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Monday, August 25, 2008

The Difference for Team USA Was Kobe Bryant

I'll be posting my final report card for Team USA's gold medal performance soon. Meanwhile, check out these two quotes about Kobe Bryant's importance to Team USA:

The L.A. Times' Mark Heisler writes:

In its stunning loss to Greece in 2006, the young U.S. players broke down completely on defense as the Greeks scored on pick-and-roll after pick-and-roll. In the very first play of last summer's Tournament of the Americas, Bryant tipped the ball away from the Venezuela point guard, dived on the court trying to get it, got back up, stole the next pass and started a fastbreak. They've defended like banshees ever since. "That's the clip Coach K [Coach Mike Krzyzewski] always uses, Kobe diving on the floor," says U.S. scout Tony Ronzone. "You're talking about an MVP player in the NBA who just made a statement to USA basketball...And what that did is it took our defense to another level. What you're seeing is something that started last summer in Las Vegas, which is amazing."

Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski declares:

Once Kobe Bryant let that Shaq rap go, he wished that he had resisted responding to so much else throughout his tumultuous 20s...As Kobe reshapes his image here with American flags, Jordanesque ferocity and the warm, welcoming touch of a grateful guest, O’Neal is back in the United States facing a restraining order for allegations of stalking an Atlanta woman after several disturbing e-mails and phone threats surfaced. The old images of the brooding, immature Kobe and the gregarious, life-of-the-championship-party Shaq have turned inside out. Somehow, Kobe’s become the grownup and Shaq the screw-up...These Olympics have been the most remarkable three weeks of Kobe Bryant’s basketball life. He disdains the marketing "Redeem Team" title, calling it "kind of cheesy" because let’s face it: Those weren’t his international failures over the past eight years. Nike tried so hard to make LeBron James a co-star of these Games but failed miserably. He’s riding shotgun and doesn’t seem terribly thrilled about it. There’s no usurping Bryant in China. Bryant has won the respect of his teammates, but he doesn’t run in the big cliques on the team. LeBron is the ringleader of the young players, and Kobe goes his own way. He’s won his teammates over with his ferocity, his insatiable need to win, but no one ever gets close to Bryant. He’s a loner, but he learned to lead. When all hell was breaking loose in the semifinal victory over Argentina, it was Bryant working with Jason Kidd to bring his teammates back from the brink of losing composure. "We didn’t come to tussle," Bryant said. "We came to win a gold medal."

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posted by David Friedman @ 5:02 AM

46 comments

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46 Comments:

At Monday, August 25, 2008 11:13:00 AM, Blogger madnice said...

Everyone is Jordanesque this Jordan that....they dont do that with Babe Ruth or Ali. So why does Mike get disrepected with the comparisons?

 
At Monday, August 25, 2008 3:16:00 PM, Blogger mandy said...

Lot's of other players were more important to the team thatn Kobe. It's like he's running for president and has all these partisan spinners trying to fog american brains with propoganda.

 
At Monday, August 25, 2008 4:12:00 PM, Blogger Buddies said...

Kobe was probably the 6th most effective player on that team. Just stop it.

 
At Monday, August 25, 2008 6:07:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

ofcourse kobe was the difference. i like the fact though that when he came in to this team he decided from the beginning he was gona be 'the doberman' not 'mamba'. i loved that decision mainly because we've already got flash & king james to do most of the scoring, even though kobe is the ultimate scoring machine this team needed a defensive presence and kobe sacrificed his greatest strength to be that presence. thats what made the difference.

 
At Monday, August 25, 2008 11:10:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Learn to love it. Go Lakers!

 
At Monday, August 25, 2008 11:47:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Madnice:

Sorry that it it took a while for your comment to be moderated; my internet service provider has been down for several hours.

I think that you are being a bit overprotective of MJ in this instance. Saying that something or someone is "Jordanesque" is a compliment, because this implicitly means that Jordan is the standard to which all basketball players should be compared; it is not the same thing as saying that the player in question is as good as MJ.

Haven't you heard a home run be called a "Ruthian blast"? I seem to recall Sugar Ray Leonard being compared to Ali because he was flashy, talkative and skilled.

 
At Tuesday, August 26, 2008 12:10:00 AM, Blogger FreeCashFlow said...

Madnice - It's not disrespect. It's because Kobe Bryant is the closest thing to Michael Jordan that the NBA has seen since Michael Jordan.

 
At Tuesday, August 26, 2008 12:32:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Mandy:

LeBron, Wade and Melo were on two previous Team USA squads that won bronze medals. I am not saying that they did not contribute to this year's gold but rather that Kobe was the "difference"--i.e., the new ingredient that was added to the roster to put the team over the top. Without Kobe, this team would have won silver or bronze like the recent teams did.

 
At Tuesday, August 26, 2008 12:35:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Buddies:

Coach K started Kobe every game and Kobe ranked second on the team in minutes played, so I suppose you believe that you are a better talent evaluator than a HoF coach.

