Myth of the Given

“If Jordan was in that game, they never would have lost. Jordan would never let the Lakers blow Game 7 like that. He would have been up in peoples’ faces, pulling on Jerseys, going to the rack. If Kobe was as good as Jordan, he would have gotten to the line at least 10 times in the second half!” - Anonymous Radio Caller.

“So when the Suns came out even hotter in the third quarter, Kobe basically quit. For sure, he quit shooting. He scored one more point -- on a technical-foul free throw. Jordan never would have done that.” - Skip Bayless

Let’s get one thing straight: It is impossible to say what Jordan would not have done in any given situation. History has failed to entrust the present with a sufficient almanac of “Things Jordan Didn’t Do”. If such comparisons make sense to us, it is because they express a moral judgment, not an empirical one. We’ll never know if Jordan wouldn’t have taken just 3 shots in the second half of Game 7; what we do know, however, is that he wouldn’t have quit.

O.K. Fine. But is that really what Kobe did? Is giving the ball up to your teammates really the same as giving up? Of course it isn’t. In the 1st quarter, Kobe went 2-4 for 4 points and the Lakers fell behind by 17. In the 2nd quarter, he went 6-9 for 16 points and the Lakers were still down by 15. When Bayless confesses to having “the halftime feeling that he (Kobe) would at least make it crazy close”, he’s either lying or crazy. Everyone watching that game knew that until the rest of his team started scoring, it didn’t matter how much Kobe shot in the second half. Kobe knew it too.

Kobe in the second half was doing the same thing he’d done throughout the series: he was trying to motivate his teammates. It’s the exact same thing that Phil does when things get rough - refusing to call timeouts, or taking his stars out of the game to make the supporting cast step up. He was doing exactly what Phil wanted him to do, exactly what Phil told us he wanted him to do, and exactly what the world had praised him for in games 2, 3 and 4. Remember game 4, when Kobe scored just 24 points, and shot only 6 times in the entire second half? According to Bayless, “Kobe out-Jordaned Jordan in game 4”. As for his comparable second-half drought in game 7: “Jordan never would have done that.”

Stop me if this sounds familiar.
- Jordan and Phil reunite in '95, and the Bulls face Orlando in the Semifinals.
- The Bulls lose Game 1; Jordan changes his jersey number from #45 back to #23; the Bulls win Game 2.
- In Games 3 and 5, Jordan explodes for 40 and 39, but the Bulls end up loosing them both.
- Jordan scores just 26 points in Game 4, but the Bulls win anyway - a victory widely attributed to Jordan’s “unselfishness down the stretch”, and the positive contributions of his supporting cast.
- Down 3-2, Jordan gives a similarly unselfish performance in Game 6, scoring just 24, and giving the ball up to his teammates in a series of late-game possessions. Only this time, his teammates miss their shots, and the Bulls make their earliest exit from the playoffs since 1988.

Suddenly, everyone in the press begins to wonder, why did Jordan fade down the stretch?. “Michael Jordan is finally playing a game he can't win”, read the Mike Lupica headline:

This wasn't about Michael vs. the Magic, or Michael vs. Shaq. This was all about Michael against Michael. The new No. 23 against the old one. This was all about him. The Bulls lost the series in six games as the new No. 23 could not turn it on at the end, the way the old No. 23 could. (Newsday, 05/29/95)

Of course, we all know what happened after that.

As I said before, its impossible to know what Jordan wouldn’t have done in Kobe’s situation. And until we discover both a cryogenically frozen, 27-year old Jordan and a time-machine to transport him in, the question of what he would have done will be similarly indeterminate. But if this comparison must have its conclusion, then it should be reached, not through wistful moralism or speculative psychology, but by looking to see what Jordan himself did under similar conditions. Fortunately for us, one condition in particular is as similar as they come.

Like Jackson and Jordan in ‘95, Jackson and Kobe were recently reunited, and coming into the playoffs this year they faced the same problems of team chemistry as did the ’95 Bulls. And just as he did against the Magic, Phil ordered Kobe to involve his teamates rather than go it alone - to live or die by their performance . In both cases, they died. But unless the mantle of “Jordan-esque” be denied to Jordan himself, it can't be denied to Kobe either – at least not for what he did in Game 7. After all, Kobe was following the exact same orders, from the exact same coach as Jordan. Indeed, if there is any continuity behind the Jordan-Kobe comparison, Jackson is it. Likewise, if there is anyone in a position to say that "Jordan would have played differently" in Game 7, it's Jackson. But Jackson hasn't said that, and for obvious reasons: saying "Jordan would have played differently" would be the same as saying "I would have coached differently". Even if that were the case, it still wouldn't be on Kobe.

