won 1 playoff game compared to 3 last year you make no sense everything kobe does you way overassurate next hell be better than babe ruth ted willams and micheal jordan?

everything i said is a fact you twist and make up stuff because you love kobe so much you dont live in the real world. i dont thionk personally kobe is the best player but it doesnt matter if he is or not because when magic was the best player championships, jordan championships, bird championships, shaq championships, hakeem championships, duncan championships, now kobe in your estimation the best scoring titles? you gonna get your 30 35 kobe but you aint gonna get the ring enjoy buddy.

also everybody know shaq was the force in 03 just because kobe finished higher in the mvp means nuthing shaq was the mvp 200-2002 and you think kobe was the mvp in 03 this seems to always happen to kobe in charge theylose? when shaq was the mvp they won i wonder why anyway im out 1

 
At Tuesday, June 19, 2007 1:45:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

When the best player on the team misses the start of the season because he waited to have surgery on "company time," that is a distraction. Even though the team did well later in the year--in large part due to Kobe, who was in shape from the beginning and finished third in MVP voting, as I noted--that bad start cost them home court advantage and damaged their chances to win a title.

This is good--Kobe smiled too much at the press conference when Butler and the others arrived? I'm sure if he frowned and scowled then you would praise him for his loyalty to Shaq. Give me a break. As for the other stuff, unless you have actually interviewed any of these guys yourself--and judging from what you write, I know that you haven't--I'll go by what Buss said and what Lazenby has reported. Lazenby is in close contact with as many Lakers, past and present, as anyone. You really should read his book Showtime, assuming you actually want to know Lakers history and not just repeat misinformation that you heard elsewhere.

A distant third in MVP for Kobe? Well, I guess that is better than the even more distant fifth that Shaq finished. Come on, you are twisting yourself into a pretzel here because I brought up a fact that you either forgot or never knew--Kobe finished WAY ahead of Shaq in that year's MVP voting. Apparently, the beat writers and national media members were seeing a different game than you did. Note, contrary to what you wrote I did NOT say that I thought that Kobe should have won the 2003 MVP. I simply reported to you the facts, which are that he finished third, well ahead of Shaq.

If you do a search for game recaps from that season--which is not hard to do--or if you look at Jackson's book, you will discover that Kobe was credited with saving that season. Tex Winter describes how Shaq's defense, which was never great, was even worse due to the injury and being out of shape.

Did you happen to notice how many starting players on the Lakers missed significant parts of the second half of the season? That is why the Lakers' record plummeted. Even Kobe cannot do everything by himself, although he did a pretty good job in the last month or so when he averaged 40 ppg. Since you find that notion so amusing you must think that you know more about hoops than Mark Jackson, Ron Harper, Hubie Brown and the voters who placed Kobe third in MVP voting this year.

You can't name one fact that I've twisted--but I'll bet your eyes bugged out when you read about the 2003 MVP voting and then checked and found out that I am right about that. It's hard to argue with facts but I've noticed that this rarely stops people from trying.

 
At Tuesday, June 19, 2007 3:34:00 AM, Blogger jeff smith said...

you dont know what you are talking about you are sad what does kobe being in shape have to do with the lakers winning and he was in shape the first 12 games and they were 3-9 when and out of shape shaq came back they went 45-22 and when they were 3-9 kobe wasnt saying anything to teamates acting like the baby he always has been.

kobe smiled because he was happy at the time to get rid of shaq and try to be the man, because now he know it was a big mistake. bird wouldnt of let mchale go and they didnt get along jordan wouldnt of let pippen go either he didnt do ANYTHING to help keep the glue of the team intact and he has payed for it.

ANYBODY THAT KNOWS BASKETBALL will tell you that shaq was the mvp on the lakers the whole time he was there kobe didnt carry the lakers anywhere he always helped but he was never first in line shaq always was and like i said when he came back they were 23 games over compared to 3-9 when he wasnt there a big distraction i see.

kobe mvp finish mean nuthing if he was the real man he would of finished first because he actually had a better season than duncan or garnett but everybody knew they didnt start winning till shaq came back and he didnt start playing super great till shaq came back thats why he didnt win it duncan and garnett were the real drivers to there team kobe was not. if kobe carried them and he was the lakers mvp why didnt he win it.

phil jackson also said kobe was uncoachable and he didnt want to be there if kobe was there and he said kobe didnt want to be shaq sidekick anymore another reason why he didnt care what buss did.

