20 Second Timeout is the place to find the best analysis and commentary about the NBA.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Lakers Cruise Over Sonics for First Preseason Win

Kobe Bryant scored a game-high 20 points in just 16 minutes as the Lakers rolled to a very easy 126-106 win over the Sonics. Bryant, who shot 6-11 from the field, also had five rebounds and four assists. Lamar Odom did not play due to his recovery from offseason shoulder surgery and he told TNT's Cheryl Miller that there is not an exact timetable for his return but that he is feeling better. Andrew Bynum and Brian Cook scored 19 points each as six Laker reserves reached double figures against a very porous Seattle defense that allowed L.A. to shoot 46-82 (.561) from the field; Bynum shot 8-11, Cook shot 7-9 and Chris Mihm--who seemingly has not played in decades--shot 5-5. If the Lakers are really this good then they will easily win the championship. Of course, that will not happen; all this proved is that Seattle's defense is terrible, particularly on the inside. Kevin Durant led Seattle with 19 points on 8-20 shooting. He shot 1-2 from the free throw line, earning those attempts in the last couple seconds of the game. As usual, the rest of his boxscore was pretty empty: other than showing off some quick hands by getting three steals, Durant only managed to get three rebounds, one assist and no blocked shots. Mercifully, Coach P.J. Carlesimo shifted Durant from shooting guard to small forward and did not have him trying to chase around Bryant, although Durant did have the misfortune of attempting to guard Bryant in transition a few times in the third quarter.

Ronny Turiaf set the tone right from the beginning, scoring all 13 of his points in the first quarter as the Lakers took a 28-24 lead. TNT's Doug Collins explained that this year Lakers Coach Phil Jackson plans to alternate Bryant between a facilitating role and a scoring role in the Triangle offense. Apparently, it is not enough to ask Bryant to be Michael Jordan; he now must switch on the fly between being Jordan and being Scottie Pippen. On this night, at least, it worked well, but that had a lot to do with the strength of the opposition. The terminology is kind of moot, anyway, because at the end of the season Bryant will lead the team in both scoring and assists, as he did last season. In the first quarter, Bryant facilitated his way to three assists and made several other good passes that were not converted into scores. As TNT's Kevin Harlan noted later in the game, Bryant cannot really "win": when he is the facilitator, he gets criticized for not carrying the team by scoring but when he is in a scoring mode he gets criticized for shooting too much. After careful consideration, I have figured out the only possible solution to this conundrum: the Lakers should schedule the Sonics 82 times.

Durant got off to a rocky, 0-4 start. His first miss came on a straightaway three pointer that Bryant did not even bother to contest (apparently, Bryant has seen Durant's field goal percentage). A little later, Durant missed another jumper. There is not anything obviously wrong with his form and because of his height, length and athletic ability he can get his shot off easily so one would assume that at some point his percentage--at least on standstill jumpers--will improve. However, another problem for Durant is that he is a very soft finisher in traffic. Considering that he was a double figure rebounder in college one would not expect him to so obviously shy away from contact and this cannot just be dismissed as being the result of his slender frame; there have been plenty of great players who had slight builds but knew how to absorb contact and draw fouls. Durant's third missed shot came after he made a nice dribble drive move but then lofted a very soft attempt in the lane. His fourth miss came after he drove hard to the right but stopped well short of the paint--avoiding the possibility of contact--and threw up a wild shot that caromed off of the backboard. In the summer league, Durant drew some fouls on these pell-mell drives even as he tried to dodge contact because his opponents were not good enough or savvy enough to avoid getting called for blocking but it is obvious that unless Durant starts playing a lot differently he will not be making many trips to the free throw line this season. Durant sat out the last half of the first quarter and did not return until the 7:20 mark of the second quarter.

A few minutes after Durant left the game, fellow rookie Jeff Green entered the fray. Green may not have the athletic gifts that Durant does but he seems to have a better understanding of how to play; Green is without question a stronger finisher around the hoop, as he showed on the first possession of the second quarter when he faced up Cook, drove baseline and converted a power move in the paint. Green scored on several moves like that during the game but ended up shooting just 6-13 because he went 0-2 from three point range. With his body type and his ability to go strongly to the hoop Green needs to leave the three point shot alone for now. Collins admitted that this statement may sound crazy but he suggested that Durant and Green may finish 1-2 in Rookie of the Year voting. Considering the dearth of talent Seattle has after the departures of Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis, the team will have no choice but to give Durant and Green heavy minutes and plenty of shot attempts. I realize that Durant is everyone's golden boy but I wonder how long it will take for Seattle's coaching staff to realize that instead of having Durant shoot 20 jumpers and soft layups while Green only attempts 13 shots that the team would be better off if Green took 20 shots in the paint and when he got double-teamed then he could kick the ball out to Durant for 12-15 standstill jumpers a game. Durant has no postup game right now and does not take the ball to the hoop with authority so why should he automatically be penciled in for 20 FGAs?

Durant finally made his first basket at the 6:48 mark of the second quarter, making a nice two dribble move and nailing a jumper after a pass from Green. Seattle spent a lot of time using a weak zone that will either have to be improved dramatically or completely discarded. After Durant made his first jumper, he was stationed on the low block on defense, trying to guard the much larger Bynum without engaging in too much physical contact. Watching the play, one could visualize a poster in the making. Sure enough, Luke Walton lobbed the ball in to the big center and Bynum threw down a two handed dunk while Durant awaited future developments (to borrow the choice phrase that appeared in a Sports Illustrated caption of a photo of a similar defensive "effort" by Darryl Dawkins decades ago). Durant tried to answer with another jumper after a quick dribble move but he missed.

