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:
This is hard because there really aren’t any bad answers here. If I said “81,” his pass to Shaq versus the Blazers in the 2000 WCF, and the two ridiculous shots he hit to send to overtime and then win the game (and the Pacific Division) versus Blazers on the final night of the 2004 regular season, that would be totally acceptable and a lot of people would nod in agreement. (If that were someone else’s list, I know I would be nodding.)
For me, though, they are probably his four-game road barrage in the 2001 playoffs against the Kings and Spurs in back to back series where he scored 36, 48, 45, and 28 points in consecutive games; the 2009 Finals against the Magic when he was simply dominant; and Game 7 in the 2010 Finals against the Celtics where he shot so poorly (6-for-24), but still hit a huge jumper late, grabbed 15 rebounds (more than any Celtic), and had the key assist to Ron Artest (he was still Ron!) for a big 3-pointer which essentially clinched the game. The total joy on his face after that win is something I will never forget as a fan.
I sort of cheated here, since I really didn’t give any specific “moment”. Instead I gave them a 4 game stint in 2001, an entire Finals series, and a full game 7. This bending of the question actually is an analogy for what Kobe’s career has been for me. Yeah, I love the lob to Shaq or the pump-fake-then-fading-jumper he hit over Grant Hill in the 2010 WCF or the elbow jumper after Luke (#thereminder) won that jump ball against the Suns.
But Kobe’s career hasn’t really been about a single play or three. Or even a hundred. it’s been a bout a sustained excellence with so many high caliber performances they all blend together to form a hall of fame legacy. Not many can claim a portfolio like his. Making me choose will simply result in the type of answer I provided above.
This brings me to D’Angelo Russell. if you look at the boxscore for Wednesday night’s game against the Timberwolves, you’d see Russell shot 8-20 for 23 points, grabbed some rebounds, and dished some assists. The points were a career high for the rookie, but besides that, the percentage and the rest of his work in the form of stats weren’t anything noteworthy.
But when you watched the game, he showed us he might have some moments of his own to offer one day. Russell played a dynamic 4th quarter where he scored 13 of his 23 points in the period. At one point he scored 9 straight points, and closed the quarter scoring 11 of the team’s final 13 points.
D’Angelo Russell was on fire and scored a career-high 23 points in tonight’s game. #GoLakers https://t.co/1AhRbgmIz0
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) December 10, 2015
Down the stretch, the kid simply did work. A pull up three off the dribble when his man went under a screen. A jab step three pointer with a man in his face. A leaning jumper in the closing seconds to force an overtime. This is why we watch. These are the things we’ll remember.
Over the course of the last 20 years, we have been spoiled. Kobe once had a season where he hit six game winners. He gave us more moments than we could count. So many, in fact, it’s easy to forget some.
Seeing Kobe walk off the floor with his arm around the rookie after Russell’s own game winner didn’t fall was heartwarming. But it also served as another reminder of the bridge from one era to the next. I am in no way saying Russell will be able to do the same. But on Wednesday, for a brief flurry, he captured my imagination and gave a glimpse into what is possible.
Funny thing about kobe is stu lance even said kobe looks good in the first quarter then his legs go out, is there anyone on here who can list kobe’s fg% in the 1st quarter compared to the 4th quarter
Kobe and metta did look like they were enjoying the bench, and russell and randle looked like they hated it, but then again every opponent is different, we can base it all on the twolves game
I said awhile back that russell looked good, and if he found his shots he would be great, he is now starting to get a rythem, and also getting inside for close buckets, and i like that after he scores he looks serious about getting back on defense, not celebrating while the opposition blows by you for a quick bucket
I too felt the same way as you Darius, watching Kobe walk off with with his arm around D’Angelo, and either encouraging or giving him tips.
You won’t say it, but I will: I have always believed that D’Angelo had the potential to accept the torch from Kobe.
He has the calm, cool demeanor, skills and killer instinct to take over a game.
He did it in college, and last night we saw the potential for him to do it, in the NBA.
Both he and Randle proved that they both have that rare and elusive quality, which is: To accept the blade, under the extreme pressure in the closing minutes of the 4th, and try to cut the other team’s throat.
I’m excited to watch the Lakers this season, win or lose, and that is a unique position to be in.