You are on an island by yourself (or maybe with Shaq) when you bump Kobe down to being the 6th most effective player on the team.

 
At Tuesday, August 26, 2008 12:38:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Anonymous:

Over the course of Team USA's journey back to the gold medal stand, the most important thing that Kobe did--as you suggested--was focus on defense and thereby help the rest of his teammates understand the importance of being aggressive and cohesive at that end of the court.

Still, it is fitting in many ways that with so much talent on this roster that the one time Team USA was truly in a nail biter that Kobe was the player who stepped up offensively as well.

 
At Tuesday, August 26, 2008 1:21:00 AM, Blogger Edward K. said...

it's so typical of american fans, the "what have you done for me RIGHT NOW?!" to accuse kobe of being an unimportant part to team usa this summer. not to discredit all the contributions of the other players on team usa, but it was so obvious that kobe's first two minutes with team usa in last year's qualifier, the vid coach k uses to inspire team usa, was the spark that lit the proverbial fire in the belly of the rest of the young guys. while kobe might not have led in stats, he led by example, showing the rest of the squad the guts, grit and determination it would take to win the gold in beijing. as the fourth quarter of the gold medal game showed, kobe laying low in the background, letting others enjoy the highlights of all the other games, when it mattered most and team usa needed that last push, it was MR. MVP showing up and taking care of business.

 
At Tuesday, August 26, 2008 2:06:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Edward K.:

I think that most people who watched the gold medal game--even those who hate Kobe--understand and appreciate what Kobe did in that game, even if they don't grasp how important he has been to the overall revitalization of USA Basketball.

I actually think that Kidd has been even more unappreciated than Kobe. Kidd was USA Basketball's Men's Player of the Year in 2007 because of his contributions in the FIBA Americas tournament. Kidd took more of a back seat this year, though he really helped to stabilize the team during Argentina's comeback. Still, Kidd provided leadership and experience throughout the past couple years. It is funny how some people decry NBA stars for being selfish and wonder why we used to send teams that had too many scorers and not enough defenders and yet these same people mock Kidd for not shooting very often and act like he has been dead weight.

 
At Tuesday, August 26, 2008 6:00:00 AM, Blogger The Dude Abides said...

One final thing about Kobe is that he's playing with a mangled finger on his SHOOTING HAND. With very little rest after leading his team to the NBA Finals. That's just insane. In the game against Spain, there were two US players without whom the team would have lost: Kobe Bryant and Dwyane Wade. Flash's resurgence has been gratifying. He was everywhere (also, he was a lot fresher than just about every player in the tournament).

 
At Tuesday, August 26, 2008 6:49:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

The Dude Abides:

Kobe does not mention the finger unless he is asked about it, so I have not brought up the injury much after my initial posts about it but you make a valid point: Kobe has a torn ligament/avulsion fracture in the pinky finger on this shooting hand, an injury that will require surgical repair. He has no feeling at all in that finger and it has to be taped to his ring finger or it simply will flop to the side like a dead fish (the analogy that Kobe used when describing the injury to me and others during All-Star Weekend) because of the ligament damage. So, if you want to know what it is like for Kobe to shoot the ball or dribble now, just wack the pinky finger on your shooting hand until it is numb, damage the ligament to the point that the finger flops to the side and then go your local YMCA and see what kind of percentage you shoot.

Kobe did not miss one regular season or playoff game due to that injury and although he shot 3-13 from the field in the game in which he got hurt he still had a game-high eight assists. You may recall that LeBron James missed several games this season with a similar but much less severe finger injury that did not require surgery.

 
At Tuesday, August 26, 2008 9:18:00 AM, Blogger madnice said...

Ruthian blast....Ive that but no where as near as the Jordanesque. And no one is compares anyone to the Babe though.

Im definitely not protecting Mike Im just tired of hearing his name when comparing players. And I dont hear this with Ruth and Ali.

Mandy....you didnt watch the gold medal game in the 4th to see what Bryant did.

Buddies...what are you watching?

 
At Tuesday, August 26, 2008 12:34:00 PM, Blogger Darryl said...

Kobe was the "added" ingredient to this team that took them over the top just as Lebron, D-Wade and Melo were "added" to this team. In 2004, if it wasn't for Larry Brown's inept coaching (who hardly played the aforementioned young superstars) then maybe the U.S. would have won gold 4 years ago.

The fact is the D-Wade was the offensive AND defensive MVP of this team, but he seems to be pushed aside so that the writers can bestow more Kobe-love to the readers. Lebron comes in a close second for his overall play. Kobe was a factor...no doubt about that...but making him out to be the "savior" is ridiculous. Like Kobe's undeserved MVP, I ain't buying it!

BTW, why didn't Kobe play 4 years ago when called upon? Lebron, Melo and Wade showed up...where was he?