yeah they missed some player thats and excuse though when they went on their late losing streak all the players were there 7 game and the 5 odom played the last 30 games or so and walton played the last 20 on top of the first 41 another overassurated kobe excuse by you. shaq makes players better better teamate and uplift players kobe cannot does not.

because he finished 3rd and shaq finished 5th means nuthing he doesnt finish even 3rd if shaq doesnt come back that season shaq was the mvp on the lakers and only reason they were relevant well just llok at them now hahahaha lol lmao

 
At Tuesday, June 19, 2007 4:54:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

You can believe whatever you want but the facts are that in 2003 Kobe averaged 30.0 ppg (2nd in the NBA), finished third in MVP voting and made the All-NBA and All-Defensive First Teams. If for some strange reason you feel inclined to diminish those accomplishments, that is your problem and I really can't help you.

Be honest--if Kobe had scowled and frowned at that press conference then you would say that he is a bad teammate who did not welcome the new guys. Whatever Kobe does on the court or says off the court, you will find fault with it. Like I said in reference to the blogger Awful Basket a while back, why don't you just write "I hate Kobe" and be done with it? You are not interested in analyzing basketball or understanding it. You dislike Kobe and nothing will ever change your mind. I'm not really interested in changing your mind, to be honest; I just want to point out the flaws in your comments so that other, more objective readers will be able to understand basketball better. I've argued back and forth with enough people who think like you do (on a variety of subjects, not just Kobe) to know better than to think that you will ever change your mind.

If you really think that when Shaq misses regular season games because he did not have offseason surgery that this is not a distraction and does not set a bad tone for the season I don't know what I can say to you. Supposedly, Kobe's comments in the middle of this offseason are going to be a major distraction next season--but Shaq missing all of those games in '03 wasn't? I have never figured out how to respond to such "logic." By your "logic," Shaq was the best player on the team, as proven by their record when he was out, but the fact that he was out by choice (could have had the surgery earlier and not missed those games) and not necessity did not have a negative effect on the season. Yeah, right, that makes a lot of sense.

Your 2003 MVP reasoning redefines "pretzel logic." Can you at least be honest and admit that when you first started running your mouth on this subject that you did not have the vaguest idea that Kobe finished well ahead of Shaq in the MVP voting that year? You are like the guy in the ESPN commercial who is talking out of his...lack of knowledge. Go back, read the game recaps from the second half of the 2003 season, read Jackson's account in his book about how Kobe saved the season and read Lazenby's Showtime.

As for Jackson's comments about Kobe being uncoachable--then why is Jackson back in L.A. coaching Kobe? If you read Lazenby's book you will understand that Shaq has been very difficult for several coaches to deal with because he continually gets out of shape and has rarely given 100% at the defensive end of the court. Has he been great during his career? Yes. Has he been a dominant figure on championship teams? Yes. Could he have accomplished even more if he had been more focused and more disciplined? Yes. Kobe is much more of a student of the game than Shaq and much more of a dedicated worker.

 
At Tuesday, June 19, 2007 9:52:00 AM, Blogger jeff smith said...

he averaged 30 a game that season no doubt but the lakers didnt make there run till the diesel came back and kobe played his best after shaq came back the first 12 games kobe wanted to quit and i remember kareem rush saying he would just walk in practice and walk by everybody like nobody was there just like everybody said about kobe at that time.

be honest shaq was the mvp every year he played there and what you say is so pro kobe it is a joke why dont you just say kobe does no wrong if he misses it's everybody else fault and no matter what he's perfect. you live in a world most experts dont live in your own saying non sense and stuff that dont make sense shaq a terrible teamate shaq was a distraction shaq was jealous of players and wanted everything to center around him be honest you dont really believe that do you hahahaha.

reality was that if kobe carried the lakers like you said he would of got more respect from mvp voters he didnt because they knew that his great play and the lakers playing better coincited with shaq coming back thats why he didnt win it or come close. remember he had a stastical better season than shaq but he always did shaq was still the MOST VALUABLE PLAYER every year on that team because he finshed higher in mvp doesnt mean he was the real mvp that was shaq.

