Deconstructing Kobe

Reed —  June 16, 2009

There is no doubt that this title meant as much to Kobe, and to the public’s perception of his legacy, than perhaps any title has meant to any player in recent memory. In that spirit, we have been showered with stories praising Kobe, dissecting his relief, evaluating his transformation, figuring his place in history, analyzing his relationship with Phil and his teammates, etc., etc., ad nauseam. This has been fun, even if much of it is puffy, revisionist, or based on somewhat distorted generalizations about the facts (both statistical and otherwise).

But we’ve also seen something of a Kobe backlash. This must be the case with Kobe, who polarizes and divides the sports world in strange ways usually associated only with religious/political figures. When you watch Kobe, you care. You don’t lukewarmly clap as you do with Lebron, Wade, Paul, Duncan, or even Jordan. You follow with whole-souled loyalty and love or unbreakable hatred and opposition. No matter where you stand, you care about Kobe; you are interested in him; and you watch him with real emotional investment. Accordingly, having Kobe push through the finals every year is a boon for the league. No one stands at the water cooler debating Spurs-Pistons, or even something seemingly epic like Celtics-Cavs.

The sports world might be more obsessed with Kobe’s legacy than perhaps any player in league (or sports) history. Jordan dispassionately ascended to the pinnacle; Duncan and Shaq are casually placed somewhere in the top 5-10 range; we didn’t argue about Magic and Bird’s place, they just kind of arrived near the top. But we argue and wrangle and declare Kobe’s place in the hierarchy of gods with a different spirit – one attended by stretched stats and forced comparisons. By the time his work is finished he’ll have put together a stunning body of work. If he plays another 5-6 years and LA makes several more deep playoff runs, we could be looking at something in the realm of 5-6 titles, 8-9 finals appearances, multiple finals mvp awards, 15-16 all nba first teams, 12 all nba defense teams, 3-4 all star mvp awards, 3rd all time scorer, all time playoff scorer, two time olympic gold medalist, not to mention the unparalleled highlights. He’ll have won the title with two wholly different teams, both opposed by (potentially) all time top 5 greats in their prime (Duncan and Lebron). This may be optimistic, but it’s more possible than you think.

The Kobe haters sense this and know that this title acts as a swift and final counter to their long paraded criticisms. They see that Kobe is on his way to achieving something un-rebuttable (if that is a word) and that drives them mad. And so, we hear old and new criticisms whispered (or trumpeted in Simmons case) against Kobe:

This Laker team was just the least flawed among a flawed group of contenders.

Kobe still has not learned to trust his teammates and make them better.

His relationship with Phil and his teammates is staged; they can’t stand him at heart.

His numbers look sparkling but he was inefficient and selfish; the real credit belongs with Ariza, Gasol, and others.

Even with this title, Kobe is not Jordan and is now worse than Lebron.

The goal of the Kobe hater is clear: undermine, undermine, undermine. Now, as a Laker blog we are duty bound to defend our shining knight. More significantly, we are a blog devoted to reason, evidence, and substantive discussion. We despise fluff and all of its corollaries. As this recent wave of Kobe attacks are based on shallow and/or false interpretations of the factual record (or no facts at all), they will be addressed in turn. Above all of that, I’m bored and enjoy arguing, so I will take on take on some of these Kobe criticisms.

Now, in full disclosure, I am an unabashed Kobe homer. But I am reasonable and mostly capable of objectivity. Above all, I support my conclusions with facts. I don’t interpret facial expressions, read minds, reconstruct conversations, or analyze hugs and handshakes. Such is irresponsible journalism, and, even though I am not a journalist, I find it somewhere between silly and offensive.

1. Kobe is Not Jordan

This is often used in support of the go to anti-Kobe argument: that he is not Jordan. How many times have we all heard this? “Yeah, well, he may have X, but Kobe’s still not Jordan no matter what he does.” The most relevant and simple response is, of course, who cares. We have nothing riding on Kobe being Jordan. We care about titles and glory for LA and we receive an abundant portion of both. Furthermore, as Dex noted so eloquently, why this fascination with ranking athletes? Given the wildly different context in which every superstar plays, we are fundamentally incapable of objectively comparing them. Wilt vs. Shaq? Stockton vs. Cousy? Bird v. Lebron? There’s no way to accurately make these comparisons. But even if we could, why do we need to? More Dex: we don’t sit around and rank Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, and Joyce. They are all transcendent geniuses and we simply appreciate that they mastered their craft and brighten our world in different, though always brilliant ways.

Nevertheless, as Kobe comparisons with Jordan will never go away, let’s ensure that they proceed on the facts, not some revisionist and agenda-driven notion of them.

This chart represents four sets of finals statistics from MJ and Kobe. Which set is the most impressive? It has to be Player D, right? Although he shot a somewhat lower percentage from the field than Player B, this is more than overcome by the higher free throw and 3 point %’s, along with significantly higher rebound and assist totals. Players A-C is Jordan during his last three finals runs (98, 97, and 96); Player D is Kobe in 2009.

Beyond showing that Kobe is indeed firmly in Jordan’s ballpark (at least “Phase II Jordan”), these statistics rebut a few attacks levied against Kobe recently. First, they show that Kobe is as willing of a passer, if not more so, than Jordan – and this is at the end of Jordan’s career, when he was supposedly the most team-oriented. Kobe has been accused of recklessly jacking up shots on a solo mission, with Jordan held up as the prototype. But Jordan shot as frequently as Kobe, even though his shooting percentage in two of the three finals is lower than Kobe’s. Jordan didn’t just pass to Paxson one day and ride off to a pass-happy, gunner-controlled sunset.

Did Kobe take some ill advised shots? Undoubtedly. But what does that prove? What superstar wing doesn’t? Besides Jordan, only two other players in nba history have averaged 30 points and 7 assists in the finals – Kobe and Jerry West. Kobe’s unselfish playmaking in the finals is nearly unparalleled. By way of comparison, Wade, who gets so much credit for his 2006 finals run, averaged 3.8 assists per game – half of Kobe’s total.

Second, Kobe was as efficient as Jordan during his last three title runs. Jordan’s free throw and 3 point percentages were lower every year. Much is made of Kobe’s struggles in games 3 and 4 of the finals, but Jordan was equally capable of having an off night. In the 98 finals Jordan shot over 50% once and put up shooting nights of 9-26, 14-33, 15-35, and 13-29. In the 97 finals, Chicago lost games 3 and 4 as Jordan shot 9-22 and 11-27. In 96 against Seattle, two of the final three games witnessed 6-19 and 5-19 performances. My point is that it is disingenuous to knock Kobe for having an off game now and then. Yes Kobe sometimes forces things when he doesn’t have it, but it is revisionist history to say that Jordan didn’t sometimes do the same. Much like Kobe’s Lakers, Jordan’s Bulls were complete teams that were fully capable of winning when he showed his mortal side. And, like Kobe, Jordan was capable of controlling a game even with a struggling jumper.

When evaluating and comparing efficiency, we also need to place these performances in their proper context. Kobe’s last two finals runs have been against the teams that finished first in defensive efficiency (Boston and Orlando). Is it fair to hold it against him that he shot a few percentage points lower than usual? Continuing the above comparison, Jordan’s 98 finals were against the league’s 16th ranked defense (Utah), and the 97 finals against the 9th ranked defense (Utah). If Kobe played against Milwaukee or Dallas in the finals (two middle of the road defensive teams), what would his numbers have looked like?

Now, my point is not that Kobe is as good as or better than Jordan. He has obviously not put together an equivalent body of work. And, it is fair to point out that Jordan was 32-34 during the three finals runs listed above (although with much less mileage than Kobe will have at a similar stage due to college and baseball). More importantly, Kobe has not approximated Jordan’s first three finals runs, which are simply off the charts. For example, 1993 against Phoenix: 41 points, 8.5 rebounds, 6.3 assists on 50.7% shooting. Although even these great early finals runs for Jordan need to be read in context. With respect to the Phoenix series, note that (1) Phoenix had the 9th ranked defense, and (2) the league shot almost 2% points higher in the early 90s compared with recent seasons. I keep harping on the former point because it is salient — in any year it is difficult to maintain peak efficiency against the very elite defenses. Consider that in those same 1993 playoffs Jordan faced the league’s #1 defense in the conference finals (New York) and had a nightmare series, averaging only 10 makes on 26 attempts, good for 40% shooting. In the first three games of this series, he shot 10-28, 12-32, and 3-18. In the final game he went 8-24. That represents 4 of the 6 games (although he did have a huge 54 point explosion in game 4, when the Bulls were down 2-1 and needed a win).

Still, Kobe’s not Jordan. His career resume and best playoff performances still fall short. We don’t ultimately care, but many of the arguments that attempt to discredit Kobe by pointing to Jordan simply get the facts wrong. I don’t want to hear that Kobe’s on a stubborn solo mission, won’t pass, and has too many mortal games — and have Jordan thrown in my face. Kobe just put up a finals that was on par with and probably eclipsed Jordan’s last three finals, and he did so against the league’s best defensive team.

And, in some respects, I’m glad Kobe’s not Jordan. I’m glad he doesn’t “command” a room the same way. Kobe’s devotion is basketball and basketball alone. (Can you imagine if Simmons told Bird he wasn’t as good as Magic because he couldn’t “command a room”? He’d be appropriately slapped in the mouth). Maybe Kobe will also avoid some of Jordan’s pitfalls along the way — diminishing comebacks, failed front office ventures (the irony is that Kobe got more out of Kwame than Jordan ever did). But that’s all besides the present point. By any measure Kobe just put up a grade A finals for the ages — even if it’s compared to the Basketball Prototype.

2. Kobe is Not Lebron

Now, this is also true: Kobe is not Lebron. But now I’m speaking metaphysically as opposed to comparatively. The common argument goes something like this. Lebron is better than Kobe because his stats are far superior; the only reason Lebron didn’t beat Orlando and Kobe did is because Lebron’s teammates forsook him.

The truth is that Lebron’s stats against Orlando (and during the regular season) are far superior to Kobe’s, but they don’t tell the whole story. Lebron and Kobe’s stats vs. Orlando:

What do we make of these numbers? Well, in terms of pure volume Lebron wins out. He also shot a significantly higher percentage from the field. But I want to extrapolate from the team offensive efficiency and three point shooting numbers. Both LA and Cleveland demolished Orlando’s league leading defense with 110 ratings, but LA did it as a team and Lebron did it alone. One way of viewing this is to praise Lebron over Kobe; the other is to recognize that Lebron was less capable of opening up the game for his teammates. I posit that Kobe’s refined offensive game actually is much more conducive to creating and enhancing teammate opportunities, even if Lebron is usually praised as the more willing passer.

Ric Bucher actually got me thinking about this in a Simmons podcast. He said that while Lebron put up sparkling numbers, he did so very inefficiently – but not in the sense that he shot a low %. Instead, Lebron’s lack of post game and three point shooting force him to dribble endlessly while searching for an opening to penetrate, eating away at the shot clock and leaving teammates standing stagnant. The result was often a powerful Lebron drive or free throws, but it came at a heavy cost for team play – the defense can largely play him one on one, play off him a few feet, and stay at home on his teammates. Orlando did this beautifully and Lebron fell for the trap, leading to his teammates really struggling to get easy opportunities from the field. It was Lebron or nothing every possession.