 
At Tuesday, August 26, 2008 12:54:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kobe might have been the 4th best player on that team during the first 7 games but when it was money time it was Kobe who came to rescue and rose to the occasion. People, please stop hating on the greatest clutch player in our generation. Kobe was probably involved in 17 of the points down the stretch that he either scored or had an assist, go learn how to watch a the game first and then make a comment.

 
At Tuesday, August 26, 2008 1:33:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The true testament of kobe's greatness hasn't come from bloggers,haters,and bias fools like us sitting at computers.all we have to do is listen to the people who actually played with him and against him(just in the olympics alone). read the quotes from coach "K",jason kidd,king james,D-wade,carlos boozer,melo.the comments from the spanish,chinese and others.his team mates knew that they were not gonna lose as long as that man was on that team and he proved it. what he gave them that was "most valuable"was not high scores,but it was a restored confidence and strength in themselves and their team.his work ethic alone changed the way his team mates looked at themselves.you dont have to like the dude ,but u damn sure gotta respect his influence on the game,look at it for what it is haters.

 
At Tuesday, August 26, 2008 5:54:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Madnice:

You'd probably have to do some kind of lexis/nexis web search to see whether "Ruthian" or "Jordanesque" is is used more frequently. The NBA probably receives more coverage than MLB now, so you have to take that into account. Plus, the NBA currently has a player who does "Jordanesque" things at times, while MLB may not have a player who is doing "Ruthian" things as frequently.

The point in all of these cases is that using Jordan, Ruth or Ali's name is a compliment, much like the name Einstein has become synonymous with genius or Andretti means racing. When you call someone an Einstein or an Andretti you are not saying that he is as smart as Einstein or drives as well as Andretti; you are just using well recognized names to make an analogy.

 
At Tuesday, August 26, 2008 6:05:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Darryl:

In the 2006 FIBA World Championship, Melo, Wade and LeBron were the three leading scorers for Team USA. Result: bronze medal.

As for the 2004 Olympics, Larry Brown has received a bum rap. He restricted LeBron, Wade and Anthony's minutes because none of them were good defenders at that point. They have subsequently admitted that at that time they did not really understand what it means to represent the U.S. in FIBA play.

Wade was the sixth man for Team USA this year, which gave him the opportunity to play fewer minutes than the starters and to play against either tired starters from the other team or the other team's reserves. None of those factors take away from the fact that Wade played remarkably well but these factors put his production in proper context. During the game against Greece, Wade played very well but after a few minutes of action he was gassed and asked to come out of the game. It is unlikely that he could have sustained his level of production if he had been asked to play the minutes and shoulder the responsibilities that Kobe and LeBron did.

Kobe made his case for NBA MVP during the regular season, so there is no need to revisit it here.

Kobe very much wanted to play for Team USA in both 2004 and 2006 but legal problems and/or injuries prevented him from doing so. On the other hand, players like Garnett, Pierce, Duncan and McGrady turned down invitations to be part of the three year plan. If Kobe could have played for Team USA in 2004 and 2006 then we would have not had this long gold medal drought.

 
At Wednesday, August 27, 2008 1:50:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dwayne Wade was the best player on Team USA. For anyone to deny it is crazy.

http://sonicscentral.com/apbrmetrics/viewtopic.php?t=1871&sid=c98721f28fad285c89f3a6cdc41bfbef

 
At Wednesday, August 27, 2008 1:56:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

And another thing. Kobe was not the defensive player he was purported to be. Offensive players blew past him with impunity. Wade, Lebron, and Deron were better than him.

 
At Wednesday, August 27, 2008 5:57:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Anonymous:

Apparently, your local NBC affiliate did not carry the last eight minutes of the gold medal game. Either that or you fell asleep just before Kobe took over in the fourth quarter.

 
At Wednesday, August 27, 2008 6:06:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Anonymous:

And another thing: you did not pay any attention to who was guarding whom, what kind of defense they were playing or what the managing director, coach, Team USA players and Team USA opposing players have said--specifically, their remarks about Kobe's impact on the team's defensive mindset, competitiveness and preparation methods (on the court and in the weight room).

LeBron played very well defensively, as I noted in my game recaps. He has improved defensively each year that he has been in the NBA and is on the verge of being an All-Defensive Team caliber player.

However, Wade played spot minutes as a sixth man, going against tired starters and/or reserve players. He did not play lock down defense so much as he simply roamed around going for steals.

Deron Williams was burned repeatedly by various point guards driving by him. He also committed some silly fouls defensively. He was certainly not better than Kobe defensively.

On the other hand, from day one Kobe accepted the responsibility of guarding the other team's top perimeter threat, from the start of the game. Kobe's ball denial and ball pressure affected the way opposing teams ran their offenses. The fact that the best player in the NBA--the reigning MVP--made it his personal mission to focus on defense had a very obvious impact on the mentality of the entire team.

