Henry Abbott Misses The Point

Kurt —  September 18, 2009

Game 5 - Magic vs. Lakers
Obviously, I am a fan of Henry Abbott and his blog TrueHoop, if not I would not be part of his network. He does good reporting, he is smart and considerate, he asks questions (like about William Wesley) that nobody else is asking.

But he also has blind spots. We all do. And it is hard to admit them at times. Henry is a Blazers fan and therefore understandably has Lakers issues. I can understand that. I let some things go because I have blind spots as well.

But, maybe because it’s the off-season, Henry looked at a recent compilation of Kobe Bryant dunks — put together by the NBA, not some Lakers fan — from over the course of his career and decided that was cause again to bring up the selfish card. He admits he is missing the point then goes ahead. Frankly, that is just Henry not able to help himself.

If you want, I could spend and 20 minutes on YouTube and compile a video of Michael Jordan dunking when he decided not to pass to an open teammate. With a little work I bet you could do the same thing with Steve Nash (well, not the dunking part but the taking shots when he had other guys open part). Frankly, no star player is who he is if he is not a little bit selfish.

What made those dunks worthy of being on a highlight reel is that they were over people. They were dramatic. Kobe has at time taken that liberty. But I think Gatinho said it best:

Truth be told, young Kobe had obvious moments where his will-to-win and his supreme confidence in his game led him to be what can be described only as selfish. But did it get in the way of him winning three rings? Was he “selfish” 2005-2007? Or was he just asking himself, “Who’s hotter right now, me or Chucky Atkins?”

Now bring in the fact that the dude’s team just won the championship and did it in a way that it isn’t normally accomplished. Almost all NBA champs have at least 2 sometimes 3 (Magic, Cap, Worthy) HOFers. Is Pau Gasol going into the HOF?

And then there’s this from Chris Ballard’s article from SI on the Finals.

“…The way [Bryant] dominated not only with baskets but also with passes—Bryant had nearly twice as many assists as any other player in the Finals.”

I just don’t see where (Abbott) brought anything new or insightful to that criticism.

Or this from Daniel:

The most hilarious part of that article:

“About a minute into the video, Bryant is approaching the hoop and Steve Nash runs over in an attempt to take the charge. Yes, Bryant can jump over a man that size. But Kwame Brown could not be more alone under the hoop. Rather than dishing, however, Bryant scales the little Canadian infomercial celebrity. ”

I take it that Henry never got a chance to watch one Laker game when Kwame was on the team if he thinks dishing off to “Stone hands” Brown under the bucket is a preferable decision to Kobe posterizing a 6’3″ point guard.

Henry may claim now that we are taking what he wanted to say out of context. I contend that he is taking Kobe’s dunks out of context. Would you like to see Lakers fans put together a highlight reel of Kobe passes? Not hard to do. What about defensive stops? Easy. The fact is, we like dunks — they are fun to watch and dramatic.

And to read too much into a highlight reel speaks more to the writer than the player. Sadly.

to Henry Abbott Misses The Point

  1. MISS THE POINT??? You think Henry Abbott just MISSED THE POINT with that garbage?

    it’s pure unrelenting Kobe-bashing.

    20sec mark where Kobe didn’t pass to an “open Shaq?” OPEN? Henry thinks Tim Duncan is an idiot with no hands? There was NO F-ing passing lane.

    In case anyone was on the fence (or on the wrong side of it) about whether or not Henry Abbott is one of the founding members of the I Hate Kobe Association of America, this MSNBC reporting on the Bush Presidency column on Kobe should put you on the right side of that fence.

    This column is almost as dumb/bad/biased as that retarded ESPNBoston column about the Boston v. LA “debate”

    Kurt, thanks for calling Henry out. I know it’s hard to call out a colleague, but you have a job to do, and you did it well.


  2. Thanks so much for writing this response to Henry’s post. I was actually going to write something as well, but I knew it would fall on deaf ears or not reach the high perch at which Henry is sitting on to as ESPN’s top NBA blogger.

    Your reasoning, as always, makes total sense . . . one more example I’d like to share:

    Magic’s hook shot in the 87 Finals – that play was designed for Kareem . . . is Henry going to call Magic selfish now?


  3. I guess Abbot just can’t stand that he’s not had any “selfish” players on his team since 1977.


  4. “Magic’s hook shot in the 87 Finals – that play was designed for Kareem . . . is Henry going to call Magic selfish now?”

    no, Magic’s not Kobe. Only Kobe can be selfish to Henry Abbott.

    To Abbott, Kobe makes Gilbert Arenas look like John Stockton.


  5. I cannot stop laughing at this post and the contributing comments, so far…
    Good job Kurt.


  6. Abbot’s writing has gone down the drain ever since he joined ESPN.

    The gratuitous kobe bashing is just another example.


  7. My issue is more this; if the Lakers had been struggling, than I can understand raising the argument. However, they won the chip last year and were in the Finals the year before that. Obviously, whatever Kobe’s doing is working. I mean, isn’t that what matters most? Winning games? Winning championships?

    I can understand sportswriter’s not liking Kobe (i.e. Simmons, Abbot), most of my friends don’t like Kobe, and I live in Hollywood! The thing is, I can’t imagine another situation where the best player from the championship team would be the focus of criticism of this nature in the off-season, it’s not about contributing to a conversation, it’s about tearing a player down. I just seems strange.


  8. Ahahaha, P. Ami!

    Despite my username, I try as hard as I can to watch games from a general basketball point-of-view, knowing that my Laker bias will still affect that, even for games that don’t involve the Lakers. It just can’t be helped, and frankly, I don’t care. I also don’t have domain over a public forum or any job in the NBA besides being a fan, so nothing’s really riding on my being objective besides my overall respect for the game; I can tell when I’m watching good or bad basketball.

