Fast Break Thoughts

Darius Soriano —  March 15, 2011

*In this current 10-1 stretch for the Lakers, they’ve seen their statistical profile as a team take a boost, especially related to their defensive efficiency numbers. They’re now 7th in defensive efficiency after another excellent game on D where they held the Magic to 98.7 points per 100 possessions. The team they just recently passed in def. efficiency is the Spurs who haven’t been fairing well on that side of the ball lately.

*Last night’s game also offered an update on the health of the Lakers. Both Kobe and Matt Barnes played while nicked up and both performed reasonably well. But, the guy I was watching was Andrew Bynum. As it’s been mentioned (by none other than Phil Jackson), Bynum is now “full strength” and it’s showing. One play in particular really stood out to me as the one that exemplified that Bynum is, indeed, 100% now. I’ll let Dan take it away from the comments of the game recap:

I thought one of the best plays of the game, that really showed just how far ‘Drew has come over the past few weeks, was the play in the 2nd half (4th Q?) off of a Laker missed jump shot, ‘Drew was on one side of the paint and tipped the ball up off the glass, beat Howard to the opposite side of the paint (!) and grabbed the O-board for the putback and one. Just a great show of his length and quickness.

*Another key play – at least in relation to a player’s health - was one where Kobe beat Jason Richardson off the dribble, got all the way to the rim, came to a jump stop and put up a floater over Howard. Even though Kobe had already knocked down two 3rd quarter shots priort to that one, the play showed that Kobe was willing to attack off the dribble and it ultimately opened up the rest of his offensive game. After that shot, Richardson could no longer crowd Kobe on his jumper and it led to 6 more points in that frame for #24.

*One guy that had an underrated game last night was Lamar Odom. He quietly poured in 16 points on 7-12 shooting and grabbed 7 rebounds too. With the recent rise of Bynum as a force, the contributions of Odom have gained a bit less recognition of late, but he’s truly having a superb season and his production remains so consistent it’s now almost taken for granted. Over at SB Nation Los Angeles, Dexter Fishmore makes his case for LO as 6th man of the year.

*Speaking of Lamar, one of the areas he’s really improved at over the years is as a finisher. He’s so crafty around the hoop now and he usually makes at least one play a game where I say “wow, that was a tough finish”. Over at The Point Forward, Zach Lowe had this to say about the great little bank shot that Odom has developed:

Tim Duncan gets all the love as the league’s preeminent bank-shot artist. But that may be a disservice to Odom, whose bankers come less predictably and from closer range — and thus might not draw the attention of Duncan’s patented angled jumper. Odom’s one-handed bankers have a craftiness and level of difficulty that Duncan can’t touch. There are so many times when Odom will appear trapped under the rim or blanketed by a long-armed defender at the end of one of his drives to the hoop. And then his left arm will rise into the picture, from under the backboard, beneath his defender’s armpit or between his defender’s arms, and Odom will flick up a banker from a weird angle and with a funky trajectory. And it will go in. He’s an underrated shot-maker.

*We covered this some when we revisited his signing, but I really like that Steve Blake commits 100% to running the Lakers’ sets on both sides of the ball. Last night he scored 0 points when he missed his only FG attempt and his only statistical contributions were his two assists. But, on the night he was a +8 and most of that was because of his dilligence in getting the team set up on O and methodically running the Triangle and his tireless work on defense when he picked up his man full court and zipped around the court rotating to open shooters on the wing. Goes to show that contributions really can be measured in more than the numbers.

*The Lakers don’t play until Friday but tonight there is a big game as Dallas visits Portland. If the Mavs lose, the Lakers will close the night as the #2 seed out West.

*Lastly, it’s NCAA Tournament time. You know what that means, it’s time to fill out your bracket. As we’ve done in years past, FB&G is hosting a bracket and all of you are more than welcome to join. Just click this link, hit “join a group” and use the group ID: 167853 and the password: CakewithKwame. Not sure what we’ll give away to the winner this year but we’ll think of something. Good luck beating me though. My bracket (Brackin’ II Electic Boogaloo) is going to be golden.

Darius Soriano

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55 responses to Fast Break Thoughts

  1. Darius….

    I love kobe but I think what is keeping him from sky rocketing into that no doubt-bout-it goat level is that at times he just really forces his shot when its extremely unnecessary and this hinders the team statistically as well as mentally and I feel that has always been a knock on him. We look our worst when kobe is in iso mode and 95% of the time it is very unnecessary. I love that he plays through pain but I watch every game on dvr and rewind and rewatch plays etc and I have been a life long laker fan and starch kobe defender.