shaq has had a great career better one than kobe for sure and he could had a better career maybe if he was a little more focused but thats not my argument my argument is kobe should of kept shaq in la and he would still be winning and that is the reason he's not. and never heard jackson pat riley or brian hill say shaq was difficult to coach jackson issue was with kobe and he only came back for the money and knowing both guys would not be there because they had too big of ego especially kobe who did not wanna be the sidekick to shaq thats why he didnt want to listen anymore thats why he didnt push buss to keep shaq because he wanted to be the guy and was tired of playing second fiddle if buss refused to trade shaq he woulda went to chicago or the clippers then. kobe signed with the lakers the next day because he got what he wanted la to be his how's it going kobe hahaha

 
At Tuesday, June 19, 2007 3:19:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Jeff:

I am saying what most people who actually understand NBA basketball say: Kobe Bryant is the best player in the game today. Mark Jackson, Ron Harper, Charles Barkley and many others have said as much, to me and to others. What "experts" are on your side? I'm not talking about who was the most valuable player five or six years ago; I simply pointed out that in 2003 Shaq was a huge distraction and that Kobe finished higher than Shaq in MVP voting that year.

I never said that Kobe is perfect or that when he misses a shot it is someone else's fault. Apparently, since you cannot refute even one thing that I have written you must now resort to making things up but anyone who reads these comments can plainly see that I have cited specific facts and sources, while your comments are vague, undocumented and punctuated by "ha, ha," as if that is the coup de grace to your argument.

If you actually read the specific things that I have instructed you to read--Lazenby's book Showtime, Jackson's book about the Last Season, game recaps from 2003--you would find out that everything that I have written here is true and actually quite well documented: Kobe was the best player on the 2003 team, Shaq was a distraction that year, Shaq was jealous of Kobe from the start of their time together as teammates and Shaq absolutely wanted everything to center around him. Jackson made a very conscious choice in his first term as Lakers coach to cater to Shaq's ego and desire to be the center of everything and to be harder on Kobe because Jackson knew that if he did not side with Shaq then the whole thing would fall apart but that Kobe would work hard in practice and play hard in games no matter what.

As for comments about Shaq being hard to coach--read Lazenby's book and Jackson's book. Seriously, stop posting a response every ten seconds, go out and get those books and read them--if you really want to know the truth. As for Riley, he publicly threatened to suspend Shaq if Shaq did not lose weight and body fat.

 
At Tuesday, June 19, 2007 4:46:00 PM, Blogger jeff smith said...

tim legler bob ryan mike lupica mitch albom all think tim duncan is the best and kobe a great scorer. im not talking about the best player please stay on topic tim duncan is by the way you said kobe was the mvp for the team in 03 he was not and now youre admiting it and the team went 45-22 when shaq came back how was shaq not being in shape a distraction? you make no sense shaq helps teams only he's never hurt a team.

everything you say is pro kobe as in kobe does everything right i notice the one thing rick barry didnt agree with you in you bash barry about a civil rights thing please take your kobe loveing self somewhere you havent said anything that was true especially your shaq a terrible teamate and selfish thing youll bash your mom to defend kobe.

kobe bryant has always wanted everything to center around him if it didnt matter if he got the credit or not shaq would still be there with the lakers. jackson said kobe was uncoachable not shaq. kobe didnt want to be the side kick then. shaq was never jealous of kobe he was bigger than kobe and he got the credit for the rings it would make no sense for shaq to envy kobe on top of everybody loves shaq and kobe polarizing figure. also shaq didnt welcome kobe in well yeah he made the mistake but kobe never welcomed any of his other teamates in as well so two wrongs dont make a right.

youre talking about lazenby book because he agrees with you he wasnt there when kobe talked to buss and he seen what happened there he has just an bs opion like yours you dont have youre facts straight. shaq carried the lakers in 03 when he came back they went 45-22 kobe had a great season but he had a great season the last two years and got 45 and 42 wins. with no shaq they were 3-9 when are you going to get it. shaq being out of shape couldnt of been a distraction when youre 23 games over 500 and only started winning when he came back without shaq they dont make the playoffs and kobe 9 straight games came when shaq came back not when he was not there. shaq not jealous of kobe you tottally assurate everything out of this book like it's the bible lol lmao. shaq got more credit then kobe did for the rings kobe said he didnt want to be the little brother or sidekick anymore. kobe ego is bigger than the galaxy he's the most arrogant player ever shaq has a ego not like kobe you got everything backwards. plus everything is supposed to go through a dominant center not a dominant guard unless you got jordan or magic and kobe no where near them.