    Kurt, I really appreciate your posting a response to HA, and in a manner that was thoughtful (what’s his motive?) and well-reasoned from a basketball perspective (pass to Kwame?). That he continued on after admitting he was missing the point just reeks of spitefulness, like he didn’t want anyone to forget Kobe’s shortcomings in the wake of a championship, like he wanted to make sure that all the hard work the Kobe-hating media put in didn’t go to waste? On top of all that it was done so poorly in terms of basketball analysis. Weird, since HA does have good insights (but I guess he does often just repost a bunch of links and comments on them in hopes we click).

    Ultimately, a post like that from HA rubs me in the same way Jordan’s HOF speech did: Wow, you used your soapbox for that??? I’m embarassed FOR you. It also reaffirms why I always picked Magic in that GOAT debate. National perception and reputation are nice, but if you’re bitter, you’re bitter.

    Magic seemed to be having as much fun mastering the game as I did watching him, and while I don’t read or agree with every post here, the care with which it’s presented – both from a basketball fan’s and a Lakers fan’s perspective – is tangible. So yeah, HA still has the clout of running TrueHoop (and maybe to cater to a national audience he has to compromise and include sensationalism), but reading FB&G feels like a pure, uninfected exploration of the NBA, even though it’s dispensed by a die-hard Laker fan. That’s Magical, Kurt, Chick would be proud. And now come to think of it, if Chick read HA’s piece he’d probably think to himself, “there goes Heinson on NBC again, whatevs”.


  9. Did someone just compare Kobe to the Bush administration? I think I just threw up a little in my throat.

    Remember, I believe the point of Kurt’s post was unwarranted criticism here, so #1 is technically off-topic.
    (let this stay, Kurt, please! I reworked this sentence 4 times so it wouldn’t get moderated! have a heart!)

    I like this new edgy side of FBaG. It reminds me of when the little Disney starlets decide to break out of their creampuff roles and shock the world (although, FBaG holds more talent in one post than Hilary Duff and Miley Cyrus combined). Well done.

    And #2 brings up a great point about the Magic shot – although it should be mentioned Henry indirectly tried to address that shot too. When the edited commercial of that play came out, HA released a post talking about how Kareem was open underneath. Just noting the fact, and never daring to call out Magic, because he knew he’d lose all credibility there


  10. “Plus, please do not ever write an article encouraging anyone to pass the ball to Kwame Brown. ” -GreatScott1973

    Great quote from the Espn comments. One of my all time favorite dunks is also one of the most selfish plays I can remember. Who was it by? Michael Jordan over Patrick Ewing…after he dribbled around 3 players never looking at another teammate. Still an incredible play.
    I just don’t understand why Kobe generates so much damn hatred!


  11. Why exactly does everyone take “Kobe Bashing” so personally?

    I get supporting our team and all, but people are entitled to opinions on players, and although Abbots article made no sense at all I’m sure Kobe will be okay.

    I’d also like to mention that a lot of Kobe bashing, especially from Simmons, is just a reaction to the way announcers gush over him and ignore his mistakes. I even get tired of hearing about how great of a competitor Kobe is, his leadership, etc while watching playoff games.


  12. For the record, I disagree with Mr. Abbott’s premise that Kobe had open teammates. On many of those plays, there were no definitive passing lanes. And the impact on subsequent plays, making the likes of Duncan commit to the drive more, cannot be underestimated to open things up.

    However, I don’t think Abbott making an argument for Kobe being selfish, he was saying that it’s at times understandable that others may think so. The only time he uses the word ‘selfish’ at the end is to attribute it to the ‘whispers’ of others. In fact, this paragraph pretty clearly indicates that he understands these basketball plays could’ve been valuable and are only an unrepresentative subset of all basketball plays KB makes:

    “You could come up with as many highlights or more where he does make this pass. He gets it. Bryant knows what he’s doing. There’s value — in intimidation of opponents, in firing up teammates the the crowd, in leadership, in sneaker sales, in living your dreams and in a zillion other things — in dunking the hell out of the ball. Sometimes, even when you have an open teammate.”


  13. 13, I agree.

    The moment I saw Abbott’s post on TrueHoop, I knew there would be a poo-storm on lots of Laker forums, even our beloved FB&G. Cries of “omg, why does he hate Kobe? Omg, why is he such a Kobe-Basher?”

    I think a better question is, “why do you care so much what he thinks?” He’s a friggin Blazers fan; since when do their opinions really matter? He has some great insight every now and then, and uses his NBA contacts to get some pretty good stuff out to the public. Don’t you all have friends who are pretty decent people but just have one thing about them that rub you the wrong way? Do you end up hating that person because of it? Frankly it’s childish to claim that all of Abbott’s writing is trash, because it’s simply not the case. And in my opinion, taking such an offensive position in response to another blogger’s writing is not only immature, but massively arrogant as well.

    Yea, Abbott’s post was pretty off-base, but Kobe Bryant is selfish; to deny that is to hide behind a veil of ignorance. But his selfishness certainly doesn’t destroy the flow of the game the way Abbott intends it to.


  14. Tyler – “Why exactly does everyone take “Kobe Bashing” so personally?”

    It’s simply not warranted. He’s the best player in the League. I know people who bash him because he rivals Jordan. Kobe congers up hate in people because he’s that good AND he’s a Laker.

    BTW… Kareem was wide open on the baby hook from Magic, …that selfish bastard!


  15. I wish he had been a little more ‘selfish’…


  16. I think the real point that HA misses here is that those dunks over crowds of people are what make Kobe so great. Those dunks are game-changers. Sure, maybe in an ideal team basketball setting, Kobe would dish to Kwame or Shaq, or whomever for an easy dunk.