Andres Garcia says
Man, Kid played well. He’s really started to look comfortable. Really encouraged by his ability to get to his spots. As his range improves, he’s going to get even more dangerous bc his defender will have to crowd him. Really want to see more DAR/JR screen rolls with JC ready to catch on the weak side. Hopefully we’ll see more of that. Per 36 #s are 15/6/4
Last night was the first time I got a real sense of what this kid is going to be like when running the team, showed why so many thought so highly of him leading up to the draft. I think he’s gonna be dynamite, only thing he really needs to do next summer is hit that weight room. Other than that, he needs the experience of being out on the court as much as possible, this season. Well, and for Byron to get shit-canned at some point.
Havent seen it until last night….but i already admited that i was wrong on him
My fav kob moments:
– making those free throws with his achilles gone
– behind the back 360 dunk
– assists to metta in gm7 of the 10 finals, cause i really expected him to chuck it up and miss….
Dont forget to vote for our players in the all star ballot :):):)
I love the response of both kids to Byron’s demotion. They both seemed more aggressive when they entered the game and more determined to get to the rim when the opportunities were there. D’lo is making a believer out of me. Both guys are just scratching the surface. Juice needs to develop that right hand to finish. Also, as Mid- Wilshire mentioned in a previous thread, improving his free throw pct. would be huge for him. He’s a banger and is going to get fouled a lot. Would love to see these two hook up on pick and roll plays more often as time goes on. Small steps.
Using http://www.basketball-reference.com shot finder here is Kobe’s %’s by quarter. 3rd qtr looks the worst.
1: FG 31%, 3P 24%
2: FG 34%, 3P 22%
3: FG 25%, 3P 21%
4: FG 31%, 3P 23%
Guys, No need for retractions, D’lo’s game is simply familar to me, because as a kid playing ghetto ball, what I lacked in athleticism, I made up in skill, craftiness and determination.
I also agree he has a lot to learn, like a right hand shot for example, and also, yes the weight room.
What a crazy road trip. The despair after the Sixers game. A glimpse of vintage Kobe in the Wizards win, and back to despair after the Hawks game. Now this game. The stock market hasn’t been as volatile (and it’s been volatile) as the emotions of Lakers fans.
Up til now, the Pistons win was the kind of play I was hoping to see from Kobe. This game easily tops it even though we lost. It’s the first one where Kobe seems to have really accepted that he’s retiring and needs to pass the torch. I hope it continues, but the way season has gone who knows what will happen next. However, there were enough flashes of promise from all the key players that I can wait somewhat patiently until it happens again.
Spurs are next and that might be a trap game for Kobe given their long history. Let’s see what happens.
There’s finally excitement out here.
FBG thread count finally topped the century (109) mark.
Hey, did anyone hear that the FO has set up an evaluation meeting with Scott, after this road trip ends?
It seems to me, after Kupchak’s comments regarding our kid’s development needs, combined with last nights game, there could be enough pressure for Scott to change his ways.
My top 3. I will also cheat.
1) Game 4 of the 2000 Finals: Kobe dominates OT after Shaq fouls out. Kobe hitting those shots and holding his hands down was vintage #8.
2) Game 1 of the 2009 Finals. Kobe gets 40, 8, and 8 in the series where he cemented himself as one of the greatest ever (before this he was always said to be in Shaq’s shadow).
3) Game 1 of the 2001 Western Conference Finals. Kobe gets 45 points and 9 rebounds against the Spurs. I hate the Spurs.
1) Kobe moves by MJ for #3 all time against the Wolves: Made the trip to Minny and was sitting literally right behind Byron.
3) Kobe scoring 21 points in the first quarter to move by Hakeem for 8th in scoring. Was sitting in VIP B about 6 feet away from Phil
A few random thoughts:
–I agree with DS that Kobe’s two shots to beat Portland and give the Lakers much more favorable playoff positioning in 2004 were the quintessential Kobe moment. He made the first one with Ruben Patterson (not a bad defender and familiar with Kobe’s moves from his time as a Laker) practically inside Kobe’s jersey, and the second one with Theo Ratliff (at that time one of the league’s best shot-blockers) flying at Kobe.