 
At Wednesday, August 27, 2008 9:19:00 AM, Blogger madnice said...

I understand the point of it every time it is used, David. Im tired of hearing it. Oh well what are you going to do. Its always easy to compare.

 
At Wednesday, August 27, 2008 1:27:00 PM, Anonymous Don said...

Kobe may have pounded his chest or acted hard, but that doesn't make him effective defensively. He gambled too much, was slow to rotate at other times, and to those who watched the games impartially (instead of going with all the hype surrounding Kobe's defensive presence) can tell that he made little more contributions than defensive mistakes. He also shot poorly and made questionable decisions on offense (relative to other superstars who would've subbed for him).

 
At Wednesday, August 27, 2008 3:05:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Madnice:

The only times that I have used the "Jordanesque" comparison regarding Kobe are to say that Kobe is the closest thing to MJ since MJ retired--a sentiment echoed by many NBA insiders, including Larry Bird and Mark Jackson to name just two--and to say that Kobe's performance in the 2008 Western Conf. playoffs (30-plus ppg, .500-plus FG%) was "Jordanesque."

 
At Wednesday, August 27, 2008 3:13:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Don:

I wrote extensive recaps about every single game that Team USA played since Kobe joined the roster, so I'm not about to repeat here the information that you can find in those posts.

Point blank, everything that you said is wrong. Colangelo, Coach K, Kobe's Team USA teammates and Team USA's opponents do not agree with your sentiments. When Dan Patrick asked Larry Bird to compare the 1992 Dream Team and this year's team, Bird said that the one guy from this year who could play on the 1992 team would be Kobe.

The way that people who actually understand basketball--GMs, coaches, players, scouts--perceive Kobe and the way that Kobe is perceived by fans and certain ill-informed, self proclaimed "experts" is as different as night and day.

I'd love to know which "superstars" you think could have done a better job than Kobe, who ranked second on this squad in minutes played, guarded the toughest perimeter player every game and was Team USA's leading scorer in medal round play.

 
At Friday, August 29, 2008 12:13:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would like to know why there are so many Kobe haters out there. I realize that he has made some poor decisions in life (almost all of us have) but Kobe seems to get more disrespect than any elite athlete that I can remember.

(Dave this is Eric)

 
At Saturday, August 30, 2008 3:12:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Eric:

I would define Kobe "hating" as not giving Kobe the credit he deserves for his on-court accomplishments, giving him too much blame for things that are not his fault and/or allowing off-court situations to color one's opinion of his status as an NBA player.

My opinion is that most Kobe "hating" stems from one or more of these categories:

1) The perception that Kobe does not have "street/hood" credibility.

2) Disapproval of Kobe because of off-court situations, most notably the Colorado incident from several years ago.

3) The desire to knock Kobe in order to elevate one's own favorite player.

4) Blind trust in the absolute validity of certain player rating systems.

I have noticed that a lot of times people do not admit at first why they dislike Kobe; they try to act like they have objective reasons to do so but when those reasons are refuted out come the references to Kobe's supposed arrogance, his alleged lack of friends, etc.

Then there are the people in category four who say that in rating system X Kobe is not the best player in the league so that proves the case beyond the shadow of a doubt. Some of the player rating systems are interesting but ultimately all that they represent and portray are the intrinsic biases and limited understanding of whoever devised them; the creator of the system decides how much to value, say, scoring versus rebounding and so forth. There are a number of problems with these systems:

1) The raw statistical data is of questionable accuracy--assists, steals, turnovers and blocked shots are particularly subjective.

2) A player's raw numbers are impacted by his position, his role on his team and the skill level of his teammates. Some of the rating systems attempt to take some of these factors into account but I don't believe that they do so yet with great precision because this is a very difficult task.

3) I have yet to see any of the creators of these systems clearly explain what the margin of error is. For instance, if Player X has a "rating" of 30.2 and Player Y has a "rating" of 28.3 what does that differential of 1.9 really mean? If the margin of error in the rating is 3 then these players might be equally good or the lower rated player might even be better. I know from my personal experience with chess ratings that among players who have played a sufficient sample size of games that the margin of error is roughly 50 points in a system in which the average rating is probably around 1200-1250 (or at least that was the margin of error originally before the system got modified a few times, but that's another story). Yet I hear and read all the time that one player has rating X and another player has rating Y, as if these numbers are hard and fast absolute truths.

A sound player rating system can be used as a tool in the player evaluation process but it is hardly the be all and end all of such a process.

 
At Sunday, August 31, 2008 10:52:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

anymous reggie

kobe a great player and some of the thing said about him are not true some of it was he was not a good teamate and was aloof. and my biggest beef is people have said he belonged with micheal jordan when he is clearly not in his class he might be the closest thing to him but he still far away. jordan has him statiscally and more accomplishments and it is not close.

now he is the best player and most accomplished player other than shaq and tim duncan in this era he might go down number 2 all time but he is not no micheal jeffrey jordan.