A very interesting sequence happened later in the quarter. Durant had the ball on the left wing while veteran Kurt Thomas was posting up against the much smaller Walton on the left block. Instead of passing to Thomas to exploit the mismatch, Durant waved Thomas out of the post so that he could go one on one against Cook. Thomas complied, whereupon Durant took a couple half hearted dribbles before settling for a long jumper. Not recognizing a mismatch is bad enough but at the very least Durant should have then driven past the defensively challenged Cook. A little later, Durant made three shots in a row in a little less than two minutes--an off balance runner, a reverse layup on a fast break and a smooth jumper--and TNT play by play man Kevin Harlan got so excited that I thought he was going to have a heart attack. Harlan tends to be high strung and usually I don't mind that but after watching Durant brick his way through most of the first half I didn't feel like Durant making three shots in a row signaled a shift in the balance of power in the basketball universe. Collins spoke of Durant's "flashes of brilliance"--which also seems more than a bit overly exuberant--but he tempered that with an excellent observation: "Right now he doesn't take good shots." Bingo! Durant shoots far too many off balance shots and when he gets in traffic he goes up softly. Collins said that Carlesimo told him that 10 of Durant's 22 attempts in the previous game were shots that Durant cannot make. Durant closed the half out by dribbling the ball off of his foot and out of bounds while attempting to go for the last shot. The Lakers led 64-47 at halftime, fueled by great first half performances by Bynum (15 points) and Cook (10 points). Bryant sat out the second quarter with ice on his knees and Collins speculated that he might not play any more during the game.

That did not turn out to be correct, as Bryant started the third quarter and Collins quickly stated that Bryant appeared to be playing in the scoring role in the offense, not the facilitating role. That proved to be an understatement, as Bryant reeled off 12 straight points on 5-5 shooting in a little over 90 seconds after Seattle cut the lead to 67-62. Durant was not assigned to guard Bryant but ended up picking him up in transition on a few occasions; of course, no one in the league can stop Bryant when he gets on that kind of roll. As Bryant single-handedly took over, Collins related an interesting story from the Team USA practices this summer. Collins said that at one point he closed his eyes and just listened to Bryant talking to his teammates on the court: "The things he says, the way he approaches practice and the attention to detail--I had a flashback to when Michael Jordan was 25 years old and I was coaching him in Chicago." Bryant finished with 16 points in the quarter and the Lakers led 95-85 going into the final stanza. Collins declared, "Kobe Bryant is showing tonight why he is the best player in the NBA: a guy who has no weaknesses, First Team All-Defense, led the league in scoring."

Bryant did not play at all in the fourth quarter but the Lakers still won comfortably. Durant matched his 4-10 first half shooting with 4-10 second half shooting. During a stoppage of play, Carlesimo gestured animatedly toward Durant--imitating someone shooting a layup--and he told him, "Go up strong! Come on!" Durant nodded his head slightly and walked back on to the court.

I don't doubt that Durant could become a good player in time. What I don't understand is the rush to canonize him--as the presumptive Rookie of the Year and the next great thing--before he has actually accomplished anything at the NBA level. Right now, Durant is not the Rookie of the Year nor is he a bust; he displayed a lot of ability in one year of college but he is finding out that the NBA game is a lot tougher mentally and physically than the collegiate game. If he works hard and stays focused then his talent will eventually blossom--but there is no shortcut to greatness.

posted by David Friedman @ 3:50 AM



At Friday, October 19, 2007 9:25:00 AM, Blogger madnice said...

Bryant is such a little baby. I dont even get enjoyment out of watching the Lakers. They wont be any good. Hell get is 35 and thats it. This whole summer with the trade rumors and this preseason stuff is annoying. The NBA is so predictable now I dont even enjoy it anymore. I know you are a writer but I dont know how you watched any of this game.

And Dougie Collins has always been a kiss up. Hes annoying. "I closed my eyes and had a flashback." I know you dont want cursing on your blog (and I respect your blog even though I dont know you) but please Dougie. Another year of hes Mike and James is the next MagJorBird. Another year of your Bryant infacuation.

At Friday, October 19, 2007 4:36:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Why do you say that Kobe is a baby? Because he wants to win? Anyone who looks at this situation objectively realizes that team management has failed him. It is three years since they traded Shaq--without getting anything close to equal value, mind you--and they have not upgraded the roster. The Lakers are squandering the prime of the NBA's best player.

I watched the game because I enjoy basketball and I enjoy analyzing what makes players/teams tick. This wasn't the best game I've ever seen but it had some interesting aspects, which I described in the post.

Yes, sometimes Collins can be the NBA's version of Dick Vermeil--emotional and sentimental--but is that all bad? The point is that Kobe is a very dedicated practice player and a good teammate who does the best that he can to help his team become better. That is what Collins' story conveys. I don't think that Kobe is as good as MJ was and I don't think that Collins does, either--but Kobe is closer to meeting that standard than any other active player. Kobe's approach to the game is very much like MJ's and I've never understood why people take that as a negative. Shouldn't all NBA players try to emulate MJ's positive qualities?

Why do you not say that I am "infatuated" with Duncan--who I called the greatest power forward of all-time--or LeBron, whose growth curve I described as being perhaps unprecedented in NBA history? If I am "infatuated" with anything concerning basketball it is greatness and players/teams who work hard to pursue it. That is what I focus on and write about.

At Friday, October 19, 2007 8:45:00 PM, Blogger madnice said...

You always write about Bryant, which is obviously your choice. Look I know he is a great player but he annoys me sometimes. I wish him and Shaquille were still playing because they were so dominant and should have 5 rings at least. But the on and off things this summer saying I want/dont want to be traded thing is annoying among the many other immature things that he has done. Then he comes out an says Im not talking this year (Im paraphrasing). Who cares? Just play. Its still a soap opera without Shaq.

Sure you can emulate MJs qualities but he tries to walk, talk and have manurisms like MJ. Thats over the top. But thats Bryant. As I ve said on this blog before he probably is watching Come Fly with Me right now. Thats a beautiful thing. I never met him but I know he wants people to say hes like MJ because everyone loved MJ. Even the players in the league loved and respect Mike. Bryant has respect of the players too but no where the same as MJ. Ive seen at least 30 players past and present who have worn MJs sneaker. That may be trivial but thats crazy respect...like when I see Miller wearing Jordans or Ewing.

I dont care what anyone says Duncan is a center. He plays defense like a top center and scores like a top center. He plays like Olajuwon. He blocks shots, scores inside and out, and plays defense. There are no more true power forwards. I know everyone says he is a power forward and that he is better than Malone, Pettit, Mchale and whoever else. But Ive always thought of Timmy as a center.