 
At Wednesday, June 20, 2007 12:39:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Jeff:

You asked me to stay on topic but the original topic of this post actually was the Spurs sweeping the Cavs...

What difference does it make now who was the best player on the 2003 Lakers? How did we get into this discussion in the first place? Anyway, Kobe was the best player on that particular Lakers team and that is why he finished third in NBA MVP voting. Shaq was the best player on the three preceding teams that won championships.

Shaq has "never hurt a team" but I'm the one who is allegedly blinded by my love for a certain player? "Never" and "always" are two words that one should hesitate to use, because they leave you on the hook forever. Something that "never" happened could happen at some point and something that "always" happened could stop happening. Shaq's lack of conditioning and his disrespectful attitude toward some coaches (Tex Winter in particular) have been an issue at several points during his career.

I have no idea what "civil rights" thing you are talking about--and I certainly don't have to "go anywhere," since this is my website. If you find the truth that distasteful you are certainly welcome to go elsewhere, though.

I never said that it made sense for Shaq to be jealous of Kobe or that Shaq did not get (or deserve) more credit; some people get a lot of credit and are still insecure for whatever reason. Again, if you would stop posting nonsense and go read Lazenby's book and Jackson's book then you might get a better understanding of these issues. By the way, Lazenby is hardly a Kobe apologist (nor am I); he points out things that Kobe did that were wrong but he also points out things that Shaq did that were wrong that are generally glossed over.

Lazenby has spoken to every key Lakers figure from the past several decades. Yes, he wasn't in the room with Buss and Kobe--but neither were you. Lazenby certainly knows more about each of them--and the other Lakers--then you do and certainly has more credibility than you do to discuss the subject.

 
At Wednesday, June 20, 2007 3:59:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

One more thing:

Jeff, I have granted you more than ample opportunity to repeatedly express your quite erroneous views about Kobe and the Lakers. Before posting further comments here on this subject, please take the time to do some actual research on the subject. No one is interested in reading the same repetitive comments again, punctuated by the annoying "ha ha."

 
At Wednesday, June 20, 2007 4:21:00 PM, Blogger jeff smith said...

WHATS wrong david i dont believe kobe made basketball and i pointed out facts and you cant deal with it huh. you know shaq was the reason they won those years and 2003 kobe didnt lead them any year but the last two and that was 2 two first round exits one he was up 3 to 1 and quit in game 7 takeing 3 shots in the second half. my erroneus views on kobe is all fact and you cant deal with it jackson said he was uncoachable and didnt listen robert horry said he was a butthole sometimes and even kobe admitted he wasnt the best teamate and he was only worried about playing basketball back then.

shaq has always ben a great teamate and his teams has won it hurt you so bad you had to delete the facts i put up there. youre theory is if you dont agree with you kobe does everything right and he is never at fault it's shaq it's the media and everybody else you want it to be your going to take your ball and go home as if you were my friend and there was only one basketball and i beat you in a game of 11 and you got mad and went home and i couldnt play basketball no more.

how are you going to have a web site and say you can give your opion as long as it agrees with me because if it doesnt agree with me im going to delete you that is first grade just like kobe rants, thats probably why you identify with him so much yale both ac like baby's you should let others have there opion and not always have to agree with you.

 
At Thursday, June 21, 2007 5:55:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Jeff:

If it is that important to you to obsessively criticize Kobe Bryant--in a comment thread that pertains to Spurs-Cavs, no less--than get your own website. You have had more than ample opportunity here to fully express your opinions about Kobe, Shaq and the Lakers and you have not added any new information in your last several comments, nor have you refuted any of the facts that I provided nor have you made any effort to educate yourself on any of these subjects by referring to the publications that I suggested that you read.

Also, I strenuously object to you or anyone else suggesting in any manner that I "lie." That is the quickest and surest way to get your comment deleted. This site is devoted to serious basketball analysis. Why would I "lie" and/or intentionally present incorrect information? I make every effort to ensure that any stats that I present are accurate and if I make a mistake I am very quick to correct it. We may differ on how to interpret stats or history but that certainly does not mean that I am "lying." Lying means to intentionally give out false information.

I kept up your latest rant just so anyone reading this can clearly see which party is presenting actual basketball information and which party is not. Rest assured that future comments in that vein--consisting of nothing more than insults and repetition of incorrect statements that have already been addressed--will be immediately deleted.

