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First and foremost, congratulations to Kobe Bryant. Last night he poured in 44 points and became the Lakers all-time leading scorer along the way. Ironically, the player he surpassed, “The Logo” himself, Jerry West, wore the #44 as a member of the Lakers.
Being the Kobe hater I am, I must admit that I got a tiny bit of satisfaction when I found out the Lakers lost to Memphis last night. Of course when I say “tiny bit” I do mean “enormous“. Despite my hatred towards Kobe, I do respect and appreciate his game. Hell, I even admire it. Perhaps no one else in the league rises to the occasion quite like Kobe. The man hits clutch shots in the biggest of moments, so much so that you don’t get overly excited when he delivers. You pretty much expect it to happen.
The talk now, or I should say, “the question” now:
Is Kobe Bryant the greatest Lakers player of all time?
Everyone’s entitled to their own opinion, but my answer is no. I’ll explain why, but I will say this, Kobe still has a lot of game left, and he may very well take over the throne in the future. He’s only 31. But because he’s not quite like the man I have above him off the court, his numbers may not matter, ever.
If greatness is measured by championships, then Magic gets the nod over Kobe. Magic won five championships to Kobe’s four. Even if the standard of greatness was based upon individual awards, Magic has won three MVP’s to Kobe’s one. Magic has won three Finals MVP’s to Kobe’s one. When Magic arrived on to the NBA scene, he was an immediate impact, basically, he was “the man” right off the bat. Magic was the cornerstone to the Lakers franchise during their “Show Time” years, and if anything, was at least equal to Kareem in terms of significance to the franchise, if not more important. When Kobe arrived in LA, he played side kick to Shaq. Shaq deserves a “thank you” card for three of Kobe’s rings.
Magic had Bird. That rivalry transcended basketball, and made both players larger than life. The rivalry added to the lore of both of these legends. Kobe has no one to push him like that on the court, and strengthen his legend. That’s not Kobe’s fault per say, but it does affect his place on the totem pole of Laker greats.
Magic’s most memorable moment, the “junior sky-hook” to defeat the Lakers rival Boston Celtics in pivotal Game 4 of the 1987 Finals is one of the most replayed moments in NBA history. It surpasses all of Kobe’s game winners combined. Kobe’s buzzer-beaters albeit great, have never had the effect Magic’s shot had. It never had the effect Michael’s hanging, double-pump jump shot over Craig Ehlo had, or his push-off, step-back J over Bryon Russell. I don’t believe Kobe has had that one play, career defining moment yet.
If the question is, who is the greatest “Lakers” player of all time, you’d have to consider which player’s image is synonymous with the franchise. That, sometimes has more to do with who you are outside of playing ball.
What makes Magic a better Laker is the fact that he’s a more likable person than Kobe. Kobe’s guarded. He’s a loner. A bit of a weirdo. His personality is a rip-off of Jordan’s. It’s obvious, it’s irritating. Magic was original. Endearing, fun, loving and charming all rolled into one. His smile could light up the stadium, and his persona was equivalent to his nickname, “Magic“.
Magic was loved and praised, in fact, he still is, even if you weren’t or are not a Lakers fan. That is why he is Mr. Laker.
LeBron is the best player in the NBA, unless it comes down to making game winners, then Kobe is, but Bron Bron has taken his game to new heights yet again. It’s almost, wait … IT IS ridiculous to think about what the ceiling is on this kid, if there even is one. Last season, the consensus thought was that the two best ball players in the planet were heading towards a June showdown. Orlando had other plans. This season, especially with how it began, the majority were leaning towards another Lakers/Celtics Finals. That might have changed as of late. The Cavs are winning, and they’re winning important games. No matter how much LeBron down played sweeping the season series against the Lakers this season, it has to give him and the Cavs a huge boost in confidence. They man-handled the defending champs in LA. Then they outlasted them in a nail biter in Cleveland. It’s embedded in their heads now, that they can beat the best in any fashion. They’ve beaten Orlando convincingly, and Atlanta can not win against the Cavs. The next test for them is when they match up against Boston again.
There’s way too much season left to be sold on a team completely. Injuries, trades and other stipulations occur, that may catapult a team to greatness, or deter them from it. But, we’re definitely far enough into the season to make a down payment. And I have the Cavs on lay-away. Right now, LeBron is playing like he’s not from this world. He’s just too, too good. The thing is, Shaq hasn’t had much to do with it. Mo Williams got injured, Delonte West is out, I mean, who’s even on the Cavs worth mentioning at this point. And yet here they stand, in my opinion, the best from the East. It’s literally all because of LeBron. Imagine if you took LeBron away from the Cavs. What’s left might be the New Jersey Nets.
LeBron is making his case for back to back MVP titles, and at this point, he’s definitely ahead of the pack. I know it’s a basketball is a “team” sport, so I’ll try to refer to the Cavs as a team, as oppose to just LeBron. The Cavs have moved up my own personal power rankings, and are one good trade away from solidifying their spot as top dogs in the East. I have been skeptical of their chances at a Finals appearance this season, since being exposed last season by Orlando in the ECF. But. I’m over it now. The Cavs are ready. The East is no walk in the park (the West is worse though) so home court advantage throughout will be key for the Cavs. But I fully expect them to continue to play at a high level, and potentially wrap up the #1 seed sometime late in the season.
With that said, I truly feel that the Cavs have become the team to beat in the East, and should be the representative for the conference in this season’s championship series.
The All-Star reserves were announced yesterday, and I just want to throw in my two cents.
My immediate reaction. Iverson cost a worthy candidate a spot. There were three definite snubs, and we’ll get to that in a short bit, but if Iverson gave up his spot, or some how was not allowed to be voted for, than there would be only two snubs. Two is better than three.