This doesn’t mean that Kobe should be considered Jordan’s heir – personally, I don’t think he should be yet. But this isn’t because of some inherent weakness of character, as the Bayless’s of the world are quick to claim, but simply a matter of accomplishment. Jordan was 32 when the Bulls lost in ’95. Kobe is 27. He still has plenty of time.


At 5/09/2006 1:56 AM, Blogger laura the tooth said...

skip bayless was way over the line on this one. how the hell would he know what jordan would have done? and why can't kobe be his own man instead of being another heir jordan (since lebron already claimed that mantle with his chosen number)?

i don't have anything to add--you said it all beautifully. kobe can't do anything right by these folks--all season long, kobe was this selfish gunner who was the antithesis of team basketball. he tries to get his teammates involved, even in a losing effort (against the suns he knew that scoring buttloads of points by himself would be useless--they're not the raptors after all), he must be throwing the game for his selfish ends.

i think this boils down to kobe's low q rating with sportswriters. this is why nash ran away with the mvp (even though kobe was more valuable to his team and is a better player).they're letting their personal dislike for him color their journalism. what a shame.

At 5/09/2006 2:20 AM, Blogger SilverBird5000 said...

i think sports writers are terrified of not having control over the designation of jordan's heir. and that's why they'll always choose Lebron, because they've been preparing for the inheritance since he came into the league, whereas they wrote Kobe off Shaq and Phil first left.
but yeah, i completely agree about how silly it is that Kobe has to be the next Jordan. Its not like Jordan was constantly being evaluated in terms of 'heir Chamberlin'. he got to make his own mold.

as for Bayless, I honestly can't believe that column. this part is the absolute worst:

Don't blame Kobe's teammates, who as a group are no worse than Nash's. Blame their "leader." Blame Kobe... Nash hosts team dinners on the road. Nash constantly hugs teammates after they make big shots. Nash makes them believe they're far better than they have a right to be. Kobe is incapable of that.

if sports journalism were a village, Skip Bayless would be chased out by boys with pitchforks for shit like this.

At 5/09/2006 3:18 AM, Blogger S-Love said...

As ridiculous as Bayless is, at least he's a contrarian. I prefer him and Vecsey over the hundreds of sports writers who all say the same thing. As long as I don't have to hear him talk...

Kobe played well all series. I suppose the one point was a bit of a surprise, but I'm not quick to read much into it. Don't like the use of "kid" to refer to Bell though.

At 5/09/2006 4:57 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like you guys so much more when you talk about something concrete instead of waxing lyrical about nothing in particular (debating 'fast', 'quick' and 'explosive' was a lowpoint).

Good post. I buy all the theories about Kobe sharing to show his teammates the way blah blah, but I do wonder why he didn't take a couple more shots -- surely a couple of well-chosen ones would only have inspired confidence in his teammates? I wonder if all this media pressure and the constant questioning of *everything* he does by *everybody* has finally gotten into his head and forced a little crack. Maybe he was second-guessing himself in the fourth, not sure whether to take a few shots or stick it out with Phil's gameplan.

Oh, and the Bonds analogies are way off, for the simple reason that Bonds really doesn't give a shit what people think of him -- he thinks his achievements speak for themselves. Kobe, on the other hand, is more media savvy (despite having his foot in his mouth half the time) and realizes that his legacy will be directly shaped by what the media and the fans think of him. He's desperately trying to step back into the light (to quote 'Poltergeist'), he's just having trouble making it mesh with his desire to appear independent and be The Man.

Stick it out Kobe -- in a few years, Skip will retire and the new 17-24 segment will love you.

At 5/09/2006 5:06 AM, Blogger Thomas M. said...

I think the crucial element of Game 7 was effort. That being that it didn't seem like Kobe was making "the push" to change the game, whether that meant getting on his teammates or attempting to take over the game or what.

