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Friday Forum

The Friday Forum goes a little off its regular programming today. Normally, I’d devote this to the upcoming Cavs game which will see Coach Brown facing off against his former charges. And, it’s a terrific topic to explore. However, there’s been a much larger topic of discussion lately, Kobe Bryant’s rather astonishing explosion of play in the face of some very real structural damage. Here’s some chunks of text on the subject matter:

From Zach Harper at HoopSpeak: Some players would quietly accept their fate. They would put in enough work to remain relevant, collect their giant checks, put up nice stats and be resigned to bowing out early in the playoffs until it was time to retire. But Kobe doesn’t get down like that. In fact, he doesn’t get down like really anybody. Bryant is constantly focused on one singular goal and one singular goal only. Get the job done or die by your own sword. There isn’t any other way. It’s not that Kobe is necessarily selfish; it’s just that he has to do it himself or he’s not going to be satisfied. Kobe’s never going to be unable to open a jar of applesauce, hand it to you and then make the excuse of I loosened it for you when you pop that sucker open. If he can’t wist the top of, he’s going to break the jar over his head and enjoy a heaping helping of apple puree and broken glass in complete and utter satisfaction. Instead of putting in the same off-season work he always does, Kobe knew he had to change something in order to compete with this new NBA. The status quo wasn’t good enough the last time, so why would it work this time? Kobe had to reverse the aging process. And, there was only one way to do this… Kobe Bryant became a vampire.

From Adrian Wojinarowski at Yahoo Sports: With those torn ligaments in his right wrist – an injury that should’ve required surgery and three months of rehabilitation – Bryant is forever one collision from serious seasonal consequences. When he fails to keep the wrist moving during the game, it will swell significantly. That’s why he’s always making that shooting motion with his wrist on the sidelines in down moments. His personal trainer, Tim Grover, says simply “I’ver never seen what Kobe’s doing right now.” It’s near impossible to play with torn ligaments in your shooting wrist, never mind play well. Bryant is the ultimate creature of routine, and it never changes. From Grover to the video technological whiz he calls his “Jack Bauer,” Mike Procopio in Chicago, Bryant’s circle is small, his preparation unchanged, and perhaps unrivaled. He has shown he can make easy and tough shots, with the wrist. His baseline fades, his jumpers, still come with his classic form, the proper arc and angles, and they drop. There are good shots and bad shots, and history tells you Bryant’s self-examination distills the difference over the long run. “I shoot, I shoot,” Bryant said. “You’ve known that for 16 years. I’m not changing my game. If the defense is not doubling, I’m going to score, If I’ve got a good look, I’m going to score. My teammates know that. But I also give them the ball, and set them up. But, at the end of the day, I’m a scorer first.” There’s forever defiance in his words, because without it, there’s no greatness.

Emile Avanessian writes in his Hardwood Hype: It’s no secret that Kobe Bryant’s white whale is the ghost of Michael Jordan. Since before he entered the NBA, Kobe’s monomaniacal obsession has been with the maximization of his immense talent, in pursuit of the title of “greatest ever.” Given his winaholic tendencies, I have no doubt whatsoever that Kobe aches to surpass Jordan’s ring tally, and am equally certain that should he ever do so, regardless of age, will immediately set his sights on Bill Russell’s mark. But Kobe is a smart guy. While I doubt he’d ever admit it aloud, he’s got to know that simply matching the measurables with a carbon copy skill set will only narrow the perception gap between himself and Jordan, but never flip the script. This is owed to the fact that Michael Jordan (whom I believe earned his place in history, but has nothing on Kobe in terms of pure basketball aptitude) was defined not only by sublime skill as a basketball player and an unimpeachable resume, but by a veneer of perfection- both on and off (this has receded slightly) the floor- that continues to this day to protect his enduring legacy. It was only a matter of time before Kobe- recognizing that he’s facing a stacked deck, that rationality has no place in this debate- gave up the ghost in favor of carving out an insurmountable legacy of his own. It’s becoming increasingly apparent that more than any others, these are the defining seasons of Kobe Bryant’s career.