Compare this with Kobe’s game against Orlando. Kobe is the single best post up guard in the league – his strength, footwork, and moves render him deadly on the block. As a consequence, Orlando had to double team Kobe every time he got the ball down low. Furthermore, Kobe’s unlimited range force his man to stick with him out past the three point line, even on the weak side. Kobe can score from anywhere with very little effort, whether it’s in the post, outside the three point line, on a pick and roll, in the midrange, etc. He’s also a deadly free throw shooter so the defense has to play him honest. The result? Kobe is much more capable of efficiently breaking down a defense than Lebron. Why was Fisher wide open for the game-winning three in overtime of game 4? Because Orlando had to double Kobe in the post. Why did Trevor Ariza shoot dozens and dozens of threes with no one within 10 feet of him? Ditto. Why do Pau and Odom work such an effective high-low game after Kobe initiates the pick and roll? Because the defense knows Kobe can pull up quickly from anywhere. Why did Gasol see so much single coverage? On and on we could go.

This is how a team starting Smush Parker, Brian Cook, and Kwame Brown finished 8th in offensive efficiency in 2006. Think about that. So, while Kobe may not shoot the same percentage from the field as Lebron, his diverse, quick-hitting, polished offensive game makes him much more capable of breaking down the heart of a defense and opening up opportunities for others. All of those easy shots were there for Fisher, Ariza, Gasol, and Odom because of Kobe. And credit to them for rising up and making them.

I recognize that Lebron may have had a superior regular season than Kobe, but remember that one of them consistently cracked the elite teams and the other did not. In terms of driving a team to success, Kobe is still miles ahead of Lebron.


3. Kobe Remains a Poor Leader; He Does Not Make His Teammates Better and They Dislike Him

This is the final criticism I’ll address, and by far the most infuriating. There are variations on this theme, but the attacks usually boil down to Kobe being simply unlikable and/or selfish.

First, Kobe as likable. Really analyzing this requires the kind of facial expression and lip reading mastery that I don’t yet have a degree in (Simmons rejected my application). And, while I do believe that Kobe’s teammates like him, at least much more than they ever have before, that is ultimately besides the point to me.

Kobe is the leader of that team; the general. I honestly don’t care whether he has bubble baths with the guys after hours or not. I don’t care whether he makes them laugh or plays cards with them. I’m guessing that Lebron, and most nba alpha dogs, are much better at these things than Kobe. The question is whether the leader commands his teammates respect and brings out the best in them on the court. And it is simply dishonest to say that any other superstar in the league gets more out of his teammates than Kobe.

First, it is acknowledged by all, friend and foe, that Kobe had a transformative effect on the other Redeem Team members. He is unmatched as a worker, professional, and student of his craft, and this quickly rubbed off on Lebron, Wade, Howard, Melo, etc. They were all quick this year to point this fact out and credit Kobe for their career years. Everyone, even Simmons, recognizes this (although he did find some way to pervert Kobe’s Olympic experience into a “mistaken” and “foolish” sharing of trade secrets… blah blah barf. Simmons, here’s a column suggestion, how about comparing Paul Pierce’s splendid USA basketball experience in 2002 with Kobe’s?). The maturation of Lebron, Wade, Melo, Howard, Paul, Deron and co. seems to be initiating another golden era for the league (leaving behind the carter-iverson, spurs-pistons and other ice-age-ish periods). Shouldn’t Kobe get some credit for this?

If Kobe proved so powerful in transforming superstars on the Olympic Team, then why don’t we believe he has had a similar impact on his Laker teammates over time? If you look back at recent Laker teams and players, you’ll see that this has to be the case. The last few Laker teams are absolutely littered with mediocre players that achieved some measure of never to be reproduced success next to Kobe.

Kwame Brown. Smush Parker. Chucky Atkins. Brian Cook. Chris Mihm. Kareem Rush. Jumaine Jones.

Where are they now? Will we ever hear from them again? Do you realize that the 2006 Laker team won 45 games in the West with Smush Parker starting 82 games (3rd leading scorer), Kwame Brown 49, Brian Cook 46, Chris Mihm 56, and Devean George as the 6th man? Really ponder that. Will Smush Parker ever play again in the nba? Will Brian Cook ever play in the rotation again for a playoff team, much less start? Consider that Smush Parker has a 12.5 PER playing on the Lakers and a career 6.9 PER otherwise; for Brian Cook it is 14.6 with Kobe and 8.5 without. Doing this kind of PER comparison could be its own post.

Now think about Kobe’s teammates on these finals teams. Will Radmanovic ever start again for a finals team? Will we ever hear from Sasha or Walton again if they leave Kobe’s side – and both have been critical performers on finals teams? How many career three pointers did Trevor Ariza make before Kobe gave him his shooting program last summer? (Nine). Would Gasol ever have made an all nba team or been considered a top 10 overall player on Memphis? How much money has playing with Kobe earned Ariza, Sasha, Walton, Smush, Cook, Kwame, Turiaf, Fisher, etc., etc.

Some people in life are simply uncomfortable with mediocrity. They do not stand for it. Kobe is that teacher we all had in high school that was all business, made you do four hours of homework every night, show up every day, and pour everything you had into each assignment, paper, or test. You hated that teacher. You may have often complied out of fear, but by the end you learned a hell of a lot more than you ever had before and appreciated it. That’s Kobe Bryant. He may not be Mr. Kicks and Giggles, but you will absolutely work your tail off and play better than you ever have before under him. As Jerry West said recently, “Kobe approaches the game the right way. Not smiling around and glad-handing guys on the other team. I watch some of these guys laughing and joking before the game or on the bench. If it’s that damn funny … maybe that’s a sign of weakness.” And all of this is on top of how easy he makes the game for others on the court, which we’ve addressed.

Bill Simmons just wrote an article that alleged Kobe has not changed from last year. He even pointed to fancy numbers showing that Kobe’s playoff performance this year was similar to last year. He doesn’t realize that he’s proven my point. No, Kobe has not changed from last year. He’s the same dominant superstar that drove his team to blitz through the most brutal conference in decades. But his teammates have changed, and Kobe was the one that changed them. That is the story of these playoffs — the transformation of Gasol, Ariza, and Odom from timid softies to rise to the moment men. They now own Kobe’s work ethic and killer instinct. And they are doing things that no one thought they would ever do. Just like Lebron and Wade and Howard and Melo before them… The Lakers won 65 games; they did not lose three games in a row all year or two in a row during the playoffs. They were 4-1 in closeout games and simply crushed their opponents in each of the four wins. Why? Because the team possessed the spirit of Kobe.

4. Finally, a Word to Mr. Simmons

I like Bill Simmons. I am genuinely excited when he writes a new column on the nba. I will buy his new book the first day it comes out and probably enjoy it. But sometimes you need to call a spade a spade. Bill’s had a rough playoff run. He’s said things like:

• “I have been saying that for 2 months now. What we’re watching this spring is basically the 2006 Lakers, only with Gasol replacing Chris Mihm, Kobe being 15% worse, Bynum being 20% better and Ariza being a slight improvement over Ariza. It’s a limited team that lacks toughness and can be beaten.”

• “The ’09 Cavs are the ’91 Bulls reincarnated… everyone keeps underestimating them and nobody realizes that they are about the blow thru these last 2 rounds.”

• “The Magic just needed 7 games to beat a Celtics team that had 2 scorers with dead legs, Scalabrine/Marbury/House as their bench and actually ran a game-ending play for Glen Davis. Don’t start thinking Orlando is good please.”

• “Dwight Howard couldn’t score 40 points in a game if he was going against Yi Jianlian’s chair.”

These ironclad, can’t be otherwise predictions have proven not just wrong, but embarrassingly wrong. That would be okay given that he’s just a fan like the rest of us – we all are wrong and most of us didn’t see Orlando coming. But he has the hubris to persevere in omniscience. Whenever Simmons is wrong, he always follows the same pattern: (1) blame the failed team’s coach, and (2) use hindsight to tell us what the losing team should have done to win. Just admit you blew it, Bill. Admit that you misread Cleveland, Orlando, and LA. Admit that instead of blaming Cleveland’s loss on bad coaching and the failure of Cleveland’s role players you should have considered these facts before making your predictions – that Brown’s offensive lack of creativity and the playoff inexperience of Cleveland’s role players might be a problem after all. Monday morning quarterbacking doesn’t become front page espn writers.

While we know you have to undermine LA’s title as a Boston fan, do you really want to start comparing how our team was built with Boston’s current roster? Do you really want to talk about non-repeatable good fortune? Do you want me to list your quotes damning Doc and Ainge for openly tanking in 2007? Do you really believe that LA’s roster is some cosmic accident wholly unlike every other title team in history? Because if you do, I have some Paul Pierce 2002 FIBA World Championship cards I need to sell.

And, while you were quick to point out that LA didn’t have to play Boston in this years finals (which is assuming a lot), you failed to note that Boston was lucky not face Ariza or the one-legged Bynum. Do you have any idea how painful it was to watch Radmanovic guard Pierce as opposed to Ariza? I would gladly replay the 2008 and 2009 finals, both against Boston, with LA’s current team. Would you?

But, beyond that, Simmons most recent attack on Kobe is agenda-driven nonsense. We get it, Bill. We know you hate Kobe. We know you hate that he now has more titles than Bird. We know it eats away at you that the Celtics are probably a one and done band of mercenaries while the Lakers are built for the long haul. We know that the Lakers have won 9 titles and been to 15 finals in your lifetime compared to 4 and 6 for the Celtics. We know those 60s Celtic rings came in a different NBA — pre-expansion, salary cap, globalization, etc. We know that, as a Celtics fan, you have sworn a blood oath to discredit and undermine LA and Kobe at all costs – even if it infects the tone and quality of your writing. But, please, give us Laker fans the courtesy of relying on actual facts and evidence to support your arguments. Don’t rewatch the finals celebration a dozen times searching for one missed high five or false smile. Don’t read Phil’s mind. Use your army of researchers to give us something meaningful to actually chew on and think about. Because what I see when I study Kobe is the game’s preeminent player, leader, teammate, and winner.

–Reed


Reed

Posts

366 responses to Deconstructing Kobe

  1. Amen.

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  2. amen, indeed.

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  3. thank you

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  4. great breakdown on Kobe and why he is still the best player in the NBA

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  5. Brilliant analysis. Thank you for illuminating where others obscure.