At Saturday, October 20, 2007 2:27:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


kobe and the lakers are going to suck not kobe but the lakers if he plays on the lakers the full year. he only wanted to win the ring after shaq won his now he is trying to one up shaq because he know shaq could put his ring in his face right now. but kobe a good player and durant will be good in due time. i like durant game and think he will be special, kobe is great player just is a baby and is not people smart.

At Saturday, October 20, 2007 3:29:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Kobe had that one crazy day when he gave a bunch of interviews and said a different thing in each one about whether or not he wanted to be traded. I have no explanation whatsoever for what that was all about. I suppose it is a mixture of frustration about not winning combined with a hope at some level that he could play his whole career in L.A. and win more rings. Since then, he has not said anything more about this, so what's the big deal? Buss is the one who stirred up the whole hornet's nest again.

I don't "always" write about Kobe. I write about him when he does something newsworthy on the court, same as any other player or team. It just so happens that the best player in the game is more newsworthy than the 10th man on a non-playoff team. I also write a lot about Duncan, LeBron, Dirk, Nash and the other top players, plus of course a host of retired players. It is interesting that the Kobe posts seem to attract more attention/comments than any others. Readers really have a love/hate relationship with him; I'm just analyzing his game.

I agree that Duncan plays like a center at times but he is listed at power forward, he makes All-Star and All-NBA teams at forward and he has always played beside another 7-footer who could not possibly be considered a forward (David Robinson, then a slew of lesser names). Therefore, he is a power forward. Other great power forwards like McHale and Elvin Hayes also could swing over to center.

At Saturday, October 20, 2007 4:17:00 AM, Blogger vednam said...

From watching the game, I feel like the Lakers have the personnel to be a pretty good running team.

There are few things more painful about the NBA these days than watching big, long guys like Rasheed, KG, and now Durant, settle for jumpers instead of developing a post-game or using the one they already have. Do you think the lack of post play has to do with zone defenses, or are players just infatuated with playing like shooting guards and being glamarous?

At Saturday, October 20, 2007 5:21:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

I absolutely think that big players are, as you put it, "just infatuated with playing like shooting guards and being glamarous." Another thing is that a lot of these guys don't want to regularly deal with the body contact that is involved with playing on the post. Even a guy like KG who gets a lot of rebounds does so with his length, quickness and hops more so than by banging. Not that there is anything wrong with being able to get 12 rpg without taking too much punishment but there is a reason that KG does not score much on the post, blocks less shots than he should and has yet to anchor even one NBA Finalist.

At Saturday, October 20, 2007 6:32:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kobe is one of the best all-around player in the L right now. I don't care how much you think he is imitating MJ, and there's no doubt that Kobe plays like MJ, but have you ever thought about what else can he do besides what he is doing right now? Like David had said in his blog, if he's on the scoring mode, he is being criticized for shooting too much/ball hogging. And if he passes the ball, then he's not playing hard enough, I mean what the hell? Dude is out there trying his best every single game, and all he get is you haters criticizing everything that he dose?

At Saturday, October 20, 2007 9:17:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


thank you madnice you tell the truth on kobe i appreciate a real opion on him. he has tried to emulate jordan but he went too far with the talking walking and eveything else kobe is not a unique where shaq is because he 7ft2 with great agility and great footwork for a guy his size. bird was a whiteboy dominant aginst blacks plus had unreal passing ability and was slow as ever and still dominant magic was a 6ft9 pointguard never was nuthing like him who could pass like nobody buisness. jordan a 6ft 6 guard only guard to lead team to championship without dominant big men and he did stuff none ever seen. kobe could score like noone i seen ill give him that but all around as a team leader or carrying a team he is not the answer jordan carried more than kobe did bird did his rookie year magic without kareem to the finals shaq has had better record with the same team without kobe than kobe has without him.

At Sunday, October 21, 2007 12:49:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Remember when MJ used to be accused of being a poor leader and not making his teammates better like Magic and MJ replied that you can't make chicken salad out of chicken (bleep)? When Kobe played with another great player--Shaq--they won three straight titles and made a fourth Finals appearance. Since then, Shaq has played with one of the top players in the league--Dwyane Wade--and won one more ring in three seasons. Bird had Hall of Famers McHale and Parish when he won rings (plus DJ, who should be in the HoF, for the last two titles). Magic had Kareem, arguably the greatest player of all-time (Kareem has to be in the discussion, whether or not you rank him number one). The past three years, Kobe has had...Lamar Odom (and let's not forget the immortal Smush Parker and Kwame Brown, etc.). If Bird or Magic or MJ in their primes replaced Kobe on these Laker teams they would have done exactly what they did with Kobe--contend for the last playoff spot and lose in the first round. If you think that MJ was just carrying everything by himself then how come when he retired right before the start of the '94 season the Bulls replaced him with Pete Myers and only won two fewer games than the season before? Obviously, MJ was a great player but it takes a whole team to be consistently successful. One guy cannot do it alone. All this talk that Kobe is a bad teammate or that he does not make other players better is a bunch of bull. It should be the easiest thing in the world to play with Kobe--he gets double-teamed all the time, so all you have to do is go to the front of the rim or spot up at the three point line and you can get wide open shots. Anyone who has watched the Lakers play the past three years knows that Kobe passes the ball; he leads the team in assists (one year he was second to Odom) and he would have more assists if his teammates could (1) catch and (2) make open shots. Put MJ at his individual best--say 1987--on last year's Lakers and they still would not have won more than 45 games. Meanwhile, MJ would have pitched a fit about teammates who can't catch and don't play hard (go back and read The Jordan Rules to see how he acted when his teams were winning about as many games as the Lakers are now). He probably would have punched someone's lights out in practice (MJ got in several fights with teammates). MJ always used to publicly criticize how Jerry Krause ran the team but Kobe has caught more hell for one bizarre day when he asked to be traded and then took it back then MJ got for years and years of complaining (not that MJ was wrong, mind you; many times he was right, just like Kobe is now).

At Sunday, October 21, 2007 1:44:00 AM, Blogger vednam said...

I was unaware that Jordan was the only guard to lead a team to a championship without a dominant big man. Apparently the Pistons didn't win it all in 1989 and 1990, and neither did the Warriors in 1975.

I've never understood the criticism that Kobe tries to be like Jordan. Jordan tried to be like Walter Davis and David Thompson. What does that say about Jordan?