I have gotten to the point, of not knowing quite what to say about Kobe. A couple years ago, I felt grateful to still be watching him at his peak. I have written at various times, about what his declining years might look like. He doesn’t appear at all ready to cede any points to the reality if time. I have no idea how he’s still doing what he’s doing. While I fully understand and agree with Emile’s “white whale” point, I no longer invest as much in Michael Jordan comparisons. I think instead of athletes in other sports, who will their bodies to absorb undue punishment, and find treacherous paths to greatness. The thread’s open to any topic of course, but I’d especially enjoy thoughts and reflections about Kobe, his season, his legacy, and how he manages to do just what he does. The forum is open.

Reader Interactions


  1. From the last thread …

    Craig W. :

    Yes, I was at the Portland game last week and a Blazer fan sitting next to me told me he is good friends with a recognizable name from Phil Jackson’s staff. This person informed him last season that the Lakers had made a serious behind-the-scenes run for Gerald Wallace.

    Management is trying …


  2. It is so easy to say that, “If I knew how he did it, I’d do it too”… but in reality, this entertainment for us (or even occupation if you happen to write about such things) is so much more for Kobe. I would be thinking about how my knees are going to feel in 10, 20, 30 years from today. Kobe might just believe that he will walk through the pain in his knee in the same way he keeps on shooting through it today. I think we are watching a man spend his body on basketball in a manner that no other player has and being a few years older then Kobe, I wonder if I’ll ever get my answer to whether his way will waste his later life, or if this will of his is the same power that keeps that old-cat lady in the dark house at the end of the street alive even as her husband is long gone, her children buried, and grandchildren disinterested. Evil never dies. Banana Republics are held together by such wills. Empires build their monuments to such wills and they do it on the broken backs of those made to build that monument. I am thankful that it is just an entertainment that Kobe’s will is direct towards and that it’s not your or my torn ligament that he expects to keep shooting in perfect form.


  3. Kobe is clearly hurting both inside and outside, and is, at the moment of trial, throwing his energy into the one thing he has always been great at – basketball.


  4. “I’ve never seen what Kobe’s doing right now”

    From Tim Grover, Michael Jordan’s former trainer.

    Grover’s quote says it all.


  5. Kobe Bryant, the Kamikaze. On a downward spiral towards the end, damage dealt to the enemy will be great.


  6. Mike Brown’s comment about wondering if we’d find a machine inside him if we opened him up finally tripped my mind about what his real nickname should be…

    Not the Mamba.

    Kobe is the Terminator, a relentless cyborg killing machine.

    Remember in the original Terminator movie, where, as the movie progresses, and Ah-nold’s character sustains shotgun blasts, getting run over, etc., and just keeps coming? His eye gets blasted–no problem, he just slits the eye open, rips the fake eye out, and keeps going with the spooky red lens

    That’s Kobe–broken finger, no problem–I’ll just keep playing until it develops scar tissue and can’t get any worse–and then I’ll teach myself to shoot with permanent damage

    Creaky wheels, no problem–I’ll get experimental blood therapy on them and come back stronger than ever

    Torn ligament in my wrist–no problem, I’ll just keep the wrist in perpetual motion and keep shooting so it doesn’t stiffen up, and then shoot it up with painkillers before every game.

    The T-800 Model 101 lives, and his name is Kobe


  7. Basketball gives the opportunity to almost endlessly add to “your game,” in a way that can help compensate for the effect aging had on your previous skill set. I think more so than any other sport. And so it’s a perfect foil for someone like Kobe Bryant, with his unparalleled work ethic and ability/willingness to an alyze and improvise.


  8. That’s what I find most impressive about him. BUt then add in his ability to focus, which allows him to play through the on-court distractions of injuries, as well as off-court distractions that would lead most players to take time off.


  9. Kobe is insanely devoted to the art, craft, and strategy of scoring. Not basketball–SCORING. He watches video of guys like Robertson and West, and uses their moves. He practices new moves alone in the gym. In The Art of a Beautiful Game, by Chris Ballard, Ballard calls Kobe a “basketball geek” and describes Kobe teaching Ballard how to ‘sell’ the jab step. The whole chapter on him is like that.

    Also, great scorers, as Jim Murray wrote about Elgin Byalor 50 years ago, have a COMPULSION, not a DESIRE, to score. Kobe has that as well.

    Add these things to modern training techiques and modern medicine, as well as the money he has such that he can hire a guy like Tim Grover to travel with him and the fact that since Denver, he is taking higher percentage shots–here we are.
    No way to know how long it will go on
    –depends on matchups and other factors.