    On THIS team there is no reason he should average more then 22ppg and less then 7 assists if we are being basketball purist and realists. It is really frustrating when Kobe forces the action and it really hurts the team. For someone that doesn’t like kobe this is basically the ONLY argument they have against him. We look our best when we actually run the offenense and everyone is taking quality shots and i realize throughout a game this can’t always be the case and there are times when kobe has to force a shot and that he has no problem accepting responsibility whether he makes it or misses it but honestly a lot those plays are the result of him wanting that. I truly believe kobe has held this team back in terms of potential and as a true basketball fan and long time kobe fan I would say that is my only complaint of him. I realize we’ve made 3 finals runs and I don’t mean potential in terms of wins and losses but more so in potential this team has amazing potential to steam roll opponents and we don’t make the right basketball plays and when we do everything seems easy. this can’t be ignored.

    Having said that….I believe the lakers are primed for a 3 peat. ESPECIALLY if kobe is more of a facilitator/killer late. If the lakers win this year and kobe averages say 20ppg and 7-8 assts 4-5 rbs in finals. he will get mvp. going further if for the next 3 years kobe realizes he’s got a great supporting cast and an up and coming center with solid forwards he should average 7 assts atleast i would argue and i realize its not easy to do in the nba but honestly when kobe wants to he can get double digit assist games likes its no ones business. so for the next 3 years he goes for 18-20ppg 7-9assts 4-6 rbs and the lakers win another ring giving him seven one more then jordan. and he manages to get 1 more finals mvp then for the next 2 years prolongs his career even further in that Ray allen/rip hamilton roll where he spots up in transition or comes off screens or operates in the low post and averages around 12-15 ppg I have no doubt he can move as high as 3rd all time and depending on how long he wants to play maybe 2nd all time in scoring. and if in those last 2-3 years the lakers are still contending which i see no reason to argue they get another ring he will have 8 hitting some big shots along the way. I would have to rank him as the greatest winner/ player of all time in the modern era. ahead of jordan. I think he needs atleast 1 more ring 2 would be ideal to solidify the argument against jordan’s individual statistics and achievements.
    what are your thoughts on this? specifically on how he is perceived among “haters” or critics of his game. don’t you think that if he goes a couple seasons averaging that many assists the selfish tag has to go away? I realize kobe doesn’t care what critics think but i think its a real issue. Phil jackson has called him out repeatedly, so has Pau Gasol discreetly and i think its relevant regardless of what kobe thinks. The only argument kobe has is that he has been successful and you can’t argue success, but at the same time i’d argue even more success had he been doing this. He really has nothing else to prove and I feel like its a unique opportunity to distinguish himself from jordan in the sense that he has proven he can dominate offensively and defensively when healthy like jordan, but basketball purists would argue that his play making ability and team dynamic is not on par with larry bird or magic johnson and by changing his game in a sense and allowing his teammates to thrive for a couple of seasons would squash that entirely. I’d really be curious to know your thoughts. and realistically I can see kobe slowing down but i think this is due more to injuries and if he has time to rest and who knows if he ever will it would be a different story similar to jordan taking a year off to play baseball etc.

    p.s. not that I’m hoping this happens but don’t you think a lockout would be the greatest thing for the lakers? extended rest after 4 finals runs? assuming they get there. haha it really would be a blessing in disguise but i wouldn’t want to win a ring like that with an asterisk especially after Phil blasts San Antonio for winning that way in 99.

  2. during this run, the Lakers are doing an extremely fine job of taking care of the ball.

    statistically, they are already an excellent team in this regard, averaging only 13.5 turnovers per game. during this run, they’ve cut that down to 10.5 turnovers per game–a 25% decrease.

    interestingly, the Lakers aren’t rebounding the ball any better. In fact, their DRR% is slightly worse.

  3. I have a new theory after what I saw last night. If the Bynum keeps playing like he did last night and we get consistent bench production (guys hitting permiter shots), no team can beat us. The Andrew Bynum you see now is what the Lakers were missing. I seriously thought he was just an overrated big man based on what I observed from him this year. He did not play anything close to this in the finals last year either. I guess his injuries were a bigger factor than I thought.

  4. Commentors continually forget just how young Andrew is – I also hear this all the time from the talking heads. Everyone says this is his 7th year and just takes everything else for granted.

    Andrew played very little in high school (injuries) and was drafted as the youngest player ever. This means he was not only young in years, but extremely young in basketball knowledge. He came in at the center position, which many of us think is the hardest position to learn in basketball, during a time when there were very few players who played a true center position.

    There is also an injury question with him that has been discussed so much it isn’t worth saying anything more about here.