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  6. That may just be the most fair, concise defense of Kobe I’ve ever read…thank you, Kurt. And it’s not really a defense, just what needed to be said after the BS Rants (even though I too am a fan). Again, thanks

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  7. Wow my bad, REED – awesome post man

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  8. Kurt, this is why you are the man. As much of a Laker lover you are, you’ve always been fair. God I love this blog

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  9. Warren Wee Lim June 17, 2009 at 12:06 am

    Kurt, one of the better than best pieces I have read in a long while. I could feel the emotion as I was reading and there is only 1 thing I can say after reading this:

    BILL SIMMONS: PWND!!!! hahahahahahaha

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  10. whoops my bad, too. Reed – you, too, are the man. lol honestly this blog has just an all around great cast

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  11. Great work. I can go back to enjoying Simmons now that somebody has publicly blown the whistle on him in a very informative way.

    I’ll have this article on “speed-dial” as a PDF on my iPhone to give to people to read as the gospel truth.

    Simmons embarrasses himself. His appeal has always been that he’s just like us. An above average-fan and a fairly knowledgeable one.

    It’s a good thing he’s a blogger, because his Lakers hatred influences his writing in such a dramatic way it can not be called journalism with a straight face.

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  12. Great job, Reed.

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  13. I’ve always found Simmons’ Laker hatred hilarious, predictable, and usually appropriate considering his die hard celtics love. The world would not work properly without the constant barbs between a Celtics fan and a Lakers fan. But his recent column was so tragic even by his standards, and had me so infuriated that I emailed him for the first time ever.

    I just wanted to thank you for writing something so eloquent and well thought out. I was hoping someone out there would put something together like this immediately, to rebuke his ridiculous statements. I’m glad it was you. I’ve emailed Simmons a link to your article as I’m sure many others have as well.

    And now back to our regular scheduled programming… Celebrating!

    Cheers.

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  14. i have never enjoyed a single post as much as yours i was waiting for somebody to step up to simmons and make everybody understand he cant be objective even a little it is completely insane what simmons gets away with the hatred is just to deep

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  15. I will stop clicking on his articles. He’s irresponsible and quite frankly, he’s WRONG all the time. It’s almost as if he’s grumpy because he placed a few wrong bets. In fact let me get my Bill Simmons on:

    So Bill got home and the Sports Gal absolutely BLASTED him. Sorta like Matt Damon in Rounders. He got home and realized he took the Cavs in six. It was so bad, his dog ran out and committed suicide for god sakes…you get the point.

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  16. Great post reed

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  17. Thans Kurt, for pointing out and making the points I wish I could.

    We should stop empowering this loser by NOT reading his stories. I will checkout his book from the library, this cost him my 20 bucks.

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  18. Also Dex if you see this, your blog craps my stuff up. Keep it up in the offseason!

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  19. i didn’t even read bill simmons’ article because i knew it was going to be full of hatred toward kobe and lakers as always as he’s been.

    espn needs to stop posting his articles

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  20. Amen, Reed. Amen.

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  21. You know, I don’t give a rats ass what Simmons thinks. I’ve watched Kobe for most of his career and I watched every Laker game I could while not living in LA.

    What is sad, however, is that he does have quite a few readers. He brags about the millions of them quite frequently. See his recent New Yorker article as an example. And unfortunately, these readers are influenced by him and what he say.

    To them I say this: it’s a real shame you’re letting someone with such a skewed notion of reality make up your mind for you. I hope they see his writing as what it is supposed to be, entertaining and not informative.

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  22. Reed — damn man. I don’t know what to say about that post (other than it was Simmon’s length). It may be my favorite post on this site in a while. The kudos are well deserved.

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  23. By the way, and slightly off topic, we have a new affiliate/friend of the site, kareemabduljabbar.com. Check out the link on the right, click on it and check out his site. It’s good, and filled with a diversity of interesting thoughts, just like Cap himself.

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  24. Excellent read….The(Boston)Sports Guy has had a vendetta against Kobe forever…and you’re quite right about the Celtics they were put together to win now… and since they couldn’t repeat this year, the window is closed for them-While our Lakers are built to keep on winning for years…p.s Ariza and Bynum haven’t peaked yet………

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  25. Ahhhhhhh…

    I’m ashamed to say reading this gave me pleasure I shouldn’t feel as a ‘rational’ fan 😉

    Great Reed.

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  26. I hope for his own sake, Simmons does not go stubborn on his own ass and try to push his crap further along. The biggest virtue of any individual is to understand your shortcomings and admit your mistakes. If you can do that you are on the right path to becoming a better person.

    Let’s see if Simmons has it…

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  27. Reed, excellent post. However, I feel that Laker fans need to stop paying attention to Bill Simmons’ anti-Laker rants. It only fuels him, and who cares what a Boston mouthpiece thinks about the Lakers?

    Isn’t it interesting how the whole “his teammates don’t like him” thing has stuck with Kobe? Even with massive amounts of revisionist history, no one ever claims Jordan’s teammates liked him. They respected him, feared him, but its never been important for Jordan’s teammates to like him. It seems to be a fatal flaw only for Kobe. If I remember correctly, Kobe was first in a poll of who NBA players would most like to play with (and first in who they would NOT like to play with); it seems the most accurate description is polarizing.

    Can’t we all just agree that Kobe has been really good, a once in a generation talent, and that he seems much happier to pass to Fish and Pau than Smush and Kwame?

    Also, credit to Kupchak for putting this group of players around Kobe – players who would accept their role and follow Kobe’s lead. I don’t think its coincidence that in recent years we have jettisoned Smush, Cook and Radmanovic – noted malcontents upset with their roles. Like we saw with Turiaf or Ariza, Kobe respects players who work hard.

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  28. Thanks Reed.

    As a Laker fan in Chicago, I feel the haters every day here. People have even resorted to using that Simmons article to simply rain on my parade.

    My only response: When’s your parade?

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  29. Reed:

    I’m a little bit stunned right now. Out of all the posts I’ve ever seen on this site, this is probably one of the top three. And anyone who knows the quality of this forum knows there’s no higher praise than that. Wow. What a read. Kudos, kudos, kudos.

    This is something I’d recommend emailing to Simmons, because I want to see how he responds to this utter annihilation of his farce. I doubt he’d address it in a mailbox, because there’s not much he can say. Maybe if all of us email this to him, he’ll have a higher chance of seeing it.

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  30. Snoop – excellent idea, let’s flood the man

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  31. Also, credit to Dude in the last thread. I’d never heard of this Rodrigue Beaubois but after reading some scouting reports I’m intrigued. I always like these PGs who can score but aren’t prototypical PGs – they seem to thrive in our triangle. We can make use of these types of players whereas very few other teams can. Guy sounds like a project, of course, but he seems to have the tools to develop into a solid defensive player and can already shoot. Possible backup material.

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  32. I am pretty sure, the Truehoop network will pick up the article and post it in the “Wednesday Bullets” or “First cup Wednesday” section. I am pretty sure Simmons reads those. Perhaps he even reads our blog as some of the few paragraphs in his last few posts were directly targeted at Lakers fans.

    Let’s see if the other ESPN and NBA team bloggers pick up on this “battle”.

    Reed, now it’s ON and the entire FB&G nation has got your back!

    Bring it on.

    And I thought the next 2-3 weeks would be boring 🙂

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  33. Oh… and one more thing: I know he probably give a rat’s ass, but I sure hope Kobe does read this article 🙂

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  34. Standing
    And applauding…

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  35. The agenda of the Hating Community is to find a criterion under which Kobe is a failure. As of now “he’s not Michael Jordan” is all they have left. I think in putting so much energy into this question is falling into a trap. To make this a criterion for Kobe and no one else is so unjust it’s bizarre. Oscar Robertson wasn’t as great as Michael Jordan. Elgin Baylor wasn’t as great as Michael Jordan. Neither Bird nor Magic were as great Michael Jordan. (And if you ask me, Kobe isn’t as great as Magic, either, but I don’t see how that makes him any less of a player. He has the great advantage over Johnson and Jordan to be playing and winning now.) The only players you can place above Jordan are dominant centers, and that’s a different class of player. All the Hating Community has left now are counterfactuals, represented in the Simmons article with “the Lakers wouldn’t have won if Garnett hadn’t injured his knee” (a claim rendered groundless by the fact that these Lakers beat the Celtics-with-Garnett twice).

    (Question for the house: Is LeBron as great as Larry Bird?)

    The really bizarre part of the Simmons article to me was the amount of space he gave to trying to prove the building of the Lakers was a fluke, with arguments along the lines of “What if Anthony Carter’s agent hadn’t forgotten to send in his contract in time during the summer of 2003, creating enough cap space for Miami to sign Odom as a free agent, then giving Miami enough pieces to trade for Shaq a year later?” The hidden agenda behind this is clear. Where the Celtics were mired in the mediocrity trap for 17 years, the Lakers broke out of it once to win three championships, and when they had to break up that team, they broke out of it again, and had the potential to end the Celtics’ one year dynasty before it began. And they did this under two different general managers. To dismiss Kupchak’s perspicacity in picking up undervalued players like Ariza and Shannon Brown is churlish. To twist the reasoning in purportedly disinterested interpretive reporting to suit a home town agenda is not the mark of journalistic integrity. It’s infantile.

    A little side note: During the playoffs I took a masochistic delight in following the comments on Ball Don’t Lie. After every Laker victory you’d see about a dozen comments along the lines of “Where are all the Laker haters now lol.” (“lol” is an online abbreviation which means “My IQ is below 75.”) This was grossly unfair. The haters were there win or lose, positing ever more tortured logic to prove that the Lakers in general and Kobe in particular were no good. My favorite was the guy who argued the Spurs were a greater team than the Lakers based on winning percentage, because they were 4-0 in their finals appearances while the Lakers were only 9-7 (Minneapolis didn’t count).

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  36. Ouch, Mr. Simmons.

    I third Snoopy’s idea.

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  37. THANK YOU for this article. I read Simmons’ article this morning and was infuriated. I don’t know how many times I thought in my head “nope, wrong,” “wrong,” “wrong again” while reading it.

    This is minor, but did anyone else catch Simmons’ RIDICULOUS statement about how alone Kobe was? Apparently “only” having your two beautiful daughters and wife cheering you on means you’re “alone” and have no friends. Apparently he didn’t see how CLOSE he and Melo were during the Nuggets series. No lip reading, Melo straight out said it. Simmons is ridiculous.

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  38. Lakergal – in the absent minded defense of Mr. Bill, Melo was obviously doing that in an attempt to bolster his “I want it really bad image”.

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  39. Amazing, amazing post. Though I will say those projections of Kobe’s accolades when his career is done seem awfully optimistic.

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  40. “We get it, Bill. We know you hate Kobe. We know you hate that he now has more titles than Bird.”

    That, was the dagger.

    Kobe rubs off on his fans too.

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  41. Great read, nicely done.

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  42. Reed,

    This is the best post I’ve ever seen in my entire life (the second being the “Double Standard” for Kobe).
    As I’ve enjoyed this site ever since I got here, this just makes FBnG officially “The Best NBA Sports Blog Site In The World”.

    I don’t really know what to say about that, that’s just fits perfectly to what everyone a hater is going to say.

    You’re blessed with great talents in writing and I hope we can see more of this from other fan sites.

    Amen!

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  43. Bill Simmons’ work is just that: BS.

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  44. Thank you so much for this, Reed, and all the writers at Forum Blue and Gold.