    But, anybody who follows the Lakers knows that when Kobe splits two defenders, draws a third, and still dunks over all of them or hits a fadeaway shot to tie the game with under a minute left, it sucks the momentum right out of a team. I’ve seen it time and time again. Those kinds of plays make the defense look at eachother like “how the hell are we gonna stop this guy”.

    You hear Mark Jackson and JVG say this kind of stuff all the time “you can’t play Kobe Bryant any better than that. he’s just a great player making great plays and carrying his team.” That’s why Kobe is the best player in the league and my favorite player. If you give him an inch, he takes a foot. If you don’t give him and inch, he still takes a foot. And over a 7 game series, (kind of like Shaq in his prime) those kinds of plays just wear you down mentally and physically.


  17. i think that was BS disguised as Henry Abbott


  18. Kenslc,
    Kobe has been hated by the media because…
    1) He was the first really, really great guard to follow Michael.
    2) He was happy in his own skin on a very veteran team, as a high schooler, and felt no need to trust the media or teammates with his feelings.

    Combine this with the media’s need to build up a player, then to tear him down – followed by Colorado – and you get a perfect storm for media hate.


  19. I will say that anyone who complains about not passing to Kwame should get a 1 season suspension from writing about basketball.


  20. i don’t mind player/team bashing.. esp when its done in a humorous way.

    another thing on kwame.. this was a dude who couldn’t smack a birthday cake into the right 6’10 250 teammate.. even if stone hands brown somehow caught the pass.. he’d probably have smacked it onto the backboard or sth..


  21. 19. I doubt that, since Simmons only writes something about once a month.


  22. I would have to agree with #13. While I am a Spurs fan and hate Kobe passionately, I didn’t see anything in the article that is Abbot saying, “Kobe is selfish 100% of the time!!”

    I do think Kobe is a selfish prick but I have immense respect for his game (this video is a big reason why). I hate having the Spurs play against him more than anyone else in the league.

    I also have to agree with #14. The only reason people pick on Kobe so much is because the Lakers fans and Kobe supporters throw a fit every time it happens. Is Kobe the best shooting guard since Jordan? Undoubtedly yes. Is he better than Jordan? I don’t think so, Jordan was in a world of his own, but I honestly hated Jordan with as much passion as I hate Kobe now. I also don’t think it’s an insult to not be quite as good as Jordan.

    Lastly, being selfish is a part of winning. Duncan has been selfish. Manu, Jordan, Kobe. They all, when a basket is needed, will be selfish. I don’t hate Kobe cause he’s selfish. I hate him because he’s a Laker, and killed the Spurs multiple times, and that’s what rivalry is all about. Respect and hatred for the rival.


  23. There something to be said for players to dunk on other players and the “statement” that makes on that particular game and how it fires up the dunkers team mates. Sort of like laying out for a loose ball or getting a gigantic block, etc…

    Is Kobe selfish? well, that doesn’t really matter if the Team wins and if there is a Ring Ceremony on the Oct 1st at Staples does it? He passes enough to be 1st or 2nd in assist on the team most every year. How is that selfish?


  24. I found it interesting that all of these highlight dunks were made when Kobe still wore #8 nothing with #24. I even heard Chick Hearn’s voice on a couple of calls (I miss that man, may he rest in peace). All great players want the ball in their hands at crunch time and Kobe is not an exception. All that said I think Kobe has grown up and he is not the same player he was in the start, and has improved for the better. Early in his career, Michael Jordan was told by a coach, “There is no ‘I’ in team” and Jordan’s response, “No, but there is an ‘i’ in WIN.”


  25. Take it with a block of salt. IMO, it’s marketing, pure and simple. Simmons, Abbott, just about every writer on espn knows that the Lakers have more fans than any other team, and getting the goat of their fans is a great way to get eyes on their posts. Abbott does it with some regularity. And every time one of us clicks through to debate him, he wins points with his bosses and the chances of this bs being repeated again and again and again just increase.

    There’s nothing new or interesting about this debate. But it’s a slow time for the NBA, and beating up on Kobe is preferable for some to discussing the NBA’s money problems or Stern’s seeming inability to negotiate with the refs.

    So, thanks for the recap Kurt, glad I don’t have to check out truehoop today! (and please, don’t anyone post a comment to abbot’s column! don’t feed the trolls!)


  26. As I mentioned on the TrueHoop post, the best example of Kobe being unselfish and passing to the open big man is Game 7 of the 2000 Western Conference finals.

    Over Henry’s beloved Trailblazers.


  27. I think this is just the state of blogging (or journalism) today. write something that will generate…well exactly what we have here. And people are passionate about their sports. Add to that they already established lines of Kobe haters and Kobe lovers and you have a winning formula.

    It’s why I don’t read BIll Simmons. I frankly don’t get why people think he’s funny or observant. He’s your annoying coworker from back east who bellows his boorish opinions and thinks he’s being cute.

    Henry’s anti-laker bias has always been painfully clear. Now he can let it out and will be encouraged to because the powers that be know that anti-laker or kobe postings will generate clicks. and clicks = advertising $$.


  28. For those of you trying to defend HA. The issue here is not whether or not he has a right to his opinion. It’s how badly does a person have to go out of his way to find flaws in a player. Even as Lakers and Kobe fans, we know he is not the perfect basketball player. Kurt put it perfectly when he said that we can do the same thing with Jordan (or any player for that matter). The problem we are having on this post (smart and informed fans) is we that we can’t understand why supposedly intelligent sports writers have to try so hard to knock our favorite player.


  29. An unrelated question.

    We always hear that in order to be in the same conversation as Jordan, a player (Kobe or Lebron) needs to win around 6 championships since that’s what made Jordan so great, all the winning. But after watching a few games on ESPN Classic this past week, I hear announcers and commentators fererring to Jordan as the best ever, well before he won 6. I think I even heard it as early on as during a game against the Suns in the Finals.