    Given all this I find it curious that people expect him to be at the same level of development as Dwight Howard. The truth of the matter is that Drew is just coming into his own with constant playing time. He has a more varied offensive game than does Dwight, but he is really starting to beast it on defense.

    When people say he is inconsistent I just think back to what I put in the previous paragraphs and sort of sigh.

    Now, for those who think we should trade him for Dwight Howard, I actually agree – on the injury issue alone. Trading him for anyone else, however, would be a huge mistake.

    Now to enjoy his remaining games this year.

  5. #1….Kobe will never, ever, ever, ever, EVER be better than Michael Jordan. Period, end of story. He will always be #2 in that discussion. It doesn’t matter if he gets 2 more titles, or ten more titles, his stats don’t match up. Less ppg, less career points (he has very little hope of catching Jordan), less regular season mvp’s, less Finals mvp’s, 0 DPOY awards, less steals, less blocks, less rebounds, less assists and a lower FG%.

    Jordan was the superior play-maker, superior defender, superior shooter, superior passer, superior team leader and superior crunch time performer. And I HATED Jordan and the Bulls growing up. But there’s simply no denying it. Jackson is right- the comparison is unfair and it most certainly does not favor Kobe. Kobe is without a doubt this generation’s Jordan, but all-time, he will never top Michael.

  6. “The truth of the matter is that Drew is just coming into his own with constant playing time.”

    If he just manages to stay healthy, that’s a very scary thought…

  7. And as for Bynum…I’ve never had my doubts about his potential. Only his health. When healthy and focused he is a BEAST and if he were the #1 or #2 option in the Laker offense, along with his defensive intensity, he would easily be considered the #1 center in the league currently. He has a far more polished and less predictable offensive game than Howard.

  8. You know, I try to be as open-minded as I possibly can be, but Jerrbryon is a weird ass name.

  9. Although I won’t bet against Kobe if we pitted Kobe and Jordan in their primes 1-on-1, basketball is a team sport and Kobe really does not recognize it as much as Jordan did.

    But if he did, he wouldn’t be Kobe. There is something intrinsically intimidating when a player truly believes that he can beat you 1-on-5 and actually *can* do so with reasonable frequency. That’s actually the Lakers’ ultimate mismatch and trump card: the reality of Kobe going supernova.

    To ask him to curb his will could be detrimental to his belief and then Kobe wouldn’t be Kobe anymore. As frustrated as I am of Kobe’s self-inflicted hero-mode, he does recognize games where the result is far more important than the box score. Only once against Phoenix a few years back have I been betrayed in this trust; more often, he realizes times when it’s best to play within the system for the win, even if it costs him.

    Thus during the regular season, I can, albeit uneasily, forgive him going hero-mode. It probably gives him more experience in what works now and what doesn’t, experience that will come in handy when such burden is placed on him. So what if he costs us a regular season win or not, when you trust that he’ll do what’s best to get a win in the playoffs?

    In the end, his goal coincides with mine, and he has shown numerous times that he is perfectly capable of playing within the system. So I trust him even if he messes around a bit during the regular season to give himself more motivation and satisfy his ego.

  10. A Big Thank You to Mitch from one Laker fan….

    I think we all are in awe of the Lakers talent. Just a few years ago guys like Smush, Kwame, Walton, Cook, and Mihm were starting and playing heavy minutes for us. Even when we lost in the Finals we had Walton and VladRad playing at SF. I’m more in awe of Mitch I guess and it’s not just about getting better quality players. When we lost in the Finals with a thin front court and weak players like Ariza and Sasha on the perimeter get out muscled by players at their position Mitch went out and got Artest and Shannon Brown. When the world wanted him to trade his only true Center he said no over and over again. He knew that size and strength wins championships. The Lakers have quietly gone from one of the weakest and softest teams in the NBA to undeniably the biggest, strongest, and toughest. The icing on the cake was bringing in Barnes and Steve Blake. Many GMs rely on coaches to make bad defensive players play defense or weight lifting to make weak players strong… But Mitch had the foresight and the guts to overhaul half of the roster of an NBA Finals team. You wanna know why most NBA finals losing teams don’t get back the following year? Because most NBA GMs aren’t Mitch. Thank goodness he doesn’t listen to his fans, media, or his best player.

  11. I seem to remember one of the arguments made in the past against PJ being GOAT as a coach (one usually made by Celtics fans of course) was that Phil didn’t develop players like – ahem – Red used to do.

    Well, what about young ‘drew?

  12. Great note about LO. Finishing around the hoop, especially off the dribble layups, is the one area where his improvement stands out to me the most when compared to previous years. I’m still not used to it and wait for the ball to miss every time he takes it to the hoop, but more often than not I’m pleasantly surprised with the resulting bucket. His 3-point shooting is definitely a close second though – never figured he’d be making that many 3′s.