–While I’m happy B-Scott went with the reserve lineup down the stretch against Minny and I’m glad Kobe deferred, I am concerned about the lack of consistency. One night Kobe is clearly shooting the Lakers out of the game (e.g. against the 76ers). The next night the team plays with purpose and Kobe reigns it in (e.g. against the Wizards). Then Byron benches JR and DAR. Then he let’s them play extended 4th quarter minutes. Who knows what’s next? (Of course, all of this confusion may be part of the ‘stealth tanking’ strategy…)
–I keep copies of old NBA preseason prediction magazines (Anthlon, Lindy’s, etc.). Going back and rereading them can be fun, in part to see what “expert” predictions panned out and which ones were wildly off. At one time, the focus of future Laker glory was Shaq, Eddie Jones, and Nick Van Exel (oh, and that Kobe Bryant kid might be good someday…). At one time, Greg Popovich was a considered a coach “on the hot seat.” Not too long ago, the Golden State Warriors were hitching their wagon to David Lee, Monta Ellis, Andris Biedrins, and “promising” draft pick Ekpe Udoh (and The Future of Basketball Steph Curry was “not strong enough” to be an NBA star. His frequent ankle injuries “proved” that).
The lesson, I think, is to try not to read too much into any one game, any short stretch of games, or even the result of any one season. Look for hope and progress, but don’t be too surprised if there’s a few twists and turns in the road to what the Lakers will become in the post-Kobe era.
Chris J says
What’s your source of that reported FO meeting?
pat oslon says
I’m pleased with Julius Randle’s play also. His game may not be perfect but he works his tail off every game. JR delivers a relentless effort on a consistent basis. He has been a pleasant surprise so far this season. He needs to work harder defensively and hone his offensive skills but in time this kid is going to be a monster due to his diligence and work ethic.
Didn’t Mitch mention in his recent comments that he would sit down with Byron after the road trip was over?
the other Stephen says
@ Chris J,
10th paragraph from this article by Mark Medina: http://www.dailynews.com/sports/20151209/lakers-likely-to-keep-byron-scott-during-2015-16-season
Renato Afonso says
Was that a mention to the Lake Show? The only problem with the Lake Show is that they never had a proper coach. But that was a fun team… (we were robbed in that first round against Barkley’s Suns).
My observations..(stating the obvious)…..
1) JC is humble & hard working and really fun to watch
2) D’lo’s demeanor is refreshing for a top pick rookie….also fun to watch
3) JR plays with extra effort I haven’t seen in a Laker in a LONG time, Kobe excluded of course….also very fun to watch
4) LN Jr. WILL be a star someday….also fun to watch
5) Still can’t get my head around the fact BS doesn’t talk to his kids. Benches them, but doesn’t use it as teachable moment by TALKING with them? Seriously? Does the head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers NOT have a clue that these are still kids in man bodies (with extremely insane potential) who just want to get it right and need to be fostered and encouraged? BS’s excuse is a total cop out….no wonder he’s divorced now…cold,brutal,?…went there…feel bad for him, for his own kid who sits behind the bench, but him NOT communicating to his players is inexcusable. Kids 19 years old, 20 , 22 and he thinks the silent treatment is what’s best? That’s the WORST thing he could! GOODNESS SAKE!…. At least Kobe took the initiative after the TW game. I, at first, was very excited/ nostalgic with the BS signing, mistook the stoic sideline demeanor as intelligence and professionalism, but in light of these first 21 games I’m starting to understand why he has bounced around and why we will have a new coach next year. Put him back in the booth with JW and that other guy…..THERE is where I liked him best…whew! Had to get that off my chest..
6) Robert & Moto, play nice fellas…….please?…..
7) Tarik Black sighting anyone?……
Wow…..Posted twice……I feel special….my bad…
The youngsters are looking better. The biggest problem I have with this team is they don’t move the ball and they don’t take the best shot available. The have a 7 footer that they almost never use in the post. What a waste.
@ Fulufunk, enjoyed the post, agree totally!
@ Chris, the article I read in BR, was more definite and detailed, but now I can’t locate it.
Chris J meeting confirmed. Mitch, Jungle Jim and BS to discuss kids and stuff.
Hope for the the the xcdgzccbhfdxcvbg.
The have a 7 footer that they almost never use in the post. What a waste.