 
At Monday, September 01, 2008 12:01:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Regggie:

It does not make sense to dislike Kobe because other people have compared him to Jordan. Kobe should be admired because he has a work ethic and fundamentally sound skill set that is the closest thing to MJ that we've seen since MJ retired; those traits should be respected, not derided.

 
At Monday, September 01, 2008 3:08:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wade was the clear better player in the gold medal game and throughout the Olympics. I'm a fan of Kobe myself but some of you need to stop the man-crush and stop trying to turn everything he does into a phenomenal trait. Everyone wants to know why Kobe gets hate well to be honest I think it has a lot to do with the grasping for straws that a lot of his diehard fans do to put him over the top. To say that Wade was playing against "less talented players" or "gassed starters" to take away from what he did is pretty pathetic. You have to remember that Wade didn't even rotate in the same way that a normal bench player would, he was often in during lots of times with nothing but starters on the floor. And down the stretch if it was a close game you saw Coach K put him on the floor. Also don't forget, when Wade came in during the 4th quarter of that gold medal game we were only up 2 and once he stepped in we never looked back. Just give credit where its due. Kobe will have plenty of great moments this upcoming season but as for Team USA Dwyane Wade was the man.

 
At Monday, September 01, 2008 6:53:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

anymous reggie

thats not the whole thing he arrogant and is fake as well i always thought. he says one thing but always does another or used to im grown to like him more now that stuff was in the past.

 
At Tuesday, September 02, 2008 6:20:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Anonymous:

In my extensive game recaps I made my reasoning abundantly clear, so now I will just state a few facts vis a vis Wade and Kobe's roles on Team USA. First, though, it should be noted that I gave both players an "A" grade in my final Olympics report card (LeBron and Bosh were the only other players who received "A's."

FACT: Wade put up similarly excellent offensive numbers for Team USA in the 2006 FIBA World Championship but that team--stocked with LeBron, Melo, Paul, Howard and Elton Brand--settled for the bronze medal.

FACT: Bryant is the main roster addition since 2006.

FACT: When Team USA lost to Greece in the 2006 FIBA World Championship, LeBron, Wade, Melo, Paul and Howard did not step up enough offensively or defensively to stem the tide (some of those players put up good numbers in that game but none of them took over).

FACT: When the gold medal game was up for grabs in Beijing, Kobe took over offensively, accounting for all of Team USA's points in a critical stretch after a timeout when Team USA only led by two points. Kobe also made a key block/deflection to wipe out a sure layup by Pau Gasol.

FACT: Wade's conditioning level did not permit him to play high octane ball for extended stretches; as I noted during my game recaps, sometimes he would be gassed and ask to come out of the game.

FACT: Part of Team USA's success with Wade on the court was "addition by subtraction"; he often came in for Carmelo Anthony, who was the least effective starter. That is part of the reason that Wade's on court plus/minus numbers were so great. He was not dragged down by playing with Melo the way that Kobe and LeBron were.

Wade had a great tournament but without Kobe setting the defensive tone in 2007 and carrying it through to Beijing and without Kobe taking over down the stretch in the fourth quarter Team USA would have settled for silver or bronze this time around.

 
At Tuesday, September 02, 2008 6:27:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Reggie:

All great players have a high degree of confidence; calling someone arrogant is a value judgment. Would you call MJ confident or arrogant?

Can you give even one example of an authenticated quote from Kobe (i.e., one that anybody can find in a mainstream magazine or website) in which he says one thing but later did something else? That is a just a vague slur with no real basis.

 
At Thursday, September 04, 2008 7:02:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

anymous reggie

he said he had no problem with shaq right but then he snitched him out to the colorado police just to be ugly and save his own face if you had no problem with him why would you snitch shaq out of all people?

he is very phony him clapping for shaq dec 25 in 2004 knowing well he didnt like that man and he ran him out is doing one thing and saying another. shaq has always maintained he wasnt fond of kobe and kept it real kobe does not everything he says seems to be written for him and doesnt come from the heart.

know i understand youre in the tank for him he is god to you you have an excuse for him and he has never done anything wrong it's everybody else fault but facts are facts.

he said he loved playing with shaq but told phil jackson he is sick of being a sidekick as well abnother say one thing do another.

 
At Thursday, September 04, 2008 7:09:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Reggie:

I'm not "in the tank" for anybody but you have repeatedly stated which players you do and don't like so we know exactly what your biases are.

Your response proves my point: I wrote, "Can you give even one example of an authenticated quote from Kobe (i.e., one that anybody can find in a mainstream magazine or website) in which he says one thing but later did something else? That is a just a vague slur with no real basis."

What proof do you have that Kobe "snitched Shaq out" to the Colorado police? Were you there? Do you have a tape recording or a notarized transcript?

What does clapping--and on Dec. 25 2004 no less--have to do with anything? If Kobe had not clapped then you would call him "aloof" or something.