At Sunday, October 21, 2007 3:20:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

I agree. The criticism that Kobe tries too hard to be like MJ simply makes no sense. If he were trying to be like some team's 10th man then there would be cause for concern but it is hard to understand what is wrong with emulating one of the greatest players in history. I suppose when no other arguments hold up and one does not want to concede the point about Kobe's greatness that one must go further and further out on a limb to find something "bad" to say about him.

At Sunday, October 21, 2007 1:46:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


the pistons had laimbeer and rodman better than anyone mj ever had as a big man. he had a older rodman but not the pistions won. mj magic and bird would be a 4 or 5 seed with the current lakers and get them at least to the second round no doubt in my mind i know im speculating but it's good specualtion. the lakers couldnt beat utah or houson either last year not not just the suns. jordan had atlanta hawks roster in 86 and 87 thats why he lost to the celtics who went to the finals both years.

as far as kobe passes the ball sometimes but if you be real alot of times as well he shoots over double teams and makes poor shot selection descisions as well i watch every lakers game. thats why i love lebron james he always seems to make the right play well not always but more frequent than kobe does to me and has better descion makeing.

kareem greates player ever? kareem is in my top 6 or 7 not nowhere near 1 lets start it it's either jordan or wilt period one or two probably favor jordan 6 rings avg as much points as wilt career and was more clutch and had better killer instinct.

but back on topic kobe imitates jordan walk talk and everything else he copies him a little bit too much. which was a turn off because you have to have your own idenity not try to live on someone eles is. lebron wade and others have own identity and playing style where kobe playing style moves and everything are jordan carbon copies. youre going to say whats wrong with that right, well people like guys to be creative and have their own idenity thats been a problem for kobe.

At Sunday, October 21, 2007 2:26:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Kareem won six MVPs and six rings and is the all-time leading scorer. I'm not saying categorically that he is the greatest player ever but he certainly is on the short list. Dr. J has always said that Kareem was the greatest player he played against. The point is that Magic, who is also in the discussion for greatest player ever honors, played alongside another all-time great. Bird had a HoF frontline. Your "good" speculation about what Magic or Bird could have done with the current Lakers squad is a fantasy. MJ played on sub .500 teams during his career. So did Kareem. Even the greatest players cannot win singlehandedly. Kobe put up MJ-type numbers down the stretch last season, averaging 40 ppg in one month, and the Lakers barely made the playoffs. It is unrealistic to think that any one other star could have taken that team any farther than Kobe did.

If LeBron has his own identity why does he wear number 23? I don't think that's a bad thing but when you criticize Kobe for trying to be like MJ you just reveal your bias against him. Every NBA player has someone who he admires and tries to be like.

When you talk about Kobe shooting over double teams you have to put things in context. A lot of his shots come at the end of the shot clock after he has passed the ball and gets it back because no one wants to shoot. Also, there are games in which Kobe starts out passing the ball but no one can make a shot. Sometimes Kobe will then start taking shots earlier in the shot clock so that he can get the shot off before the double-team comes. LeBron forces shots sometimes and his perimeter shot is not nearly as good as Kobe's; he shoots a higher field goal percentage because he shoots fewer threes but the extra point for each made three largely makes up for that. Also, Kobe's much better free throw percentage means that overall he is a deadlier and more efficient scorer than LeBron. We have seen Kobe be the primary playmaker on championship teams so any idea that he is selfish simply does not fly. Kobe wants to win. When his teammates are hitting shots he gets them the ball. Last year, Jackson told him to start shooting more in the last weeks and Kobe did that. Wilt, Elgin and MJ are the only players in NBA history who have ever gone on scoring tears like Kobe has.

At Sunday, October 21, 2007 7:58:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


complete fantsy? what jordan bird and magic by themselves in their prime carry this team to the second round at least thats not fantasy they will get close to 52 wins kobe got 45 and 42 they worth 7-10 wins more than kobe. are you trying to say kobe has just as much impact as them? i dont thinkhe could win 3 rings with parish and mchale 5 with kareem and worthy and definetely not 6 with pippen. they all had a way greater impact than kobe.

lebron wears 23 but his game is nuthing like jordan more a magic type game he doesnt talk like jordan or copy any of his mannerisms like kobe. it's one thing for him to be your hero but you dont have try totalk like him and walk and stick your tongue out have your own style is my point.

kobe shoots out of double teams more than lebron i dont know how many lebron games youve watched but he doesnt force shots anything like kobe does. he actually is a pass first guy ive seen many kobe games he gets the ball goes and tries a shot over two guys rather than passing out of a double team or take a hurrendus shot when he should of pass the ball be dribbling around 3 people i remeber thinking pass it kobe and he take a terrible shot. everytime he gets it but enough to be a problem.

bottom line kobe great player just not the leader and descion maker those other guys were and when magic played with kareem those were the championship years i know bird and them had more talent then but when they didnt have signifcant talent bird rookie year jordan 87-88 or 88-89 magic in 91 shaq 41-12 when kobe didnt play etc. and the bulls couldnt get buy the second round without jordan the next full year jordan played they won 72 gmaes and won 3 straight rings.

At Sunday, October 21, 2007 11:39:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

You appear to be operating under the delusion that all-time greats like Bird, Magic, MJ and Kareem could carry any team to 50 wins. That is ridiculous. Bird and Magic played their whole careers with All-Stars and Hall of Famers but MJ and Kareem are good case studies. They both played on sub .500 teams during their careers. What makes you think that the current Lakers squad would win 50 games with MJ or Kareem? Last year's Lakers had no All-Stars and a D-League point guard, not to mention the injuries to Odom, Walton, Kwame and others. Look at what Kobe did just to get that team to the playoffs: an All-NBA First Team and All-Defensive First Team season in which he finished third in MVP voting despite the voter bias against teams that win less than 50 games. He put together a run of 40 and 50 point games that few players in history could match. What exactly do you think MJ or Kareem could have done? Average 45 ppg for the whole season? I'm not saying that Kobe is greater than MJ or Kareem overall but the seasons that Kobe had last year and the year before were tremendous. There is a limit to what one player can do. That is why even MJ and Kareem played on sub .500 teams.

