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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Kobe Bryant's Impact on the Lakers Goes Far Beyond What Statistics Can Measure

Quantifying something is very valuable, if it is truly possible to accurately do so--but there is no value in quantifying something if adequate measuring tools do not exist. I frequently use basketball statistics as a tool to illustrate a point about the performance of a player or a team but I make sure to indicate the limitations of what basketball statistics can quantify; for instance, while I do sometimes mention assist totals and averages I have also documented that assists are very subjective. I would never evaluate a player's playmaking ability based solely on his assist totals but if I watch a game in which a player has several legitimate assists then I will certainly mention this in a subsequent game recap.

It is much easier to accurately quantify individual player effectiveness in baseball than it is in basketball because baseball consists of a series of discrete actions that can be measured separately while basketball involves multiple players acting simultaneously and having various effects on other players. "Advanced basketball statistics" can provide some useful information about the relative effectiveness of various five man combinations but basketball "stat gurus" struggle to accurately determine the value of individual players; scientific measurements are supposed to involve a margin of error but have you ever heard a basketball "stat guru" mention a margin of error after supplying a "player rating" that is supposedly accurate to one or even two decimal points?

A "stat guru" can tell you that Kobe Bryant is more valuable than Shannon Brown but no one needs to do a scientific study to figure that out--and it seems like many "stat gurus" struggle with the concept that Kobe Bryant is more valuable than Pau Gasol, which is really funny considering how Gasol somehow morphed from a one-time All-Star into--by some accounts--the most versatile big man in the NBA simply by joining forces with Bryant a little more than two seasons ago. If you actually look at Gasol's numbers then you will note that, statistically speaking, he is essentially the same player that he was in Memphis except for two changes: his field goal percentage and offensive rebounding have improved. The reason for those improvements is obvious if you watch Lakers' games with understanding: Gasol's path to the hoop for easy baskets and offensive rebounds is made easier because opposing defenses have to focus on trying to contain Bryant.

As a result of playing alongside Bryant and being coached by Phil Jackson, Gasol has worked to add some physical strength and mental toughness in order to better hold his position on the post defensively, though it is hard to quantify Gasol's improvement in that regard (his shot blocking has not increased as a Laker, though he did average a career-high in defensive rebounds in 2009-10 after performing around his career norm in that department during his first season and a half as a Laker).

I can chart plays and write descriptive game recaps that deeply analyze how basketball players and teams really function but no matter how proficiently I do those things I will never convince a diehard "stat guru" that in order to accurately make an individual player rating one must somehow give credit to a player who draws a double team and thus blesses his teammate with a wide open shot or an opportunity to get an uncontested putback. I am not sure if this is because "stat gurus" are morons or because they have a strong economic incentive to insist that they alone know how to properly evaluate basketball players (though one could argue that both things may be correct in the sense that it is moronic to place a higher value on making money than searching for truth).

Kwame Brown is 28 years old and, in theory, should be in the prime of his basketball career, but the only time that he was a regular starter for a playoff team was in 2005-06 and 2006-07 with the L.A. Lakers. He had the best field goal percentage of his career in 2007 and the best offensive rebounding average of his career in 2006 (he also had his third best field goal percentage in 2006 and his third best offensive rebounding average in 2007).

I cannot "prove" that Bryant is a major reason why Brown and Gasol performed so much better in terms of field goal percentage and offensive rebounding but by watching many games involving those players one can certainly see recurring patterns of defenders swarming Bryant while Gasol and Brown head to the hoop (with Gasol obviously being a much more talented finisher and overall player than Brown). I do not pretend to know how to specifically quantify how much value Bryant adds to the statistics of post players who get to team up with him but I think that it should be obvious that a formula that pretends that all field goals and rebounds were obtained equally easily is flawed; there is a difference between Hakeem Olajuwon catching the ball on the block, being trapped because he is the focal point of his team's offense but still managing to score and Pau Gasol setting a screen for Kobe Bryant, rolling to the hoop and catching a pass for an uncontested dunk. Individual player ratings do not capture such nuances and do not factor in skill set considerations--i.e., a screen/roll set involving Gasol and another player would not be as effective if that other player does not possess Bryant's quickness, ballhandling skills, passing ability and shooting range: those things make Bryant almost impossible to guard in screen/roll sets, while most other players have a weakness that can be exploited in at least one of those areas (for instance, they can be forced to the left or dared to make a jump shot).