  13. 11- Add to that list: Shannon Brown, Trevor Ariza, and a couple of guys who were pretty young when Phil first started coaching in LA: D-Fish and Kobe

    Not to mention guys like LO, Artest, and Gasol who were constantly considered headcases or underachievers before coming to LA. (That might not have changed for Ron, but nobody in the world would have imagined him icing a Finals Game 7, either.)

  14. 11, that’s because PJ doesn’t develop players; he develops teams.

  15. Oh god, Blazer announcers. Time to watch on mute.

  16. Zephid, I’m watching with music but whatever works…

  17. @10. Actually, Ariza hardly played at all in the 2008 Finals, which was almost as big of a factor as Bynum’s absence. We got stuck with putting Vlad and Luke (our two worst defenders) on Paul Pierce (Boston’s best offensive player).

    And, Portland just beat Dallas :D

  18. Wow Dallas lost again!!! Welcome to 2nd place. Hopefully, Kobe will take a game off.

  19. 5 – I’d dispute the fact that Jordan is a better shooter than Bryant. I believe (and Phil Jackson has also mentioned) that Bryant is the considerably better shooter. Kobe’s form is natural; Jordan had to develop his jumper.

    Where they differ is shot selection, which is very different from shooting ability.

    In my opinion, Kobe had the requisite skill set to be the best wing player of all time. Where he falls short is his shot selection. Jordan wasn’t as good a natural shooter, but he had a better grasp of high-percentage shots. Kobe has very little grasp of that concept, and I believe it hurts his game (and stats) in many ways. In other words, I think chris is dead on.

    I’m not saying Kobe is close to Jordan, not in the least. I’m saying there’s not a lot of difference in their actual skill sets; it’s the shot selection that creates the wide gap between them. (And it is a very wide gap). That, and smaller physical factors (the hands, Michael was naturally more explosive, etc).

    While we’re on the subject, I’ll bring up an older topic – The myths surrounding each MJ and Kobe’s “assassin”-like tendencies are just media myths. All you can really say is that both are stubborn players. Let’s not forget Michael retired because he had “lost the love for the game,” which I wouldn’t attribute to one of the most dedicated, fanatical players of all time. And if you’ve followed Kobe’s career, you realize that this “work ethic” figure was created by a very savvy PR team after Eagle, Colorado.

  20. Take a game off? He is getting 3 days off before his next game. If he can go then let him go. The T-wolves are a bad team that has played us tough this year, not an automatic win Friday.

  21. Speak of the devil! I just checked “Ball Don’t Lie” and a bunch of Auerbach goodies are going up for auction, including several of his championship rings.

    Man, this is one Laker fan that would love to own one of Red’s rings – just to annoy him if his shade is anywhere nearby.

  22. Still have to laugh at how Boston & Perkins keep spinning 2010, and no one ever talks about 2008 & Bynum (& Ariza).

    Can anyone imagine what the Boston & national press would have written if, in game 7 (you know, the one where a “soft” Pau took advantage of Perkins’ absence and Kobe “tarnished his legacy” with his poor shooting), Garnett had outrebounded Pau 18-3 instead of the other way around? Or if Ray Allen had atoned for his own brickfest by grabbing 15 boards and drilling every fourth quarter free throw, the way Kobe did?

    They’d be talking about that like they still talk about Carlton Fisk’s homer off the foul pole in ’75 (which didn’t win a championship either.)

  23. Yeah, Perkins was such a vital Celtic they traded him away …

  24. Why cry over spilled milk (2008) when you win it all the next two years? We already know the obvious, with a healthy Bynum and Ariza we win in 2008. But at least we’re honest; winning championships takes a little luck. Boston got lucky in 2008.

  25. Do we really need to go into the list of stupid myths that Boston sports fan believe again?

    * Perkins absence cost the Celtics the 2010 Finals.
    * Paul Pierce was really hurt in 2008, and none of that wheelchair act was phony at all.
    * Bynum and Ariza’s absence had zero affect on the Lakers in 2008.
    * Tom Brady didn’t fumble against the Raiders in the snow game.
    * Curt Schilling isn’t a world-class media whore, and he absolutely wouldn’t have used fake vampire blood to call attention to himself in the 2004 playoffs.
    * It was a curse that kept the Red Sox from winning for 86 years.
    * Spygate had no affect on the Patriots winning all those Super Bowls, or in explaining how their coach couldn’t win in Cleveland but suddenly became a genius in Massachusetts.
    * Kevin Garnett’s actually a tough guy.
    * David Ortiz’s juicing had no effect on him going from Minnesota scrub to “best clutch hitter ever.” And that joke of a wall in right field at Fenway? It had no effect either.
    * David Ortiz is the best clutch hitter of all time.
    * Kevin McHale’s injury cost the Celtics the 1987 Finals.
    * Rondo is the best point guard in the league.
    * That there’s any difference in the “Let’s outspend everyone” Yankees and the “Let’s outspend everyone else” Red Sox.