    I’m too young to have remembered Jordan during his first title run, but I seem to remember when he came back everyone was already referring to him as GOAT??


  30. A ridiculous article on true hoops today about a video showing Kobe’s highlight dunks. The article tries to make the case that the Kobe is selfish mean is justified because 3 out of the ten dunks on the video Kobe should have passed the ball to the open big man under the basket. But almost any facial in the half court is going to come with someone being open under the basket. Besides one of the players that Kobe “should have passed to” was Kwame Brown, who would have either fumbled the pass or missed the dunk.

    Its a great video though with some amazing dunks.



  31. kurt, you nailed it. one of the best posts i’ve read on this blog.


  32. Clearly Henry has never seen what happens when somebody tries to pass the ball to Kwame Brown. If they ran that play against the Suns 1000 times, as he suggests in his other example, 350 times, the ball would bounce off his hands out of bounds, another 300 times he’d catch it and blow the dunk/layup, and the rest of the time he’d catch it, stop, dribble once or twice then attempt to lay the ball in because dunking hurts his hands.


  33. Haha, just got to the point where Daniel made my point.

    This might explain why Kelly Dwyer left Kobe off his list of best dunkers, saying that celebrating Kobe’s dunks misses the point that he’s great at everything.


  34. I don’t know if this has been mentioned, but (pretty much) every time you dunk on someone, that person is a help defender. And, normally that help defender is a big man who is helping off of his man. This would almost always leave another person open and normally that person would be a big man. Not only is not a newsflash, it’s also not that complex an observation. This is one of those times that Henry is thinking he’s seeing something from a unique angle but in fact he is decidedly not. Anytime someone helps, someone is open. Sometimes you pass and other times you don’t. Not a novel concept at all.


  35. I think if people read Abbott’s post as explaining not why Kobe is selfish, but why people think he is, they’ll get closer to the point of his post.

    That said, it turns out, after viewing the clips, as not really the right basis for that. There are plenty of plays where Kobe unreasonably ignored teammates–why, we’ve complained about it lots of times right here. But these dunks really aren’t the right ones.

    And he should not have invoked Kwame Brown–there’s really never a good reason to do that.


  36. @ 24 – Please don’t insert Manu Ginosebleed into the conversation. I don’t mind your mention of Duncan, because he’s one of (if not the best) centers hiding behind the power forward label. Manu is a crafty player who’s had a nice 5 or 6 year run, when healthy, of making plays for a team while riding Duncan’s coattails.
    @31 – Yes, even when Jordan returned in ’95 (from his first Farve, er, retirement) the media was hailing him as the best ever. I wonder how much of this changed after his merciless HOF speech where he called out everyone except for his parents. I guarantee Kobe will top Jordan in one category – been gracious in his HOF speech. He’s been through too much not to acknowledge those around him. He’s probably the most misunderstood great player of our age.


  37. zephid –

    kobe bryant IS selfish? as in present tense? i’d have to disagree w/ that. he was 5th in assists among SGs last season (4.9 per; averaged just about as many assists as brandon roy, considered to be as much a team player as any other top dog in the league), and averaged 7.5 assists/game for his team in the finals.

    does he take bad shots every now and then? sure. so did magic. and bird. and jordan. but to say that kobe IS selfish? i think if this past season showed anything, it’s that kobe’s main priority is winning, not focusing on his own glory at the expense of team success.


  38. Darius, you beat me to the punch.

    SG’s never dunk on their own man. It’s almost always over a help defender because SG’s are generally stationed outside on offense and have to drive past their own defender to get to the rim. The best place to look for a time when a player should have passed but didn’t is in a dunk highlight film because you already know there’s someone else open in almost all of those highlights.

    Also, a note to everyone who says Lakers fans get too upset about Kobe bashing. Is there EVER a time those who think Kobe is selfish can totally set that aside and just appreciate how good he is? Wouldn’t watching a dunk highlight reel be one of those times?

    I find it very revealing that Henry, instead of taking a few minutes to simply appreciate how talented Kobe is, during a time that seems to be well suited for that purpose, instead chose to use it as a time to criticize Kobe. It’s almost as if Henry (and many of Kobe’s detractors) are simply not capable, even for a few moments, of allowing a talented player to be praised for his talent.


  39. stupid post. there’s just something about kobe that makes even some smart people lose all perspective. and that was my thought exactly about the “passing to kwame” line … how many times have i screamed at the television “no, not him!”. Perhaps the article might have had more of a point if he had been able to compile a highlight reel of dunks kobe had MISSED when there was a man open. last i heard, a dunk was about the safest shot you could take (well, maybe not for steve nash)


  40. Kurt,

    I think the natural instinct to react to Henry Abbott hating on Kobe made me miss your very astute point that these are highlight dunks, so “selfish” plays would be disproportionately represented here. Put another way, a highlight reel of Stockton baskets would probably show several instances of a wide open Karl Malone under the basket. Would that mean that Stock didn’t pass enough?

    Plus, it kills me that Henry thinks Kobe should have passed to a wide open Kwame Brown. Yeah, and Stockton missed Ostertag underneath, as well!


  41. As I commented in the last thread – the article was funny to me – not offensive. But to those asking why there is a strong fan reaction – it is to the absurd lengths that some will go to in order to take a shot at Kobe. In his article, HA takes a completely unwarranted shot at Kobe – so yeah, fans get defensive – but in this case it is to the absurdity of the conclusion that HA attempts to draw.

    If you want to make a claim of Kobe being a selfish player – put together a clip of all the times Kobe takes an off-balance, turn around, fade-away jumper at the three point line while being guarded by four opposing players and one of those guys with a floor mop.