How many times did LeBron pass down the stretch in his 48 point game versus Det in the playoffs? Not that this was a bad thing, mind you, but LeBron shoots a lot, too. Most star players attempt at least 20 shots a game and you are not paying attention if you think that only Kobe "forces" shots; that is what star players do. As I pointed out in an earlier post, Larry Bird stayed in a game in which the Celtics were routing Atlanta just so he could score 60 points and set a team record. Not only that, but Boston kept fouling in order to get the ball back so Bird could get up more shots. Could you imagine the outcry if Kobe stayed in a game just to set a record? As time passes, people tend to forget these things. That is what I am talking about in the other thread about Shaq and Duncan. Ten years from now, all that people will look at is who had more rings. Ten years from now, people will look at Kobe's stats and be amazed that he did not win the MVP the past two seasons.

As for the '96 Bulls, did you happen to notice that they added Dennis Rodman prior to that season? Also, MJ was rusty in the 1995 playoffs. The Bulls made it to game seven in the 1994 playoffs without MJ and lost in game six in 1995 with him. If the Bulls had not gotten Rodman prior to '96 they would have still improved just because MJ was no longer rusty but there is no way that they would have won 72 games--and even MJ said that Pip was the best player on the team in '95. Who is Kobe's Pip right now? Please don't say Lamar Odom.

At Monday, October 22, 2007 1:02:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


bird didnt play with allstars his rookie year 78-79 celtics won 29 games bird came and he they won 61 that was dave cowens last year he averaged 15ppg bird led the team with 17ppg get out of here he always played with all stars? in 1987-88 jordan won 50 games when pippen came off the bench and averaged 7.9 ppg. 1990-1991 lakers second best player was james worthy and he was old by then. kareem i dont know much about. but the 85-86 bulls and the 86-87 bulls had worse talent than the lakers do know is why they were under 500 those teams were beyond terrible he had no odom on those teams.

lebron had to score the 48 points in game 7 clearly no one on cleveland wanted to shoot the ball in that situation everybody could see that if he didnt do that they wouldnt of won thats reaching david. lebron forces shots like kobe? lebron does not force shots like kobe really his menatality is a pass first mentality he has been critcized for not being more agrressive how does he shoot alot too?

bird was one of the most unselfish players all time he would alot of time not attempt alot of field goals in the first quarter just to make sure his teamates got involved in the game and he went out of games when he had 30 and 40 points going into the fouth quarter when they were blowing teams out. so the game vs atlanta was a abberation that just reaching for something bird and james have been alot more unselfish in their careers than kobe been in his he has like 7 or 8 40 shot games and 6 0f the worst 50 point games fg% come on david trying to use those one example games proves nuthing.

At Monday, October 22, 2007 1:32:00 AM, Blogger vednam said...

Kareem nowhere near number one? It's mind-boggling how underrated Kareem is. This probably has to do with the NBA's endless promotion of the holy Jordan-Magic-Bird trinity, and people then (without examining Kareem's career at all) taking it for granted that Kareem doesn't stack up with them.

Kareem in his prime had no weaknesses in his game, and his long list of accomplishments are perhaps the most impressive in NBA history. He wasn't just some guy who knew how to shoot sky-hooks and was fortunate to play with Magic Johnson.

Jump-shooting Bill Laimbeer and 6'7" non-scoring Dennis Rodman now qualify as "dominant big men"? I guess Horace Grant and Bill Cartwright were also dominant big men.

At Monday, October 22, 2007 1:42:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

In 1979-80, Nate Archibald made the All-Star team and ranked second in the NBA in assists. Cowens is on the NBA's 50 Greatest Players list (as is Archibald). Granted, Archibald and Cowens were not in their primes by then but Archibald was still a top point guard and I'd take an old top 50 player over any of the Lakers' current centers. Also, Cedric Maxwell, who won the 1981 Finals MVP, was on the 1980 team. What people conveniently leave out about Bird's rookie year is that after 1979 the team made numerous roster changes and switched coaches. Obviously, Bird was by far the single biggest addition but to compare that 1980 team's overall talent to the current Lakers is ridiculous. If you really believe that with a "better" superstar/leader the current Lakers would win 50 games then I'd like to know which of the Lakers--other than Kobe, obviously--you think could start for any of the teams that won 50 games last season.

I don't have a problem with LeBron's shot selection or Kobe's. All I'm saying is that a team's best player sometimes takes shots that could be called "forced." Kobe does it, LeBron does it, Bird did it, MJ did it, etc. You don't think that when LeBron scored 48 points some of his shots were "forced"? That is why he is a great player--he can force shots and make things happen. As Hubie Brown said during one of the recent NBA China games, whether or not you call a shot a "force" depends on the situation and the capabilities of a given player. Kobe, who can score 50 or 60 in a game and 25-30 in a quarter, has earned the right to take some shots that you might think are forced.

How come when Bird did not take a lot of shots in a quarter you say he was getting his teammates involved but when Kobe does this you say he is a quitter? Your bias is so obvious. Like I've said to others in previous discussions, why don't you just say, "I don't like Kobe and whatever he does I will put a negative spin on it"? Hey, you are a fan, so you are entitled to like or dislike whoever you want. Just understand that what I am doing here is analyzing players/teams, not picking and choosing favorites subjectively.

I'm not saying that Bird was selfish. I'm saying that he did something that if Kobe did it he would be killed in the press. Can you at least admit that? That was Bird's only 60 point game and look what he had to do to get it. Kobe has gotten 60+ in the flow of the game. Heck, he had 60+ in 3 quarters versus Dallas the year that the Mavs went to the Finals.

Don't start with all the business about how many shots Kobe has attempted in certain games. I already refuted that mess last season; it's not about attempts or field goal percentage, it's about makes and effective field goal percentage (how many points you score per shot).

At Monday, October 22, 2007 1:59:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Oakley was second in the league in rebounding in 1988. While Pip and Grant were not yet the players that they would become, each averaged over 20 mpg during the regular season and were important members of the rotation. In the playoffs, each of their mpg averages increased to nearly 30 and they played key roles in Chicago's postseason success. You don't think that Kobe and the Lakers would do better with Oakley, a young Pip and a young Grant than with a frontcourt rotation of Kwame, Turiaf and Luke Walton? Also, every one of the Bulls top 7 players that year played in at least 79 games on a team that went 50-32. Last year's Lakers went 42-40 despite the fact that 3 of the team's top seven players missed at least 22 games--and that does not even include games missed by Cook and Radmanovic, shooters who could spread the floor so Kobe would not have to "force" so many shots. The amazing thing is that as flawed as that team is Kobe still might have led them to 50 wins if so many key players had not been hurt.