  10. There were times when i dismissed athletes as being jocks, and really thought no more of them than those football players shown in Any Given Sunday – lots of grunts, macho, some sense of responsibility and cashing out but in general in it for the money.

    That all changed really with Kobe, more so than any other athlete (including Kareem and Hakeem who were more reflective and cerebral). Now the word athlete, or at least ‘true’ athlete, brings with it an image of preserverance, something I should try hard to emulate, and no longer do I resent these ‘jocks” big paychecks.


  11. I’ve always thought Kobe is one of the few athletes today the term “warrior” actually fits. I think it’s the combination of focus, efficiency, his obsession with perfection, and the simple reality that he never seems to hesitate to do whatever needs to be done, regardless of the pain or effort involved.


  12. 11,

    That is a great observation. With Kobe’s clearly high IQ and insane work ethic I wonder what field he would have gone into if he did not play basketball. Guys like him, Kareem, and Hakeem clearly debunk the “dumb jock” myth.


  13. I’ve always thought and said that, in terms of pure skill on a basketball court, Kobe is every bit the equal of Jordan, and is actually better in some ways. And I take Jordan’s slight stats advantage with a grain of salt to an extent: Kobe came to a team that didn’t need him to start for a season or two, and then he played half his career with a top-5 all-time great center who needed to and should have had the ball extensively. It’s pretty clear now to anyone who can be objective, that,16 seasons in, if Kobe had wanted to average 35 points a game every season he could have done so.

    He’s just never going to win over the hearts and minds of the loyal Jordan fanatics. There’s no question to me that, thanks in no small part to the dramatically lower amount of media coverage back then, Jordan had an aura and presence that whether real or implied, will never be broken, and his legend has only grown with the passing of time. It really doesn’t matter how either career ends up. Jordan will win the subjective argument with most fans.

    It’s been a true pleasure being a Laker fan and being able to watch and appreciate his basketball greatness all these years, much like it was with Kareem and Magic. There’s never really been anyone like him, and yes, to me Kobe having the mental and physical fortitude all these years to keep on excelling matters alot in a “greatest of all time” argument. I don’t think anyone, and I mean anyone in the history of basketball – not Jordan, Magic, Kareem, Wilt, Russell, West, Duncan, anyone – has been able to maintain such an elite game for 16 years. While I care whether Kobe catches Jordan and his 6th ring, what matters way more to me is to appreciate watching him go out, not meekly, hurt and broken in another uniform, but boldly and defiently in a blaze of glory in his last couple years, forever in the purple and gold.


  14. To put into perspective what Kobe is doing, you only need to compare him to some of his contemporaries who entered the league at around the same time. Guys like Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett stopped playing at this level several years ago. Think about how many wing players he’s been compared to over the years: Michael Jordan, Vince Carter, Tracy McGrady, Allen Iverson, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant. That is a loooooong stretch of history to still be relevant, let alone dominant, in the NBA. Factor in the playoff mileage – about two and a half season’s worth – and it looks downright miraculous. I hope when we criticise and scrutinise his game (which is perfectly acceptable within reason) we also take the time to appreciate just what this guy is doing out there.


  15. There’s something I was going to put in the wrap-around of this post but I hesitated. In a certain way, there is an element of Kobe that reminds me of Ali – that willingness to continually absorb punishment to achieve a path to greatness. It may seem an outlandish comparison – any number of athletes in contact sports become cripples before their time. Still, Kobe functions at a rarefied level of a sport, and will consistently drive directly into a situation where he knows his wrist is prime target #1. The guy’s ability to adjust to pain and physical limitations, combined with this this insatiable need to climb the mountain, over and over, is fairly insane. I’ll duck for cover now – fire at will!


  16. Has FB&G ever done a piece on why Henry Abbott is so obsessed with writing Kobe hit pieces?

    I realize that FB&G is a Truehoop affiliate, but you have to admit, his obsession really – IMO – make his basketball writing/analysis suspect, especially his impartiality (former trailblazer blogger).

    I mean look at the comments on each piece he writes; it’s hilarious how most of them are about how sickeningly obsessed he is with how great Kobe ISN’T.