Shaq once called Kobe the greatest player on the planet, but then called Wade the greatest player (he probably called Penny the greatest player, too). He called Jackson the greatest coach and then called Riley the greatest coach and now he is not on good terms with either. If you think that Shaq is not fake then I have a bridge in Brooklyn I'd like to sell you.

 
At Thursday, September 04, 2008 7:18:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

anymous reggie

kobe is arrogant like he is god a diffrence with him and mike jordan bird and magic who were just confident players jordan was humble off the court and great to be around kobe wasnt early in his career because he was so full of himself he is aloof and doesnt like to deal with people kobe said this on stephen a smith show he tried to mimmic jordan to much and be like jordan he is larry holmes of this era jordan ali lebron is young mike tyson before problems right now kobe will never be respected by all till after his career like holmes was he came too close to jordan and didnt have his own style everything was wannabe jordan lebron has king label and has his own style like mike tyson used too black shorts no sox etc kobe a great player but you worship him way too much i wouldnt diss as much if you just stop pretending he god.

 
At Thursday, September 04, 2008 7:50:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

anymous reggie

i would of called him aloof if he didnt clap? what are you talking about he was phony he didnt like shaq and he clapped for him when he was getting a standing o with lakers knowing well he was the reason he was gone and wanted him gone thats called phony.

youre in the tank everybody knows it kobe admitted he snitched on shaq the police had it on record kobe never deined it if you dont believe that fact then you dont believe youre white? everyone knows kobe snitched oh him and you dont believe that i know you think kobe god and does nuthing wrong now.

shaq says stuff like that all the time everyone knew he was the best player at the time shaq always said kobe was a great player and said he was the best player today. he never said penny thats false nor wade he was fake on riley and phil jackson thats one thing on shaq kobe done or did it multiple times. shaq will tell the truth on you kobe always says stataus quo he never said how he really feel it's always fake.

i gave you 3 diffrent examples i never read in a magazine on kobe because he doesnt talk to them much everyone knows that. the facts were proven by me as always and you try to twist what i say to make a argument. thers other examples as well. robert horry and kareem rush saying sometimes kobe was a butthole back in the day he is a better teamamte today but the kobe hate from back in the day was valid

 
At Thursday, September 04, 2008 10:47:00 PM, Blogger Darryl said...

Mr. Friedman, I remember reading the Kobe Bryant arrest transcript where he told police something to the effect of "Shaq does this all the time" or something like that when referring to extra-marital affairs. I don't think he ever thought that those comments would be public record, but he did say them.

I'm not Kobe's biggest fan, but I'm not a hater either. I do think he's greatly "over-celebrated" in the media. For example, Paul Pierce should have put Kobe's defensive reputation as "best in the league" to bed forever. But as soon as he makes an open court steal of some no-name Euro, then he's now elevated to "best defender in the world"...insane.

He wasn't the best or even 2nd best player on Team USA. Maybe he was the emotional leader behind the scenes, but he clearly wasn't the leader on the court.

 
At Friday, September 05, 2008 12:57:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Reggie:

How do you know what MJ is like off the court or what it is like to be around him? Have you hung out with MJ? All you know--rather, all you think you know--about MJ is what the media portrays and MJ has done a very good job of crafting his image. If you were to say that MJ has crafted a better public image for himself than Kobe has then I would not disagree with you at all--but that does not tell us anything about what they are actually like as people.

When Bird went up to Xavier McDaniel after a timeout and said I'm going to catch the ball right here and drill the game winner in your eye was that confidence or arrogance? When Bird went into the locker room before the three point shootout and asked who was going to get second place was that confidence or arrogance? When Magic took the injured Kareem's seat on the airplane before game six of the 1980 Finals and said never fear Magic is here was that confidence or arrogance? It all depends on whether you like that particular player or not. Kobe has the same kind of supreme confidence in his own abilities that those stars had. If you want to call them all arrogant, that's fine. If you want to call them all confident, that's fine, too--but you can't call Bird confident if you are a Celtics fan but then say Magic was arrogant. That is what you are doing with Kobe. You don't like him, so you perceive his confidence as arrogance.

By the way, not liking to be around people is not the same thing as being arrogant; that can mean that someone is shy or introspective. Keep in mind that when Kobe entered the NBA he came in straight out of high school and joined a team with players who were much older, many of whom were married and/or had kids. When you were 18 would you have wanted to hang out with a bunch of 25-30 year old married guys? Would they have wanted to hang out with you at that time?

Larry Holmes is an interesting comparison because he is one of the most underrated boxers of all-time. He was the best boxer in the world for several years but never got his due because he succeeded the greatest of all-time. In that sense, your analogy of Jordan=Ali, Kobe=Holmes is apt, because Kobe has been the best in the world for several years but has never really gotten his due from the general public. The true students of the sport appreciate his greatness, just like true students of boxing appreciate Holmes.