    I could go on for hours…

  26. Dude,
    Where did I say Ariza played in the 08 Finals? I just said he was pushed around. I was talking about the 09 playoffs against Carmelo and Hedu.

    Re: Kobe v Jodan Shooting
    Kobe is a better shooter. Jordan had a better fg percentage because he was a better athlete. He was able to get more open looks.

  27. …Jordan also took a lot less threes because he didn’t have that range. So that also makes a big difference. I wonder what their true shooting percentages are. Can someone look that up?

  28. Hmmm, should a, could a, would a . . . Yeah, Mitch by not doing anything before the trade deadline, did a lot for the team. He kept the two time NBA World Champion, Lakers team chemistry intact.

    Well, anyway, I just set-up my bracket and I am looking forward to some college ball. This is while the Lakers keep taking out teams left and right, of course.

  29. @25 Speaking as a Blazers fan from 1992, I’m pretty sure he did have that range.

  30. Saying Jordan has 3pt range is like saying Tim Duncan or Pau Gasol has 3 pt range. Well that’s exaggerated, but the man only attempted like two or three threes per game, and although there were times when he had insane streaks he really didn’t shoot it regularly.

    In 92, Jordan shot 27% from the 3 (basketball-reference). He has a few seasons where he posts insane numbers (like 40%+ from the 3) but over his career, he attempted an average of 1.7 threes per game (thanks in part due to his time in Washington, but even excluding those years, he barely attempted 2 per) which really is low for a two guard.

    Kobe, on the other hand, attempts an average of 3.8 per game – he attempted 6.5 in his 2005-2006 season, and he’s never had a season where he attempted less than 3 per game after Shaq left.

    This could, judging by the strength of some of Jordan’s seasons where he hit high percentage of threes, mean that Jordan was simply more selective and had teammates that could knock down the threes for him.

    Still, the simple fact that Jordan didn’t use his 3 pointer as much means that Jordan did not trust his 3 as much as Kobe did, which could be used to argue that Kobe has more range…

    … or simply that Kobe is just much more comfortable launching shots because he thinks all of them will go in.

    As I think Jordan was far more calculating when it comes to winning, I think it to be a little bit of both; but if you press me, I think it has more to do with Kobe willing to launch shots himself and accepting the consequences, and less to do with Jordan not having adequate range.

  31. Blizzard: oh no doubt when he gets hot – but come on, everyone gets hot once in a while. LeBron once hit 6 straight threes – does that make him a better shooter than Kobe?

    And when Kobe gets hot: 12 threes. But overall, I think Snoopy’s trying to say that Bryant’s better at shooting more consistently than Jordan. That is something few dispute.

  32. It’s been talked about here before, and I know it won’t happen this season, but with Odom now being a threat as a slasher and a shooter, I would love to see maybe a few minutes of how a Bynum-Gasol-Odom-Artest-Bryant or maybe Bynum-Gasol-Odom-Bryant-Brown lineup would look. That’s still enough ball-handling and passing, but a potential defensive terror and a rebounding machine.

    It obviously screws up the established rotations, so Phil won’t go there late in the season. But the thought of it is so intriguing that I hope it will be tried at some point.

    On a completely unrelated note, this article might be interesting to some:

    http://sports.yahoo.com/nba/news;_ylt=Arxx3gbyv7t0BZ7jXsSrFfS8vLYF?slug=aw-sternnba031511

    It talks about the system of fear and quieting criticism that David Stern has established. Wojnarowski is someone whose approach I’ve found to be quite refeshing, him calling out what he sees wrong without being afraid of making enemies, be it the Miami HeatPR show or now Stern.

  33. thisisweaksauce March 16, 2011 at 1:23 am

    When all is said and done, I believe that Bryant will be the greatest of all time. The gap between the two, in my opinion, isn’t that big at all. Bryant, when all is said and done, will likely have the longer and more productive career. It is almost unheard that he is still productive in his 15th season. But you know what, this is all a matter of opinion. Maybe it’s best for me not to have a GOAT. Here is my top 5, in no particular order: Magic, Kobe, Kareem, Michael, and Russell. In the end, it think it’s all up to us to make our own decision. My dad, for example, thinks the other MJ, Magic, was the greatest ever. His passing style, desire to win, and bright smile convinced my dad that he is the greatest ever. Kobe is the greatest to me because of his work ethic and at his best, he is absolutely unstoppable (Game 5 2010 NBA Finals, 81 point game, etc.). How about you guys?

