The 80s Are Hot Again

Kurt —  January 24, 2006

Update: Want to see all of Kobe’s 81 points in just three minutes? Well, it’s all right here (thanks to Henry at True Hoop for finding this).

Well Bill “Sports Guy” Simmons is even happy now. He still misses the point at times (read down a few paragraphs) but he feels vindicated. That’s good, as a professional writer, I’m sure his self-esteem could use the occasional boost.

I think we’re all still stunned and amazed at the 81 — in Vegas, the city where football (well, really football betting) is king, Kobe and his 81 were the story on top of the sports page Monday morning. I’m not sure what I can say that would add to all that has been said, but I’ll point you to (and comment on) what other people have been saying.

I think this may be the biggest thing — Kobe’s 81 got the most egotistical and hardest to tolerate newspaper columnist in LA (and there is a heated competition for the title) to admit he was wrong.

Great breakdown
, as you would expect, over at Hoopsanalyst.

If you want to own the 81 points Kobe scored — not just the video of the game, the actual points (in liquid form) — here is where you can bid for them.

If you have ESPN Insider, check out the John Hollinger piece comparing Kobe’s 81 to Wilt’s 100 — he’s thinks Kobe’s is more impressive. I’m not going to give away a bunch of stuff they want you to pay to see, but I will point out this: Hollinger estimates there were about 46 more possessions in the Wilt game than the Laker game the other night, figure Kobe’s points using the same number of possessions Wilt had and Kobe goes for 118.

Phil Jackson said in the Daily News, “To be honest with you, that’s not exactly the way you want to have a team win a game. But when you have to win a game, it’s great to be able to have that weapon to do it with.” He’s right, the Lakers will need better play out of the rest of the team if they are going to make the playoffs. But it sure is fun to watch.

Back to Simmons for a second, he spends a paragraph talking about how Kobe’s ball hogging must be driving Lamar Odom nuts. Two quick thoughts: 1) as has been shown before, Lamar Odom is playing better when Kobe is on the floor; 2) Lamar gets plenty of chances every game to make himself a key part of the offense, he only takes advantage of them about every other game.

Really though, I think the guys at yaysports.com said it best.

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If you were the coach of Golden State, New York, Indiana or one of the other teams coming up on the Laker schedule, wouldn’t you be working on a defense that would strive to keep the ball out of Kobe’s hands and double him the second the ball swings to his side of the court?

The theory of “let Kobe have his and stop everyone else” works only if you have a defender who can at least make Kobe work for his points and slow him a little. Detroit has that, the Raptors did not. Sure, all the Raptors said after the game they tried to stop Kobe, but let’s be honest, they are not the NBA’s most athletic or talented team, and combine that with Kobe shooting 74% (true shooting percentage) there’s no way you’re going to stop him completely.

Other teams know they need to slow him down, how long is it before that is the first, second and third goal of the opponents — “Don’t let Kobe beat you, force Lamar to do it.” Can he? Can he night in and night out? What about Smush, Mihm and the rest of the Kobettes?

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One off topic Vegas note. Let’s say you’re not really a musical theater guy. Let’s say you’re in Vegas and you want to take your wife/girlfriend/hooker you want to impress to a show one night, but you’re dreading it. Allow me make a suggestion — Avenue Q, playing at the Wynn. Fair warning, tickets are not cheap by anyone but Bill Gates’ standards. But if your significant other (or significant other for the night) wants an evening of culture, just tell her this won the Tony for best musical a couple years ago. It did. But trust me, this is not like the versions of Carousel or South Pacific you had to sit through in high school. This has some songs you can relate to.

Kurt

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17 responses to The 80s Are Hot Again

  1. Actually, as off as some of Simmon’s comments are, they aren’t as bad as Legler’s in today’s Daily Dime.

  2. I thought about trying to defend Kobe against all comers, such as Legler and Martin Johnson in the NY Sun, but it seemed a waste. People can say what they want, but the big fact is the Lakers were getting their ass kicked by the Raptors (the freekin Raptors) until Kobe took over, and the rest of the team went 14-42. On nights like that, he should let loose.

  3. Legler is on someone’s payroll because he sure isn’t spouting any educated opinion about the Lakers. His comments re” making the team and they would have a better record if he wasn’t this dominant….PLEASE we saw EXACTLY what this team without Kobe’s passion and determination would net us, lucky to win even a game against the Raptors….