  17. I look forward, maybe twenty or thirty years from now, to reading a spectacular biography of Kobe. Something with the scholarly heft and pedigree of Leigh Montville’s bio of Ted Williams (another difficult legend), for example. When I read that book, I will marvel anew at the career that was Kobe Bryant’s and be grateful that I watched it in real time. Whatever anyone thinks of the man, and whoever he becomes, he and his basketball accomplishments are truly one of a kind.


  18. Kobe has worked at his craft since entering the league. This is the main reason that I am a fan of his. His work ethic has always been there, and we know how he can turn his off court problems into on court magnificence; by the way he played during the trial and his locker room fights with Shaq.

    Its obvious that Kobe plays at a different level when he feels as though the world is against him. So, I for one feel as though Kobe is too old and should stop shooting. Hopefully, his play will propel him to another championship, during a time when his back is against the wall.

    Kobe Bean Bryant is the Black Mamba and he is a Cyborg (as suggested by another poster), he is the ‘Terminator.’


  19. “Public perception left Kobe Bryant and his team for dead, so he did the only sensible thing that he thought was left:

    See how the NBA likes it when he’s undead.

    The emphasis on the deconstruction of what Kobe Bryant is capable of doing has led to the lack of decomposition he will carry with him for an eternity. He will lurk in the narrows of towns, shifting from shadow to dark corner. His prey will be the unsuspecting. His conquests will be swift and without warning.

    Sharpen your stakes and prepare for a war. His cold, unwavering grip of death clutches the revenge he so seeks to spread.”

    This is great, and I think, true!


  20. The thing that amazes me about Kobe is the combination of sheer force of will with his meticulous attention to detail. There are times when I watch him and it really seems he is not so much playing another team as battling for perfection. Of course he fails. He has to. But that only makes him work harder. This is a why a guy like Simmons can say he is one of the few players who will bring it every night. It is also why he is sometimes not a good teammate. He gets caught up in the personal battle of his will against the ideal he is striving for.

    Loved this quote: Did you hear about the time Kobe blocked a shot with his anger? @gotem_coach


  21. As is so often the case at FB&G, wonderful comments throughout this thread. @jodial, I couldn’t agree more. Perfectly said. @Bingo, it’s a valid question. I would only say that I have actually read pieces where Abbott has written very positively about Kobe. But, you’re right – he is often critical. Kobe is such a lightning rod in the league. It’s still somewhat amazing to me, the extreme reactions that the mention of his name can cause, during casual conversation.


  22. dave m,
    “that willingness to continually absorb punishment to achieve a path to greatness.”

    Sometimes, I think it’s not just willingness, but a desire, to absorb punishment en route to greatness.


  23. I recently watched a great Youtube compilation of Kobe through the years. In single highlights, of course the video couldn’t totally capture the evolution of Kobe’s game, but the different stages of his development are probably visible to everyone who has followed him over his Laker career. The thought that stuck with me though was the rather simple one about the relationship between the physical and the cerebral (or technical/skill/however you want to call it) elements of basketball.

    Just try to imagine 2012 Kobe’s knowledge of the game and refined skills in 2003 Kobe’s body… It’s kind of sad but inspiring at the same time that the physical abilty of a player and him having total command of the mental and technical parts of the game develop in opposite directions. So the game is always a struggle of finding the balance between what the mind and body allow the player to do, even for the greatest.

    Continuing this train of thought, what makes players great is for how long they can strike that balance even in the face of physical decline. Just think of Bill Walton, who – like Kobe – reached a very high level of skill and mastery of the game very quickly but was betrayed by his body. Or take Vince Carter, who probably had a physical advantage over Kobe with even better athleticism, but never got close to that level in other important aspects of the game. And to think that Kobe has been at the top of the pile for over ten years is really amazing.

    I find it really hard to imagine how his career will end though. My hope is that the choice will not be taken from him with an injury like Bird’s back. I also can’t see him ending up like Hakeem on the Raptors or Malone on the Lakers. Maybe he can do Jordan one better by claiming one final title and then actually retiring for good.


  24. I always felt the best moniker was “assassin,” but I think, in light of recent events, I have to go with the Terminator now. Black Mamba was a girl, people.

    For my money, Kareem is the greatest of all time: he did it at all levels, and he did it longer. His 19 all-star games would have bee 23 if he had gone straight from high school instead of winning 3 college titles (freshmen didn’t play then). Kobe won’t touch him for longevity, but….