As for the 1991 Lakers, Worthy averaged over 21 ppg that year. That team also had Byron Scott, Sam Perkins, Vlade Divac and Terry Teagle. Again, which current Lakers other than Kobe would start or get heavy minutes on that team?

At Monday, October 22, 2007 6:17:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Some excuses that Kobe haters give to justify their irrational hatred are simply laughale.

Kobe tries to talk, walk like Jordan? Only in their biased blind eyes. Whatever is naturally done by Kobe is labeled by the haters as copying.

And those weak-minded buy into everything the anti-Kobe media hacks twist and spin. That's manipulated by the media and copying what those pricks think.

At Monday, October 22, 2007 6:53:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


larry actually averaged 21 10 4.5
his rookie year no one else averaged over 16 cowens was old then and so was archibald kobe on that same team wont win 61 games. bird with odom and brown win 50 games, with luke and others on that team. the real big change was bird in 79-80 the team before won 29 games and cowens and others were on that team there.

has leborn jordan and bird forced shots of course they have and done in there career do they force them at the same rate as kobe bryant they do not any basketball person would tell you that if asked that question kobe has tooken 7 or 8 40 shot games and doesnt shoot 50 percent in alot of them. thats bad shot selection alot of times shot selection and field goal percentage go hand and hand, the 48 point game was the only time where lebron was selfish but if you wathed the game he had to carry his team to win the game there thats the only real time ive seen lebron be overly aggressive. earlier in the series he had been criticized for not doing stuff like that. you try to defend kobe so bad you make players like lebron jordan or bird selfish when they are not.

kobe QUIT IN GAME 7 and should of been more agressive pay attention please i never critcized kobe for getting players involved when he really should of. bird did that every game of his career from the beginning he could of averaged 30ppg but he was a very team conscious player and unselfish player that he didnt do that. kobe has never played like that his whole career? he's never played like that at all he wanted to be the guy when shaq was there takeing alot of questionable shots when he played with shaq. from begining kobe has been the opposite get himself involved first then his teamates sometimes.

charles oakley averaged 10 and 12 pippen 7.9 ppg 3.8 rpg grant averaged 7.5 ppg and 5.2 rpg jordan had alot of help as we see kobe team is lamar averaged 15,9 9.8 rpg 5 asist per game kwame brown averaged 8.0 ppg 6.4 rpg luke walton averaged 11. ppg 5 reb per game. kobe had more than jordan did with those players and jordan won 50 and kobe 42 proveing i deal with facts only and jordan could win with those players as well nuthing fantasy about that.

bird scored 50 alot of times in the flow of the game that was just one game not his whole career david kobe has had high 30's and 40 plus shots when he scored 40 and 50 thats not in flow of game.

At Monday, October 22, 2007 8:16:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


vedman you want to get involved as well kareem doesnt match wilt in anything period but he outscored him because he played 6 more seasons than wilt and halfway through wilt career he didnt care about scoreing anymore and was a better passer than kareem did kareem lead the league in assists wilt did did kareem have 118 50 point games 32 60 and 100 point game? wilt did did he lead league in reb 11 times? wilt did fg%9? wilt did how about 7 scoreing titles? wild did avg 50 25 and 5 best season? wilt did have another year of 24 24 8? kareem couldnt rebound and wasnt a great passer. he was a great player but in 10 years had won title then magic came he got another 5. wilt said many times that kareem couldnt do anything better than him and kareem knew as well and he was fortunate to have magic johnson. jordan got 6 rings 6 finals mvp got better scorer more versatilte better passer avg 8 asists one year in the playoffs especially no comparison to one another. i give jordan the edge over wilt because of playoffs wilt only averaged 22.5 where jordan avg 33.5 the playoffs where you make your name 6 rings to 2 as well.

At Monday, October 22, 2007 10:36:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

I know what Bird averaged that year. What's your point? I thought your assertion was that Bird had less help that year than Kobe did last season. As I pointed out, Bird had two HoFers, one of whom (Nate) was still playing at an All-Star level. Yeah, Cowens was old but would you really take Bynum over the 1980 Cowens? Archibald missed more than 10 games the previous season; the Celtics also made several personnel moves and changed coaches. All of those things helped the team to improve. Of course, Bird was the primary factor but he alone did not account for a 32 win increase (I'd say that Bird, like most great NBA players, was worth about 15-20 extra wins).

Elgin Baylor, Rick Barry, Jerry West and Michael Jordan all have had games in which they took 35-40 shots or more. It makes no sense to evaluate Kobe's whole career on the basis of a half dozen 50 point games. If you want to compare his 50 point games to other players', then compare all of his 50 point games.

Let me be clear that I am not criticizing LeBron's shot selection in his 48 point game; all I am doing is pointing out the flaws in your thinking, namely that you criticize Kobe for doing the same things that LeBron does.

If Kobe quit in Game 7 (in 2006) then so did LeBron. Their second half numbers were virtually identical. Please don't say any more about this until you go back, look at the boxscore and you are willing to either criticize both players or neither one.

Odom's averages are nice--too bad that he missed 26 games. Kwame missed half the season. Each player also played many games in a hobbled condition. By the way, what was the Lakers' record before those guys got hurt? They were on pace for 50 wins. Like I said, you are dealing with fantasy, not reality.

I am well aware of Bird's accomplishments. Please answer a simple question: If the Lakers are blowing a team out and Kobe not only stays in the game purely to set a record but has his teammates foul the other team's players to stop the clock and get the ball back so he can shoot more what would your reaction be? If you say anything other than you would blast Kobe then you are lying.