I don't know where you are going with the LeBron-Tyson comparison but I'm sure that any real LeBron fan would be more than a little leery of that one.

To accuse me of making Kobe a god-like figure is ludicrous, particularly coming from someone who thinks that MJ is perfect. This is what I have said about Kobe:

1) He is the best player in the NBA right now because his skill set is the most complete.

2) He should have won the MVP in 2006 and 2007.

3) He, Shaq, Duncan and LeBron are the active players who are most likely to be Pantheon-worthy when they retire (my Pantheon consists of retired players).

4) Kobe is not as great as MJ.

Nothing that I've said about Kobe is outlandish; most knowledgeable NBA observers (GMS, coaches, scouts, players) would agree with most if not all of those statements. In fact, some would go farther in praising Kobe than I have (for instance, Mark Jackson, who compares Kobe favorably to MJ).

 
At Friday, September 05, 2008 1:06:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Reggie:

Yes, if Kobe had not clapped then you would have called him "aloof"--distant from his teammates. This is a perfect example of how people who dislike Kobe put him in a no win position: if Kobe claps then he's fake but if he doesn't clap he's aloof. This is like when he dropped 62 points on Dallas in three quarters and people complained when he sat out the fourth but then people turned around and bashed Kobe for playing in the fourth quarter when he dropped 81 on Toronto. Whatever Kobe does is not good enough, too good, too arrogant, too aloof or too "something" in the eyes of people who don't like him for their own reasons that have nothing to do with Kobe's skills or character.

I didn't say whether I believe Kobe "snitched" or not. I asked you to provide concrete, provable things that Kobe did that demonstrate that he is "fake." You don't know what he said about Shaq or to whom he said it.

Kobe has been profiled in Dime, Esquire, Slam and other magazines, so there are plenty of quotes that you could have found. The problem is that he has backed up everything he said, so those quotes would not prove your case. That is why you resort to hearsay.

Maybe Robert Horry told me that you are a butthole sometimes. Can you prove that he didn't tell me that? Can you prove that you are not a butthole sometimes?

Do you get my point? I'm not calling you a butthole; I'm saying that there is a big difference between publicly saying--this website is publicly available--that Kobe did this and so and so said that, versus actually having evidence to back up what you are saying.

You have no evidence--just biased opinions.

 
At Friday, September 05, 2008 1:22:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Darryl:

So your "evidence" that Kobe is a "snitch" consists of something that you think that you remember reading several years ago. You concede that Kobe probably did not mean for whatever he said to become public knowledge and you trust a transcript of a tape recording made by a police department and publicized by a prosecution office that most objective observers say overstepped its bounds by charging Kobe without having a solid case. You do remember that the charges were dropped, right?

Let's assume that in this transcript that Kobe said, "I should have done like Shaq did" or something to that effect. Without hearing the comments or seeing the expression on Kobe's face, how do you presume to know what he meant, whether or not he was joking or whether he was just saying something out of nervousness about being questioned? It is amazing to me that people will not let this thing go. You better hope that no one ever holds you and your privately uttered words to that kind of standard.

I don't see how Pierce scoring on Walton and Radmanovic should affect Kobe's defensive reputation. It helps to understand the games if you actually watch them. Failing that, you can consult my lengthy game recaps in which I detail exactly who was guarding whom at various points in each game. I don't know that anyone has called Kobe the absolute best defender in the league--he's never won the Defensive Player of the Year Award--but the league's head coaches have voted him to the All-Defensive First Team six times. I suppose you watch more game film than they do and author more game plans, so you are better equipped to determine what Kobe's defensive reputation should be.

How did Team USA do against the "no name Euros" in 2002, 2004 and 2006 when Kobe was not on the team? Who do Colangelo, Coach K and the players on the team credit for instilling a defensive mindset in the current version of Team USA? Why do you assume that you know more about the inner workings of Team USA than those folks?

The title of this post asserted that Kobe was "the difference" and cited two stories by veteran NBA observers who covered the Olympics in person. Saying that Kobe was "the difference" is not the same as saying he was the "best player." Kobe, literally, was "the difference." Without Kobe, LeBron, Melo, Wade and others failed to win gold; with Kobe, they won gold. As if to underscore this, Kobe took over the fourth quarter of the gold medal game. Without Kobe, that game ends just like the Greece game did in 2006. LeBron, Melo and Wade did not save the day then and they would not have saved the day now.