If you truly are not interested in becoming more educated about basketball than this is probably the wrong website for you. Kobe Bryant is so obviously the best player in the NBA right now that if I read your comments to any coach or player in the league they would look at me like I'm crazy. Whether or not Kobe--or anyone else--should win the MVP award while playing on a 40-45 win team is a different issue. I think that he should but others disagree with that; I can respect that position, even though I disagree with it--but childish rants filled with poor grammar and punctuation that keep repeating the same things over and over are more than a bit tiresome.

 
At Thursday, June 21, 2007 12:20:00 PM, Blogger jeff smith said...

i based everything on fact your not telling the truth act like a baby delete because im truthful fine you said shaq was just as bad a teamate as kobe not true jackson said kobe didnt listen and was uncoachable robert horry said kobe had mood swing and acted like butthole and so did derek fisher not shaq and tex winter aint in love with kobe either criticzing the 81 point game saying youre not going to win a championship that way.

you said kobe was the mvp of the 03 team because he got higher barely 4 first vote in mvp balloting over shaq. but the team didnt start winning till shaq came back and starting playing well and kobe was way behind garnett and duncan if he was the mvp on the team with the season he had in 03 why didnt he get more respect by voters? duncan 60 first place votes garnett 43 first place votes kobe had 7 or 8 come on he wasnt the mvp on that team he had a better year then shaq but clearly his low in the mvp showed how much they stilll respected shaq impact.

you questioned shaq impact on other teams look at when hewent to a team and the year before only 3 times in 12 years he hasnt been on a 50 win team he is a legend who's always made the payers aroud him better and uplifted the star as keeny smith says he gives kobe wade and penny more room to operate because you cant double off shaq so they get one on one coverage consistently which makes them unguardable.

 
At Thursday, June 21, 2007 2:48:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Kobe beat Shaq 496-126 in the MVP voting in 2003. If you think that is "barely" winning then your math is worse than your spelling and grammar. No one said that Kobe was the MVP of the league that year, so Duncan and Garnett's vote totals are not relevant to this discussion. Are you really so addled that you cannot understand that? The point is that in 2003 Kobe was more valuable to the Lakers than Shaq and Shaq was a major distraction to the team. That is important because when it came time for the Lakers to decide what to do with him two years later, Buss did not want to give max dollars for max years to a guy who basically derailed the team by coming back late from his surgery--and nothing that Kobe could have said or done would have changed Buss' mind at that point, as Buss has said numerous times.

If you are going to cite Tex Winter about anything then you better read Lazenby's book, because Lazenby is as close to Winter as anyone. Winter says, point blank, that Shaq is more at fault than Kobe for the bad relationship between the two players. You are taking his quote about the 81 point game out of context. Obviously, a team that needs a player to score 81 points in a game is not going to win a championship--but they needed those 81 points to win that game. Winter has often said that Kobe is closer to Jordan in skills and mentality than anyone else in today's game.

You are confusing being friends with being a good teammate. A good teammate works hard in practice, plays hard during games and does whatever he can on the court to help the team win. He is not always what outsiders would define as a nice guy. Michael Jordan once punched Steve Kerr in the face during practice. If you talk to MJ and Pippen's teammates, most will tell you that Pip is a nicer guy--but that does not mean that they did not like playing with MJ or even that MJ was a bad teammate. Popovich yells and screams at his players; he is not always "nice" but that does not mean that he is a bad coach or that his players don't like and respect him. So out of context--and old--quotes about whether or not Kobe is nice really don't mean anything.

Shaq, on the other hand, does not always work hard on his game, had his 2003 surgery "on company time" and did not at all help Kobe ease his way into the league as a young player coming straight out of high school. Shaq may be a wonderful person overall but he was not a good teammate to Kobe in this regard.

I never questioned Shaq's impact on other teams and if you would read previous posts here you would see that I said that Shaq, not Nash, should have won the 2005 MVP. I've never said that Shaq was not the best player on the three championship teams, but I have said that Kobe was an All-NBA and All-Defensive Team member on those title winners, meaning that his contribution was indispensable to their success. Shaq has never been to the Finals without having an All-NBA guard by his side nor has he ever taken a mediocre supporting cast as far as Kobe has the past couple years. Maybe Shaq could have done these things but he never actually did. That is not a knock against him--most players can't carry a team to the Finals by themselves or carry a mediocre team to the playoffs--but to compare what Shaq and Kobe have done without each other makes no sense without considering that Shaq has always had an All-NBA sidekick while Kobe has not even had an All-Star alongside him the past three years.