That's something that I'd like to see from Jordan's Game 6 in 1995, what his demeanor was, because that seems to be what Kobe is being judged on more than anything else.

At 5/09/2006 5:50 AM, Blogger SilverBird5000 said...


i agree that kobe and bonds are two very different cans of worms (i assume the analogies you refer to are from somewhere else).
also, i think that one of the reasons Kobe always has his foot in his mouth is because he's so media savy. as in, he's so good at communicating with the press that whenever he slips into a more street register, they blast him for it. shoals and I were talking yesterday about the now-famous "that kid" diatribe, and we were wondering: if it had been AI or Artest or Big Ben who made the same remarks, would anyone in the media have even noticed? my guess is that it would be interpreted as just an extension of on-court shit-talking, and thus, ignored. but because it was Kobe, and because of Kobe's unique relation to the media, its instead interpreted as a contrived and calculated, Swift-Boat-esque "statement" - "I'm Kobe Bryant and I approve this message" - rather than just some heat-of-the-moment venting.


i see what you're saying about 'effort'. Then again, I'm not sure what effort really means on the offensive end other than either a) trying to score a lot, or b) trying to create opportunities for your teamates to score a lot. I don't remember feeling like Kobe wasn't trying hard to do (b) - or rather, I don't know how much harder he could have tried.
Regardless, I actually don't think that the media criticism is primarily directed at his lack of effort. i think its about his lack of shooting/scoring, plain and simple.
as for Jordan in '95....
the funny thing about MJ is that, despite his unparalled athletic greatness, his immune system was sub-par at best, particularly during playoff season. i think in this particular series, he was suffering from some kind of stomach flu. but from what i read, i didn't effect his hustle at all.

At 5/09/2006 8:28 AM, Blogger Pacifist Viking said...

I'm sick of hearing people make Kobe's second half performance a matter of will, a matter of choice.

Have you ever played in the second half of an utter blowout in an important game? It's hard to maintain intensity when you look around you at the total destruction, and get the feelings that your season is over.

Kobe's performance makes him...a typical athlete. Some athletes might go nuts getting their stats in these blowouts, some might fight with a competitive desperation to try and do something, but most will lose intensity and will.

At 5/09/2006 8:51 AM, Blogger Brown Recluse, Esq. said...

to me, it was clear kobe showed a lack of effort in the second half. he was not involved in the offense as a playmaker or a scorer. i really feel it was not about his not scoring, it was about him not doing anything. kobe bryant and those of his ilk (winning is everything) are supposed to relish game 7's, those moments when backs are against the proverbial wall. for all his talk of being "excited" by various challenges, he did not look very excited.

also, i'm a little wary of any argument that is based on refuting something skip bayless said. it's not just that he's contrarian, he usually has no idea what he's talking about, like you get the impression he watched 10 minutes of whatever game he's discussing, if that. the only person who is more obvious in his attempts to say dumb shit to piss people off is sportsline's college hoops guy greg doyel. that guy is a piece of work.

At 5/09/2006 12:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kobe's the next MJ, Kobe's NOT the next MJ, blah blah blah. The whole subject is worn out, tired, played. Don't care what Skip Bayless thinks about it, don't care what you think about it. The league is great right now for the players and the teams as they are, not for who the can be compared to. Move on, Page Two wannabes.

At 5/09/2006 12:15 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

the only person who is more obvious in his attempts to say dumb shit to piss people off is sportsline's college hoops guy greg doyel.

BRE - I believe you have a typo in your last line. It seems you've mispelled "foxsports.com's Charlie Rosen." Hope this helps.

At 5/09/2006 12:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm with Brown Recluse in thinking that kobe was not in any sort of gameplan in the second half. he wasn't getting assists; he wasn't drawing double teams to get his teammates easy shots; he wasn't driving and dishing. the gameplan that the lakers had used earlier in the series didn't require kobe to score all the points, but it did require him to play a certain way, and he didn't play that way in the second half. In fact, he barely played at all. he wasn't involved in the offense and he rarely touched the ball.

i don't think, like skip and barkley, that kobe was trying to prove a point. however, i do think that kobe's performance was interesting, because it contrasts with the image he has cultivated for himself of a near sociopathic competitor ("hate me for my swagger"). perhaps in this case kobe could even come out looking sympathetic (like gilbert), which is uncommon for the mamba.

criticizing simmons is one thing, but skip is really not worth our time. he's the tucker carlson of sports journalism.