    We’ve all cringed and groaned at Kobe’s shot selection at times. But the HA article was just plain silly and he should be called on it (if he was serious). Though the more I think about it, the more I am convinced HA wrote that as a joke to break up the boredom of the off-season. And it worked. I was still chuckling about it when I went to bed. Kwame was open….


  42. I’ve argued here before that Jordan was not the greatest player ever. I’ve given stats to suggest his career wasn’t as great as Kareem’s, and anyone who takes an objective look at the numbers will see my point. So I’ll save that argument for another day.

    Addressing the question of why so many people have crowned Jordan as the undeniably best player of all-time is simple.

    Timing, marketing and skill coming together in a manner that no other player had the benefit of enjoying.

    Jordan’s key forerunners — particularly Dr. J, Magic and Bird, but go back further and you could include the likes of Russell, Cousy, Elgin and Wilt among others — never enjoyed the same spotlight that MJ did. Why not? Take a good look at the media that existed when they played vs. Jordan’s era.

    We often hear about the Magic-Bird NCAA title game as the event that made colege basketball championship a national event. Well that came in 1979, and Jordan’s NCAA run came shortly thereafter.

    The 1980 Finals game which Magic dominated against Philly? It was on tape delay. Back then, the NBA was dismissed as a “too black” league and also was dealing with the stigma of a cocaine scandal among the players.

    But Magic and Bird and Dr. J began to win over new fans. ESPN and other sports cable outlets began to proliferate, and David Stern’s marketing folks began to build upon the NCAA’s buzz by emphasizing star players in the early 1980s. Suddenly the league was getting a lot more attention, particularly its players, and along comes a photo friendly player with talent at just the right time to build upon the buzz.

    Nike committed millions to the MJ brand, and his dunks caught people’s attention. The tongue wagging, 63 in Boston Garden, the shot against Georgetown, and the controversy of the old Air Jordan’s being banned because they had no white in them (remember David Letterman’s quip?) — they also focused attention on MJ, long before he’d really won anything on the court.

    Jordan was great, no question. His media savvy was unquestioned. (Had Kareem come along at that time, would he have been the same media darling? Never, since he was viewed as surly to fans and the press.)

    I can remember arguing with kids in high school who’d crowned Jordan as the best ever in 1990. My counterpoint then was always, “How many titles has he won? How about Magic? How about Bird?”

    Then NBC took over the national television contract in 1990-91 — and guess who was primed for the hype to be driven into overtime at that point?

    Then Magic retires early, Bird’s back problems and bad luck (Len Bias, Reggie Lewis) decimate Boston for years to come, and MJ suddenly has a cast of good-but-not-great challengers standing between him and the titles for the duration of the 1990s.

    It was the perfect storm, and he’s still surfing that wave today among a generation of fans who came of age at the time when everyone around them was hearing “Jordan Jordan Jordan.” His myth lives on to this day, and no other player will ever get that combination of factors to drive his reputation to that level.

    We’ll never know it, but I’d have loved to see how much larger Magic’s presence would have been had he not retired when he did.

    A few more “Jordan vs. Magic” Finals and his name would have been magnified by the ESPN, TNT and NBC spotlights all the more, though even still I think the up-and-coming hip hop set would have sided with Jordan because his game was more “street friendly” through the nasty dunks, the “I’m better attitude, and so on.”

    But there’s no question his hype as best ever was in play long before he’d won anything. It was marketing, which only later was backed up with titles on the court.


  43. A lot of people mistake selfishness for players thinking that they have a better chance to score, even with a more difficult shot, than a more open teammate does. That is not selfishness, it is actually attempting to put the team first. (Even though it may be an incorrect assessment.) It’s fine line, and I think that Kobe did stray into the “selfish” zone early in his career. I don’t think he does any more.

    There is also an entertainment factor – pro ball is an entertainment business, using a sport as it’s vehicle. And the business aspect often takes precedence over the sport aspect. (Think schedules, for instance.) Is it selfish for a player to do a reverse dunk on a breakaway? Clearly there is an increased chance of both injury and of missing compared to a simple layup.


  44. Chris J,

    Thanks, that was exactly what I was lookig for.


  45. Chris J.,
    Thank you for your post. Link to stats comparing Kareem/Jordan ? Any Kobe/Jordan comparisons?


  46. 40, every single basketball superstar since Michael Jordan has been selfish, as have most of the superstars before him. Every star player believes that a difficult shot by him has a better chance of going in than an easier shot by a teammate; this is the culture of superstardom that we have in today’s NBA. It’s reflected by all the media personalities who crushed Lebron for passing to an open Donyell Marshall back in 2007; superstars should take the big shots.

    I guess it comes down to your definition of selfish basketball. What has a higher probability of going in: a Kobe Bryant contested elbow-jumper, or a Josh Powell dunk? For someone familiar with the Lakers, it’s pretty damn close. But to someone who doesn’t follow the team year-round, of course they’ll say the dunk, and in most cases, they’re probably right. What percentage of the time have we seen Kobe pull up in crunch time and clank a jumper? I’d say about 60%. What percentage of those times do we think there would have been a better shot available if he had waited? I’d say close to 90%.

    Kobe Bryant is a volume scorer, I’d say we’d all agree on this. To be a volume scorer, you have to take a lot of shots. A lot of those shots will have had better alternatives. In Kobe’s mind, it may be helping the team. But that doesn’t mean it still isn’t selfish.

    And just a note, I have no problem with Kobe being selfish. I acknowledge his selfishness, love it when he makes his shots, and hate it when he misses. But he has a tenacity which tells me that his being selfish is ok.


  47. PeanutButterSpread September 18, 2009 at 1:41 pm

    In case anyone forgot Kwame’s stone hands of DOOM:


    someone should show that to Abbott.