  4. chris henderson January 24, 2006 at 5:39 pm

    saw Ave Q in NY and did enjoy it too.
    maybe it’s a good thing that Kobe broke out like this AT THIS POINT IN THE SEASON, cause now the opponents will come in with a Defensive plan to STOP KOBE, which will cause the rest of the (open) team to STEP UP AND PLAY THE GAME.
    for some time now, it’s like we live and die by how Kobe’s shots are going in, (or not). then there’s that occasional time when the second unit (with Kobe on the bench) playing above their heads, which is great to see, but just needs to be on a more consistent basis.
    So, with some luck, with opponents looking to stop Kobe, we have the second half of the season to get THE REST OF THE PLAYERS on the team to start getting involved in the flow of the game.
    This is essential, and Phil knows it, so let’s hope we start seeing more TEAM PLAY from here on out.

  5. Is Artest trying to get out of Sac to come here? It is interesting…

  6. Word, word, word, brethren, sistren, and children
    of the FB&G, you have said it well.

    Verily you see the take of sundry pundits;
    to draw from the late great Richard Pryor,
    “Are you gonna believe me [ who may or may not
    have even seen the game ] or your lying eyes
    [ even if you paid good $$ for court level seats
    at Staples Center ]?”

    The first wave was “Wow!”
    The second wave is “What?”
    The third wave is “Yeah, but…”
    The fourth wave is “He’s still a ball hog,
    and he’s NO Michael Jordan!”

    Rock, meet hard place.

    On the other hand, Kobe has moved the rock
    a little bit from its old post.
    He’s right when he says he can’t focus on changing
    peoples’ minds if they are dead set anti-Ocho,
    but there’s no doubt that after a while some of the
    hard hearts soften.

    Others will just jump to the LeBron bandwagon,
    and then the J.J. Redick bandwagon, and so on.
    Nothing to be done but do your thing
    do it well and move on.

    I almost e-flamed on my brother the moment
    I saw the “ball hog” phrase in his e-mail yesterday.

    Agreed, KB sometimes throws up perimeter shots
    when I think he ought to drive, but he WILL drive
    which ( Mihm and Cook excepted ) the rest of the team
    ( we miss you already, LaRon Profit ) is too afraid to do
    for Buddha only knows what reason.

    747-wing-spanned Odom could do it oh-so much more; I see him see the opening in the lane;
    I see him think about going for it but not going forit;
    then he decides, “Yeah, go,” by which time the Red Sea
    has closed– offensive foul on #7.

    And Smush “Playground” Parker has contracted
    Stage 2 Wile E Coyote Syndrome–
    [ Deavean George had a raging case of it two years ago ]
    aggressive at the outset, then after a foul call
    psyches himself out of the action for 10 minutes
    at a stretch, then all of a sudden a drive to the basket
    and you wonder why he hadn’t been doing that
    instead or camping at the arc and bricklaying
    on the previous three possessions.

    Even Sasha’s lost his shoulder chip; he’s still
    trying to get a steal, but his offense is less confident.

    Luke– ??
    Kwame– ???

    And you all saw while Kobe sat the team played
    to the level of the Raptors.
    Lamar’s laissez energy did not initiate any aggressive
    play by the other four on the floor
    When Kobe came back, however the team
    ( perhaps in spite of themselves ) began to be more
    aggressive, and more effective defensively,
    which created more ops for Kobe to score,
    and in turn Kobe psyched the Raps out too to a point
    where they started watching the show too like kids
    watching fireworks on the Fourth, or like Raja Bell,
    did what they could and could do no more
    ( the “demoralizing” Kobe mentioned post-game )

    I would have also liked to have seen all the Lakers
    go, “If Kobe can get in there, let me try,”
    not only when he was playing but while he sat down,
    and I guarantee however much Kobe loves to score,
    he’d love to see the teammates get double figures
    all around too.

    As I had said previously, I like these guys and I’d love to
    see them succeed in the current lineup —
    perhaps it’s the “Bad News Bears” sentiment ,
    but what Kobe’s performance has shown is how much more is involved in the makeup of a true “elite” athlete beyond the skills and how the work never stops even
    when you’re a cut above.

    But even a role player doesn’t have to settle
    for a role player mentality– ask Ben Wallace–
    and merely playing on a team in the NBA doesn’t mean
    your game is complete, but many players, and
    many of our Lakers players in particular have not
    understood ( yet ) how Kobe’s ethic can be
    an example for them to follow regardless
    of their skill level.
    And that, as Yoda would say, “is why they fail.”

    It’s a simple concept, but not easy to do,
    and the commitment to the down-time
    offcourt conditioning is kinda like postgraduate
    study; not everyone can kick it that hard that often…
    but don’t NOT try on the court.