Hibbert is not offensive minded and doesn’t have a jumper to mix into his game. If other teams are going small you have to punish them with a low post threat, which Hibbert is not. So Hibbert ends up being a liability because he can’t keep up with the new NBA theme of going small. There’s a reason why Indiana was looking to dump him.
The new NBA center prototype is essentially using a Four as your Five. That’s what makes KAT such a great player. He’s as big as a traditional Five but he has the game of a small ball center.
“Jungle Jim” — lol. Spit on computer moment.
TOJW – thanks for sharing your anecdote regarding those pre-season prediction pundits; lends a nice perspective…
“but don’t be too surprised if there’s a few twists and turns in the road to what the Lakers will become in the post-Kobe era.”
Haha, at this point, I’m not sure what could come out of Lakerland that would surprise me.
Re the purported Jim/Mitch meeting with Byron. I hope Jim/Mitch are telling BS that they are trading all of the vets for assets and be prepared to go forward with the kids.
Forward From a fellow long time laker fan. Please read as I have taken a great deal of heat saying the above several times.
I know this sounds petty on my part, but after KAT refused even to work out for the Lakers, he went on my “don’t like list”.
So I get annoyed whenever I see him, or read his name; especially in a Lakers forum.
The heat (and there has not been that much—many people here are bagging on KB and Byron every day) has been more because you repeat it 8-10 times during every game thread, usually in very emotional language, and because everybody here is aware that Kobe has been terrible. Repetition is again part of the deal on a site like this, but it will still cause annoyance when stridently presented about a franchise icon.
As to the piece, the guy who wrote it is the only person connected to that site’s staff who is not a FO cheerleader, but he is not saying anything about KB’s numbers that the national media types have not been saying for weeks.
Got it rr.
Fan of your posts.
Isen’t your repeat comment kind of like
Bozo calling Chucko a Clown?
KO, I feel your frustration.
Though he should have retired long before now, here he is, and, if healthy, is not going anywhere.
I believe however, or to be totally honest, I hope, that he realizes that he can be a positive force and influence, or a negative one.
There is no middle ground.
Playing an efficient 1st and 2nd quarter is within his power, and passing on his precious and powerful insights to the kids is priceless.
Let us hope, that the last game was a wake up.
Have to hand it to Ko, Jungle Jim LMAO, im going to use that…
Interesting article about Indiana’s transition to a “flexi-ball”/small ball style. It’s one reason they got rid of Hibbert. As more teams embrace it, I think it makes traditional centers like Hibbert more irrelevant and someone like Porzingis more valuable. Also, interesting that Bird, who played in such a traditional post-dominant system, seems to be driving this change.
Isen’t your repeat comment kind of like
Bozo calling Chucko a Clown?
Every regular here repeats him or herself—as I have, uhh, repeated. My point was that you do it with your heart on your sleeve and that KB is a sensitive subject for many. Also, like I said, a lot of people agree with you. The questions are tone and ultimate responsibility.
Restricted this year as coach’s manager/agent is regular at local Newport cigar store and is not a fan of my Laker talk radio rants.
Relegated to repeating myself here.
Or giving up cigars.
Why did you have to come out here with that article link in the middle of our feel-good moment of celebrating the greatest Kobe moments? Dammit Ko, this is no time for the truth! haha
Think about how you’re treating Kobe a talented player that gave his body, shunned partying and drinking, and attempted to earn every dollar the Lakers gave him. While fans clamor for a free agent to fill, his shoes don’t think they’re not paying attention to how the fans treat a franchise player at the end of his career. And you wonder why athletes ALWAYS take the money, to owner’s basketball is a business, and the fans are capricious.
In an SB Nation article by Weitzman, Kevin Durant made his thoughts known about Kobe’s final year:
Kevin Durant isn’t happy with what he perceives to be too much attention being paid to Kobe Bryant’s poor play in his twilight. Thunder forward Kevin Durant said he grew up idolizing Bryant and is angry at how his twilight is being covered. “I’ve been disappointed this year because you guys treated him like shit,” Durant said to reporters following a team practice on Monday, via Anthony Slater of the Oklahoman. “He’s a legend and all I hear about is how bad he’s playing, how bad he’s shooting, time for him to hang it up. You guys treated one of our legends like shit, and I really didn’t like it. Hopefully, now you can start being nice to him now that he decided to retire after this year.”