  48. The thing that gets me, is I know Henry fancies himself a reporter or journalist with *integrity*, yet we see numerous pot shots like that post that are nothing more than biased low blows. If he doesn’t like Kobe, that’s fine. Neither does Bill Simmons. BUT, at least Simmons doesn’t hide behind the badge of a “reporter.” He’s upfront about it. Abbott is a powerful blogger who posts links with a grudge (All of the real basketball insight comes from Kevin Arnovitz). I’m fine with that as long as he calls it what it is. We all dislike players. I would post tons of Paul Pierce disses.

    Abbott and Kelly Dwyer just use over reactive Lakers fans and Kobe haters as tools. Fox News style.


  49. #50, you really had to include that? i’m going to have nightmares now.


  50. This is off-topic for this blog, but I can’t resist:

    Lamar Odom and Khloé Kardashian are apparently about to be (or may already be) engaged, after dating for one month. Why can’t he be this aggressive ON the court?

    Also, they met at a Ron Artest party, so he has already picked up his first assist as a Laker.


  51. think u answered ur 1st qn w/ur 2nd statement.


  52. New Laker signing for training camp.

    Mickael Gelabale could be a decent defensive pickup. Dude had some upside while playing with the Sonics few years ago.



  53. Whoa, you talk about a marriage made in a microwave( just add water). Wasnt she dating Rashard McCants at one time, he didnt pan out to be a superstar, so she went out an got her a Laker. Whats the over/under on less than a year.


  54. I’m more worried about LO being with a publicity whore than I could ever be about Ron Ron.

    We all know Ron can be a kook, but we also know LO isn’t the hardest worker and that paparazzi lifestyle takes a toll. I prefer to read about my favorite athletes in sports news. Not my wife telling me what she read on US.com, ybf.com,Star Mag….etc.

    Oh boy. Let’s hope the need to impress new “fans” helps….


  55. Purely as players who could help down the line, I would rather have Mickael Gelabale or Tony Gafney on the roster than Morrison. But that’s not going to happen, AM is a big trade chip at the deadline. Gelabale and Gafney are camp fodder, nothing more. Same with the coming few signings in the next two weeks.


  56. @50

    I think that’s why HA’s attitude towards the Lakers and Kobe is accurately described as a “blind spot”. He made a name for himself by taking sober views of basketball issues where assumptions had gotten calcified. I found a lot of his work following research into the concept of the hot hand fascinating, for example.

    He is unable, however, to bring the same clearheaded “question everything” attitude to his own bias against the Lakers. Go back to when he wanted Bynum’s head for injuring Gerald Wallace, or Ariza’s flagrant on Rudy Fernandez. When Los Angeles enters the conversation, Henry Abbott loses his bearings.


  57. Eeesh. Abbott’s response to criticism today just makes it worse:

    “Yesterday I blogged a little about Kobe Bryant. To the many Bryant fans who reached out convinced that I had been excessively negative: Ask fans of any celebrity … if the people “going after” your hero are using evidence-based analysis and a measured tone, there is nothing to worry about. My mild criticism (blended with a ton of praise!) fell far short of people on the Laker payroll like Phil Jackson and Tex Winter have said in print. What I wrote may not make you happy, but it’s par for the course. Not everything said about every international media superstar is positive, and that’s OK. That doesn’t mean anyone’s out to get you.”


  58. Forget Kobe. Forget Henry. Here’s what is absurd:

    Someone watched a highlight reel of dunks and was thought “gee, people might think that guy is selfish because he didn’t pass AT ALL!”

    The percentage of passes made by every player ever attempting to dunk: 0%


  59. Is Lamar getting dating advice from Michael Crabtree’s agent? Seriously, that chick screams something–and it ain’t “marriage.”


  60. The Sun will rise from the east next year. New York actually.


  61. – 48

    The career stats of Kareem and Jordan are available lots of places online. I don’t have time tonight to do a detailed comparison, but it’s not rocket science.

    Some may look them and still conclude Jordan was better; it’s a fair argument, but that’s entirely my point — the “greatest of all time” argument isn’t settled simply because Bugs Bunny, Spike Lee and lots of kids who were born in the 80s say it’s over and done with.

    Comparing Jordan and Kobe is a tall order and not one I’m prepared to do at the moment.

    I will say it’s closer than many would have you believe, but it’s also premature given that Kobe still has a few more seasons (hopefully championship seasons) before he calls it a career.


  62. Here’s what annoyed me about Abbott’s post:

    It’s not the fact that he’s rehashing the same trite nonsense about Kobe being selfish, 4 months after he won a title and a Finals MVP no less.

    It’s not the mental gymnastics it took to find ‘selfishness’ in those highlights.

    It’s the fact that he only made that post because he knew what the reaction would be. Nearly 1,000 responses in ESPN’s comments section, with a rebuttal from FB&G to boot, shows that he was absolutely right.

    Seriously, what else could he have been trying to accomplish with his post? Those so-called ‘whispers (since when have people kept that opinion under their breaths?) about Kobe being selfish’ are older than the hills, and completely irrelevant given the current state of affairs in the NBA. The only reason to bring that stuff up now, using an NBA compilation of dunks from several years ago, is to attract ‘bites’ from readers. It’s basically trolling, and it’s obviously working (again) for Abbott.


  63. I can’t wait to see Abbott’s next article on “Magic’s Greatest Passes” How many times in those highlights did you see Magic turn down an open layup in favor of making a no look behind the back pass to a teammate who was more covered? If he cared so much about winning why would he throw a lower percentage pass or even pass it at all? All Magic cared about was putting on a show… he didn’t care about winning.

    Sometimes its best to not even let Henry make waves… cause in this case thats all he was trying to do.