    First time commenter here, but I’ve been following this blog for a while — religiously through the postseason — and I can’t begin to say how much greater this championship run has been for me to watch because I’ve been treated to the pre- and post-game analysis by the guys at FB&G… Especially the offensive and defensive breakdowns, down to the tiniest playcalling adjustments.

    Being a Laker fan in the Bay Area, I’ve had to put up with a lot of rancid anti-Laker and anti-Kobe sentiment that favors the same type of inane arguments you address in this post. An average Laker fan such as myself can hardly muster a comeback against something as blindly simple as “Kobe isn’t Jordan.” To have each attack dispelled with the same eloquent objectivity, as can be expected from this blog, means a lot to someone who has struggled to stand his ground against sports bar patrons/coworkers/friends who don’t watch Laker games and (in some cases) don’t even follow basketball yet still cheer, ruthlessly, against the team I grew up watching, for no good reason.

    Thank you for being that signal of reason amidst a sea of hateful noise. No colleague has ever been able to muster a rebuttal after I’ve pointed them to this blog, I’d like to see what they have to say to what I agree is one of the best posts I’ve read on this site.

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  45. Great post Reed.
    Thank you FB&G for all the wonderful articles.
    Go Lakers!

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  46. Perfect. Simply perfect.

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  47. Great post, Reed.

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  48. I am not, in the least bit, a Kobe apologist. I don’t idolize or worship him and I feel that the Lakers’ inattentiveness on defense and sometimes ill-advised shots stem from Kobe’s own flaws as a player in those areas. However, I believe I have watched enough Lakers games to know that, while imperfect, he is unquestionably the leader, the one individual who takes responsibility for the performance of the group; he is the engine, heart, brain, whatever metaphor you want to throw out there of a very young/talented/impressionable/fragile/name-your-adjective group. (See the Charlotte game at Staples in which he fouled out as small, imperfect evidence). In any case, thank you for putting in the work, doing the due dilingence, showing the statistical evidence and providing a quiet, yet passionate corner of sanity, objectivity and intelligence (!) in a room full of talk-radio and blog sensationalists/yellow journalists and myopic fanaticals masquerading as objetic observers. Bravo, Reed! Gracias. BTW… Can you tell us where the WMD’s are? I have a feeling Simmons looking at maps of Iraq.

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  49. Great Reed

    I love his podcast and when he’s on Carolla. I really enjoy Simmons’ articles. I don’t have a problem with his shtick, I mean, this is sports so who cares if he is “irresponsible”. He can be entertaining.

    Lets all send this to him. It’ll be great if he responds… but make it be on this site.

    I can’t wait for next season. I want the Lepers in the finals and I want them healthy. No excuses, no quarter.

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  50. Fe de erratas: SHOULD READ: “I have a feeling Simmons IS STILL looking at maps of Iraq.” 2nd BTW Why doesn’t Simmons just write about the Celtics wanting to trade R. Allen or R. Rondo? Or about KG’s silly promise to win it all in 2010 and 2011?

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  51. ..i think the thing you guys dont realize about most people who dont like kobe is we just dont like him as a person.

    we acknowledge he’s a great player, we really do. we just look at all the forced laughs, strained interactions, and things like no one on the team really speaking up and saying ‘i dont know what you guys are talking about, we love kobe.’ i dont know how you can really deny to yourselves that you wouldn’t like that part of his personality if he wasn’t a laker.

    steroids aside, if barry bonds had won 4 world series, people’d still dislike him just cause he’s an asshole. not cause he was winning.

    “And, while I do believe that Kobe’s teammates like him, at least much more than they ever have before, that is ultimately besides the point to me.”

    That kind of thing isn’t beside the point to most of us. I don’t hate on him cause he’s great and i’m jealous, i just don’t like him and evidence to me points to everyone else not really liking him either.

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  52. I’ve been reading you guys for a long time in the shadows, but this post is so good that I had to let you guys know that your job in this forum is awesome and that many of us like to read your comments daily.

    It’s tough to find a classier, better well-documented and more objective basketball site.

    Nice job, keep on doing it!

    PS: By the way, if any of you is interested in deconstructing Pau, maybe this piece of history can help:

    http://vault.sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1024101/1/index.htm?eref=sisf

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  53. Excellent post. Well done Reed.

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  54. Awesome read. Great effort, well done and thank you. Gospel truth right here!

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  55. What a great “reed.” I wish I had more time to put my thoughts together as eloquently as many posters on this site. At the moment, I only commit enough time to read but not write often. Thankfully, posts such as these do a wonderful job of putting my feelings into words. Thanks again.

    And to those of you attending the parade, have a blast for me! I used to live at City Lights on Fig (right across the street from Staples) but I’m in China now and will have to settle for being there in spirit. Cheers Laker fans!

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  56. Reed, amazing deconstruction.

    When someone in the comments recently showed a statline from MJ’S later Finals, I was really stunned. It’s amazing how details get lost if we get our memory refreshed by only seeing #23 bury the FT line jumper over Russell. I we take a closer look like you just did, we see that there’s much more to it than just the highlights we (or at least I) remember.

    Also, lost in the debate is the strength of the opposing teams Kobe and MJ played in the Finals. Not in the sense of comparing them across the years (’98 Jazz vs. ’09 Magic) but rather in terms of match-ups. The ’08 Celtics were an incredibly tough match-up with good to great defensive players on Kobe and Gasol, the ’09 Magic defensive players on the two best Lakers were solid to mediocre.

    The Bulls could put exceptional defensive players (Rodman) on Malone and had a nice size advantage over Stockton, plus Pippen’s Hall of Fame (help) defense. Deconstructing that match-up like we tend to look at them now, the Bulls clearly had a solid advantage in my opinion.

    One last point: Although MJ’s career or rather the prime of it is just over ten years old, I think media scrutiny was very different. With him, it just was a perfect storm of transcendant achievements by him, media adulation without criticism, sneaker commercials and everything that went with it. Contrast that with today, where everything is scrutinized on the internet, where achieving a status like Jordan’s is much more difficult. All the dirty secrets about Jordan that came out later, it seems nobody wanted to hear them at the time to risk a crack in the wholesome image. Today, I’m sure not only for Kobe but for every prominent athlete these things will affect their image so much more, and instantly rather than in hindsight.

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  57. Fantastic read.

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  58. can we post bs’s email here? don’t care if he ends up getting spam, he deserves it

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  59. Brilliantly done.

    One more thing. I seem to remember MJ being absolutely hated by the Bulls and, punching team mates in practice, Bird and McHale never talking to each other before or after the game and so on. As for the ‘guys you grew up with’, Kobe’s been all over the world before he got to the NBA, he didn’t spend all his life in the same place like LeBron, so presumably he doesn’t have that many life-long friends.

    Huge, HUGE points about Smush, Kwame et all, they are not fit to be on the bench of a playoff contender, let alone starters.

    Again, great read.

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  60. Dex Sydney Oz June 17, 2009 at 5:37 am

    Simmons is a pathetic excuse of a writer…a complete LA hater…at least try to be objective about it and give credit where credit is due Bill… kudos for this article…splendidly written..

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  61. The best counter-Kobe argument i’ve read. Stick it to that idiot who calls himself a sports writer!

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  62. Dude. How do you do this when you have a job.

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  63. Reed,

    Fantastic job. This rates right up there with your Kobe/Lebron disection back in January which I absolutely LOVED.

    Great post. Great site. Great player. Great team. I cannot wait for the parade and celebration and to share it with all of you, my extended Lakers family.

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  64. Absolutely amazing. Brilliantly argued, phenomenally written, forceful but fair, and slipping the dagger into Simmons by pointing out that Kobe has more titles than Bird is sheer genius.

    Simmons has revolutionized sports writing, but his Kobe hatred/Lebron love is astounding.

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  65. I don’t post frequently but dang, let me pile on the praise for Reed.

    *standing ovation*

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  66. Hear hear!

    And another point I never understood:

    How come it’s obvious than when Kobe talks to his teammates or when they say they like him and so on, it’s all fake – while when Lebron does it, it’s obviously genuine?

    To tell you the truth – and I’m not saying this as a fan of the Lakers – I call BS on Lebron being this super-duper guy. Just look at the way he acted after the semis. I’m not all that convinced about his teammates adoring his every step and all that.

    And finally (and this really settles who I’m siding with on a personal level, regardless of team): While noone, I repeat noone, can question Kobe’s love for the game; it seems to me that Lebron is mostly in it to become a global icon. Kobe loves basketball and puts up with all the rest (commercials, media, events etc) in order to do what he loves – Lebron loves all the rest and puts up with basketball. That, my friends, is the real difference.

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  67. 25 – “When’s your parade?”

    Perfect!

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  68. Warren Wee Lim June 17, 2009 at 6:42 am

    Kurt has found “gold” in Reed and dare I say this blog would not be “THE” Lakers blog if not for Kurt, Reed, Bill Bridges and the gang.

    Props for an excellent article, and I mean that in the most genuine sense of “excellence”. I even shared excerpts to my wife (who doesn’t really love basketball but puts up with my Laker love coz it bought her a new Balenciaga bag LOL) that in her own words “dang he writes fine”.

    I hope to be more regular back here, as I was before but work and Sim leagues have kept me apart from FBG. But hey, Lakers didn’t need me to post 1st for us to pull out our season didn’t we? 😉

    To Chris H, gatinho, Drrayeye, Craig Weightman, Dude Abides, Emma, and to all the rest of you regulars… to me you are the reason FBG is getting 300 posts per topic without me having to post a single one.

    Hope to be back soon. As we all know, the off-season is my favorite 😀

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  69. Great post Reed, one of my favorites I have ever read on this blog.

    What infuriated me most about the Simmons article was his ridiculous assertion that Kobe’s teammates and coach hate him, and that the celebration was contrived. If you don’t like Kobe, and think that he is not a good leader (despite all the evidence to the contrary) that’s fine. But don’t go pretending that you know what other people are thinking and what their relationships are like.

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  70. You are a bad man Reed.

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  71. Great read. Bill simmons will always write articles that are biased. He is a celtic-fan and will make up negative stories about the lakers and kobe bryant. Kobe bryant will go down as one of the top 10 players of the league all time. If the lakers keep ariza and odom what we have is a laker dynasty. Hopefully the celtics go bak to the finals next year and play against the lakers and see what excuses they make up now

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  72. THANK YOU! I love Bill Simmons too, and read EVERYTHING he writes about the NBA. I was excited to finally get to read him eat his crowe and admit Kobe is a great player and that he is only the 2nd peremiter player ever to win a championship as the only hall-of-fame caliber player on the team. Only, I should have expected what we got instead. A relatively bizarre, anti-Kobe article (minus one paragraph…way to step out on a lim and say he had a great two years…) that literally attempted to analyze the level of excitement during their celebration and a 3 second hug between Phil and Kobe as a referendum on Kobe as a teammate. Thanks for speaking the truth!

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  73. Awesome read, Reed! You did what you preached, used stats! Excellent work, definitely one of the best blog entries I’ve read in a while.