Let’s start with the East. Real quick, Rajon Rondo and Gerald Wallace definitely deserve their first All-Star nods, both players have quietly molded themselves into great players, the best players on their teams in fact. Yes, that includes Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Stephen Jackson. If you take both Rondo and Wallace out of the equation, imagine how the Celtics and Bobcats would run. Yes the Celtics would still have a winning record, but without him, I dare say they wouldn’t be “elite“. Rajon Rondo has turned himself into “Baby” Jason Kidd minus the 3’s. Kidd is a first ballot Hall of Famer.
I’m not quite sold on Derrick Rose being an All-Star (I think this is what got him in). Yes, he’s had one fine month in January, but he was playing mediocre basketball for the first two months of the season. He was the right choice considering the All-Star roster format, which brings me to another topic. Change that format. I honestly would have chosen Joakim Noah over Rose if the East were allowed to load up on 4’s and 5’s. Noah should have made it over Al Horford! David Lee should have made it over both of them. Yes winning has a lot to do with it, but it’s not like David Lee is out there just playing for stats. If you watch this guy play, you can see, he’s playing hard and trying everything he can in order to help his team win. That’s enough for me.
Josh Smith should have made it over Horford. Actually, take out the All-Star roster format, put Josh Smith over Iverson, and Joakim Noah over Al Horford. I have both Smith and Noah on my fantasy team, and I can tell you first hand that they deserve spots. Actually, keep Horford in, and take Garnett out. Start Josh Smith at the 4. Yes I said it, and I will repeat it. Garnett doesn’t deserve to be an All-Star this year. What’s supposed to happen, is that fans vote in a player to start based on the season they’re having. Garnett was not having a stellar season, and on top of that, he missed some games due to injury. I love Garnett, and I have no doubt that he’ll finish the second half of the season strong, but he doesn’t deserve his spot. Not over Josh Smith. Not this season.
To the West. Not as much drama. I can’t believe this is Deron Williams first bid. Although Chris Paul (in my opinion) is the better of the two, Deron Williams is only a step or two behind. How he hasn’t been an All-Star at his level of play is quite shocking. Well that is no longer the case. Zach Randolph deserved a spot. He’s been playing great basketball all year, and he might be the biggest reason why Memphis is in the hunt for a playoff birth.
The only player I might question in deserving a spot in the West, is Brandon Roy. He kind of falls into the Derrick Rose mix, he’s played well as of late (prior to his hamstring injury) but started the season out average. I guess both he and LaMarcus Aldridge have done all that they can in keeping the Blazers afloat while they go through injury after injury, but Monta Ellis has done the same for the Warriors. I can’t count how many D-League call ups the Warriors have had this season due to injury on one hand! And unlike Brandon Roy, Monta Ellis was doing it up since the season began. Yes, I am being biased, I will admit to it, but outside of the records of the teams these two play for, you tell me who’s more deserving? Ellis averages are better in points, assists and steals. I’m just saying.
Other than that, I have no major gripes with the remainder of the selections. Congrats to Durantula too! He is what I like to call, “Dope Sauce“. I must say I don’t appreciate the All-Star game falling on Valentine’s Day though. That’s probably not the NBA‘s fault, but because of the occasion, I give myself a 7.5% chance of being able to watch this game. Oh well, it’s usually a boring game until the last 5 minutes, when all the players start to sniff the bigger bonus dealt to the winners.
Well, for most neutral fans, this is the Super Bowl we wanted … granted neither team is undefeated which was a possibility but only a few weeks ago, it’s still set up to be an exciting match up. Man, just imagine how high the stakes would be, if one team were guaranteed perfection as a result of the outcome of the game, but both were perfect leading into the game. I better stop now, because it upsets me to think about it (Indy).
Indy did exact the revenge that we all knew they would have, but hats off to the Jets. They came in, punched the Colts in the mouth, but unfortunately they only had one hit in ’em. The Vikings, behind Brett “The Diva” Favre gave a valiant effort in New Orléans, but sometimes you can’t go up against destiny. Favre’s miracle season wasn’t what I was referring to, as he left the field the same way he left Lambeau against the Giants in an NFC title games a few years back. He left after seeing his last throw essentially cost his team a trip to the Super Bowl. Retire now.
It’s interesting to see how they’re going to build the hype-train up for this game. They of course meaning the media. Usually it’s easy. David versus Goliath. The good guys versus the bad guys. This time is different. I think both teams having so many likable characters, makes it so that there’s no villain. You kind of see yourself rooting for both teams, as long as they’re not playing your team. So who do we root for now?
Both teams finished the season short of perfect, although the Colts did it by choice. Both teams have marquee quarterback’s and high-powered offenses. Both teams play a brand of football that’s pleasing to the eyes. They’re almost identical in all aspects of likability. So who do we root for now? Reportedly the Colts are 3.5 favorites as of now, but who knows what the number will be two weeks from now. I suggest even closer to even money. Which basically means, this match up is even. No one can tell who the stronger team is, really …
This is one of those rare matches, where I honestly don’t care who wins. I like both teams. I might favor the Saints a little more because of what New Orléans has been through as a city over the last five years … so I feel they deserve to celebrate something. I’d like to see Brees get a ring, but I don’t want to see Peyton lose … I’m pulling for Reggie Bush, but I love Reggie Wayne. So who do we root for now?
I guess all I can hope for, is that this game turns out to be what we all anticipate. A slug fest. A shoot out. An all out exhibition of blood, sweat and tears … basically a hell of a game! I look forward to February 7th. The match up in itself is all the hype needed to promote this fight.