It would be great if someone could actually come up with a way to derive a number than accurately takes all of these factors into account but don't expect that to happen any time soon; after all, at this point the NBA is struggling just to properly keep track of the basic box score statistics that are the raw numbers that go into the formulas invented by "stat gurus." How can a "player rating" be definitive when it includes assist, turnover, steal and blocked shot numbers that are highly subjective? Even rebounds can be fishy at times when there are taps/tips. Rick Barry has long insisted that the only pure statistic is free throw percentage, because every other number can either be manipulated or is deceptive in some way (field goal percentage is presumably accurate yet it is deceptive because by itself it tells you nothing about a player's skill set in terms of shooting range and/or creating his own shot).

Then, there are other aspects of player value that are completely unquantifiable and yet very important. Bryant's leadership of the Lakers and of the 2008 Olympic team is unquestioned by any intelligent person who watched those squads compete but how does one "rate" leadership? I know that any self-respecting "stat guru" will respond that anything that cannot be quantified is meaningless and that leadership is a subjective factor that either does not exist or else is captured in some way by the boxscore numbers--but that is another example of thinking that is moronic and/or influenced by economic motives, because if a "stat guru" concedes that leadership is important while also admitting that he cannot measure it then his days of selling books are over.

LeBron James had every right to decide to sign with the Miami Heat but he deserves a lot of criticism for three things: (1) quitting during the Boston series, (2) refusing to try to recruit players to come to Cleveland and (3) turning his free agency situation into a narcissistic spectacle. The second point, in particular, makes for an interesting contrast with Bryant; for the past several years, James paid lip service to how important it was to him to win a championship as a Cavalier yet he consistently refused to help the Cavs recruit free agents to come to the team. Bryant has won two Finals MVPs while leading the Lakers to back to back championships but he is hardly resting on his laurels: this summer he has very actively helped the Lakers woo potential free agents, including players with whom he has had prior on court confrontations (Raja Bell, Matt Barnes). Bryant actually respects anyone who dares to stand up to him (including Ron Artest, who joined the Lakers last summer and played an important role in their most recent title run), which is very reminiscent of Michael Jordan's attitude: in his book The Jordan Rules, Sam Smith noted that Jordan would ride his teammates very hard in practice because he wanted to weed out anyone who was weak minded; Jordan figured that if you could not stand up to him on the practice court then you would disappear during crucial moments in a game. Similarly, Bryant seems to feel that players who confront him in games have the right attitude to be championship-level performers for the Lakers.

Artest played great defense throughout the playoffs and he had a great all-around performance in game seven of the NBA Finals but why was he even a Laker in the first place? Why did Artest display more focus during this season than at any prior time during his career? Artest has made it clear in several interviews that he took less money than he could have potentially made specifically because he wanted to be Bryant's teammate and Artest has also said that he is willing to follow Bryant's lead because he respects Bryant but that at previous times in his career he was not willing to follow his team's presumed leaders because he did not truly respect them.

There is no way to quantify leadership, heart, work ethic, determination--but that does not mean those things don't exist.

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posted by David Friedman @ 1:59 AM



At Wednesday, August 11, 2010 10:29:00 AM, Anonymous Tony B. said...

I agree with all of your points except one: that LeBron was not actively recruiting players this offseason. I've read several reports that mentioned LeBron's futile attempts to lure Bosh to Cleveland. Cleveland is not a big name franchise. Their former coach Mike Brown also did not have the same cachet of someone like Pat Riley or Phil Jackson. Brown's dismissal before the free agency period compounded the franchise's disadvantaged free agency situation. Furthermore, Florida has a much more favorable tax situation for multi-million dollar athletes. Most importantly, Cleveland does not have the sizable TV market or social life of LA or NY or Miami or even of a city like Chicago. All of these factors were working against LeBron. Probably the only way for LeBron to lure free agents of Bosh's or Wade's caliber to Cleveland would have been to announce his decision to stay as soon as possible and then throw all the money and tradable players/draft rights to the Raptors and Heat.

