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Monday, December 29, 2008

Golden State Coach Don Nelson on Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant scored a game-high 31 points on 9-15 field goal shooting and had a game-high four steals as the L.A. Lakers defeated the Golden State Warriors 130-113 on Sunday. Golden State Coach Don Nelson, who won five championships while playing for the Boston Celtics and has earned three Coach of the Year awards, believes that the Lakers are the best team in the NBA and he explained the primary reason that the Lakers enjoy that status:

"Kobe now has a grasp on the game like no other player and he controls it when he wants to. He makes the players alongside him succeed and he is a real leader out there. He has the whole package going for him; he is not just the best player in the league but probably the best leader. He could get 50 any time, I'm sure."

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posted by David Friedman @ 5:08 AM



At Monday, December 29, 2008 11:44:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nelson's comment about the Lakers being the best is particularly interesting given that Golden State just played (and defeated) Boston immediately prior to losing to the Lakers.

At Monday, December 29, 2008 4:27:00 PM, Blogger The Secret Asian Man said...

1) has nelson ever watched lebron play?
2) the lakers still can't defend the pick & roll consistently.

At Tuesday, December 30, 2008 4:48:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

To Barry:

1) Yes. That's the point.
2) Sometimes true.

At Tuesday, December 30, 2008 7:38:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...



At Tuesday, December 30, 2008 7:41:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...


Well put.

Regarding pick and roll defense, most NBA coaches will tell you that all teams have trouble guarding that play; that is why just about every team runs some version of it. That said, the Lakers do need to improve their pick and roll defense in order to be able to play at a high level on a more consistent basis.

At Tuesday, December 30, 2008 9:31:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


yeah kobe is great i respect nelson opion but the king is the best player right now not kobe i think he been the past couple years but now with lebron free throw shooting good and defnse good it is up for debate about kobe he 30 he still in his prime if lebron wasnt there he would be best without questuion but with that kid there im takeing lebron james jordan never played in 1991-1998 with a player as good as lebron sorry chuck reggie patrick hakeem. so kobe came at a time when even when he is great theres a kid as good if not better when he at his peak. so kobe great might go down in top 5 players all time but right now it is lebron time if kobe better still it's by a nose hair the king is comeing only 24 today another 10 years left.

At Tuesday, December 30, 2008 11:01:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...


Age does not matter when talking about who is the best right now; we're not talking about who will be the best in five years or who will be considered the best of all-time after both players are retired. Nelson's opinion is that Kobe is the best right now.

LeBron has commendably improved his weaknesses, as I have noted here this season, but I still don't think that he has surpassed Kobe. The difference was not great last year and is even smaller now but in the big moments I'd still take Kobe. Look at how Kobe played in the biggest regular season game so far this year, the win against Boston--and look at the gold medal game in the Olympics; I still maintain that FIBA play and NBA play cannot be directly compared but it is hard to ignore the fact that when the game was on the line Kobe was the guy who took over even though the roster included LeBron, Wade, CP3 and other stars. More to the point, during the key timeout, Coach K went to Kobe and basically said it's time to take over. Think about that: he didn't say that to LeBron or to Wade. The guys who are in the trenches know what's up better than anyone. LeBron is a remarkably good player and I really like the improvements that he has made in FT% and defense but I'd still take Kobe.

At Wednesday, December 31, 2008 12:23:00 AM, Blogger Joel said...


You may be correct, but I would still like to see how LeBron's jumper and free-throw shooting hold up under the pressure of playoff defense before I definitively say he is better than Kobe. That is the only question I have at this point. I don't think he has to be equal to Kobe in this regard but he has to be good enough to make teams pay for giving him the outside shot and fouling him in the clutch.

At Wednesday, December 31, 2008 6:58:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...


I've been fortunate enough to see LeBron in person from early in his rookie year until now. His defense has improved every year, so I don't expect that he will decline in that area. I am less convinced that his free throw percentage improvement is permanent--his midrange j, shot from roughly the same distance, is still erratic--but I will give him the benefit of the doubt until/unless his ft numbers plummet.

At Thursday, January 01, 2009 2:22:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


youre always gonna take kobe my man but fiba has nuthing to do wit this year you cant have it both ways you said pau gasol wasnt great becasue he was a great fiba player now becasue kobe played great down the stretch of a game in fiba he is still better than lebron lebron outplayed him in the tournament you cant just pick the last few minutes of the last game and say kobe better you got to view the whole totality kobe was more clutch down the stretch that as nuthing to do with this season you reaching.

lebron has out played kobe in totality basically kobe better midrange thats it lebron got to develop midrange game rebounding asists passing scoreing lebron better now kobe been best player last 3 years it come to a end lebron 24 kobe 30 now thats why i use age kobe still second best player but has looked a little longer in the tooth this year his number arent going to be as good because his team is better but he as played so much basketball in his career with the long playoff run and fiba this year he hasnt been as domiant as past jordan still won scoreing titles and was dominant late in his career even if the talent around him was good. kobe been great not as dominant as last year and other years that slippage is giveing lebron number 1 stataus he is the best right now and he 24 kobe wasnt he best till 28 and jordan wasnt either so was shaq at 28.

you got to understand the king time has come crown him david.

At Friday, January 02, 2009 7:12:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...


I specifically said in the post that in general it is not valid to make comparisons between FIBA play and NBA play. However, what is relevant in this instance is that on a team consisting of all of the top MVP candidates in the NBA, the one guy who the coaching staff and the other players looked to down the stretch was Kobe. Keep in mind that in the FIBA World Championship in 2006 when LeBron, Melo and Wade lost to Greece, Kobe was not there. Team USA had a lead over Greece and LeBron was even caught on video during a timeout bragging that Greece did not know what to do--but when Greece started killing Team USA with pick and roll plays it was LeBron and the others who did not know what to do. Team USA had a lead versus Spain in the gold medal game but seemed to be on the verge of having a similar collapse before Kobe saved the day. That is huge and it very clearly delineates what the pecking order is among the best of the best. This isn't about FIBA stats or even stats in general; this is about who is the alpha dog.

Age does not matter when we are talking about who is the best now, nor is anything that MJ did relevant to this discussion. The issue is quite simple: who is the best player in the NBA right now? I'd take Kobe and LeBron by a decent margin over everyone else and then I'd take Kobe by a small margin over LeBron.

At Saturday, January 03, 2009 2:35:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


it's simple ill take lebron by a small margin over kobe at this point by a big margin over everyone else i guess you could say it's even i think lebron is the best player this season and by far mvp. kobe great and played well this year but lebron been the best i dont care about 2006 this the 2008-2009 season lebron is the best player right now thats it. nelson has respect for kobe and should he been all time great and is all time great. but i would take lebron right now over kobe if you put a gun to my head but i would love both guys and im sure you would as well.

side question do you think boston should take marbury.

At Sunday, January 04, 2009 4:31:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...


We agree that Kobe and LeBron are the two best players right now.

As for the Marbury to Boston rumors, it is hard for me to understand why the team with the best record in the NBA would want to take the risk of adding a proven cancer to the roster. If anything, the Celtics should try to add a veteran big to replace P.J. Brown or a veteran swing man to replace Posey but, honestly, their roster is pretty complete right now. I seriously doubt that Marbury can be a positive contributor to a championship level program. You may recall that LeBron once said he could not have a guy like Marbury on his team. If I were the Lakers or Cavs, I'd be very happy to see the Celtics sign Marbury.


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