Kobe and Kareem are the only two players provided the opportunity to take a swan song tour. I get chills at every arena watching how opponents treat Kobe. Not every player is venerated enough to warrant such a privilege.
This team is going nowhere for 3-4 years so why can’t we enjoy Kobe’s retirement season whether he shoots, or plays without all the vitriol. Forget about the players not learning how to play because of Bryant. Kobe’s career has been well chronicled, in the form of championships, all-star games, Olympic gold medals, and this retirement tour. That historical information should be sufficient for teaching them how to play the game. After all, it was enough for Lebron, Westbrook, and Durant.
I don’t really mind repetition but prefer it if it is on topic. Not to say I’ve never gone off topic as threads often do. 🙂
Dr Mike says
I think part of the frustration at Kobe has to do with the fact that our draft pick is not a sure thing and so it behooves us to play well this year. The worst possible scenario is to play poorly this year AND lose the pick. No big FA’s will want to sign with us next offseason. If we for sure have our pick then I’d accept tanking for Simmons without much stress.
@Chearn – Nice! Couldn’t agree more.
@fulofunk – I like your take on our young’uns, particularly LN Jr. It’s early yet, but there are many things that surprise me about his game. It’s hard to argue that the FO doesn’t know what they’re doing with the draft… their one redeeming feature 🙂
@ Chearn,.. after 3 years of living in darkness, now that there is light struggling to reach us, it’s not an easy thing to allow one player, even Kobe, to soak up that light for another year.
Kobe can be productive, and very useful, but only in limited minutes, and as a mentor, but not as a star.
Those days are long over; and as much as those who idolize him refuse to admit, this team is no longer his to do with what he, nor, you wants.
No, it belongs to our kids, who he can either help, or hurt.
And yes, even placing lessons of selfish play to the side, delaying development can be detrimental to our future off season.
Look,..I love Kobe as much as anyone, but I have loved the Lakers long before him, and will, long after.
Change is hard yes, but we all need to embrace it, or get left behind.
Oh and one more thought:
Kobe did all he did, for Kobe, not for you, nor me, but for himself.
He would be the first to admit that. His ego is what drives him, not some urge to please anyone, but his will to win.
This is both his greatest strength and shortcoming which made him the polarizing figure he is.
So we need not waste feelings of sorrow or charity on him.
It’s the last thing he would want regardless.
Robert, how about a “Kobe Alert – Christmas Games” edition?
I think he holds at least two records pertaining to Christmas games, if not more …
Kobe didn’t offer himself the deal, so your comments about refusing to embrace change would be better directed at the people who did.
rr, I’m responding to a post here which was not I presume, posted by the front office.
If Kobe wants to really help the franchise. Accept a trade to a title contender to the east and give the Lakers even more of a future. It would be a great gift to the team and fans setting up his beloved franchise for the future. Also, what a boon to the league to have KB24 in contention for the title in his last season. Win, Win for everyone!
I believe that if, in 1996, one could look into the future and say to Kobe Bryant, “I see 5 Chips in your future and a long, illustrious career in which you will only play for the team you idolized in your youth. Unfortunately, the last few years of your tenure will be injury marred and you’ll struggle mightily as you exit the game.”
I believe Kobe would have signed on for that. I’m sure if offered a similar scenario, ringless stars like Barkeley, Malone, Stockton and Webber would too.
Everything changed when Kobe ripped his Achilles. His present play, as seen in a vacuum, is pretty dern bad. The Mamba has replaced Willie Mays as the poster boy for “staying too long”, in the minds of many. I choose to accept that this far from perfect ending has been part of an incredible journey.
He has a season left for the right team. Lakers trying to let him do too much for sure over the last few seasons. Manage his minutes especially until the trade deadline (Has Mitch ever made a deal before the trade line? Impress us Mitch!) and save his legs for a playoff stretch. This is the time for some strategy Mitch…err a team like Charlotte for example looking like a good candidate…something like that. They close in contention could use another scorer and a vet who can show Kemba Walker how to win the big one and keep knuckleheads like Jefferson in check.
Kobe has repeatedly stated that he won’t be chasing rings with another team.