 
At Friday, September 05, 2008 5:22:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

anymous reggie

steve kerr pippen grant rodman all said micheal jordan was great person john salley magic all people that know mike have said he was a great person i never heard nobody say that jordan was a snob as a person he was highly competitive and would get on you as a player so is kobe but he doesnt think he better than people like kobe did i dont know if he still does but he did.

larry bird was confident not arrogant to say im going to score on you and could score o you is confidence when you think your better than somebody is arrogance that is what kobe did at that time what teamates and others have always said about him everything i got i got from hearing it on tv or read about it. i dont know kobe bryant but i know what i heard i heard the same stuff about all these other players and it wasnt the same as kobe at that time so for you to suggest you haev to know him personally or he's a good person is comedy or you have to be there when he snitch how do detectives find out homicdes evidence and witnesses there never at any murder so by youre theory there would be no crimnals because the detectives didnt see it personally.

shy and introspective he is not his arogance is diffrent bird jordan magic i never heard anyone say they thought they was better than people like kobe used to thats why he didnt deal with people like he did.


tyson was after holmes 85-91 was 41-1 wit 37 ko lebron is like i iron mike in the sense of ali holmes tyson jordan kobe lebron tyson was a world figure like lebron and captivated the public like lebron and holmes and kobe havent done but kobe is bigger than holmes. also holmes was a ali copy cat at least percieved kobe was a jordan copy cat or percived tyson had the black shoes black shorts no sox had his own style lebron wit the king label he 6ft 8 250 tyson was also a freak of nature 5ft 11 220 but could move like a smaller guy most heavy are tall he was short and dominant he had great handspeed and could get inside on big guys quite well. both were freak of nature both world figure both came 6 years after the best in they sport tyson 85 ali retired 80 jordan retired in 98 the lebron came in 03 even thoug jordan came back he was really last mike in 98 kobe and holmes was in the inbetween guys of all of them cleary tyson didnt have the career people thought im just giveing analogy here thats why i compared tyson and lebron the young mike not the crackhead guy we know now.

the evidence is in what i see on i read that about hoory when he said that you said i think mj is perfect it's comedy becasue all you do is act like kobe is perfect. i said kobe no mj i never said mj was perfect i just dont like the fact people compare kobe too him when overall his crudentials fall short i watched mike play he had alot of bad games in his career he got beat in playoffs early in his career his first six years to be exact he had problems as well on and off court.

i simply have stated kobe could not win 6 titles in 8years with just scottie pippen jordan would not give up 24 point lead at home in playoffs jordan did more with less than any player over extended period of time in your pantheon, jordan made eastren conference semi finals and east finals before scottie pippen emerged as a star he ad no all star or allnba apperances all that is true nuthing made up there it's called FACTS not opion also i said jordan faced tougher teams in pistons and knicks in more physical era as well and of course he had his struggles but overall fared pretty well. you refuse to acknowledge kobe giveing up 24 point lead as catastophic his 3 under 40 percent finals performances the fact he was the number 2 option on lakers and not one the fact he was aloof and not a good teammate at one time the fact he snitced on shaq the fact tat lebron james is a better rebounder and passer than he is. the fact kobe made a mistake in his life before this is your sight you do what you do.

also i acknowledged he is better than lebron at shooting defense footwork fakes

i also acknowledge he is a better longrange shooter than mj was close defensively and could score in bunches better even though i think mj a better scorer also there ball handling is close and competitive ness is as well so i give kobe his due and respect his game mr friedman.

 
At Saturday, September 06, 2008 6:12:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Reggie:

You have yet to provide one concrete example that Kobe is "fake." Everything that you have mentioned is hearsay. Do you understand the difference between hearsay and legitimate sources?

As for your analogy about homicide investigation, I don't think that anyone has ever been convicted of a murder based solely on someone "snitching" to a detective; if there is no hard evidence then there would not be a conviction. How exactly did what Kobe allegedly say damage Shaq? If the police department/prosecutor had not publicized those alleged statements--which were not intended for public consumption--then no one would know about them. Do you think that Kobe allegedly said those things so that Denver police would start an investigation of Shaq's extramarital affairs? It's not like Kobe even allegedly accused Shaq of doing something illegal. Somehow, a throwaway line on a police transcript has been blown way out of proportion. Why did that receive more coverage than the fact that a woman currently has had a restraining order placed on Shaq because he has repeatedly threatened her?

The fact that you admittedly base your entire case on what you recall hearing on TV proves my point: the media--and your perception of the media's coverage--has shaped/warped your view of Kobe and other public figures. You have no way of knowing what really is true. You just pick some guys you like and some guys you don't like and you don't apply your standards equally.

I just don't see any valid analogy between LeBron and Tyson.

If your only concern regarding Kobe and MJ is people comparing the two players then I don't know why you are always arguing with me about this: I have made it quite clear that I do not consider Kobe to be MJ's equal.

We have been over and over the MJ-Pip deal countless times. MJ made it out of the first round when Pip emerged as a starter and significant contributor in the playoffs. Pip took pressure off of MJ at both ends of the court with his defense, playmaking and even some timely baskets, though Pip was not a big time scorer at first. The Bulls would not have beaten the Cavs in '88 without Pip.

Acknowledging obvious, provable things--that Kobe is a better shooter than LeBron and has better footwork--does not prove your objectivity regarding other matters.

 

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