    Wow, Kobe. My Kobe-hatin’ buddy has told me that he was over the hill for six consecutive years now (since he was LeBronze aged). Look at him! Astounding. I figure I’ve seen him well over 1000 times now, and I never get tired of it. The grit, the intensity, the drive, the focus, the passion, the will, then the victories. So where will he end up?

    First, I think he has an outside shot at Kareem’s all-time scoring record. My quick-and-dirty calculation says that he makes it if he plays at this level (25 a game) for this and 2 more seasons (at which point he’ll pass Jordan for third), then averages 12 per for five more years as an aging role player. Maybe not probable, but possible.

    If he picks up at least 2 titles along the way, the TWO generations who grew up watching him will have many members swearing he’s the GOAT, with a rational case. Certainly, we will have been witness to a career-as-act-of-will that defies credulity.

    As for me, I try to live my life as if Kobe is watching and is my biggest fan. And to not disappoint him like he hasn’t disappointed me.


  25. “Kobe’s never going to be unable to open a jar of applesauce, hand it to you and then make the excuse of I loosened it for you when you pop that sucker open. If he can’t wist the top of, he’s going to break the jar over his head and enjoy a heaping helping of apple puree and broken glass in complete and utter satisfaction.”

    Now that was some amazing, enjoyable writing.


  26. @30: That’s a long long time in a short season, I wouldn’t be surprised at all to hear they’re working the phones to make a move.


  27. How many first round picks for Steve Nash!?!? (Kidding, not speculation). Is it shopping time, or can Morris do it? Anyone?


  28. Henry Abbot thinks and says how great of a player Kobe is. I wish people on this site would actually read and listen what he writes and says. He says Kobe isn’t as good in the clutch historically (which is true) as many of his counterparts because he doesn’t pass to open players down the stretch… Instead he shoots over double and tripple teams. He says that is the reason Kobe’s FG percentage in the clutch has not been very good. It’s very hard to argue this. I think Kobe is the second best player of all time behind Michael Jordan and I even can see this. In Kobe’s tenure in LA the Lakers have had the number ranked offense in the entire league. However… In that same time the Lakers rank near the middle on crunch time offense.


  29. Kobe: My dream is for the 20 year career; 7 rings; leading scorer of all time. Not much to ask for, I realize – but hey it is a dream : )


  30. @ 36

    from todays truehoop bullets:

    “Having preferences means having weaknesses.” That’s a quote from a chess master, Magnus Carlsen. That’s what I’m saying about Kobe Bryant, too. He prefers to shoot. Makes the Lakers weaker, because opponents know this.

    Makes Lakers weaker to the tune of 5 championships since 2000?

    oh yeah then a few bullet points later there’s this attempt to play the other side of the fence (what you might term his “good things about Kobe”).

    Despite all my railing about Bryant’s bad decision-making I’m not stupid! Of course his toughness, and never-say-die attitude, are epic.” (with a link to this article).

    And everything you said above in one short paragraph, Abbott has stated in endless blog post after blog post and after a while it begs the question – what are you trying to prove Henry Abbott??? Your Blazers CHOKED in 2000 and they are not going to get that game back….leave it alone. The Lakers won!!!

    I am sorry I can’t come up with anything more thoughtful or intelligent in response but that is because his harping on Kobe’s clutchness or how he’s not as good as other players or that the Lakers can’t win if he shoots too much…leave it alone. the Lakers have won 5 championships with him.

    I think there are other players that are deserving of critical analysis such as D Rose, Lebron, Garnett hell even the new LA golden Children of The Clippers.


  31. Shots out to DAVE M for one of the best threads i’ve read in years, the above comments are inspiring and painful at the same time as we all realize that were in the glory days of one of the greatest to ever play this game, but who else in the game can swing the emotions of not only a nation but the world the way KOBE does whether you love him or hate him he is and will always be relevant and I hope that those watching can really appreciate the Passion and determination that KOBE plays with when honestly he doesn’t have to. To only speak to his game clearly misses the mark when the LAKERS have been a major draw in every city and country that his sneakers have touched the floor, even in the post Shaq days he’s filled visitor stadiums with sellout crowds whether its to cheer or boo him. He transcends the game with an aura of competiveness that could only be compared to ALI OR JORDAN, always the cerebral assassin he is determined to prove without a shadow of a doubt he’s the best player in the world, I can see Kobe after retirement traveling the country walking into gyms challenging guys not because he has something to prove anymore but because that’s who he is. He has the makeup to be a great coach one day if he chooses but I believe KB24 would be great at ANYTHING he chooses to do. I hope he decides to play in the Olympics because it would be one of the best ways to send off a true champion who in the words of Frank Sinatra “I did it my way” Mamba4eva, Salute!!!