At Wednesday, August 11, 2010 11:39:00 AM, Anonymous khandor said...


Amen ... to almost every word which you've written in this blog entry/article.

The only distinctions which I would make are the following:

Item #1. Although it is your perception that LeBron James "quit" during the Cavs/Celtics series this year, that is simply not a fact ... in a remarkably similar way to how you are correctly pointing out the flawed reasoning of certain "stats gurus", who attempt to assert the correctness of their opinion that Kobe Bryant is somehow an inferior basketball player compared to LeBron James, i.e. what some claim to be the case isn't necessarily what it may look like on the surface.

[PLEASE NOTE: The fact that Daniel Gilbert ... of all people ... happens to agree with your perception of the way LBJ played vs Boston is not an indication that your impression is actually the most accurate one to hold.]

Item #2. The specific - and fundamental - role played by Phil Jackson for the Lakers, as an 'authentic' Transformational Leader and a 'legitimate' Basketball Expert ... unlike, say, those who may spend copious amounts of time devouring a pile of so-called "advanced statistics" but without really having a thorough understanding of how 'the game' actually works, at the highest levels of competition, e.g. by fully comprehending the ramifications of individual match-up advantages - re: player vs player, coach vs coach, unit vs unit, style vs style, strategy vs strategy, tactic vs tactic, etc. - within the 'team concept'.

Although Kobe Bryant may not generate the highest "individual-based production numbers", as recorded by the current set of box score data ... he is still the best basketball player in the world today, provided that the person making this assessment is looking for the right attributes, in the first place.


At Wednesday, August 11, 2010 1:43:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Tony B:

Bosh recently told Dan Patrick that--contrary to some published reports--LeBron never spoke to Bosh about coming to Cleveland. LeBron never made the slightest effort to recruit anyone to come to Cleveland and I am not just talking about this summer--when LeBron supposedly was still undecided about where he wanted to go and thus would have purportedly had a reason to try to bolster the Cavs so that he could stay in northeast Ohio--but also the past several years. Despite LeBron's indifference toward recruiting, the Cavs actually built a formidable, deep team around him, one that easily topped 60 wins the past two seasons.

At Wednesday, August 11, 2010 1:56:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...


LeBron absolutely quit during the Cleveland-Boston series; I don't throw the word "quit" around lightly regarding professional athletes but what he did during that series--specifically in games two and five--is disgraceful. This is not about numbers, it is about effort; LeBron played very passively, particularly on offense, repeatedly refusing to attack the hoop, giving up the ball early and then positioning himself so far out of the attack zone that he was not even a viable decoy. Kobe Bryant can have an impact even on possessions when he does not touch the ball because the defense has to "tilt" toward him but what LeBron did--particularly in the two games I cited--was to station himself so far out of the play that the defense could safely ignore him and thus play everyone else straight up. I have covered virtually every one of LeBron's home playoff games in person (in addition to covering many of his regular season games) and I can state without hesitation that he did not play with anywhere close to his normal intensity. Furthermore, the whole elbow situation was just senseless drama; he was shooting half court shots with that arm before games without the slightest sign of discomfort and it is quite telling that he did not need to have any procedure done to it in the offseason. One would think if his elbow had been severely injured that the Heat (and other suitors) would have insisted on checking it out so as not to purchase "damaged goods" (particularly when signing someone to a max deal).

Gilbert's comments were somewhat over the top and perhaps ultimately unproductive but he spoke from the heart and simply described what people saw with their own eyes. He surely now regrets just how much the Cavs catered to LeBron's immaturity during LeBron's career in Cleveland.

I agree with you that Jackson is a great coach/leader. A lot of people may not realize that one of the traits of the "stat gurus" is that they generally dismiss the importance of coaching. The leadership supplied by a great coach like Jackson and a great player/competitor like Kobe cannot easily be quantified but is nonetheless critically important for a championship team.

It is interesting that LeBron talks a lot about being a leader whereas Kobe says less and does more, following the precept of "Be about it, don't talk about it." LeBron is a wonderful talent who has the potential to accomplish great things but if he does not get his priorities straight then the lead sentence on his career story--at least in terms of team accomplishments--will begin with "What might have been..."