At 5/09/2006 12:35 PM, Blogger SilverBird5000 said...

I understand that Skip Bayless is an idiot. This post wasn't about Skip Bayless. It was originally about the bevy of callers to the Sports Radio show Shoals was listening to, in anger, yesterday; about my own observance of similar comments on various message boards, and about the general tendency to seize upon every weakness of the Lakers as proof that Kobe will never equal Jordan. Bayless was just the most egregious example of all this, but certainly not the only one. So while I understand we should be wary of straw men, I don't think the man in this case is in fact straw.

At 5/09/2006 12:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

just wanted to point out, sunday night, Bron Bron's team gets blown out, similar score to the lakers/suns. in the second half he shoots 4 times, all in the thrid quarter. Bron sits out the 4th quarter, Kobes sits most of the 4th quarter in his game. if you look at the flow of the two games and the stats of the two players, they are close and very comparable. I just wanted to point this out to yall, now go crazy

At 5/09/2006 12:46 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

while bayless is the worst columnist breathing, he does have a tendency to speak for a certain breed of hyper-critical, yet manically thoughtless, sports obsessive—which,i suspect, is why espn keeps him around. also, to pretend we're not going to have to deal with the specter of jordan is flat-out naive; he's the gold standard for modern basketball excellence. what we do have to start doing, though, is appealing to jordan's actual career and all the specific, and contingent, facts that comprise it, as opposed to appealing to him as if he were some mystical essence revealed to REAL BASKETBALL FANZ as they drift off to sleep.

At 5/09/2006 12:47 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...


i called silverbird yesterday to make this exact same point. though the pistons are superior to the suns and it wasn't a game 7, it's amazing that no one gives lebron shit for it.

At 5/09/2006 12:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The mere joint existence of superstars and sportwriters creates this scenario: you have men whose job it is to play a game better than anyone can, and men whose job it is to fill column inches in daily newspapers with opinions about that. Shit gets scrutinized and dissected beyond all rationality.

The question I keep coming back to is why there is no one willing to give #24 the benefit of the doubt. Why is Kobe so hated?

Is it because he isn't properly an heir to Jordan's fortunes?
Is it because of a night in a resort hotel?
Is it because his media personality is crafted co carefully?
Is it his aloofness on the court and in the locker room?

I think #1 on that list is probably the most potent of them all. Kobe is hated most when he disappoints expectations -- regardless of whether those expectations are realistic, or whether the "disappointments" are fantastic (cf. 81 pts).

Much of the commentary after the game 1 loss centered aroung the fact that Kobe couldn't play that way for a whole series and expect to win. He had to be a scorer. When it started working, though -- when he became the embodiment of what sportwriters want Kobe to be -- they lifted him, like Icarus, to heights he could not sustain.

Sportwriters love the underdog, the scrapper, the overacheiver. But it's nearly impossible for Kobe to overacheive because so much is expected of him and he already does so much.

When these daily papers are mouldering in landfills, I feel confident that history's opinion of Kobe will be far more gentle than the one that shows up the next morning after a painful loss.

At 5/09/2006 12:49 PM, Blogger Pierre Menard said...

I don't know if i'm missing something here since i live in cyprus, but in my opinion Charlie Rosen is the most no-bs analyst out-there.
He may not try to search (or establish) the connections between the shooting style of Eddie Johnson and the post-structuralistic period in the work of Roland Barthes, or may not redifine genette's narrative analysis of time in relation to LeBron's travelling, but at least he doesn't try to impress you with nonsense. This is how the game went down, this is why the X team won, this is why i expect this team to win. This is Charlie Rosen. Add to that a touch of dry, cynical humor (every now and then). At least I (being a regular reader of his), wasn't a bit surprised when i saw Arenas attacking the basket every time he was guarded by Lebron. I knew that LeBron is simply worthless in defence.
The thing that seperates him fom other analysts is that he does not rely on cliche's. For example,he is the only one (that i have read), who insists that Ben Wallace is not the top defender of his team, it's Rasheed. At least he watches the games, and FORMS an opinion of his own, depending upon a logical analysis.