 
At Thursday, June 21, 2007 7:36:00 PM, Blogger jeff smith said...

my spelling and grammar is fine you aint my teacher you sem to read it pretty good you aint no teacher so stay on topic please. kobe didnt come close to being mvp on that team shaq was always his presence has been felt from jump street david i hope you understood that talking about my grammar.

his company time thing was not a distraction for the last time because when he came back they started winning ask yourself could kobe came that close in mvp if shaq didnt come back they started 3-9 no they would of won 23 games if shaq didnt come back mr friedman since your a teacher now.

shaq went 17-6 without wade at 35 shaq went 41 - 12 without kobe when he wasnt there when he played in los angeles mr friedman so shaq could have a great record still even if the other all nba player isnt there especially in his prime. kobe was in his prime and is in his prime now 55-45 in la without shaq when shaq wasn't there 34-48 in 05 45-37 06
42-40 07 so there is no way he made the lakers go in 03 his career background does not show that.

they said kobe was a butthole and players didnt like the person jordan or shaq personality have never been disliked they may have got on teammates and stuff like thats natural thing. kobe was antisocial and didnt like to deal with his teamates off the court allah barry bonds like him they didnt like him as a person dont try to scue stuff by sating good teamates in friends he wasnt friend or a good teamamate everybody but you seem to understand.

this is not about what shaq
could of been or shaq career you are overassurate the way he came at kobe and his out of shape stuff the overall body of work speaks for itself in 2002 slam ranked him number 9 player out of 75 kobe was 59 if you still question shaq. maybe shaq wasnt always motivated and could of been better than wilt etc but hey thats what the diesel does it still has led to a great career and why you copying what rick bary said about shaq form your own opion please not bite somebodyelse.

 
At Friday, June 22, 2007 1:56:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Just because I can decipher (most) of what you mean does not mean that it is grammatically correct. Frankly, I don't know what you mean some of the time but based on the parts I understand I don't feel like I am missing much.

You contradict yourself when you assert that Shaq was the best player and then say that his being out and the team going 3-9 was not a distraction. Teams and players aren't machines; you don't just take a guy out or plug him in and have everything running smoothly. That is why teams have training camp. Obviously, with Shaq missing the early part of the season the team's record is not going to be good. What does that have to do with Kobe carrying the team later in the year? It's pointless to go back and forth about this. Believe whatever you want. Kobe's stats, the MVP voting and the comments that Jackson and others made about Kobe saving that season tell the story.

The other thing that you are not looking at is when you consider small stretches of games that you have to look at which teams they played, how many road games there were, who else was out of the lineup and so forth. Just to look at the team's record for 12 games without considering these things does not tell one much.

I have no doubt that Shaq has been a great player, is still a very good player and that his teams can have good won/loss records with him in the lineup. If you will go back and look, you will find that I said exactly those things when Wade got hurt and Shaq returned; I actually predicted that the Heat would do better with Shaq and without Wade than they did the other way around, so I hardly lack appreciation for what Shaq is capable of doing. Again, I have said more than once that Shaq should have been voted the 2005 MVP over Nash. Those things, however, do not change these facts:

1) Shaq has never won a title, nor reached the NBA Finals, without playing alongside an All-NBA guard (so please stop citing his won/loss records for partial regular seasons; I know these numbers better than you and they have nothing to do with what I am talking about).

2) Shaq was the best player on the Lakers' championship teams but Kobe played an important and indispensable role on those teams, a role that no other player who was in the league at that time could have filled.

3) Shaq's surgery/rehab fiasco in the 2002-2003 season played a major role in ending the Lakers' dynasty and tipped the scales toward Buss not re-signing him two years later. That season, for the first time, Kobe was the best player on the team, a fact that was recognized when he finished third in MVP voting. That Kobe could score 40 points for nine straight games, during which the Lakers went 7-2, and that he could average 30 ppg while playing great defense gave further impetus to Buss having the idea (in 2005) to build the team around Kobe (the Lakers' failure in the past three years to meaningfully improve the roster is a whole other issue).

I really don't care how Slam ranked anybody. Who says that their rankings are correct? Maybe they like Shaq because he gave them good interviews. Anyway, Kobe ranking 59th back then doesn't tell us anything about how he'd rank now, since his best individual seasons (2003 and the past two years in particular) all came after that issue came out.