  34. KB will never be MJ.Because MJ was lucky.Refs worshipped him,you could never touch him back then, nowadays succeded by the likes of Lebron, Wade, Durant even Kevin Martin.
    Against all negativity Kobe is 1B to Michael’s 1A.
    Whatever ESPN and all snide haters may try to prove otherwise.
    Cheers.

  35. “The team they just recently passed in def. efficiency is the Spurs who haven’t been fairing well on that side of the ball lately.”

    “Fairing” should be “Faring”

    the verb is “fare”

  36. The whole idea that there can be no discussion, that no one is allowed to compare Kobe with Michael is absurd. I have great respect for Phil as a coach, but people have been comparing Kobe to Michael almost from the beginning of Kobe’s career and it’s not going to stop just because the Zenmaster decrees it.

    For my money, Kobe is every bit Michael’s equal. Yes, the stats, piled up during those finals free years before Phil and the Triangle arrived, favor Michael. Kobe has played in the Triangle for nearly his entire career.

    Michael was physically superior to 90 percent of the players who tried to defend him. Defensive rules forbade the focused defenses and hard doubles that Kobe faces constantly.

    Which is better, the man who dominates people that he physically outclasses, or the man who dominates people who have all of the size, strength and athletecism that he does? I’ll vote for the latter (Kobe).

    Kobe has succeeded because of an usurpassed work ethic (NOT a media myth!) drive, determination, and footwork, an incredible ablility to bring his “A” game every night, and a tolerance for pain that is simply unreal.

    His ablility to play with a mangled shooting hand, with injuries that lesser mortals would be incapacitated by AND drain clutch shots too puts Kobe on another level for me.

    Kobe’s ablitity to adjust to contact, to hit rediculously difficult shots at the rim, to shoot over, under, around and through defenders is so far beyond what Michael ever did, it’s not even a fair comparison. And Kobe’s footwork is the best I’ve ever seen.

    For me, the accomplishments of each player are so close that it comes down to preference, and I like Kobe’s game much better than I like Michael’s.

    The media, and an entire generation of fans, backed by a head coach who simply can’t see the greatness of his current star because of his memories of days gone by, will never give Kobe his due.

    But there are millions and millions of us, many of whom also watched MJ’s career, who treasure the games in which we got to see the greatest player ever (Kobe) do his thing, astounding us by doing the impossible and making it look simple and easy.

  37. CY – Totally agree with Kobe. He is like Favre while Jordan is like a much more athletic Montana. Kobe is most audacious NBA player. Highlight reels of Kobe vs. Jordan would make the casual fan wonder why Kobe is not considered easily the best of all time due to the numerous ridiculous shots he has made. But that is just it. MJ does not have those cause he would not have attempted the majority of them. He would have passed the ball up.

    Bynum. I hammered him here for his up and down performances and can he live up to his potential. Well after the all star break he has been absolutely magnificent. My take on this is that he finally is confident in his knee and hopefully that has been reason for previous lackluster games. Again he has been simply dominant and has made up for the fact that Kobe has been sporadic since the break.

  38. Jordan had a physical advantage over Kobe; that is offset by Kobe having a greater variety of offensive skills. Jordan did a better job of playing in the team concept – how much of that was due to the teammates they played with and how much was due to themselves is hard to say.

  39. Keep gunnin’ Kobe.

  40. I agree with the first poster on this thread and Kobe. I have also always been a staunch Kobe supporter, but we must look at facts, he kills this team when he goes into his hero mode.

    If we are logical, we can assume that Kobe is one of the best players in the NBA. However, the difference between Kobe and the average player is not like the difference between Kobe and me (a non-nba player), since all players in the NBA are pretty damn good. And so when/if Kobe is taking difficult shots, while these average players take easy shots, Kobe will actually be producing at a lower level than these average players. WHen Kobe goes into his hero mode and starts taking difficult shots, he plays like a below average player.

    Heck, if you put me on the court and gave me only lay ups and had Kobe and made him shoot just contested long 2pt shots, off balance, then i would be the superior player.

    Kobe needs to stop this ISO mode hero mode he goes into. There is no reason he should be running ANYTHING out of the flow of the offense. There is no reason Bynum should be getting 5-10 shots a game while shooting 60%+ and Kobe is shooting 25+ shots at 40%. It’s not even about the number of shots, it is really about how and when the shots are taken.