It seems odd to me that since everybody is trying to determine the position of Kobe's career in relation to MJ's, nobody ever thought to see it through this quote by Godard "A story should have a beginning, a middle, and an end... but not necessarily in that order". As in, MJ followed the expected path (natural talent,accused of being selfish, needs to know how to use his skills for the general good, then comes the wise guru and the sidekick, then succeeds, then earns his rings), while Kobe earns his rings from the beginning, he is the sidekick, now he is the leader, he has to learn again to use his talents, he does, then loses it again, the guru comes and go... Kobe totally fucked up the expected narrative of the bildungsroman, a narrative which was made by MJ as the canonised course of events.

PS 2
I simply enjoy watching LBJ getting smacked byt he Pistons. I don't know why, i sumply do. Whereas, when i found out that Suns eliminated LA, i didn't want to get out of bed the follwing morning

At 5/09/2006 1:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


If anything, I think a point that makes kobe a typical athlete is perhaps what disappointed people the most. People on both sides, actually. People that like him wanted to see a killer instinct and a dunk or four on bell (distinction: not neccessarily bushels of shots) and people that hate him wanted to merely see a few bushels of shots. We wanted an opera and we got ennui (I'm talking surface here).

If we say that kobe is a typical athlete, then this post/message board is pointless. We're discussing him because his actions broke both of those molds.

Additional point: I think condemning THE HALF with the subjective and semantic effort/intensity argument (in response to B. Recluse) is missing the point. Earlier in the series, when kobe's gifting-share-time was at its zenith, he still wasn't turning into Santa Nash. He just waited on the block for a couple seconds, then kept flipping the ball out to smush. Sure, game 7 was a more advanced case of this, but I think it was more "now I'm taking the training wheels off these guys", not "abort mission." He wanted his guys to create something on their own.

You think Kwame would have figured this out by getting similar same treatment from MJ himself on the Wiz (sorry about the accidental MJ correlation there).

At 5/09/2006 1:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kobe was not trying to get his team involved in the second half. He basically just stood around and didn't try to make any plays. His teammates then started chucking up horrible shots like Cook's 3 from 4 feet behind the arc. He gave up on them and was pouting untill Phil took him out. He was not trying to be the playmaker that won 3 games in the series.

At 5/09/2006 2:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am now pinning my hopes on a Nets-Mavericks Finals matchup. I think it's the best chance we have at an interesting Finals.

At 5/09/2006 2:06 PM, Blogger Brown Recluse, Esq. said...

if anyone besides the heat and the spurs make the finals, i'll be happy. yes, even detroit.

At 5/09/2006 2:14 PM, Blogger Gentlewhoadie Apt One said...

I can't stand Skip Bayless- he is the most absurd sports commentator out there right now. He only gets on TV because everything he says is either incorrect or potentially libelous. But I find him to be a useful barometer. Whatever Skip predicts, the opposite will happen.

He picked pretty much every game of NFL playoffs incorrectly (at least the ones involving the Steelers). He suggested Texas didn't belong in the same stadium as USC before the Rose Bowl. He picked UCLA over Florida in the NCAA championship game.

Also, googling "Skip Bayless" and "whore" turns up 1290 results, and googling "Skip Bayless" and "wrong" turns up 67,300 results. These are pretty bad signs for the Skip, but good news for gamblers.

In my cursory internet research, I also discovered that Skip at some point tried to "out" Troy Aikman as part of a book he wrote. Skip is not nearly as icy as he thinks he is.

At 5/09/2006 2:33 PM, Blogger S-Love said...

The comparison of Bulls-Orlando and Lakers-Suns is interesting, but Jordan was still shaking off the rust of a layoff. Bryant was coming off a career year. Given the very different lead-ins to these series, wouldn't they be fundamentally different?

At 5/09/2006 2:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Lakers losing the last three games of the series shows just how outstanding Kobe's heriocs were in games 2,3 & especially 4. The team (not just Kobe) stole those games, and everyone from Walton to Smush to Brown was playing far outside of their ability (and they got some favorable calls down the stretch).