At Tuesday, October 23, 2007 9:20:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


i was just pointed out bird numbers compared to the rest of his team maxwell averaged 16ppg lamar odom 16ppg walton 11ppg tiny 14ppg cowens 14ppg kwame 8 ppg bird had alittle bit more but 19 games better i dont think so bird is a immortal he is worth 25-30 games alone not 15-20 kobe is a great great player he worth 15-20 not bird.

elgin baylor rick barry and jordan have not had 7or 8 games where they shot under 50 percent and took 40 shots david and kobe has alot more 35-40 shot games then they do thats the thing kobe is a repeat offender like terrell owens he's done it way more than once thats why people dont give him a pass.

lebron didnt quit in his game 7 i remeber watching the game at no point did i see him passesing the ball off and barely passing half court standing there and not moveing like kobe did. so stop trying to use leborn to make a excuse and kobe did this vs sacramento before when has lebron ever did it?

odom and brown missed most of their time in the first half of the season at one point the lakers were 33-18 and when they tanked odom walton and brown was playing so injuries is a excuse reality is jordan had less and won more i refuted what you said and proved what i was saying was true.

your well aware of birds accomplishments really? and if kobe played like bird did his whole career and one game went out to try to break a record i wouldnt have a problem with it. but kobe has never played that way thats why people dont give him a pass about situatuation. and 02-03 kobe had 8 straight 40 point games and was going for the record of 9 agianst seattle the game was well in hand and kobe was just jacking up shots to get the record it was a joke. he was at 39 trying to get that record why dont you say anything about that/ you quick to kill bird or lebron but always have a excuse in hand for kobe.

At Wednesday, October 24, 2007 3:30:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...


It is not correct to evaluate a player's contributions merely by reciting his scoring average. If you really believe that Kobe had a better supporting cast last year than Bird did in 1980 you are sadly mistaken. Furthermore, even if Kobe's supporting cast was better, key members of that supporting cast missed a substantial portion of the season.

I already dealt with and refuted this whole business about shooting percentages and 50 point games and it is tiresome to hear about it again. What's more, it has nothing to do with anything that we are talking about. You are just bringing up anything random you can think of that you think casts a negative light on Kobe. If you want to compare the body of his work in terms of 50 point games to the body of 50 point games produced by other players, that's one thing, but to randomly cite a half dozen games out of several hundred that he has played is nonsense.

Kobe and LeBron took almost exactly the same number of shots in the second halves of their game sevens in 2006 after each scored a ton of points in the first half. Now you want to talk about where Kobe was standing on the court? Like I said before, you could make this easier on yourself by just writing, "I hate Kobe. The end." That is all you are saying. You are not even pretending to objectively analyze the games.

So you think that Odom was healthy during the second half of the season? I suppose that is why he had multiple offseason surgeries to fix everything and that he is still not completely healthy now.

"Refute" means to prove to be wrong, not to spout nonsense. In 1988, the year that you are fond of citing, MJ had a completely healthy supporting cast that was superior to Kobe's injured supporting cast and the Bulls won eight more games--and I've said that MJ was better than Kobe. Your argument could make one think otherwise, because now that we have looked at everything Kobe did almost as much last year as MJ did in 1988 with a worse situation.

So the Lakers were fouling people in a blowout and only passing to Kobe so that he could get a record in the game you are talking about? That's funny, because I don't remember that happening. I think you need to go back and check the Bird tape and the Kobe tape and rewrite that one--but nice try at avoiding my question. Here it is again: if the Lakers were blowing out a team and they started fouling to stop the clock and get the ball back so that Kobe could get a scoring record would you be critical of this or not? I don't care how many other times Bird did this. He did it once in the highest scoring game of his career. Kobe has had several better games than that and in none of them did he or the Lakers do anything like that.

At Thursday, October 25, 2007 12:23:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...


1) If you want to take a handful of games completely out of context and come up with ludicrous conclusions then try this: Larry Bird shot .419 from the field in the 1981 Finals, ranked second on the team in scoring with 15.3 ppg despite taking the most shots and Cedric Maxwell won the Finals MVP. By your way of reasoning in previous comments, that means that Bird was a "shot jacker" who was the "number two" guy on that championship team (note that I don't believe these things, but I am simply applying your way of thinking about Kobe to another player's stats to show how ridiculous it is).

2) LeBron had 21 points on 10-15 first half shooting in game seven versus Detroit in 2006. He scored six points on 1-9 shooting in the second half. In the third quarter he shot 0-3. LeBron's Cavs only trailed 40-38 at halftime, so by your logic one must conclude that he not only quit but he quit in a very winnable game, only shooting three times in the third quarter of a close game. Bryant had 23 points on 8-13 first half shooting in game seven versus Phoenix in 2006. Despite his efforts, the Lakers trailed 60-45 at halftime because no one else on the squad brought any kind of game; at the start of the third quarter, the Lakers tried to go back to the "indide man" strategy that had worked earlier in the series but that was a no-go: Odom shot 5-14 for the game and Kwame shot 2-10. Kobe scored one point on 0-2 third quarter shooting. By the end of the third quarter, the game was effectively over--Phx led 90-65.

LeBron shot 1-6 in the fourth quarter, playing all but one minute of the game. Kobe shot 0-1 and sat out the last five minutes because the Lakers trailed by 25-30 points and had no chance to win. LeBron had two assists in the entire game and Kobe had one.

Bottom line: their first half and third quarter numbers were virtually identical. By the time the fourth quarter rolled around, the Lakers-Phx game was long out of reach. There was nothing for Kobe to "quit" because the game was already over--and his teammates obviously never showed up in the first place. If Kobe had "jacked up" a lot of fourth quarter shots then you would say that he was padding his stats when his team had no chance to win. Case closed.

3) Kobe ranks third (behind only Wilt and MJ) with 21 career 50 point games. His team is 15-6 in those games, so any assertion that his shooting/scoring hurt his team in those games makes no sense. Kobe ranks fourth (behind only Wilt, MJ and Baylor) with 85 career 40 point games. His team is 59-26 in those games, so any assertion that his shooting/scoring hurt his team in those games makes no sense. As for the handful of games that you like to keep bringing up, as I demonstrated months ago when this was first mentioned here, Kobe shot (and made) a lot of three pointers in those games. When you add in the extra points from the three pointers you find that his overall shooting efficiency even in his "worst" 50 point games was not bad at all.