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  74. Excellent job, Reed. Just writing in general, forget the topic, was brilliant. Great flow, tone, etc.

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  75. Great post. One little nitpick, maybe I’m reading it wrong:

    “Although he shot a somewhat lower percentage from the field than Player B, this is more than overcome by the higher free throw and 3 point %’s, along with significantly higher rebound and assist totals.”

    Doesn’t Player B have 7 rebounds a game versus 5.6?

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  76. Great column!!

    I think that there are four main reasons for the personal animosity that some people feel towards Kobe.

    He was the first serious challenger to Jordan’s legacy, and it started while the paint on that legacy was still drying.

    He made some immature decisions (i.e. waving off Malone’s screen in the all-star game) that formed “first impressions” that people still hold against him, at least subconsciously, even though he has clearly changed.

    People naturally love Shaq, and Kobe is the anti-Shaq in so many ways. And despite all evidence to the contrary, that love results in many people believing that Kobe was solely responsible for the “break up”

    Colorado.

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  77. To paraphrase Mark Jackson: “Now that’s just good basketball writing.” Excellent, excellent article.

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  78. Nice column, Reed – but I do wonder about your prediction:

    “5-6 titles, 8-9 finals appearances, multiple finals mvp awards, 15-16 all nba first teams, 12 all nba defense teams, 3-4 mvp awards, 3rd all time scorer, all time playoff scorer, two time olympic gold medalist”

    I mean, I would love if Kobe achieves all those, but let’s not be too hasty…remember that nothing is certain – no one expected Jordan to retire, nor Magic (though for obviously different reasons), and let’s not forget about injuries.

    I’d rather just focus on what he HAS accomplished. That’s enough for me.

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  79. Nice article… although I don’t expect Kobe to win 3-4 regular-season MVP awards, or even another gold medal (as Laker fans, we should hope he doesn’t go to the Olympics again). I’d be happy for a couple more Kobe-led championships and Finals MVPs for him.

    I love that Jordan argument. To me, the fact that Kobe has openly pursued surpassing Jordan is just testament to his incredible commitment to the game, and cojones of steel. I mean, Jordan is the GOAT. He is the Gretzky of the NBA – no one disputes him. Only Kobe has dared to try and climb that height, failed in full view of the public, and kept climbing, to have much success on the way, even though he can’t ever surpass MJ.

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  80. Reed!!! An all time great column. Kobe just needs to keep on doing what it took to get over the top this year and when the dust settles he will be right there.

    All for the glory of the Lakers!

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  81. Ok here’s another by Marc Jackson, “Reed, taking Bill Simmons to the hole. All that’s left, is for Bill to smile for the poster shot!”

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  82. Excellent writeup. Not everyone will agree with you but you made your points primarily by citing irrefutable facts, not playing amateur shrink (or mindreader).

    Simmons = ruined

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  83. An interesting and excellent post. While there are definitely parallels to be drawn between Kobe and Jordan, I agree with the premise that the two are to be viewed differently. They’re games are fundamentally different, not to mention the context of their games (teammates, era, opposition, etc…). In light of your LeBron to Kobe comparison, I thought it was apt as well, though I want to point one thing out, you wrote:

    “One way of viewing this is to praise Lebron over Kobe; the other is to recognize that Lebron was less capable of opening up the game for his teammates. I posit that Kobe’s refined offensive game actually is much more conducive to creating and enhancing teammate opportunities, even if Lebron is usually praised as the more willing passer.”

    While that may be true to some degree, it’s of my personal opinion, it’s more telling of Kobe’s teammates being better than LeBron, not necessarily Kobe being a better teammate than LeBron. The only true context we could have would be if the two were to swap teams, but that’s not going to happen, so there never will be a pure comparison. However, I believe that the conclusion drawn here isn’t necessarily accurate (but not necessarily inaccurate either), but I can agree that it is a plausible standpoint.

    Being a good “teammate” in the sense of racking up assists or creating opportunities also requires the receiving teammate of those opportunities to execute. If the teammate misses a shot or botches the execution, the no assist is recorded, and the initiator is not a good teammate. Isn’t it strange? I think it is. LeBron was a good teammate in Game 2 of the 2007 Eastern Conference Finals and passed the ball to a wide-open Donyell Marshall for 3, and people criticized him for it, but he made the right play (arguably) as a facilitator. Unless we sit through and watch every single game and count the number of passes each player makes to set up an open shot or uncontested layup (regardless of make or miss) I don’t know that there really is a way to say either Kobe or LeBron are “better teammates”, again, it comes down to comparing apples to oranges, to me it’s like comparing Jordan and Pippen if they didn’t play on the same team. That’s how different their games are.

    That being said, my point is, I believe that the fact that Lakers broke down the Magic as a team as opposed to the Cavs, might not simply be something to rest on the shoulders of either Kobe or LeBron, but on the teammates who would make the most of those opportunities created. I believe that Derek Fisher, Trevor Ariza, Lamar Odom, and Pau Gasol will more effectively capitalize on said opportunities than Mo Williams, Delonte West, Ben Wallace, and Zydrunas Ilgauskas.

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  84. Awesome write-up. An argument is only as strong as the facts that support it, and you had strong facts.

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  85. Very bright analysis! One thing people need to remember Kobe had to work to get to where he is (granted some of it is God gifted talent). I can argue that both Jordan and Lebron just were physical specimen. Jordan was the fastest, highest jumper basically more athletic than any other two guards. Same can be said for Lebron.

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  86. Great Job Reed.

    I’ll link this for sure.

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  87. Jaceman (#83) you are on point there. But to go back to BS portion of the program, one could argue that Kobe certainly helped improve the play of his teammates with the work ethic, shooting program, etc.

    If you take that into consideration and the fact that the team hasn’t changed too much in terms of personnel (thanks BS for pointing that out), then it’s logical to conclude that Kobe’s influence was felt throughout the year and crystalized in the playoffs with the break out performances of said role players.

    The supporting cast for Lebron obviously have not had a similar experience in their collective development.

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  88. How many people in history of NBA went from averaging less than 10 (as a rookie) to over 30 points per? What if we took out Kobe’s first 3 years (learning period) out and compute his average after that? I’m a big Jordan fan, but truth is noone can say he was more skilled than Kobe. Maybe he was a better teamate (never heard about Kobe punching Farmar or Sahsha)

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  89. Just chiming in with the rest to say fantastic post, Reed. Well thought out and argued.

    I like reading Simmons (so long as he’s not writing about the Lakers; his bias is obvious but that’s fair when I remember some of the things I said about the Celtics both this year and last; the only difference is I don’t have a national audience, which isn’t his fault. I ate crow last year, it’s Bill’s turn this year), but only because I enjoy his brand of humor, not because I think he’s particularly insightful. As Reed so eloquently pointed out, he’s repeatedly been wrong about his predictions, he just likes to make excuses for it.

    But yes, I agree- a leader does not need to be loved, only respected. Many of his teammates had personal issues with Jordan as well (a point that would have gone well in the article). Regardless of how much they loved one another though, I feel that Jordan’s Bulls and the current Lakers are similar in that they follow their superstar’s lead and draw confidence from the fact that he’s got their back.

    Anyway, great article once again. I always feel like banging my head against a wall whenever I see the typical “Kobe sucks he’s just a ballhog” comments on other sites, FB&G is always a welcome change of pace.

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  90. Preach, Reed.

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  91. First time reader, long time Laker fan. Great piece. All I can say to Simmons is, “hahahahahahah…Celtics suck.”

    And that’s all he deserves – a derisive response from a die-hard Laker fan to a die-hard Celtics fan. I’m glad he writes what he does, not because I agree but because it stokes the rivalry and my Laker pride.

    honestly, what team do you want the Lakers to face next year in the Finals? You know its the Celtics…I’m fired up for it already.

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  92. Best I have read on this site.

    Simmons – pwned

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  93. “Only one other player in nba history has averaged 30 points and 7 assists in the finals – Jerry West.”

    Don’t you mean two? MJ averaged 30+ points and 11 assists in his 1st Finals. Just wanted to point that out.

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  94. The correct stat is 32+ points and 7+ assists. Only jerry west has done that. It’s a little disingenuous given, as you pointed out, that Jordan had a 30/11 Finals, which is clearly more impressive, but it’s a factual stat nonetheless.

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  95. 94 and 95 — corrected. Thanks. I wrote this late and quick, so I’m re-reading it now, making a few small changes, and wishing I had a day to really research and think about things. But, ultimately, that’s what your comments are all for. Thanks.

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  96. This is perhaps the best sports article I’ve ever read. The debate encapsulates so much, yet you’ve deconstructed it objectively and meaningfully. You said so many things I knew were true but didn’t realize the evidence for. Thank you Reed. Wonderful job.

    Just like Mark Jackson said, Gasol should throw a summer clinic for big men like Dwight Howard. You should do one for professional sports writers.

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  97. 51. You’re right, I don’t understand that. It seems like a cop out. Bill Simmons believes that Kobe’s entire personality is a fabrication (whatever that means), but Lebron is “just a guy who likes to hang out with his friends and play basketball” (cough… and become the first billionaire athlete). Could anything be more nonsensically inconsistent? They’re elite athletes– they’re supposed to have big egos.

    The main thing I don’t get, though, is why Kobe’s detractors take their arguments to such convoluted tangents. I mean, many of us don’t care much for Paul Pierce, to put it mildly. We might even mock his style of flopping or his wheelchair. But we wouldn’t think to try reading his mind and analyzing his psyche, in an attempt to convince ourselves that his own teammates hate him, or that he lives in some existential hell of his own making, etc, etc. That would just make us look silly, wouldn’t it?

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  98. My girlfriend has started watching Laker games with me the past two years. Her fave player last year with Turiaf, this year it was Fisher and Odom (Odom earned his praise after beating the Cavs in Cleveland). She likes the personal stories and the kind of tragic figures. I don’t think she really likes Kobe, but she definitely respects Kobe and recognizes his talent and work ethic.

    I doubt many players would say Kobe is their best friend on the team – I bet Fish and Odom get those honors. But it is Kobe’s work ethic, basketball knowledge, and all around skill that players respect.

    Kobe has always used opportunities to learn from the best. There are going to be NBA players,who love the game and want to hone their craft, who hope to learn from Kobe. There are NBA players who want to play cards and hit the club – those are not going to be Kobe’s friends.

    Isn’t it amazing that Kobe has the best assortment of post moves (I’d say he matches Tim Duncan) in the NBA? Its crazy to think about. NBA big men should study how he seals, how he fights for position, how he comes to the ball, his footwork, that Tim Duncan corner bank shot, everything! Just crazy to me. But yeah, BS would hate to play with him, so his teammates must hate him.

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  99. Reed,
    Actually, there is one other basketball player who is like Kobe in being a lightning rod – Wilt Chamberlain. Since he played in the 60’s, totally dominated games, was black, didn’t think much of the “white media”, and went his own way – he created waves that polarized all the NBA fans.

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  100. GOOD LORD, Reed, this was FANTASTIC. Just a wonderful deconstruction.

