Archives For Kobe

Earlier in the week we talked about recent improved play from Kobe and him embracing the type of player he did not envision he would hold on to become late in his career. The last couple of games, however, Kobe has even exceeded that level of play.

It may be too early to say that this is the new norm, but we’re approaching the point where those who buried him as being “done” might do well to re-evaluate those firm statements and call them premature. Again, the sample needs to get bigger, but the fact that there’s a sample at all is encouraging.

The latest evidence of a revival came on Thursday night, where Kobe seemed intent to give us a game version of the #throwbackthursday hashtag:

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Back in February of 2012, the Lakers were a team looking to find its way. Coming out of the NBA lockout, Mike Brown was tasked with coaching the team Phil Jackson departed, trying to pick up the pieces and re-form a group fractured by the attempted trade of Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom for Chris Paul.

Looking back, it was not an easy time at all. Not the lows the team is facing now, but a different sort of struggle where expectations to contend were still high, but coming in a condensed season with a group possessing insane numbers of miles on their legs, looking to achieve what was, in hindsight, well beyond their grasp.

That was the backdrop for comments that Kobe Bryant made to Stephen A. Smith about what his future might hold. Yes, those questions were popping up nearly 4 years ago, before the ruptured achilles, before the team’s plunge into the high lottery. Stephen A. wanted to know if Kobe might one day leave the Lakers to join a better team – a team which might net him that elusive sixth NBA Championship. Kobe shot that down pretty quickly:

“Why would I want to go somewhere else, that ship sailed in (2007),” Bryant said. “If there was ever a time I was going to move to go play someplace else, that was it. I’m not going to jump ship to chase a sixth ring, it’s just not going to happen. It’s going to happen here or it’s not going to happen.”

After Kobe said that, he also had this quote about how long he might play:

“You think I’d hang around and average 18 points, 19 points… hell no.”

We all know what is happening this season. I do not want to pile on Kobe, but his season has been poor. The numbers speak for themselves. I don’t need to paint them in vibrant colors or put them into historical context to sensationalize them. We watch the games, we know he’s not done well. He knows he’s not done well.

This is where that last quote comes into play. Kobe never thought he’d be this guy. He’s a career 25, 5, and 5 guy. The thought of him becoming a guy who would only be getting 18? No chance.

But, Kobe was wrong. And that’s perfectly okay.

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Before the Lakers played the Wizards last week, I answered a few questions for Wizards’ site Truth About It in the lead up to that game. It was mostly about the young players and my feelings in the aftermath of Kobe’s retirement announcement. One question, though, was about my three favorite Kobe “moments” from his career. I thought long and hard on that question and ultimately offered up this answer:

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I try my best to provide substantive commentary and insight on the Lakers every time I post here. But, sometimes, you just have to throw up a video and say as little as possible. That’s how I feel here.

I mean, what is there really to say? This video is fantastic and gave me the chills throughout the entire thing. And, note, this is only a trailer for a longer video that will eventually drop too. Best believe that video will get posted here too.

(h/t to @justrycole for finding the video and to Basketball Forever for putting this video together – it really is fantastic)

On Thursday night, after the TNT double-header, the network aired a sit-down interview between Kobe and Ernie Johnson. The entire thing was great and the entire 7 minute clip is available below. While I wish it were longer — Johnson is one of the best in the business and Kobe always seems to give a good interview — they covered a fair amount of ground in their short time.

Check out the clip after the jump.

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This does not mean the Lakers have no chance. And, at some point, the team is very likely to have a game where they break through, shoot well, get a few timely defensive stops, and pull out a win. Tonight would be as good a night as any to make this happen. After all, the Wizards did travel from Cleveland last night while the Lakers only came from Philly. There is a chance they will be as tired or more than the visiting team. Or maybe I’m reaching. We shall see.

The above paragraph was from Wednesday’s game preview against the Wizards. I’m not saying I can tell the future, but if you’re interested in tonight’s lottery numbers, hit me up in the comments and I might share them with you.

No, but seriously, the Lakers were due for a win. They have been a bad team this year, but coming into the game against the Wizards they were on pace for about an 11 win season. That win total would be the worst by any NBA team ever. The Lakers may be bad, but they’re not that bad.

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Have you ever had that friend who the rest of the group just says: “Oh, that’s just so-and-so.” They’re late for everything; they skimp out on dinner and bar tabs; you don’t trust them with you significant other… But you keep making excuses for them because of what else they bring to the table or how long the friendship has lasted.

Eventually, it hits everyone that, hey, maybe that friend is just an a-hole. No one else gets those same excuses made for them, right? So what is it about that one friend?

For the Lakers and many fans, it appears we’re reaching that point with Kobe Bryant. For the last two decades, you’ve overlooked some chemistry issues, borderline selfishness on the court, and a manipulation of the various offensive systems at only his benefit because, you know, he’s Kobe. All the other stuff was worth it.

Now, at the end, though, those habits are rearing their ugly head, and at the detriment of the Lakers’ future. Tuesday night in Philadelphia was the absolute worst case scenario of his farewell tour taking priority over developing the rest of the roster. Or so we hope.

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We all knew this day was coming. From the minute Kobe started talking about basketball as work rather than the steps along the way to being great, I knew we were closer than he was letting on. As soon as he started to talk about “if my mind changes“, I knew we were closer still. And so, on a Sunday afternoon a few hours before an early evening match up against the Pacers, Kobe made clear what we all were seeing through the previously murky messages.

His body could give no more; this season would be his last.

While the emotions swirled in me, to be honest, I smiled a little.

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