While I value Barry's insight at times--and have had the opportunity to interview him one on one--I hardly base my opinions solely (or even primarily) on what he says. All of this stuff about Kobe and Shaq that is apparently news to you has been discussed on this site before, in posts and in the comments sections.

 
At Friday, June 22, 2007 2:38:00 AM, Blogger jeff smith said...

i have beaten you again teacher david or mr friedman whatever you call your self. shaq being out the first 12 games didnt distract the team a t all how what was shaq doing to the team that was distracting the team terrell owens distracts his team how did shaq distract the lakers becuase he missed the first 12 games? they didnt start winning till shaq came back and started playing so the distraction was not detrimental to the team they were 45-22 when he played 3 and 9 when he wasnt if he hurt his team they would of been worse with him. unless you mean him not being in shape hurt his team because they could of possibly got home court over the spurs. that is true but if he doesnt play there not relevant anyway.

kobe has never caried a team without shaq at any point he's alway been 500 but shaq without his superstar with the same talent has a significant better record so your thing about shaq cant win without an all nba guard is bs shaq in his prime could of won without a all nba guard at least get to the finals the oppourtunity never came for him the guard was always healthy doesnt mean he couldnt do it though.

kobe played a indespensable role hahaha? allen iverson or tmac could of filled that role that was proven with shaq winning the ring with wade shaq was 34 with wade he was 28-30 with kobe even a ray allen or another could of won it with shaq a paul pierce player not saying there better than kobe or even as good i dont think so but shaq was so dominant he didnt need a superstar to win with him he could of won with a star he avraged 30 plus ppg in the finals iverson averaged 31 pierce 27 t mac 25 ray allen 25 thats enough to win with shaq especially at that time.

kobe had a better season than shaq but shaq was always more valuable and better and he made it easier for kobe to play giving him one on one oppoutunites that he dont see anymore kobe still great and could score but it's even more volume than it was then. If that tip buss scale clealy he made a mistake and kobe made a mistake thinking he could carry a team forgeting that they didnt start winning and the nine straight 40 point games came when shaq was geting in better shape and shaq had came back. a in shape kobe not better than but that shouldnt of tip the scales to buss he should of known better knowing you need a big guy and kobe aint no jordan and you have no pippen anyway dumb move by buss and stupid by kobe not to have put pressure on buss to give more effort to keep shaq or compromise in some way and keep the dynasty alive.

there top 10 1. jordan 2. wilt 3 robertson 4. russell 5 magic 6 bird 7 kareem 8 jery west 9 . shaq 10 dr j yeah they dont know basket ball and even charles barkely said he wouldnt put kobe in top 50 kobe now aint nowhere near any of those guys unless he laead a team to the ring without the big guy.


i have my own opinion you think lazenby is god because he agrees with everything you say about kobe and is on kobe bandwagon like you i based my opinion on facts peope who knew the situatuation people who know the game not one person who agrees with my point of view

 
At Friday, June 22, 2007 2:28:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Have you gotten all of the nonsense out of your system yet? I really hate to delete reader's comments but you just keep saying the same things over and over and I'm not interested to keep repeating my refutations of them.

Lazenby has actually interviewed the parties involved and they have a much different version of the Shaq-Kobe relationship than you do. He is not on anybody's bandwagon and if you actually read what he wrote you would see that he offers criticism of everyone involved--Shaq, Jackson, Kobe, Buss and so on. You are more interested in "winning" against me (which simply is not happening, whether from a writing standpoint or a factual standpoint) than actually learning something about basketball, which is just sad. I trust his reporting and their statements more than your biased viewpoint as a fan who has no inside information whatsoever.

I have spoken to many NBA players, scouts and coaches--on and off the record--and I can assure you that their opinions of Kobe Bryant's value as a player are completely different from yours. Slam's rankings from several years ago have nothing to do with anything. My contention is that Kobe is the best player in the NBA now, not that he was the best player five years ago. The relevance of what happened five years ago is that Shaq, with the surgery/rehab fiasco, convinced Buss to not re-sign him.

You say that Shaq did not need a superstar to win but the fact is that he never won without a superstar beside him--and a Hall of Fame level coach, too. That just shows that it takes a whole team/organization to win, not one player, no matter how dominant he is and that is not a knock against Shaq.

 

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