4) The comparison of Bird's '80 Celtics to Kobe's '07 Lakers is so lopsided that it is ludicrous. Bird had two HoFers, one of whom was still playing at an All-Star level. He had a player who would be the Finals MVP in '81, in the process saving Bird from having to justify a very subpar Finals performance on his part. The real question is which Lakers' starters last year--other than Kobe, obviously--could have started for any of the teams in the West that finished ahead of the Lakers? Take Kobe off of that roster and the Lakers' squad last year looks no better than Memphis. Kobe did a great job to carry that team to the playoffs. I'm not saying that he is better than MJ or Bird but I am saying that there is a limit to what any one player could do with a flawed team that also suffered many injuries to key players--and even when those players returned they were clearly hobbled and out of shape. Kobe led the league in scoring, made the All-Defensive First Team and finished third in the MVP voting. His scoring run down the stretch of the season is one of the greatest in the history of the NBA.

The whole discussion of these issues has become extremely tiresome and repetitive in this thread, so unless someone has something brand new to add I plan to close this discussion for now (i.e., new comments that don't add something fresh to this thread will not be posted). We're just going around in circles about things that have already been clearly demonstrated, so let's agree to disagree and move on to something else.

At Thursday, October 25, 2007 12:51:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


bird was never the 2 option on his team the two option is the second best player bird was the best player on the 1980-1981 celtics he didnt have a great finals but cornbread maxwell didnt carry the celtics that year bird did during the season and from 3-1 from philly . the 2nd option is your second best player bird won 2 finals mvp mchale none pippen none kobe none they were the second best player on there teams this is not hard at all if you know basketball. if pippen outplayed jordan 4 or 5 games in a season that doesnt make him better than jordan or doesnt make jordan the 2 option. you dont undestand what youre saying youre just saying things.

At Thursday, October 25, 2007 7:43:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...


All I did was apply your reasoning--that a handful of games in which Kobe attempted 40+ shots defines Kobe's career--to the 1981 Finals. What's more, you criticize Kobe on the basis of some regular season games spread out over many years, while the bad games that I cited for Bird were the most important games of the season. I never said that Bird was not the best player on the team; in fact, I specifically said that I don't believe what I wrote about Bird but am simply applying your way of thinking to the 1981 NBA Finals to show how ludicrous it is.

You didn't really cover any new ground there, but I let you have your last comment. Now, as I indicated in my previous comment--this thread is closed for now.

At Thursday, October 25, 2007 8:23:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


if lebron quit in the third quarter why he take six shot in the fourth quarter then? 9 shots is not quitting 3 shots and not takeing a shot for 7 minutes in the fourth quarter like kobe did is. why would lebron quit in a winnable game? what youre saying make no sense lebron first two quarters took 7 shots the last he took thats not quitting, to play seven minutes in the fourth and take no shots what kobe did is you prove my point more.

the finals mvp averaged a whopping 16ppg. the 1980 celtics had alot of the players the 79 had before bird came in and they were 32 games better. it wasnt totally bird but remeber indiana state who was on that team other than bird? he carried teams before that, tiny and cowens were just good players and lamar odom and walton could start on most teams in the nba definetely odom could, caron butler got better without kobe with your man gilbert arenas there. 80 celtics were better mostly becasue of bird though in 07 they were winning when kwame was hurt and odom was hurt so injuries was a excuse. everything you say is your opion not actual facts i gave you numbers on the 87-88 bulls why jordan carried a simialar to kobe last year farther won more games.

real talk proveing you wrong is too easy for me. you just try to twist words to make excuses for kobe for real thats it but i refuted everything with fact you gave your opion.

At Thursday, October 25, 2007 11:59:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...


When you wrote that you are providing facts and all I am doing is giving opinions I literally fell out of my chair laughing, so thank you for that.

Let's look at some of your "facts":

1) You did not know when Manu or Parker started their careers with the Spurs.

2) You did not know about what Bird and the Celtics did in his only 60 point game.

3) You did not know anything about the 1981 Finals (Bird's bad shooting, Maxwell's MVP).

4) You did not know that the 1980 Celtics had two future HoFers (and Top 50 players) other than Bird and that the team changed coaches prior to the season.

5) You said that Pip and Grant did not do much for the '88 Bulls but in fact they both averaged over 20 mpg in the regular season and around 30 mpg in the playoffs; in other words, they were key members of the rotation and they played better as the season went on (as shown by their increased minutes during the playoffs). If you would take an injured Odom, Kwame and Walton, plus Smush, over Oakley, Corzine, Grant, Pippen and Paxson/Sam Vincent, then you are drunk--pure and simple. This is not about scoring averages; this is about who has a game, who understands how to play. That Bulls' lineup is much better than Kobe's supporting cast. It's not even close--and then you have to factor in how many games Kobe's guys missed due to injury, so they weren't even at 100% of their capabilities.

All you are doing is spouting opinions off the top of your head without any regard whatsoever for the facts.

I don't think that Kobe or LeBron quit in their game seven performances in 2006 and I said as much at that time--but if you say that Kobe quit then you have to say the same about LeBron. They both shot a lot in the first half and very little in the third quarter. The Lakers' game got out of hand much quicker. As I explained, in the third quarter the Lakers' tried the "inside man" strategy but it didn't work. The deficit was 25-30 in the fourth quarter. What exactly do you propose that Kobe do then? Convert a 30 point play? The game was over, so the only "issue"--if there is one--concerns the third quarter. Bottom line: the Lakers tried to involve their post players and it didn't work. With Kobe scoring very efficiently in the first half they were still down 15, so it is pretty obvious that there was no way for them to win. On the other hand, the Cleveland-Detroit game was close until well into the fourth quarter, so it is much more reasonable to ask why LeBron stopped shooting in the third quarter. Those are the facts. Another fact is that you hate Kobe and will disregard everything that I just said.

Your "fact" about when the Lakers' players were injured is also wrong. When the Lakers lost seven in a row from March 2-March 15, Odom missed five of those games and was not healthy in the other two (Kobe missed one of those games as well). Kwame was just back in the lineup after missing 28 games and was neither completely healthy nor in shape. Walton missed every one of those losses except the last one.

OK, Reggie, this is the last comment for this thread. This discussion has more than run its course. Let's move on to something else (and that does not mean bringing the same tired, inaccurate statements to another thread).


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