At Wednesday, August 11, 2010 8:18:00 PM, Anonymous khandor said...

Hi, David.

Like I said before, I think we are basically in agreement, as far as LeBron's level of passivity was concerned in those games ... which is precisely the way I would characterize it. I know that it's a very subtle distinction on my part to then distinguish between this way of playing in a somewhat disinterested manner, compared to James' norm, I don't see it as being the equivalent of simply "quitting". As I said in an earlier comment on a different thread, what I saw from James in thos 2 games was someone who disagreed vehemently with the way the Cavaliers were being asked/told to play in that series by Mike Brown ... e.g. how JJ Hickson was basically removed from the rotation, in favour of Antawn Jamison and Shaq ... and he very simply decided to throw a petulent mini-protest, to say with his actions of disinterest:

"Ok, Mike Brown, you want to coach this team this way ... without doing things the way I want and think is best for us to succeed against the Celtics, then, go right ahead and see what happens when I choose to play as a mere bystander,"

... which is precisely what I have seen from Kobe Bryant on occasion, if/when he disagrees with what Phil Jackson's directions are to the Lakers, as a team, and him, specificically.

[e.g. When Kobe has on occasion been asked to be more of a facilitator, sometimes he will become totally passive, just to prove a point to Dr. Phil. When this happens the Lakers usually end up losing those specific games.]

Hopefully that explanation makes some sort of sense to you, as I really think we saw James' actions in a similar way ... albeit, you are calling it "quitting" and I am calling it "a star player making a passive protest against his own coach's decision-making".


At Wednesday, August 11, 2010 10:37:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, a very thoughtful article as usual. I'm glad you decided to focus on current affairs, although i admit that i sometimes do like reading your tales from the past. I just think that there is a lot going on in the NBA today that deserves your analytical mind. I had to read that the head stat guru claimed that the Miami Heat were supposed to win like 1,093 games this next year. I would like your thoughts on the subject in a future article if possible. Is the problem that Wade/James are very similar players an issue? Their lack of overall depth, toughness, front court size, etc. And the unbalanced nature of their team?

Regarding this article, I don't think it can be emphasized enough the difference between a sport like Baseball and a sport like Basketball in regards to advanced statistics. Baseball is basically a game of thousands of mini-games where the opponents are exact and the performance has strict guidelines. Unlike basketball. I would submit that statistics are very reliable in basketball when you are comparing teams as a whole since all the pieces are captured. But on an individual basis, sports like basketball or football (soccer) have so many moving parts which depend on each other, that there are literally millions of combinations that will affect the outcome. It is arrogant beyond the pale to assume that any sort of statistics captures even a small sample of the total when we are talking about individual performances in basketball. I believe you're right in regards to the motives of the stat gurus as well. And people fall for them because people feel comforted when they are under the assumption that something is 100%. It is a much harder argument to sell when you say: "well, watch the games and if you understand basketball, you can tell who is better than whom." Most people want to hear: "this number says this with 100% accuracy."

Anyways, keep up the great work, i never miss an article.

At Wednesday, August 11, 2010 11:35:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...


Yes, I agree with you that we have a semantic disagreement as opposed to a fundamentally different view regarding how LeBron James played versus Boston but I still believe that "quit" is not too strong of a description for what I observed.

As for Kobe being "petulant," there may be one or two regular season games from several years ago that fit what you described in terms of Kobe possibly bristling at being asked to do more facilitating but Kobe never did this during a playoff game and certainly not multiple times during a playoff series. I realize, of course, that by saying this I open up the whole can of worms regarding game seven versus Phoenix in 2006--but if you watch that game, listen to Phil Jackson's comments and listen to Kobe Bryant's comments it is impossible to in good conscience say that Kobe "quit" or was "petulant." I have written about that game several times, so rather than going through the whole thing again I will just provide some links plus a few short quotes:

In my game recap of that game seven I put Kobe's performance in the proper context while also anticipating the criticism that he would receive (in addition to the ill conceived remarks made by Barkley at that time, others later chimed in to blast Kobe):