  32. I’ve been watching sports for quite a few years, and during that time I’m not sure I have ever seen an athlete as complicated as Kobe Bryant. Some fans absolutely love him, while others detest him. Both emotions, it seems, are justified.

    We have heard about Jordan’s drive and competitiveness, but for my money there has never been a player as competitive as Kobe. His work ethic is second to none, and his dedication to his craft unparalleled. Watching his footwork in the low post is a thing of beauty, and perhaps the one area where I think he puts MJ to shame.

    Watching players like Lamar Odom, Shaquille O’Neal, and Pau Gasol ought to make people admire Kobe even more. There hasn’t been a single season where Kobe came to camp out of shape; not an offseason where he didn’t add something to his game; and not an injury from which he didn’t gut it out and try to play when others would have (and did) sit out.

    Kobe can turn on the charm when he wants to (admittedly with less frequency these days than in his 20’s), and his devotion to his children and to other kids at basketball camps all over the world appears truly genuine.

    These are the things that justify the love.

    Then there’s the other side.

    Kobe’s confidence in himself over his teammates can turn a fluid offense stagnant. His inability to defer to Shaquille O’Neal in the early years caused potentially irreparable damage that deprived him, them, and all of us the opportunity to watch what was described as “Michael playing with Wilt” and the additional championships that could have brought.

    Kobe will not relent to injury, even when that injury is to his hand and prevents him from being the ball-handler he used to be. He shoots too much sometimes. He wanders on defense, and complains about non-calls as much or more than any other player.

    Then there’s Colorado. There are the reports of Kobe’s infidelities that make him something less than an ideal husband, and the angry version of Kobe (“ship his ass out of here”) that can’t help but alienate teammates.

    These are the things that justify the hate.

    Each “version” of Kobe is real. These competing personalities and characteristics create complexity, and the complexity generates the passion of both the lovers and the haters.

    For me, the simplistic conclusions (“Kobe is great” or “Kobe is a jerk”) are inadequate. Both statements are true at times and false at others. This is what underscores the complexity of a man that continues to astound and confound most of us on a nightly basis. I’m just glad to have been around for the ride, and hoping that it won’t end soon…..


  33. I wish people on this site would actually read and listen what he writes and says.


    I do. I don’t want to get into it here, but you are cutting Abbott way, way too much slack.


  34. @ Robert,

    I am a man with smaller dreams: D12 and a league-average PG.

    Looking forward to seeing what Morris can do this evening.


  35. robinred: I share your dream; and your dream leads to mine for Kobe. I would write about the D12-PG dream more often, but the dream police don’t seem to like it when I do


  36. The thing about Kobe is this. He definitely is chasing the ghost of Michael Jordan which is obvious from his play, mannerisms, fist pumps etc. While I don’t think there’s much he can realistically do to eclipse MJ as the GOAT considering his age and having won his first 3 as shaq’s sidekick, there is one thing Kobe could instantly improve on in his game. Throughout Kobe’s career, he has struggled to find balance between keeping his teammates involved and trying to score. Jordan was a master of scoring in the flow of the game. Not forcing shots, and scoring through a team generated offense (backdoors, using screens etc) When Kobe tries to play the team game, he almost goes out of his way to do it. There’s nothing natural about it. As a result, there were many halfs that had Kobe with 6 or 7 assists and like 5 points. Conversely, when Kobe is in scoring mode, his tunnel vision for the basket is legendary as everything turns into an isolation one on one play. No Flow. Even when Jordan would go off for 50, he did so using his teammates to get himself easier shots as well as isos. When Kobe takes over games, it’s often via give me the ball and get out of the way. If Kobe learned to create for teammates and get his own in the natural flow of the offense simultaneously instead of one or the other at a time, they’d be favorites every year considering the twin towers they have in Bynum and Gasol. Instead, on many nights, the Lakers biggest advantage is often canceled out by Kobe negating his big men on offense and taking most of the shots.