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NBA Superstars

My take on recent NBA headlines:

Kobe Bryant's 81 point night
A Chris Rock Comedy CD is flat out hilarious. Now, maybe I try to talk it down when discussing it with others, pointing out how crude, explicit and obnoxious it is. Maybe I try to highlight a well-done, less-offensive, still-funny but less-funny disc by another comedian. But ultimately, when I listen to a Chris Rock CD, I laugh uncontrollably.

That's pretty much how the aftermath of Kobe Bryant's 81 point performance played out. Everyone took the negative angle. They downplayed it as a selfish performance, one without regard to any concept of team. Mariotti claimed superstars are supposed to make their teammates better, not score lots of points. Vince said the kids would be ill-effected. Everyone reminded us that the Pistons and Spurs and Suns play quality team-ball, never relying on one player to outperform the opposition.

But the 81 point game had to have been the most exciting, unbelievable basketball display the Staples Center crowd and those watching at home had ever seen in their lives. I got chills just watching the highlights and reading the recap. Those feelings of excitement and chills and fascination are the rare, ultimate result of watching an NBA game.

Kevin Garnett deserves a sidekick
This "Kevin Garnett deserves to play with another star player" storyline is wearing out fast. I think its all just a reaction to the Reebok commercial KG currently stars in. He seems like a decent guy and all, but why single him out? Especially after he has been to the playoffs for 6 straight years and has played on 4 50-win teams? Sure, the team has been mismanaged since the Joe Smith fiasco and just dealt away another first round pick. But "woe is Kevin Garnett" is a tough sell.

Ron Artest being dealt to the Kings
I can't think of anything more obnoxious (within a basketball-realted context) than demanding to be traded and then nixing the trade your current team worked out for you. That's what Artest did initially, only to accept the deal to the Kings after reconsideration. He might fit in well and help them win some games, but who really cares at this point?

An email correspondance
Mark: And if you could choose 1 player to start a team with, who would it be right now?

Me: You might be thinking Steve Nash if you watched the game last night, but I still gotta go with the multi-dimensional talent of LeeeeeeeBron. I'd like to build around a player as versatile in position and skills as King James. You?

Mark: I think right now, I would have to take Kobe as the guy. Nash would be second, Lebron 3rd. I hate Bryant, but how many guys can score 81points? The kicker for me is his clutch shooting.


Clutch shooting? Since when. I remember Kobe missing a lot more shots at the end of games, than making them. Of course if someone takes the last shot every time at the end of the game, he is bound to make his share.

6 straight for Garnett? I didn't think they made it last year.
A quote from Steve Kerr: "Kobe Bryant leads all NBA players in fourth- quarter scoring at just under nine points per game. His complete confidence in late-game situations harkens memories of Michael Jordan. Bryant dominated both LeBron James and Dwyane Wade at both ends of the floor in the fourth quarters of the Los Angeles Lakers' victories over Cleveland and Miami. Kobe's clutch shooting and fierce defense have made him the best player in the NBA this season."

Here is a little more banter about Kobe's "clutch" shooting:

Late-game heroics

Throughout much of his career, Kobe Bryant has been heralded as arguably the premier "clutch" scorer in the NBA today. In a sense, this term refers to a player's ability to take over and lead his team to victory under pressure during tight games, notably at the end of regulation or in overtime periods. Bryant's exceptional ability to will his team to victory in the last seconds of the game has been compared to the legendary Michael Jordan's capacity to do the same thing. According to an NBA poll directed at general managers throughout the league before the 2005–06 season, Bryant was overwhelmingly voted as the player they would choose to take the last shot during the crucial moments of basketball games.

Bryant has made 21 game-winning shots so far in his career, listed below. In comparison, Jordan made 28 throughout his career. In this instance, a game-winning shot is defined as the final made field goal in the game, bringing the team from a trailing or tied position into a lead that is not relinquished. (It should be noted that other criteria exist to determine what is and isn't a game winning shot.)

* 01/19/98: Lakers 92, Magic 89
* 02/13/00: Lakers 113, Nets 110 (OT)
* 05/10/00: Lakers 97, Suns 96 (Western Conference Semifinals)
* 06/14/00: Lakers 120, Pacers 118 (NBA Finals)
* 11/16/00: Lakers 112, Kings 110
* 02/07/01: Lakers 85, Suns 83
* 01/02/02: Lakers 87, Nuggets 86
* 02/22/02: Lakers 96, Hornets 94
* 05/12/02: Lakers 87, Spurs 85 (Western Conference Semifinals)
* 12/06/02: Lakers 105, Mavericks 103
* 04/04/03: Lakers 102, Grizzlies 101
* 04/06/03: Lakers 115, Suns 113 (OT)
* 02/17/04: Lakers 89, Blazers 86
* 02/19/04: Lakers 101, Nuggets 99
* 03/03/04: Lakers 96, Rockets 93
* 03/21/04: Lakers 104, Bucks 103 (OT)
* 04/14/04: Lakers 105, Blazers 104 (2OT)
* 03/13/05: Lakers 117, Bobcats 116
* 11/02/05: Lakers 99, Nuggets 97 (OT)
* 01/07/06: Lakers 112, Clippers 109
* 01/12/06: Lakers 99, Cavaliers 98
emcee b's backing up of Kobe's clutch-itude = clutch!

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