The combination of Bryant hardly shooting in the second half and only having one assist in the game will provide much fodder for his numerous critics, who can now fire at will from all directions. In the coming days you can expect to hear that he shot too much in the first half, did not shoot enough in the second half, is selfish because he only had one assist and tried to prove a point by not shooting in the second half. Did I leave anything out? What is sorely needed here is some perspective, both about this Lakers team and about Bryant. First, the Lakers are one of the youngest teams in the league, have shown flashes of what they are capable of doing and as the seventh seeded team just extended the second seeded Phoenix Suns to seven games. Even in the games in which Bryant shot less than usual he had a big impact, because the Suns could not double-team in the post because of the powerful offensive threat that Bryant represents. His presence enabled the Lakers' post players to go one-on-one down low. Bryant did the same things in game seven that he did in the games that the Lakers won, but Lamar Odom shot 5-14 from the field and Kwame Brown shot 2-10 from the field. Both players missed numerous point blank attempts. Still, the Lakers made a lot of progress this year and have a bright future in front of them. Second, Bryant is the best player in the NBA and without him this team would not have won 20 games. Phoenix double teamed him throughout game seven, yet when he wanted to score he scored and when he wanted to distribute he penetrated, attacked the double-team and passed to the open man. I've heard a lot of Bryant's critics say that his game has stifled Lamar Odom's. Well, Odom got the ball at the top of the key and in the post and only faced one-on-one coverage on most occasions because the defense zeroed in on Bryant. Phil Jackson did everything he could to give Odom a chance to do his thing offensively and Odom simply did not deliver the goods in game seven. The Lakers not named Bryant shot 24-75 from the field.

At Wednesday, August 11, 2010 11:38:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...


I divided my reply into two comments because of Blogger's restrictions on comment size. Here is another link plus quote regarding Kobe's performance versus Phoenix in game seven of the 2006 playoffs:

In light of LeBron's performance against Boston during this year's playoffs, it is ironic that a much better case could be made that he quit in a 2006 game seven than could be made that Kobe quit, as I discussed in a post titled Detroit Smothers Cleveland in Game Seven :

James scored 21 points in the first half on 10-15 shooting from the field but in the second half he scored six points on 1-9 shooting. James had 1 point and shot 0-3 from the field in the third quarter. Do those numbers have a familiar ring to them? They should, because in his much criticized game seven performance versus Phoenix, Kobe Bryant scored 23 first half points on 8-13 field goal shooting. He also scored 1 third quarter point on 0-3 shooting. LeBron finished with two assists and Kobe had one assist. Basically, they played the same offensive game and obtained the same result--a blowout loss on the road in game seven. Yet I would be willing to bet that no one is going to accuse LeBron of being selfish or quitting or pouting--and don't tell me that this was different because the game was close for a longer stretch of time or that LeBron was being more aggressive than Kobe. LeBron's "aggressiveness" in the second half consisted of taking forced jumpers, committing offensive fouls and attempting off balance drives; it was not a productive aggressiveness. What happened in both game sevens to these superstars is very simple: their teammates did not meet the challenge of playing in a game seven. Neither Kobe nor LeBron could accumulate assists because none of their teammates could make a shot. Their teammates were so inept that the other team could double-team them at will and then send even more defenders once they put the ball on the floor. Kobe did the best that he could to carry his team to a game seven and then to give his team the best chance to win that game seven--and so did LeBron. The question is why will these two performances be written about and discussed in such different terms. The answer is simple: a lot of people don't like Kobe--they are "haters" and whether Kobe shoots 30 times or 3 they will always criticize him.

At Wednesday, August 11, 2010 11:48:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...


Accurately describing the history of the sport is very important and I don't know of any magazine or website that consistently does this well so that will always be part of 20 Second Timeout's content. Also, by posting older articles from other sources here I can permanently archive them in the right hand sidebar of the main page; I think that what I have developed in that portion of this site represents a significant contribution to basketball history.

Most people are not very comfortable with numbers and do not have a clear understanding of how statistics work, so when someone comes along with formulas that superficially look sophisticated there is a tendency to assume that the person who created those formulas must be very smart and must know what he is talking about. I am not intimidated by numbers or by "stat gurus," so I take what the "stat gurus" say for what it is worth--and, often, it is not worth that much, just speculation and/or biased commentary covered with a cloak of numbers to confuse the simple-minded. Again, the team data can be valuable in the right context and there are certainly several people in the field who are doing good work--Oliver, Rosenbaum, Beech to name just three--but it is precisely the ones who are doing the best work who also most keenly understand the limitations of what they are doing.

