20,000 Fast Break Thoughts

Kurt —  December 24, 2007

It’s really hard to get your head around what an accomplishment 20,000 points in a career is. Look at the list of players who have reached that mark —the list is just 30 players long — and it reads like a “who’s who” of the NBA’s greats. Kobe got there at a younger age than any of them (although Wilt did it faster, in 499 games to Kobe’s 811).

Of that group, just 16 did it with one team. I love the fact that Kobe did — not just because I’m a Kobe fan or a Lakers fan, but because I’m an NBA fan. I think it’s good for the league to have stars that don’t move around much, I think it helps build franchise loyalty and identity. I like that Magic was always a Laker, Bird always a Celtic. I’d like Kobe to always be a Laker, LeBron to stay in Cleveland (unless he wants to become a Laker), Wade to be with the Heat (ditto). I like that Garnett tried hard to make a go of it in Minnesota.

To have watched Kobe since he was a headstrong rookie willing to take big shots in the playoffs, seen him grow into an NBA great, to watch his championships and off-the-court struggles, that makes me appreciate him a little better as a person, and a player. I have more of an emotional investment in him and the team, and while I know this is a business, at some level it’s about the customers (fans) and giving them something worth spending money on. Kobe does that. And it’s been great to watch him score 20,000 points.


• The Bulls just fired Scott Skiles. I’m curious who they bring in and what direction they try to take this team now. Should be interesting.

• As for the Knicks game….

Don’t question too much a win on the road in the last game of a road trip. Getting those wins are the signs of a solid team.

• The Lakers looked great early — well, technically I think the Knicks looked horrible and the Lakers looked good — and then I think their energy lapsed. Say what you will about the Knicks, they bring guys like David Lee and Nate Robinson off the bench who are pure energy guys, and that can keep a team in a game. The Lakers got caught mentally ending the road trip a little early, but they hung on for the win and I’m not going to look much past that right now.

• Looking at the stats is a little odd, just because it was a tale of two halves, but the Lakers ended up getting good shooting nights from Kobe (62.7% true shooting percentage, which takes into account trips to the free throw line), Andrew Bynum (66%), Sasha “The Machine” Vujacic (60%) and Trevor Ariza (71.7%). After that things drop off.

• Re: Ariza, he is a career 16% three-point shooter who has upped that to 33% since coming to the Lakers (because of the open looks the triangle offense gets him). Still, when he lines up to shoot that corner three, defenders run at him and he steps around them baseline and gets to the basket almost every time. It’s brilliant and athletic, but I’m amazed teams don’t dare him to shoot from three.

• Commenter nomuskles got to check something off his to-do in life list that I have wanted to — see a game at Madison Square Garden. In case you missed it, here are some of his comments:

There were quite a few lakers fans in attendance. The Lakers got lots of cheers and Kobe got about 50/50 cheers/boos in introductions.

Saying Nate Robinson is “fast” doesn’t do him justice. He is beyond fast.

Jamal Crawford’s game resembles the game of the 42-year-old guy at the park who gets by on an ugly set shot and funky bank shots. Doesn’t matter how it happens, he puts the rock through the ring.

Two favorite things about the game today:

1. The crowd at MSG was great. They booed Isaiah as much possible, booed their own team for playing like crap through most of the game, and then got astronomically loud when the Knicks made it close. Chants of dee-FENSE were incredibly powerful. The crowd doesn’t need the scoreboard “noise-meter” to tell them to cheer. They just do it. The smallness of the garden helps give the game a great atmosphere. The cavernous space of Wachovia Center (in Philly) and Staples Center severely hinder the power of the crowd.

2. Jordan Farmar’s steal at the end was incredible. Just a huge sucker punch to the whole crowd. They believed they were going to tie the game with a three from crawford and Farmar just came out of nowhere to make the steal. He was just a blur in my vision as he got his hand on the pass.

• In Newsday this morning, Thomas questioned the starting lineup he had out there against the Lakers, saying maybe they needed more energy and defense. Ya think?

• I watched the late-night replay of the Lakers/Knicks game on NBATV (while assembling children’s Christmas toys — the instructions are unimaginably vague, it’s like a puzzle) and the Knicks announcers questioned Thomas in fairly stark terms. They also marveled at Kobe and really praised the Lakers bench, Well, in the first half.

• And one little trivia question from that broadcast — what Laker scored the most points in a single game against the Knicks? (Answer in the comments, get it right and you win, um, the adoration of all.)

• I think the Christmas day game could have a playoff like atmosphere. That is going to be a fun part of the day.