    As for Simmons, he’s at his best when he’s openly admitting he’s a fan. He’s fun to read in the same way it’s fun to argue with your friends about sports.

    JACK-O is one of his best friends, and JACK-O is a die hard Yankee fan. Have you ever listened to their podcasts together? Simmons gives it to Jack-O as hard as he gives it to Laker fans, but Jack-O doesn’t take him as seriously, and gives it right back.

    If you read Simmons’ columns, that’s how you should approach it – like you’re arguing with a buddy.

    The mistake is reading him as if he was an actual sports-journalist (which he’s clearly not – he’s a homer-blogger with a gigantic audience).

    That being said, it does bother me when he throws out statistics like he knows what he’s talking about…at one point in his Kobe article, he compared Kobe’s stats in 2008 and 2009 and said they were the same…sweeping under the rug that Kobe averaged a full 2 more assists per game in 2009, which is a pretty substatial difference (which you can argue, is partially due to him passing to Trevor Ariza, who was knocking down his threes, instead of Vlad Radmanovic, who was missing his threes due to playing with both hands around his neck…).

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  101. Outstanding job.

    Thank you Reed. (And Kurt, of course.)

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  102. Woooooooooow. Beautiful. And the fact the MJ had his amazing run for his first three titles makes it all the more tragic, because if Kobe had had a championship caliber team in the corresponding part of his career, we would have seen something fierce (actually we did, but it was on first-round exit teams). Imagine how Kobe would have torn through the playoffs in 2006 if he had a capable team. I think we really missed out on what could have been some performances for the ages.

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  103. I actually read the Simmons article a few days ago without knowing who the author was, and throughout it I couldn’t shake the feeling that through all the convoluted stats and analysis, this guy was just another pissed off kobe-hater weakly veiling his bias. I’m delighted to see you so eloquently present what I had been mulling over in my head for the past few days.

    Great work!

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  104. its about time i read an argument on here showing light to the few months of biased articles from simmons. thanks reed! awesome, awesome write up.

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  105. nice, reed. really nice.

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  106. At the risk of rocking the boat, we’ve all been talking about what offseason moves need to be made, and we’ve been limiting it to drafting and re-signing players. Obviously, 95% of our effort should go there.

    But it also strikes me that, in an ideal world, I’d like to bring in 1 more shooter if possible. Our boys peaked at the right time, but I also remember games this postseason where the spacing on the floor was off, and some even wished for the return of Radman. Ariza shot well, but don’t forget how well Sasha shot last year either. Three-point-wise, we were carried by Ariza and Odom. Assuming we can resign both, I’m not sure that’s the best recipe for a repeat.

    With all that said, I realize how limited Mitch’s position is. FAs are out of the question, just re-signing players will be hard enough. We have no trade assets that we’d actually want to give up (takers for Sasha, anyone?). Drafting a great shooter might help. But it looks like we’ll have to make do with what we have, and hope Sasha and Fish shoot more consistently over the course of several months.

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  107. how can i post this to facebook

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  108. Snoopy2006 – Do you want a shooter who plays the four spot, or just shooter in general?

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  109. for those who want to see the parade and are at work or not in So Cal
    here is a link
    http://cbs2.com/

    Again Reed, great pst

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  110. Bang on, Reed. One word for Bill Simmons: BIIITTTEERRR. 🙂

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  111. I enjoy reading Simmons’ columns usually, but I also was taken aback at how vitriolic his latest one on Kobe was. Everything doesn’t have to revolve around how the fates transpired to deny the Celtics the win/how Kobe is the source of all evil.

    Awesome writeup Reed, good to see such a definitive shutdown.

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  112. Thank you thank you thank you for putting what all Laker fans have been saying for so long into such a well written piece.

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  113. rye – manila June 17, 2009 at 10:10 am

    magnificent job reed!!! kudos!!!!

    As i have read the article, it makes me amaze how truly we, laker fans around the world, witness the next big thing that happen to NBA this season…The catapult of KOBE BEAN BRYANT to be the best basketball player ever (with respect to Russell, Wilt, Kareem, Magic, Jordan). Title number 4, means more to KOBE than to any other player…He have done it with to DIFFERENT ERA…kobe-shaq to kobe-pau…

    Sometimes, those boston homer (a certain bill simmons) lives in DECONSTRUCTING KOBE at all costs!!!! in journalism, just like other profession, you must have a certain degree of ethics…you must not be BIASED.. you must balance your reporting…i do respect bill simmons as a wise guy,,,but as a homer at a kobe hater…i dnt knw..

    I also read the simmons article about that…my only argument about that..is that you must think that there are many people around the world reading your article at ESPN…sometimes young fans would argue, “hey, dad, why is bill simmons a kobe hater” something like that…but please stop the hate…lets give the credit where the credit is due…i think simmons is a intelligent writer and a person..

    I will borrow the famous quotation of WWE Hall of Famer…Bret “Hitman” Hart of WWE…

    Kobe BRYANT ..the best there is….the best there was and the best there ever will be..

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  114. JOB WELL DONE

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  115. thanks reed… excellent job in polarizing kobe bryant

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  116. I thought this was a great, great piece that effectively rebutts Simmons entire article. Having said that, Simmons is probably the best sportswriter of our generation on everything other than Kobe and the Lakers. His Boston blood just won’t let him write fair articles on those issues. Ironically, in a weird way I respect that about him, he’s such a Boston homer who’s ingrained to hate the Lakers it even clouds his sense of unbias and professionalism on the issue. Which makes him exactly what he is, a die-hard Boston Celtics fan…

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  117. Great post. While I agree with most of your points, I would argue that while Kobe’s work ethic almost certainly rubs off on his teammates, making them better, Phil Jackson still deserves a ton of credit regarding almost all of your points regarding teammates.

    Example: the Smushes and Kwames of the world played great while with Kobe and diminished after leaving the Lakers, but let’s not forget that Jackson was involved with them for most if not all of their Laker tenures as well. I’m not sure about the numbers here; you’d have to compare how players from the Rudy T/Hamblen season improved once Phil took the helm the following season.

    And regarding the Lebron comparisons, maybe Phil is just that much better than Mike Brown?

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  118. Reed – you’ve done it again. Great post.

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  119. I normally don’t reply to blog posts, but that was the best post I’ve ever read. I enjoy reading Simmons and generally accept that he’ll never give Kobe or the Lakers their due, but yesterday’s article was ridiculous. I’m pleased to hear that fellow blog readers are bombarding his email with a link to this post.

    Also, as a Laker fan stuck in Cleveland, I look forward to referencing this post once the bangwagon fans here start with the Kobe hating again next season. Kobe hating is its own sport in these parts. It’s funny how little I’ve heard them talk about basketball over the past few weeks.

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  120. just wondering if kobe 2006…45wins team
    starting 5:
    smush
    kobe
    lamar
    kwame
    chris mihm
    against lebron 2009…
    williams
    west
    james
    verajao
    ilgauskus..

    ill take kobe’s team in a heartbeat…

    as jordan’s 2nd three peat…vs…kobe 09

    jordans three peat is more a veterean laden team while kobe 09 is more of a finest one…different era..different rules…same result…glaring title to their teams..

    thanks reed

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  121. kobe 09 (reed)

    fisher
    bryant
    ariza
    odom
    gasol

    Boston 09 (simmons)

    rondo
    allen
    pierce
    garnett
    perkins

    it will be a great match up for the repeat finals with all teams at full strength..

    lebron/kobe

    i take kobe because of his DEVASTATING low post moves..

    kobe/jordan…

    lets wait who have the most number of jewelry after kobe retire…
    but right now KOBE…
    cause of his accomplishment that no one has ever done in the past….to become the 2nd fiddle in the championship team to become a champion at his own leadership…another thing KOBE cause, on one athlete in this planet that came close to kobe’s accomplishment…imagine an icon then become a villain(rape scandal) to become successful again..hopefully he will be in the Guiness book of world record..ala…donald trump…

    Thanks again reed

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  122. Incredible post Reed! You said everything I have been thinking and more. I’m so sick of Simmons bs that I don’t know if I can read his articles anymore. If you’re gonna be a hater then please admit it to everyone and don’t try to hide it. Thanks for writing this!

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  123. Wow. If we can do anything to pay tribute to this masterpiece it’s send it to every one you know.

    This was phenomenal.

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  124. The ESPN link may require you to be a paying member.

    Here is the FREE Lakers.com link:

    http://www.nba.com/lakers/news/09_live_parade_stream.html

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  125. Let’s all refer to Bill Simmons as Bandwagon Billy from now on.

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  126. 89 – “Maybe he was a better teamate (never heard about Kobe punching Farmar or Sasha)”

    Didn’t he punch Samaki Walker back in the day? (Although, who wouldn’t?)

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  127. not sure if anyone has seen but neil at basketball reference is now joining simmons
    http://www.basketball-reference.com/blog/

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  128. Coffee is For Closers June 17, 2009 at 11:11 am

    Bravo!

    I really enjoy Simmons, but do get more than a litte annoyed with the attempts to discredit Kobe. Simmons is a voice of the fan (a celtic fan), he’s not a journalist.

    Let’s not forget how his beloved Celtics handled their championship this season – trash talking, trying to bully other teams, zero class. How much did you hear about how much opposing players despised the way they were conducting themselves out there – I’m thinking of specific incidents with KJ getting in guys faces. It was ridiculous. There’s no way I see Kobe or any of the other Lakers acting this way, and imagine if they did, what would BS write?

    On another note, Henry Abbott linked to a great letter from Bill Walton to Luke. As a father, it really touched me. http://www.nba.com/2009/playoffs2009/06/16/bill.walton.letter/index.html

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  129. I’m not sure how you can give a standing ovation on a blog (e-standing ovation??), but as soon as I find out Reed gets my first one.

    Brilliant, simply brilliant.

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  130. That Bill Simmons talk is epic! Thank you.

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  131. I am watching the live feed of the parade. Did anyone else see Kobe’s Puppet Hand Shirt?

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  132. Amazing stuff…thank you, thank you for the bill simmons part, he is completely unreasonable the way he analyzes some things, especially the lakers, while people like us who are die hard laker fans can actually give credit to a great player even on our rival team

    btw paul pierce sucks haha

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  133. Parade now on NBA tv.

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  134. Just a reminder of the classy post here when the celtics won: http://www.forumblueandgold.com/2008/06/17/theres-got-to-be-a-morning-after/

    It’s funny to me that Simmons once wrote an article “proving” that he’s not a Kobe hater. I’m pretty sure the definition of a Kobe hater would be somebody who follows up the guy’s 4th title by crapping on his performance and legacy. Facts aside, it’s not exactly grown up behavior.

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  135. Great piece Reed!

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  136. I am surprised that neither BDL nor Truehoop linked to this post. Oh well, that is life being a Kobe fan.

    That was a great post, Reed. Not only a solid argument, but very well written. Frankly, I don’t think the “Kobe haters” including Simmons are ever going to change their mind about him, irrespective of how many facts you give them. But it’s good as a Lakers fan to read this and reinforce our opinion that Kobe truly is one of the best ever. A lot of us, including me, do get sucked in by the negativity of the media.