Accordingly, the Lakers' collapse, triggered by Thomas' last second 3, was just the team coming back down to earth; a return to normalcy and acceptance of the inevitability of predestination. Yet the shift in expectations on a game by game basis hurt Bryant more than anyone else. As the Lakers went from being underdogs down 0-1, to a lock at 3-1, to a dissapointment losing 3-4, the perception of Kobe went from Master Craftsman to Wizard to Fatally Flawed Egomaniac. It would have beehoved Bryant more if the team had been swept by the Suns, instead of causing a blip on the radar at all.

Why is it important to crown the "Next Jordan" if you are not an Ad Executive? Its painful to see hardcore basketball fans buy into the King James hype machine, which is designed to draw the ever-fickle "casual fan".

At 5/09/2006 2:57 PM, Blogger CalvinPitt said...

I don't know why, but when I read all this discussion of Kobe, and did he give up in the second half, was it a statement, etc., I start to think of Alex Rodriguez.

Both are possibly the most talented players in their respective. Both seem unable to do anything that doesn't get them criticized (Kobe shooting a lot or not shooting enough, A-Rod going back and forth over the World baseball Classic). Kobe played on a team with a talented superstar, that seems immensely more popular, even though Kobe was key in their success as well, A-Rod plays witha talented superstar, that gets all the love for "playing the right way", while A-Rod gets heaped with scorn.

Of course, Kobe has championships, and A-Rod's never won anything, but they both seem to suffer from being too talented, and a bit too polished. It feels like too much of what they say is rehearsed, and people don't seem to like that.

Just a general impression though.

At 5/09/2006 3:30 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

At least he watches the games, and FORMS an opinion of his own,

Pierre, that might be true if it were an opinion that held any water at all. But unless it involves praising Phil Jackson, there's no positives to any players playing basketball anywhere anytime for the NBA.

Just a small example "A note to long-suffering Cavaliers' fans. Don't get caught in the LeBron James pipe dream. The best King James can ever be is an average NBA player"

At 5/09/2006 4:11 PM, Blogger Scotty said...

The question I keep coming back to is why there is no one willing to give #24 the benefit of the doubt. Why is Kobe so hated?

Because he ran shaq daddy out of town. He wanted it to be his team, on his own, and he got what he wanted. So suck it up kobe, you wanted to be the man....well, the man doesn't stand around the 3-point line, no motion, passing the ball off so someone else on his team can figure out what to do with it. the man demands double teams, posts up then passes it out, or, i don't know, maybe takes a shot or two.

At 5/09/2006 5:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The fans and sportwriters decided Kobe wasn't MJ's heir when he and Shaq lost to the Pistons in '04. The story of how Jordan's '95 season ended would be news to them (us)--we've all convinced ourselves that MJ took two full seasons off to play baseball. The Jordan Myth is that he would not lose. (Selective memory is essential to The Myth.) Every time he made it to the Finals, where the League is most widely and truly consumed, he won. Magic and Bird, because they were un/lucky enough to face each other in their prime, couldn't do that.

The story can go in any order, as Godard says, but The Myth can no longer sustain losing on the Big Stage. It's too late for Kobe to rewrite The Myth. But not for LeBron.

At 5/09/2006 5:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

One of the big issues with Shaq is it was becoming harder and harder to get the ball to him down in the low post. I think his numbers are down the last few years not so much because of his age in general, but because his age limits his ability to create his own shot and get to the rim, when he's not handed the ball down in the block (he is still MDE from 10ft out and closer). Is this really being the man? I think Shaq is still a dominant player, but it's easy for him to disappear for stretches late in the game if he's having a bad FT night or team's are denying the pass into the low post.

Note: Bill Walton once called Robert Horry 'the best low post feeder in the game.' The Lakers offense of the Phil-Shaq era was an opposite day triangle offense. Instead of opening up the pass from the low post out to the guard on the perimeter, it opens up the pass from the guard on the perimeter to the low post. It's the same thing, really.

At 5/09/2006 7:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

T - I read Charley Rosen regularly and love the stuff. Yeah, he has an odd penchant to rip new assholes for godlike figures like John Wooden, but he does praise players all the time when warranted. His articles are based on actual analysis of the on-court action, rather than... well, whatever it is that Marc Stein writes about. (This morning the Steinline wrote about Tottenham Hotspur?!) I'm not disposed right now to go to foxsports.com and quote all the articles ... but I remember he actually praised Kwame Brown's defense recently!