  64. that’s a pretty funny article, even more funny because even Steve Nash wouldn’t pass the ball to kwame brown!!!!!!!

    apparently this abott guy has never watched basketball the past (when did jordan select kwame as #1?) ~10 years.


  65. Chris J, Nice… us late 40’s early 50’s are on that boat!


  66. Flashback to the 2003 playoffs…Lakers are trying to be the first team to four-peat since the hated Celtics in the 60’s. Series is tied 2-2 vs the Spurs. Kobe and Slava (yes Slava did have a “few” bright moments Steven A) are leading a furious Q4 comeback. Lakers cut the lead to two points in the closing seconds and Kobe is open for a 3-pointer to win the game. He passes up his open look and kicks it to a wide open Horry. Remember at the time Horry was zero for the playoffs from 3pt land. His shot rims out and the Lakers lose the game and their chance at a fourth straight title. (see game story link)


    Moral of the story….Kobe made the right basketball play according to the experts…but was it really the right play considering Horry struggles that post-season and KB’s hot shooting? Were you pleading with Kobe to shoot it when you watched it live? I know I was. I bet the Spurs were happy that Kobe didn’t take that last shot. Case closed!



  67. This was a fun read – and I didn’t even read Abbott’s column – don’t want to add to the clicks.


  68. right on! That Abbott is a true piece of work, he does know the NBA however this article could only be considered a Kobe bash, no if’s, and’s or but’s.

    ‘He didn’t pass to a wide-open Kwame Brown…’ Hands-of-stone Kwame? Worst looking shot imaginable, that Kwame? Maybe there is a REASON Kwame is wide open! Abbott though trumps up Kwame being wide open SIMPLY to use it as another way to bash Kobe with, and it all boils down to ‘selfishness’ on Kobe’s part.

    Isn’t it ironic that this article comes only days after Michael Jordan’s HOF inauguration speech in which he tells of a story one time in Chicago where the Bulls were losing late in the game, so he took over and the Bulls ended up winning. On his way off the court the irrepressible Tex Winter tells him, ‘there is no ‘I’ in team,’ to which MJ responds, ‘but there is one in ‘win’. Here is MJ basically telling the world that he would do WHATEVER it would take to win a game, dominate possession, play outside the offense – ANYTHING and Kobe is getting bashed with criticism for not passing the ball to teammates during some of his best highlight-dunks? Unbelievable!

    The final thing is, yes there was a time when he was much younger when Kobe did at times dominate possession of the ball too much, similar to how LeBron now does at the end of games. This was OVER A DECADE AGO! Frankly, one can credit Dull Harris for barely playing Kobe even though at 18 he was already better than starter Eddie Jones. Heck, fans voted Kobe as an all-star game starter his second year EVEN THOUGH DULL HARRIS WAS STILL BRINGING HIM OFF THE BENCH! No wonder that for the next season or two Kobe was dying for every possession to come his way, that is his nature, similar to MJ’s! Anyways, getting sidetracked but the point I wanted to make was that this isn’t the present-day Kobe, ABBOTT KNOW IT! He is too knowledgeable about hoop not too, but his hatred got the best of him in this article, he got too hyped up by MJ’s induction speech, and decided he would help play his part in swatting Kobe down since he is creeping closer to MJ as far as GOAT (which MJ is not – Magic Johnson is, but that is another story!). Abbott just took his shot, couldn’t restrain himself.

    Kobe comes a couple of Laker injuries away from leading the team to a title, goes almost straight to the Olympics and helps Team USA do what they couldn’t do in the previous olympics/world championships and win a gold medal, decides not to have surgery on a finger (shooting hand no less!) that has a ligament TOTALLY DETACHED FROM THE BONE, plays the season, once again leads the Lakers to the NBA Finals and WINS IT and after all that still gets this junk written about him on ESPN.com no less! He really can’t win for losing! Has there EVER been an athlete at the top of their sport more torn-down than Kobe? I think not…


  69. Chris J,

    I’m with you on the MJ/Kareem debate. Here’s why I would put Kareem above Russ, Wilt, Big O, Magic, Bird…and yes even MJ!

    Kareem was the greatest of all-time.

    He was the best college player the moment he stepped foot on UCLA campus. Freshmen couldn’t play varsity sports back then, but his frosh team regularly defeated UCLA’s varsity team. (Even Russell couldn’t didn’t do that). In fact, Kareem scored 51 pts in the when his frosh team beat the #1 ranked varsity team 75-60 in November 1965. It was the first game ever played at Pauley.

    He was the best NBA player the moment he got in the league. (Personally I’ve always believed that Russell retired in 69 so he wouldn’t have to face Kareem the next year.) He led the expansion Bucks to the Championship in his second season. (Hello MJ…how long did it take you to win an NBA title?)

    But here’s the biggest reason why I give the nod to Kareem….He went head to head with the most Hall of Famers and constantly outplayed and even dominated them. Wilt, Thurmond, Bellamy, Big E, Reed, Cowens, Lucas, Lanier, Walton, Unseld, Issel, Moses, Parrish, McHale, Olajuwon and Ewing. That’s 16 Hall of Famers…and Kareem outplayed them all consistently head to head except Moses Malone for a few years. He outplayed them all from when he was a young buck at 22 til he was an old man at 39. Remember when he put 40pts on Houston twin towers in the 86 playoffs. Kareem was 39yrs old then. (Even when Cap was in his 40’s he didn’t let no young hotshot drop 55 on him like Kobe did MJ).

    How many HOF’s did Russell and MJ go against head to head?


  70. As Sir Paul once said, “It’s the f’ing Beatles White Album! Sod off!” If you had an open path for a dunk over Yao Ming and you were Kobe Bryant, would you pass the ball?


  71. 66. I should let this go Aaron, but I can’t. Speaking of Magic:

    “If he cared so much about winning why would he throw a lower percentage pass or even pass it at all? All Magic cared about was putting on a show… he didn’t care about winning.”