    This team needs to run its offense, kobe needs to stop going into hero mode. The funny thing is that if he stays in the offense, Kobe may have less opportunities, but he would be so much more efficient that it would make him look much better.

  41. In discussing who is the GOAT, why is Kareem never mentioned? Is it just a generational thing?

    He has the same number of championships as Jordan, but has more points, MVP’s, All Stars appearances, college championships, etc. I mean, the NCAA even banned the dunk for 8-9 years because of him!

  42. My Theory on Bynum: he should miss the first 1-2 months of EVERY season going forward.

    How many years has Bynum played extremely well during the season and has been injured right before the playoffs? Perhaps his body just can’t handle 82 games and many months of playing basketball. Why not intentionally sit him for the first few months of the league, so he is actually there for you during the playoffs?

    If i were the Lakers, I would intentionally sit Bynum every year, for the first 20-30 games.

  43. I agree on the point about Odom’s improved finishing. A couple of years ago I would sometimes do an Odom impression by going up for a layup then slamming the ball off of the backboard as hard as I could. He was a horrendous finisher. Now it seems every time he decides to take it to the rim he somehow finishes. It took a while for me to realize that he is now good, but this season I’ve stopped cringing and started getting excited when LO beats the defense on the break or beats his man off the dribble.

  44. checked the box scores this morning and the Blazers beat the Mavs, so we are officially in 2nd place now!
    woo who!
    seriously, though this is a good thing, have we already had a post about the possible seeding?
    I remember one recently about the importance of the second seed, might want to repost that one.

  45. Mavs got beat in a close game at Portland with Roy hitting a big shot. Next up for Mavs is a showdown with the Spurs on Fri. night. Something happened to Dirk’s shoulder last night, he was favoring his right arm in the final seconds of the game. I dont know if it was a stinger or what, but he looked to be in some pain by the expression on his face. Portland will definitely give teams trouble in the playoffs if Roy is able to contribute. Dude was never off the chart athletic, so he doesnt have to drastically change his game because of bad knees.

  46. waylander,
    Kareem has several things going against him…
    1) He doesn’t have an outgoing personality and is very intelligent – two things that the media an fans provably have problems with.
    2) He came up before ESPN, therefore his highlights are not constantly replayed.
    3) He came up in the 60s – a time where there was a lot of black / white conflict – the media was almost entirely white. Kareem was and is an active player in Civil Rights in this country.
    4) His style of play is graceful, not combative – a style the media really didn’t think was manly.
    5) His later years were spent with Magic – a player who was all the things, personally, that Kareem was not. Just think about M.J.’s last three championships if Shaq were on the team.

  47. Wilt was better than Kareem statistically (not counting the “longevity” stats), and Russell was better from a championship perspective, and was also the clear leader on the Celtics teams.
    You could make a valid case for any of those three being the greatest of all time. IMO Jordan doesn’t have the same competition among shooting guards, or Magic among point guards.

  48. Chicago has a lot of away games left, and Celtics are still semi beat-up and have new players in the locker room.

    Lakers have a doable last stretch with a lot of home games… it could all result in ending the season as 2nd in the entire NBA! With only the Spurs above the Lakers (and I consider the Spurs to be a favorable match up for the Lakers).

    Would be surprising, but awsome.

  49. ot: Wow, anyone see this story? Didn’t think the Clippers organization could attract even worse publicity than it already has:

    http://sports.espn.go.com/los-angeles/nba/news/story?id=6220206

  50. #49. We’ve got the LA Times story on that in this morning’s links. Good eye on that. Mr. Sterling, ugh.

    http://www.forumblueandgold.com/2011/03/16/around-the-world-wide-web-75/

  51. Craig W…

    So essentially you are saying in #1-4 that media bias is the reason that Jordan is considered the GOAT. #5 is the same knock that people put on Kobe for his first three championships.

    I agree with you that the media built Jordan’s legend. Not to say that he wasn’t great, he was, but I wouldn’t consider him the GOAT.

  52. Craig W @ 46 – I agree with your points about KAJ, although #4 made me grin. He did break a dude’s jaw.

    Also on a related note, in addition to Kareem’s intelligence and introspection, he did seem to bring a certain amount of anger out there that some may have found off putting.

    Regarding wylander’s comment @41, for some reason it seems big men are often left out of GOAT discussions. Wilt said (in his usual dainty style), “nobody likes Goliath”, so maybe that’s part of it.