I am not in competition with anyone to get a "scoop" by posting the first analysis of the newly configured Miami Heat team. Like I do every year, I will post preview articles once rosters are pretty much set and the start of the season is two to three weeks away.

At Thursday, August 12, 2010 12:18:00 PM, Anonymous khandor said...

Hi, David.

Semantic differences can be difficult to try to resolve thoroughly.

Just so that my position is made clear:

i. I do not think Kobe Bryant quit in any of those games cited;

ii. I do not think LeBron James quit in any of those game cited;

iii. I do think, however, that Kobe and LeBron have both chosen specific occasions in the past to "demonstrate/protest" their displeasure at the way their coach was deciding to have their teams play, in a given situation ... as a form of petulant "passive-agressive" behaviour ... which has worked to the detriment of their team.

[e.g. in Kobe's case he still continued to pass the ball to his teammates; in LeBron's case he still continued to rebound.]

iv. A key difference between Kobe and LeBron, however, is the level of R.E.S.P.C.T. which Kobe has for Phil Jackson, Mitch Kupchak and Dr. Jerry Buss ... given what they have accomplished in the game to-date AND the way in which they have stood to him, on occasion ... compared with the level of respect that LeBron had for Mike Brown, Danny Ferry and Daniel Gilbert ... given what they have accomplished in the game to-date AND the way in which they refused to stand up to him, when the situation presented itself.

v. I hate to say it this way, but ... IMO, Mike Brown, Danny Ferry and Daniel Gilbert got precisely what they deserved, in this specific situation.

Even [especially?] great players need to be "coached" in a first-class way, if they are going to maximize their unique skill-sets.

vi. To this point in their respective careers, Kobe Bryant has proved to be a better basketball player than LeBron James.


At Thursday, August 12, 2010 1:12:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...


I understand your position--and I understood it before--and I agree with you on some points but I still say that LeBron quit versus Boston, particularly in games two and five. LeBron simply did not play with maximal effort, especially on the offensive end of the court. You are speculating about why LeBron quit/was "petulant" while I am simply describing the behavior that I observed: namely, LeBron did not play with his normal level of aggressiveness. Your speculation about his motives may be correct but the reality is that we probably will never know for certain why he performed the way that he did--and, even though I hesitate to engage in speculation, I think that it is just as plausible to say that LeBron quit because he wanted to devote more time to building up the drama around his free agency and/or because he thought that potentially winning a championship in Cleveland could make it more difficult to justify leaving (a decision that it certainly appears like he made quite some time ago). I don't know if those speculations are accurate, but there is just as much circumstantial evidence to support them as there is to support your speculation. That is why I prefer to focus on what actually happened--LeBron playing with much less than normal intensity--as opposed to speculating about people's motivations.

That said, I think that you are on solid ground saying that Kobe respects the ownership, management and coaching staff of the Lakers more than LeBron respected those entities in Cleveland but it is harsh to say that the Cavs' organization collectively "got what they deserved." I understand what you mean and there is an element of truth there because of the senseless way that they placated LeBron's immaturity but Gilbert, Ferry and Brown--whatever their flaws may be--were clearly committed to producing a championship team while also trying to make their superstar happy. Perhaps those goals are not entirely compatible, particularly when said superstar is immature. Pat Riley clearly took a different approach with Wade, as I have mentioned previously: when Wade refused to commit to Miami and then whined about his supporting cast Riley essentially told Wade to either re-sign or shut up and play because the Heat were not going to cater to him if he was not going to commit to the team for the long term. However, I am not sure that Gilbert, Ferry and Brown could have pulled that off in Cleveland without catching a lot of flak from the media and the fan base.

I agree that Kobe is a better basketball player than LeBron but I would add that LeBron has been a more productive regular season player the past two years, largely because injuries have slowed Bryant down a bit. We have seen the "true" Kobe Bryant during the postseason, however.

