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Thursday, January 17, 2013

Kevin Ding Describes Kobe Bryant's Defensive Focus

A columnist's job is to provide a larger context for a news story or a series of related news stories, while a beat writer's job is to do research, conduct interviews and report the facts; few writers are fully competent in either category and it is exceedingly rare to find a writer who is both capable of ascertaining the facts and logically analyzing those facts. Kevin Ding is one such writer; his articles contain facts and quotes that demonstrate that he has done his homework in terms of research and interviewing but he also is more than capable of stepping out of beat writer mode to provide cogent analysis.

Much has been written and said about Kobe Bryant's defense this season but Ding provides an excellent description of Bryant's dedication at that end of the court:

Just watching Bryant hound Milwaukee point guard Brandon Jennings into every crevice and corner of the court Tuesday night was proof of Bryant's uncommon determination. He prides himself in having more of that dog in him than anyone else, and it's true that he plays one mean game of fetch.

Put the ball in front of him, and Bryant will do whatever he can to get it. It's not necessarily ideal for solid team defense, but it can make setting up an offense pretty impossible.

That's why even in his 17th NBA season, he can play what Jennings viewed as a downright historic game.

"For the whole game, I don't think I've ever seen a guard put that much pressure on a point guard full-court," Jennings said. "It was a lot different. It's probably the best defense anybody's played on me since I've been in the league. He was constantly putting pressure on me, touching me, hitting me at all time in the game."

Part of it was dedication: With fanatical pregame study of Jennings' tendencies, Bryant was during breaks in the game actually re-enacting the precise rhythm and weight shifts of Jennings' pet moves as self-reminders.

Most of it was relentlessness: Bryant uncharacteristically huffed and puffed, sweat pouring off him in Shaq-like style, from all the exertion. He left some of his hand on the wood on the second occasion he went diving for the ball – the skin coming off via floor burn loudly enough to sound like a sneaker squeak. Even in a fourth-quarter timeout, he was still practicing defensive slides outside the huddle.

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posted by David Friedman @ 4:36 PM

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