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  137. Best rebuttal to Simmons ever.

    Hey Bill, what did the five fingers say to the face?

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  138. Great post, phenomenal analysis, nice prose. As to the Kobe love factor, when you hear it from the best in the game how he made them better in Dream Team; when you see the stats of his cohorts with and without Kobe and when you watch the flow of this team over the course of the season (it was a magical year), that’s all you need to know.

    Does Kobe make his teammates better, does he give them the best chance to win, does he make the right decisions when it counts? Nuff said.

    I hearken back to a great quote from Robert Evans (legendary film producer – Godfather, Love Story, China Town, Rosemary’s Baby) in ‘The Kid Stays in the Picture,’ who said that, “When everyone has too much reverence for the material and each other, the product suffers.”

    Kobe doesn’t love for love sake, he doesn’t smile to be loved. He wins, and has reached a point in his career that he understands that to win, he needs to be the quarterback, play the team game, measure the ebb and flow of the game and put his teammates in best position to win – either by scoring or facilitating.

    Re Simmons, I love his writing and his sensibility, but in the area of Kobe (and to a lesser extent, the Lakers) he just comes across as a sore loser, which undermines his product.

    Btw, some final analysis on the championship run:

    Making Plays and Dagger Blows: Lakers Win 15th NBA title
    (http://bit.ly/yYjqL)

    Cheers,

    Mark

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  139. Lamar Odom: “Hopefully it can stay this way forever”

    Yes

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  140. Lovely, outstanding post.

    I don’t agree with the part about Kobe being more examined than past players… Jordan was always considered a selfish bastard (basically the Kobe-hater view) until he won the championship, and even then he was considered below Magic and Bird because he didn’t “make his teammates better”. Only after the 3rd championship and the Paxson pass did his reputation really start improving. Then when he retired and came back, it’s like there was a reboot on his public persona.

    Magic and Bird were electric but still considered in their day below the greats (Russell, Wilt, even Dr. J was in the discussion)… it was only when they won their 3rd championships that they really became iconified.

    As someone else said, black athletes like Wilt and even Russell had it really really bad back in those days.

    But certainly today, Kobe is the most debated and provokes the most irrational hate. The amazing thing to me is that the hate practically never arises from the adultery (and at least suspicion of rape). I can understand that sullying a reputation forever. But the critiques are basically that people don’t like him and they make up statistical arguments to support that.

    So thank you for thoroughly ripping apart the statistical hate, leaving people to weakly protest that, well, they just don’t like the guy.

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  141. i realize it was reed’s article, bu thanks for nailing simmonds. i start by agreeing on the sports fans’ stupiduty of ranking “Bests”.
    in basketball how can you compare eras eg before shot clock wrestling to today’s game, auerbach’s eight (i belieie) team league with limited salaries and no free agency (where, once auerbach had assembled the nucleus, it was good for ten years), wilt to shaq, or even more ridiculously wilt to mj.
    then kb vs mj. they had different supporting casts in the finals, played different opponents in different eras. mj had the better career- but that’s his full career. i haven’t heard that kb’s retired! these greatest players of all time, let’s leave it there (ps seeing the finals’ comparison surprised me-i’d always thought mj had a higher %)
    the question is equivalent to mozart vs beethoven, who was the greatest?
    re: lebron. lebron may indeed turn out to be better even than either mj or kb, and his future awaits. but i did notice a samenss to his drives to the basket which resembleda head-down bullrush! he certainly has a physical advantage over kb and mj, and certainly had a great playoffs. but i agree he had the same negative effect on his team mates by his using the clock (and yes kb has the same effect sometimes).
    finally: has kb had a positive influence on his teammates and has he matured?
    even from last year to this, he has matured to a degree, but the fact is last year’s playoffs were a different animal. first,
    they breezed thru the west (and were, perhaps overconfident) second, as noted, no ariza and no bynum. third, boston defended them excellently, and as i recall, most of the problem lay with the bigs, gasol and odom. fourthly, and sorry svg, experience does count and the lakers (except kb and fish) were young AND inexperienced. boston, equally was finals inexperienced but had three old warriors in pierce, garnett and allen.
    second, even if kb were “unlikeable” it doesn’t matter. anyone who remembers the “bronx zoo” yankees, knows that there were many who really weren’t bffs!
    machievelli said “i would much rather be feared than loved” substitute repsted for feared and you got it.
    ya think the rest of the team didn’t respect
    kb? ya think they didn’t imbibe what he said? think again, then!
    simmonds is entitled to his rants, but..as i always say, when i hear an o’reilly or limbaugh inanity, “remember the source!”
    again, thanks reed, and hanks kurt, both
    for this post, and for an excellent website throughout the season.

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  142. ps: apricot’s got it right! it’s always the “good old days”! and those of the past are always better than today’s heros

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  143. All of this might be interesting if it weren’t about a guy playing basketball,which,in my opinion,is about as exciting as a guy who plays cricket.

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  144. Please tell me Kobe isn’t going to rap…

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  145. E-Roc – no real room in the frontcourt, ideally it’d be a Sasha replacement, a wing who can play multiple positions or allow Kobe to slide up to 3 like last year. Not sure if there’s anyone in our draft range like that, and even if there is, I doubt they’d play NBA-level defense. We’ll probably have to make do with what we have.

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  146. PeanutButterSpread June 17, 2009 at 12:47 pm

    WOW, REED! Fantastic post. I bow to you!!

    Anyone watching the Lakers parade?
    Are they chanting for Ariza?
    Why does Craig Hodges have a big fat cigar in his mouth?

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  147. 149. Yeah i think they were chanting Ariza. Some teenager almost passed out earlier, crying about how much she loves Ariza…]

    I gotta say watching the parade is giving me chills. I love my lakers 🙂

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  148. PeanutButterSpread June 17, 2009 at 12:51 pm

    LOL Adam Morrison just got a shout out at the parade.

    Sun Yue too.

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  149. PeanutButterSpread June 17, 2009 at 12:51 pm

    LOL at Josh Powell’s hair.

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  150. Shanon Brown ” Our own human highlight reel”

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  151. Spoopy2006 – Anthony Parker of the Toronto Raptors fits the bill. The Raptors have doled out some money to Delfino so Parker might not return to the team. Parker is a sound basketball player and would work well within the triangle given his ability to play and defend 1, 2, or 3 spots on the floor. Other than that, Gerald Green is the only real knockdown shooter on the market. I doubt the Lakers look his way though.

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  152. Great, great summary, Reed.

    Simmon’s point about the Lakers celebration being phony stood out as another whole in his Swiss-cheese like theory.

    He oh-so-conveniently omits last season’s Kevin Garnett interview after Game 6, when the paid Adidas spokeman yelled out, “Nothing is impossible” to ABC’s live audience.

    Adidas ran ads using Garnett and the tag line “Impossible is Nothing.” And while he didn’t nail the line word for word, the point was clear enough: he rigged that comment to benefit a sponsor.

    That’s akin to Kobe breaking out one of those stupid Nike puppets and screaming, “I just did it! I just did it” to Doris Burke.

    Yet Kobe’s celebration was phony in Simmons’ eyes, and Garnett’s was genuine? Spare us.

    http://armchairgm.wikia.com/Article:Kevin_Garnett%E2%80%99s_Post-Game_Interview:_A_Translational_Breakdown

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  153. PeanutButterSpread June 17, 2009 at 1:02 pm

    Good to hear the love for ShanWOW! Human highlight reel indeed.

    Da Machine LOL all the Lakers are laughing and joking with him.

    Jordie getting some love from the crowd.

    Luuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuke

    Drew, you hear that, you’re locked up for the next 5 years! PERFORM LIKE A BEAST NEXT YEAR.

    Trevor Ariza the pickpocketing thief. The response from the crowd is awesome for TA. Ariza chants.

    Joel just promised TA and LO will stay in LA.

    LAMAR ODOM!!!!!!!!!! Getting lots and lots of love from the crowd. LOL at LO cracking up Kobe.

    FIRE PAU-ER. Someone just bopped Pau on the head. Pau’s giving a bow. LOL
    Hell yes, Joel, The Gasol trade changed EVERYTHING.

    D-FISH! Getting HUGE crowd love. He looks pumped up.

    Kobe getting hugged from Pau. Biggest response from the crowd. MVP chants. Awesome Kobe 24 license plate btw.

    the one and only Phil Jackson.

    I swear, I keep hearing Ariza chants from the crowd.

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  154. Dude!….you positively had one of those referenced teachers for english composition!!….you know that saying, “don’t quit your day job”….well, ignore it and going by your example article, err post, i’d say you have an avenue for a secondary career!!….cheers to you, the lakers, and kobe……….

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  155. Just incase anyone needs a feed

    http://www.nba.com/playoffs2009/live1/

    cb2.com.kcal went off for me.

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  156. Holy crap…who saw the Pau look alike in the crowd…LOL

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  157. Buttas (#88): While your point might be valid, it also concludes that you cannot make an apt comparison as LeBron has not had a team around him for the 2 said years mentioned by Simmons. Kobe has been playing with Bynum, Farmar, Vujacic, Odom, and Walton for at least that long, Fisher he’s shared championships with. Whereas the only remaining players from the 2006-2007 Cavs team are Zydrunas Ilgauskas, “Boobie” Gibson, and Anderson Varejao. I’m not trying to “bash” Kobe or praise LeBron in anyway, I’m just saying you can’t say anything other than that they’re different at this level.

    #114 Read your own post:

    “you must not be BIASED”

    I’m not going to say whether or not Kobe is the best or not. Steve Kerr has said Kobe has a better jump shot than Jordan, I believe that, I also believe that while Kobe CAN play the post, Jordan was more of a post player. Whenever a definitive statement of “being the best” is made, then there are going to be people that disagree, how does one measure what is “best”?

    “Kobe averaged x points and x assists in such and such a year, Jordan didn’t” isn’t a significantly better argument than “Jordan has more rings”. So is it not possible to say that they’re both amazing players and leave it at that?

    While I agree that there are definitely unreasonable Kobe-haters out there, you can’t tell me that there aren’t unreasonable Kobe-lovers out there. Kobe is a polarizing figure, sure, but it’s equal in give and take. Nobody is going to look at his/her favorite player objectively, and Kobe’s no different.

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  158. PeanutButterSpread June 17, 2009 at 1:07 pm

    LOL @ the look-a-like Pau fan in the crowd.

    watch, next year, they’re going to be selling Pau wigs + beard at the Laker stores.

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  159. PeanutButterSpread June 17, 2009 at 1:15 pm

    I think I want that vintage Kobe life size cut out board someone in the crowd had.

    I love how the announcers are trying to get D-Fish and Kobe to say REPEAT.

    1-2-3-RING!!!!

    that’s our new chant.

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  160. Reed,
    I’m late to offer praise, but you do deserve it, yet again.

    This post is just further evidence as to why so many of us venture to FB&G daily for information and discussion on the team we follow and love.