At 5/09/2006 7:30 PM, Blogger Snorri Hergill said...

Sometimes you guys are so smart it actually physically hurts. Fantastic article. I for one am looking forward to the Laker squad next year.

At 5/09/2006 7:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kobe was hated long before he ran Shaq out of town; his aloof image/Jordan comparisons have dogged him from the moment he was drafted (and traded).

Maybe being drafted out of high school is a critical factor here. It could very well be that three or four years of college would have allowed him the space to personally develop without the hyper-intense scrutiny of national media and a huge market.

For quality sportswriting, all I can say is: RIP Ralph Wiley.

At 5/10/2006 1:58 PM, Blogger Nate Jones said...

I agree with Mr. Jones. But I also will add that it is the media that determines ones fate in the Pro Sports world. Knowing how to control them and manipulate them to your benefit is key. Kobe hasn't done a good job of that from the beginning of his career. That is why they run all over him. When they don't like you, the public won't like you. It's just that simple. MJ knew how to handle the media. He knew how to have a polished persona. He also knew how to surround himself with the right people who would keep anything that might damage that public persona out of the hands of the media. As with Most NBA players, I'm sure MJ had a few run-ins with women that would try to cry rape at the end of the night or who had plans to extort him. But as with most NBA players, Jordan had a team around him that would squash shit like that before it even had a chance of turning into anything. Kobe on the other hand has never had the savvy to surround himself with such people. And if he did, he alienated them when he married his wife with no pre-nup. Also Kobe doesn't do a good job of hiding his arrogance on the floor. Every NBA superstar is arrogant. It takes a shread of arrogance to become the best at what you do. But yet the most popular NBA players don't let that seep on to the floor. You're telling me LeBron and Wade aren't as arrogant as Kobe? You're crazy if you think that is the case. But the two of them know how to carry themselves better than Kobe. They know that media perception is everything. Same can be said of players from the past such as Magic and MJ. Just a thought...

At 5/10/2006 5:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Where does the nba get off fining Mark Cuban $100,000 for questioning the process of choosing officials for the playoffs? I read his blog post and he didn't really rip the officials for really poor calls as much as he questioned the reason for having 33 referees who didn't all work together and some who weren't head refs. He was calling for fewer and more qualified refs to keep throughout the playoffs so they keep working together.

At 5/10/2006 7:41 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

i'm with aug. cuban is not an idiot; in fact, he's probbaly smarter about operations type shit than most of the league brass. he may flip out, but there's always a very rational idea or opinion underneath it all that it would probably behoove the nba to consider. unfortunately, instead of it getting his ideas attention, it keeps people from taking him/them seriously.

At 5/10/2006 8:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not defending him getting fined for running out on the court to complain to the refs($100,000 seems a bit steep though. I guess they're fining him based on how much he has or something). But can the NBA even legally fine him for posting on his blog? I don't remember if his blog is hosted by nba.com or not though, and i'm sure he signed some thing when he became an owner. I mean, how many people really read/care about his blog though? Shouldn't the nba promote him taking his frustrations out in his personal blog instead of in post game interviews or on national tv during games.

At 5/11/2006 12:16 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

Ms. Arenas - did ya get your mail?

At 5/11/2006 12:32 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

what does a porpoise in a wave have to with this?

The world at larger seems to believe that Jordan created what ever he wanted from his magical will. Jordan wanted something - really wanted it - then it simply happened. In matters of will and determination it is easy to see how Kobe is the current guy who is the "most Jordan-like," and since there must now always be someone filling the Jordan role (much like Cats on Broadway) then KB8 is the man.

But what if Kobe clearly does want something (win game 6 or 7) and he doesn't get it? If his will does not manifest in reality, Kobe is a false Jordan. No one likes false gods.

At 5/11/2006 1:43 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

this is damn fine writing. sheesh. you all deserve a raise. fuck skip bayless and all the small minded people who feel the need to diss what they don't understand.

Kobe is simply the greatest player playing the greatest game-- for now.

It is a team game, however, and it takes a team to win a series. THE TEAM fell short. All the Kobe worship/hatred detracts from the amazing accomplishment of getting as far as they did with as little as they did.

SilverBird5000- you rule.

See you guys soon,
The Allrights

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