    Come on, fellas, bring it.

    – 5 -

  7. Hang on, Kurt. Are you saying that you took a hooker to a broadway show? What does your pregnant wife think about that?

  8. Forget about Kobe / Wilt comparisons.

    Jordan’s – 69pt , 18reb, 6ast, 4stl, 1blk outburst against the 1990 playoff Cleveland team is more impressive than Kobe’s one dimensional performance.

  9. please don’t tell me that tony is tony mejida. lol

  10. Wait, she was a hooker? I thought I was doing great with her.

  11. Kobe and Wilt comparisons would fall into best “scoring performances”.

    For nomination in the best over all performance I would say Walt “Clyde” Frazier in game 7of the 1970 Finals in the mis named “”Willis Reed” game:
    36 points, 19 assists and five steals.

    Or Magic’s rookie performance in 1980’s Finals clincher:
    42 points, 15 boards, seven assists and three steals.

    The Jordan game was impressive, but I chose these two because they occured in Championship clinching games.

    I don’t know about calling Kobe’s performance “one dimensional” unless you’re talking about winning as being that aforementioned “one dimension”.

  12. Regarding the idea Kobe’s performance was one dimensional, I’ll make two points.

    1) there are two parts to an assist, the pass and someone else making the shot. The rest of the Lakers were 14-42 against Toronto.

    2) Kobe had the best player defensive rating on the Lakers for that game. By a healthy margin.

  13. An assist is a bit more complicated than – a pass and someone else making the shot.

    High percentage shooting has a lot to do with the quality of passes being thrown.

    Touch, softness, speed, DESIRE, timing, position where ball is caught, and position of the shooter in relation to his surroundings are all important aspects of passing.

    Passing is also not only two dimensional. Often the pass before the assist will influence whether a shot is taken, made, or missed.

    Here is an example we see all the time. A star guard drives the lane looking to score, draws the defense, and then kicks the ball out to a spot-up shooter.
    The pass is a good idea but poorly thrown, forcing the shooter to reach down by his feet to make the catch. The shooter then brings the ball all the way up to shooting position to launch a shot.
    This motion interferes with shooting mechanics and often is the difference between and made and missed shots.

    Finally,
    Its not surprising if Kobe had the best defensive rating among all Laker’s players. The strength of the Raptors offense revolves around the PF, PG, and SF positions
    and not SG.

  14. Tony, first let me talk about your second comment: Kobe has spent 63% of his time on the court matched up on 2 guards (according to 82games), but we all know that switches at various times. I didn’t see the Raptor game, so I don’t know, but just because they aren’t good at the 2 doesn’t mean he wasn’t covering the three, or maybe the one at points. How he played on D, I leave to you that watched the game.

    And I certainly didn’t mean to imply that an assist was something very simple. There’s good reason some people are better at it than others. My point was simply that passing to inferior shooters is not always Kobe’s best option.

  15. Kurt,

    Nice follow up. You are right about the D. Though Kobe can improve, he’s an agressive defender and because of his size and athleticism, he’s able to switch effectively and does guard other positions.

    As for passing, I must concede….the Lakers are not rich with sharp-shooters or even scorers. This puts Kobe in a predicament. Since Kobe can create a decent shot whenever he wants, its probably very difficult for him to rationalize passing the ball to his under-talented teammates.

    I completely see this logic. However, I believe there’s threshold where Kobe’s dominance begins to yield diminishing returns (long term).

    Which side of the threshold would you say they are on right now?

  16. Tony,

    I think he flirts with the line of shooting to the point of demoralizing teammates as well as opponents. Some nights I can see him getting frustrated and taking everything on, and when he shoots 74% (ts%) it’s hard to argue with the result. But he has hoisted up a lot of shots on nights he wasn’t that hot (or the D was better), and those are the nights he needs to find others within the offense.

    Some players can deal with how he is playing right now, some can’t. I’m not sure on which side Odom falls.

Trackbacks and Pingbacks:

  1. Most Valuable Network - 5-Point Bucks » I am the be-all end-all on Kobe’s 81 - January 24, 2006

    [...] Ah, but the best (or worst) column is from Bill Simmons, who’s previous column blasting Kobe for not going for 80 against the Mavs earlier this year was the first thing I thought of when I finally convinced myself that Kobe really did score 81 points in a single game. Thanks to Forum Blue and Gold for helping me find this, in which Simmons eats crow while at the same time tries to sound like he was right all along. [...]