  53. @5 Josh,

    Kobe is just as talented as jordan, he is a better scorer, better post up player, and better 3 pt shooter. Their careers are very different they played in different eras, if jordan played defense the same way today he’d foul out of every game and TRUST me theres no way he’d score as much with the way defenses can play people now. Kobe came into a situation where he didn’t play a lot. can you imagine if kobe came into a situation like demar derozan in toronto, or john wall in washington, or tyreke evans in sacramento……he would have averaged 20 5 5 too! his statistics would be a lot different if that wasn’t the case. and then playing with shaq doesn’t help your statistics either. Kobe played 3 years of iso ball and tore the league UP! other then that he’s been playin in the triangle. so yea jordan has the more impressive individual numers, but Don’t forget jordan came on a bulls team and just DOMINATED every posession of every play for the first 7 years of his career. don’t forget he lost to isaiha thomas for years. Kobe plays in an era of extremely athletic players and 2 gaurds and has plenty of competition there. to say kobe is not as good as jordan is plain dumb. the man is just as talented what i’m arguing against kobe actually is that hero mode and shot selection and making the right play. and that’s not to say jordan always did. everyone points to that one steve kerr shot as his passing ability but its not a coincidence its the only one. another thing i want to address is this. kobe came into the league at 17 years old. jordan after he went to college. I would argue that they are just as good defensively, kobe gets the nod in overall offensive skill, while jordan is more athletic and consistent. jordan does have more impressive personal stats but seriously you think if he was playing in this era….he would get mvp every year or the scoring title every year? c’mon be real. kevin durant is the youngest player to lead the league in scoring. the league is different now. that’s why im arguing it would take a couple of more championships to offset jordan’s individual accolades. i grew up on jordan and kobe when i was older but to say that kobe isn’t as good as jordan is ridiculous. he’s probably more talented have you seen some of the things he has done? the man averaged 50 for 4 games and 40 for a month….he scored 81 pts in this era! I always just wished kobe would pass more. and he can that’s what’s frustrating he will come out and get a couple double doubles to shut everyone up and a few 7 and 8 asst games and then go back to old kobe. DARIUS CHECK IN ON THIS ARGUMENT! what are you thoughts. i want someone whose closer to the situation to comment on this instead of kobe or jordan homers
    the reason kareem is not as much in the discussion is because players like kobe and michael can do everything. dribble pass shoot everything. kareem can’t run the point or shoot threes but kobe and mike can go into the post. he was arguably the best center of all time but not player.

  54. I’m as big a Lakers and Kobe fan as anyone here, but let’s call a spade a spade. Kobe’s B-Ball IQ is a good deal lower than Jordan’s was, which is consistently evidenced by the fact that he takes entirely too many shots and he doesn’t make the majority of them. Say what you will about the distinction between “taking smart shots” or not taking them– the fact is, more of Jordan’s shots hit the mark than Kobe’s have. It’s not like a difference of 1 or 2%…it’s about 5%. He was faster, stronger, had better hands and simply had the better all around game on both ends of the court. He also took far more physical abuse during his career than Kobe has. I won’t deny Kobe’s range is better (but only marginally, over their careers). I also won’t deny that when it comes to absurd circus shots, Kobe clearly outclasses Jordan…hell, I won’t even deny that Kobe faces more strong individual defenders at his position than Jordan (although they can’t hand check or physically abuse him and realistically, Jordan would make a fool of Bowen, Pierce, Artest and everybody else)…but if I’m going to pick a guy to put a team on his back and win game 7 of the NBA Finals (or, for that matter…any game that is on the line)…it’s Jordan, not Kobe. It’s not even a question to me. Jordan’s playoff and NBA Finals numbers dwarf Kobe’s.

    I’m with Phil Jackson on this- Kobe is absolutely 1B to Jordan’s 1A and that will never change. It has nothing to do with the myth, it has to do with their careers. Jordan never, ever, ever, EVER put up stinker games when it counted like Kobe has.

    And this is all putting me in a position that I don’t like which is that of seeming like a Jordan homer when I frankly couldn’t stand him or the Bulls…but I think it’s kind of insane that so many people here actually think Kobe has any chance of being the GOAT over Jordan. Jordan was surrounded by mediocre front court players most of his career- Kobe had Shaq and now he has Gasol and Bynum. In the triangle offense, the Post is the most important position. What the Bulls were able to do in the Triangle without ever having a dominating Center almost defies explanation.

    In a series of 1 on 1 battles, prime to prime, I believe Jordan would take 8 of 10 games. They’d be hard-fought, bloody games, but I’d put my money on Jordan.

    Without a doubt, Kobe is my favorite all-time player…and in my all-time personal ranking, he’s #2. Behind Jordan.

  55. Kobe’s shot selection is not even as good as D-Wade’s and Lebron’s, much less MJ’s.

    http://theresastatforthat.blogspot.com/2011/03/kobe-bryants-shot-selection-driving.html