    That is flat out wrong. Ask anyone who played with the man, played against the man, knows the man — Magic was the most competitive, most firey of the 80s Lakers. The man hated to lose and was all about winning. He did with a smile, he did it with flair, but don’t for a second mistake that for not wanting to win.


  72. Kurt, I believe #66 was meant to be a parody of the Truehoop post.


  73. Kurt, Aaron was being sarcastic to make a point of how stupid Abbot sounds with his point.


  74. 66. You guys are right, I read that on my phone and read it wrong. He was being sarcastic. My bad. Sorry about that.

    Sadly, I was sober when I did that. Maybe that was the problem.


  75. There really IS a need for sarcasm font…


  76. j. d. hastings’s Agent September 19, 2009 at 12:34 am

    Bittersweet article on Ariza.

    If Artest is on our roster, I’ll accept him, but I still wish things hadn’t gone that way.


  77. btw whoever put the nba hilite together shd b shot for leaving out this one…



  78. read the HA post and I came here to see if there was a post (or comment about it). nothing I wanted to say was unsaid, so i’ll just leave with this:

    only a blazer fan would want Kobe making a pass to Kwame.


  79. just look up the espn “expert picks” for the NBA finals :). that’s all I got to say. good job on calling his a** out.


  80. New post up. Highlight video from last year’s playoffs.


  81. Kurt(#53),
    May not be so off-topic after all. Assuming they’re still dating when season starts,just how long will it take for their relationship to be used as the reason for a bad game by Lamar?

    (#58). The Lakers badly need some speed on the wings so Gelabe/Gaffney may have a decent shot at the roster. As a min player,they “only” effectively cost $1.6mil.
    I’m not so sure Morrison is that big a trading chip. Everbody has expirings now and young talent is cheap. To pick up a decent player teams are having to also take on a garbage contract. In the long run,letting Morrison walk and using that money on a FA next Summer to address any problems the Playoffs might reveal prob is a wiser policy.
    Which brings up a related point. This roster better work as it’s the roster for the next two yrs,w/Artest,Bynum,Odom and Walton signed for next 3 yrs.(Add likely Kobe,Gasol salaries and these 6 players will command over $75mil. 3 yrs down the road. Not a lot of wriggle room.)

    Re #79.
    There’s an amusing bit where Ariza claims he didn’t know when he bought the house McGrady owned the one across the street.
    Brings up 3 possibilities.
    1)Never trust anything an athlete says. 🙂
    2)Trevor found the most clueless Real Estate agent in history. No,I wouldn’t try and sell a house to a new member of the Rockets by pointing out that the neighborhood has another member of the team living ACROSS THE STREET!
    3) The Real Estate Agent thinks having McGrady in the neighborhood is not a selling point-or believes T-Mac will be traded soon.


  82. It’s fascinating how the young people can be so assured of their opinions of who was the greatest whatever. Ive been watching basketball for 40 years, growing up in NY i hated the Lakers, Wilt West baylor goodrich et al. As a knick fan we were obligated to hate the Celtics, Russel, Cousy, Heinsohn, Havelicek, KC and Sam Jones. There were the unbelievable Philly teams, Chicago teams, Detroit. There were only a hand full of team around 12 so you had only the best of the best of the best. There was no free agency, teams owned players for life. There were only 144 jobs in the NBA, not 360+. So night in and night out you played against the cream of the crop. So i hear young people talk about this one being the best of all time, young fella you are a baby when it comes to this game. you havent seen the best play against the very best night in night out. There was no media creating false gods out of mediocre talent. Players back in the day earned their stripes and accolades. Not to detract from MJ or Kobe or any of today’s or for that matter tomorrow’s stars. but keep it real, keep it in perspective. MJ was the greatest of his era. not the best of all time. there was a time when George Mikan would have been considered the best of all time, or Dr. J, that is what makes sport and time such a wonderful thing that it can spark discussion and debate. but for those of us who watched the Big O, or Elgin baylor, or Jimmy Walker or Connie Hawkins, trust me there is room for inclusion in the discussion for players who played before ESPN or sportscenter and some of us oldtimers when we speak maybe you might want to listen.


  83. oh and btw my dog’s AKC registered name is Kobe Magic Johnson….Laker’s for life baby


  84. What else is there to say with all the comments already given to Abbotts piece of crap writing. I just know any person to ever pick up a basketball to shoot or dunk could of probably passed the ball to another teammate so I guess Abbott can add every basketball player’s name to his delusional selfishness list.


  85. Bottom line is that you have one of the best finishers of all time 2 feet from the basket with the defender out of position. If you wan him to pass you’re an idiot or just looking for any reason to criticize. In this case, both.


  86. Yes Kurt… always assume I am being sarcastic


  87. Probably too late to the discussion but I just wanted to add that Kobe is disliked because he has always been on top and people can’t stand that. He didn’t grow up poor. He went to the Lakers and not some run down club, plus those were playoff teams to boot. He won championships when he was in his early twenties and was among the best players as well. People don’t like it when someone doesn’t pull himself out of the mud to achieve greatness. Thats why players like Wade or Lebron who grew up poor get a pass (plus not playing for a storied franchise makes a big difference). Now add in the fact that LA has the second biggest media market and therefore Kobe was almost instantly loved as a rookie (and got way more attention than people feel a rookie scoring 7 ppg should get). Made non LA people start to dislike him. Then add in that he has basicly matched the player they grew up loving (and while he was still in the league no less) and Kobe doesn’t get the respect he should. I think people will actually love Kobe six or seven years after he retires and they just look at him from a basketball stand point. Kind of how Wilt is now remembered for how great he was and everyone ignores his ego and personality.