    And to all those who want to discuss the Celtics and their fans (Simmons especially), realize that many of them are what they are – a bit more graceless than most. Because they have a storied history, they feel they have the right to consistently write history from their own perspective. Just yesterday, I had a conversation with one of my friends who is a devout Celtics fan. And all he could do was bash Bynum (for underperforming) and talk about how injuries killed the Celtics this season and how if they would have been healthy they undoubtedly would have repeated. Revisionist history, all of it. Now that they are littered amongst the rest of the teams that came up short, they want to claim that they had a stronger team than they actually did this season and how the Lakers are somehow not as worthy a champion. This is their nature and it will forever be that way. Nevermind that they didn’t have the depth (even with KG) to clearly beat any of the final four teams (especially Cleveland or the Lakers). Nevermind that we saw Pierce and Allen faulter down the stretch after brutally long consecutive seasons. All they see is their own (percieved) strengths and none of their (very real) weaknesses and think this year was theirs as well. All you can say is – who cares? And in case they didn’t notice, we’re the team with the parade and the t-shirts and hats with the champagne breath. Some will never get it, but for them I feel pitty, not anger. Poor souls living in a fantasy world of what ifs and shoulda beens.

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  161. love the pau look alike in the crowd
    love powell’s hair
    love the crowd reaction to shan-wow
    love the a-ri-za and od-om chants!
    and for the record, d-fish is the coolest cat on the team.

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  162. PeanutButterSpread June 17, 2009 at 1:20 pm

    well, that was a really fast, yet peaceful celebration ceremony.

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  163. Jaceman (#160) You make a fair point about Lebrons supporting cast. The shots were there for them, they just couldn’t knock them down when it mattered the most (except I thought that West played very well).

    It just nice to see our guys step up when we needed them the most, and that happens for every championship team.

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  164. Can someone please tell me why Lamar and Ariza didn’t speak, but Luke and Farmar did?

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  165. In a few years, after the Lakers win 2 or three more, Simmons and TJ Simers should get together and have a good cry.

    Or they could just do that now.

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  166. 167 — lamar clearly avoids public speaking situations. he mumbles through post game interviews and, in general, avoids those situations when possible.

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  167. Darius (#163)you just summed up every conversation I have ever had with my Celtic friends. Always what is owed to them, never what they actually do. I give them all of the credit in the world last year, eat my humble pie and waited for them this year in the finals.

    I guess we will have to wait for them again next year!

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  168. First, what an absolutely terrific post.

    Second, props to Kurt for creating a first-class blog. Been comin’ here since the Smush years, and it’s great to see how much this blog has blown up while maintaining its quality.

    Third, it’s worth noting that Simmons did give high praise to Kobe in the last segment of his article, going so far as to say: “What Kobe Bryant accomplished over the past 20 months ranks up there with anything that ever happened in the National Basketball Association. He walks among the NBA gods now. Like it or not.”

    Fourth, I agree with the theme of Simmons’ argument that Kobe hasn’t changed all that much from last year to this one. Really, the obvious shift in the way that Kobe approached his teammates (i.e., his current dynamic of rah-rah leader, coach on the floor, yet one-of-the guys) began in ’04 after Shaq got traded with his exuberant appearance at LO & Caron’s first press conference with the Lakers. All that’s changed since is that Kobe has improved at this role (although adding a twist of not only coaching on the floor but blatantly coaching the team in the huddle as well) and that he has better teammates. Bottom line, he was the best player in the world then and he still is now.

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  169. That is the best thing I’ve ever read. WOW. Man..

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  170. Amen and Amen. Thank you for this post!

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  171. the other Stephen June 17, 2009 at 1:56 pm

    whoo! this post was sizzling, baby!

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  172. Looks like Kobe’s got the cover of SI this week.

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  173. Here’s one you don’t see everyday: How the Lakers are just like the Wu Tang Clan.

    http://newsroom.mtv.com/2009/06/17/how-the-los-angeles-lakers-are-just-like-the-wu-tang-clan/

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  174. i actually thought player b’s stats in the finals were more impressive than player d. certainly didn’t think it “had to be player d,” as you wrote. also, player d (kobe) did not have superior rebound and assists numbers as you incorrectly wrote. he had higher assists numbers, yes, but lower rebound numbers. you also conveniently chose jordan’s three weakest statistical finals (when he was aged 33-35), and kobe’s best.

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  175. Amen. Best post on Kobe I’ve ever read. Thank you.

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  176. 1992-93 vs Suns
    41.0 points, 50.8% fg, 40% 3pt, 69.4% FT, 8.5 rebounds, 6.3 assists

    Kobe is not Jordan. (neither is anyone else.)

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  177. Amazing, well writen, great post. I must say Reed, you and Josh Tucker so far are great at writing the facts, to defend Kobe and I just have to give you Kudos.

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  178. Simmons, sorry to say, just laughs all the way to the bank when people talk about his articles or get upset. By taking him seriously you make him more important than he is.

    Anyway, no matter what Simmons says, he can’t make go away the comical spectacle of Boston fans, three seasons ago, yelling MVP for Kobe in the Garden. Ha, ha.

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  179. Johny Puerto Rico June 17, 2009 at 2:17 pm

    I’ve been coming to this forum for a couple of months and have enjoy every reading,but this may be the most comprehensive analysis about Kobe that I have ever read,it literally gave me goose bumps. Props to the author for standing up to,not only Bill “opinionated” Simmons but the majority of Kobe “dissectors” here in ESPN.com.

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  180. 163 Darius — that is Cash Money.

    I love the World Champion Los Angeles Lakers!

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  181. do u guys know where i can find footage of the parade online? thanks..great article btw, u were able to put my thoughts into words !!

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  182. All I can say is “wow”. Bill Simmons just got destroyed. Reed owned him. The fraud known as Bill Simmons the journalist has been fully exposed. There’s a smoldering crater where he was standing.

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  183. Coffee is For Closers June 17, 2009 at 2:31 pm

    I’ll sure miss hearing chick hearn’s voice this year, he’d go to every commercial saying, “your world champion lakers network” back in the day.

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  184. @ #103, Pinky – jordan was 30 years old at the end of his first threepeat, same age as kobe this year. as has been pointed out, he averaged 41 pts, 8.5 rebs and 6 assists that year.

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  185. Some in-depth analysis there. Very good work. I wrote something about the Lakers supporting cast, which hasn’t gotten enough due. You can find that here:

    http://antwonomous.blogspot.com/2009/06/can-other-lakers-get-some-love.html

    Speaking of MJ-Kobe, how do you guys think their supporting casts stacked up? I think L.A.’s is deeper and more gifted on paper, but those talented players played up to their potential this year. Bynum, Farmar, and Sasha all struggled. MJ’s guys were more veteran and more reliable. I just wanted to hear what you guys thought.

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  186. @ coffee…amen bruddah, amen!! i hope spiro throws that one out there to honor golden throat at the beginning of next season…..

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  187. I know nothing about the Wu-Tang clan so but I’m fairly sure they said Farmar plays the “most solid defense.” Sarcasm? I hope so, but all the other comparisons were serious (like Bynum being set back, Kobe being the leader).

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  188. I don’t believe that anyone is arguing that Kobe’s finals are equal to Jordan’s best playoff runs. Not sure why that keeps coming up.

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  189. thank you for that awesome post. i get tired of reading all these anti-laker and anti-kobe articles from people who have already made up their minds about our team and our player and no matter what happens will always try to find fault in the team and in kobe. i would like to see an article addressing tj simers who probably hates kobe more than anyone in the world. that article he wrote after they won the championship was just terrible. the guy is full of hate and he basically doesn’t provide any facts, he just spits out venom and hate towards kobe.

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  190. As far as defending our title with class:

    I’m fairly confident we won’t see Kobe on all fours barking like a dog at an opponent during live-ball game action next season.

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  191. The Dude Abides June 17, 2009 at 3:25 pm

    That parade really tied the season together.

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  192. College hoops rules June 17, 2009 at 3:48 pm

    It’s NBA, all caps. Would it kill you to make the effort?

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  193. this is truly a well-written article. Your points about simmons are completely correct. Simmons starts arguing things like “kobe is bad because the media always comments on his approach to the playoffs.” It’s like, what control over that does kobe even have? You just hate kobe.

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  194. Simmons’ commentary on whether or not Kobe “changed” was only to answer all of the talking heads who keep saying Kobe changed. I personally don’t care if Kobe has changed, and I think that’s what Simmons was trying to say.

    Simmons, as a Lakers hater, thinks Kobe’s a phony/overly contrived. He may be. Who knows. He’s only providing an opinion.

    For someone who is diehard Celtics fan to admit that Kobe is top ten all time is no insignificant thing. SLAM just came out with their top 50 ever and Kobe is ranked twelfth. Simmons, despite what virtually every commenter has said, is at least attempting to be objective. He fails somewhat, but that’s to be expected.

    It appears the majority of you didn’t get to the end of Simmons’ article where he highly praises Kobe. Here: “You know what? We just witnessed one of the great two-year stretches in the history of professional basketball if the determining factors were durability, consistency, individual success, team success, statistical excellence and degree of difficulty. Kobe’s 2007-2009 stretch ranks alongside these post-shot-clock efforts (in no particular order): Bill Russell (1961-63), Jerry West (1964-66), Wilt Chamberlain (1966-68), Bill Russell (1967-69), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (1970-72), Larry Bird (1985-87), Magic Johnson (1986-88), Michael Jordan (1990-92), Hakeem Olajuwon (1993-95), Michael Jordan (1996-98) and Tim Duncan (2001-03). Not a fraud on the list.”

    More: “What Kobe Bryant accomplished over the past 20 months ranks up there with anything that ever happened in the National Basketball Association. He walks among the NBA gods now. Like it or not.”

    Simmons may not like it, but he’s willing enough to acknowledge greatness.

    The biggest screw up that Simmons made was writing that Kobe’s 2008 and 2009 finals’ performance were virtually identical. Claiming that his increase of almost 7 points a game wasn’t that significant because he took 5 more shots a game and minimizing the fact that his assists jumped from 5 to 7.4 per game. But that increase in assists cannot be minimized. That’s huge. As was stated during the finals, only two players have ever averaged 30+ points per game and 7+ assists per. Kobe and the Logo.

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  195. Great article. Just fantastic.

    As far as the Kobe/Jordan debates… *shrug* I already see Kobe and Jordan as the two greatest players to play the game. People say Jordan has more rings, I say “so what?” By that logic, Bill Russel was a better player than Jordan with 11 rings. People say Jordan commands attention in a room, so what? Are we evaluating them as basketball players or talk-show hosts?

    Though I was disappointed by the Lakers fans’ disorderly conducts on Sunday night, I’m glad there was only very little of that nonsense today at the parade.

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  196. Excellent post Reed. It’s the response to Simmons that us Laker fans have all been waiting for. Thanks for stepping up and pointing out the facts.

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  197. Off-topic: but, I got a huge kick out of watching the team walk down the purple steps to the floor of the Coliseum.

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