At Thursday, August 12, 2010 4:34:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


kobe too me in the second half of game 7 didnt give max effort vs phoenix but lebron didnt give max effort to start in game 5 vs boston which makes it diffrent. i think lebron simply didnt play well in game 2 i dont think he quit that game. lebron has never acted like that before so i had to believe there was a rift between him ferry and brown before that game.

kobe has better organization and coach then lebron did when he was in cleveland. but kobe has outperformed lebron in playoffs when it counted really this season lebron 09 playoffs was spectacular. this playoff for him was subpar for his standards his teamates havent played all that well in either were kobe have been more consistent than them as well the last two years.

lebron been better in reg season kobe been better in playoffs that simple. gasol and brown benefit from kobe presence. but gasol has proven to be a pretty good player anyway i have a newfound respect for pau after game 6 and 7 he delivered big when he had too.

cleveland fans have to move on and deal with reality lebron gone he not comeing back, so stop on the lequitter and all that talk he made your city relevant for a while he never won a title but it wasnt totally his fault.

At Thursday, August 12, 2010 7:27:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...


The critical distinction regarding Kobe's performance versus Phoenix in game seven of the 2006 playoffs is that in the second half the Lakers were down by a significant margin and Coach Jackson decided to try the so-called "Inside Man" approach that had been successful at times for the Lakers earlier in the series: Jackson asked Kobe to take fewer shots and try to get the ball inside, so this was not a matter of Kobe not trying hard or being "petulant." The real problem for the Lakers was that Kwame and Odom came up completely empty. Some media members expected Kobe to try to go for 50 points no matter what, so when Kobe did not do that they responded by criticizing Kobe without considering the context of what Jackson was trying to do.

In contrast, LeBron simply did not play hard for extended stretches versus Boston in the 2010 playoffs, particularly in games two and five--and LeBron's lack of effort had a very negative effect on the performance of his teammates, while in contrast the 2006 Lakers should have been inspired by how hard Kobe played throughout that season and in the playoffs as well.

At Wednesday, August 18, 2010 2:41:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks David,by far the best impartial Kobe comment site along with butthegameison blog.I respect people like you who is strongly eloquent with words and analyze things not just through some crap ''advanced'' stats but actually watch the games within proper context.
I believe,Kobe along with MJ is the definition of basketball,no matter what Neil Paine/Kelly Dwyer,etc says..
I have recently discovered your site and you provided some top notch reading material.Hallelujah!

A Turkish Laker fan

At Thursday, August 19, 2010 3:17:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...


Welcome aboard and thank you for your support!

At Saturday, August 21, 2010 4:10:00 AM, Anonymous Efueshe said...

I know this is a little late but... I was just reading on the blog "Ball Don't Lie", and it rated Kobe Bryant as second behind Dwayne Wade! Man I'm getting sick of this nonsense... give the man the respect he DESERVES! I feel like I'm protecting my little brother when people write NONSENSE like that... because of his injuries he is now the second option behind D. Wade should they play in the ultimate game between the best players today??? PLEASE! I take KOBE at his "old" age and hobbling injuries over Wade ANY DAY. Sorry. Does he not understand the defense attention this man gets? Yes Wade takes ALOT of double teams, but there are people who can shut him down. In Kobe's case such entity exists, and therefore he faces TOUGH double teams every game it seems. Some people really need help in their writing. I mean he stated that Kobe "passed the torch" last year at that!I'm sorry, when exactly did he do this? When he was lighting the Knicks up for 61 or during his MVP finals speech? Or was it over the summer when he was taking lessons from Hakeem to STILL IMPROVE HIS GAME? Oh, I think it was during THIS year's Final's MVP speech...Please enlighten me because I need some sort of explanation. It's just shameful that people feel the sad need to degrade players in the eyes of casual fans in order to garner readers. Thank you for writing RESPECTFUL and APT analysis because it truly is needed in this day and age!

At Wednesday, September 01, 2010 7:36:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

[quote]I think that it is just as plausible to say that LeBron quit because he wanted to devote more time to building up the drama around his free agency and/or because he thought that potentially winning a championship in Cleveland could make it more difficult to justify leaving (a decision that it certainly appears like he made quite some time ago).[/quote]
Wade said in an interview that James came up with the idea of 3 superfriends playing together in the 2008 Olympics.


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