Thursday, January 22, 2009

Why Kobe-Haters are Silent


Every year I hear negative, unfavoring remarks about Kobe Bryant. Mr. Ball-Hog, Mr. Cry-Baby, Mr. Arrogant, I can go on and on. Allow me to try and fix these prefixes. Maybe in some miraculous way I can put a dent into those Kobe-Hater impenetrable heads that have difficulty letting go of the past. First thing's first, as a big fan I do see and acknowledge Kobe's bad behavior at times and I understand the frustration that comes along with being a fan, HOWEVER, does the tainted misconceived image of Kobe really depict how he's performed this season? I mean, let's give Kobe a clean slate here and really see what he's accomplished so far.

Mr. Ball-Hog Yes, Kobe can be a ball-hog but hasn't he proven that he can finish around any defender and make big shots when the team needs him to? As team captain, the team relies on his leadership game in and game out. Seasons ago, his teammates wouldn't help with pulling their load and Kobe was left to shoot more to fill in their gaps. This season is different, every Laker is playing much better and it seems that they are helping on the offensive. Kobe is the teams leading assists man with 5 assists per game. He's currently ranked 6th (SG) in the league in assists and is quickly moving closer to a career high average with 214 assists already. He's averaging 10+ assists in the last 4 games. Might I also add that his ppg average is lower than past years at 26.8 ppg. He is finding the open man and the open man is finishing. Kobe may be a ball-hog at times but I see Kobe passing the ball more this season because Bynum is healthy and playing well, Kobe's Mini Me, Ariza has been given more minutes (deservingly so) and overall his teammates are playing with greater confidence than before.
 
Mr. Cry-Baby Sure Kobe has helped the economy with his stock purchase in Kleenex but who hasn't shed a tear or two. I know I have. I cry every time I watch the ending to Jerry Maguire. Does this make me a cry-baby? Actually, I guess it does, but that's not the point here. It's evident that the Lakers organization does react to Kobe's tears in a positive way. They picked up Pau Gasol. They have successfully removed his deep rooted tear ducts with a much deeper rooted team. Did Kobe cry after losing to the Celtics in the NBA Finals last season? No, he collected himself, made the Olympic squad in the off season and regained the gold medal for the U.S.A. He then worked out with the team after Beijing, regrouped and made his presence felt early in the season with a 33-8 start.

Mr. Arrogant Yes, Kobe has a chip on his shoulder but why not? Doesn't he deserve to? MVP of last season, Olympic Gold Medalist, 3 time NBA Champion, he has proven to his fans that he can overcome any obstacle on and off the court. He is after all human. Yes, he screwed up big in Colorado, yes, that didn't help his image but afterwards he moved in the only direction he could, forward. The spoiled relationship with Shaq was an unfortunate episode in the Lakers Dynasty but it was bound to happen sooner or later. One spotlight isn't big enough for two stars as it appeared. Kobe is leading his team this season to the best start they've had in years. Only Orlando shares the top record. Kobe's leadership has ignited the team and his teammates are responding in a major way. Kobe, arrogant? Yes, justifiably so. An overbearing pride that is leading his team into another championship season.

In conclusion I leave you with an insert I found from an article written by Sam Anderson over at Slate.com. I chose this insert because it's well written and truly shows how passionate Kobe-haters are. (My favorite part I put in bold)
I don't hate Kobe for petty reasons: for his talent, for instance, which is beyond dispute and often gorgeous to watch, or because he sold out Shaq, or because he's an adulterer, or because his face looks like a weasel. I can forgive all of that. I don't even hate him because the referees surround him with a sacred halo of gentle touching (he was once so coddled in a playoff game that Ralph Nader had to start agitpropping about it), or because he's skewed the self-perceptions of pickup ball-hogs across the nation, or even because he makes close to my yearly salary every time he scores a basket. This is all irritating but peripheral. The true source of my rage is much, much deeper: I hate Kobe Bryant's rotten and derivative soul.
Entire article can be read here: http://www.slate.com/id/2167302/fr/flyout

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Best in the West vs Beast in the East

Monday, January 19, 2009
Los Angeles Lakers (31-8) vs Cleveland Cavaliers (31-7)

This will be the second biggest game for the Lakers this season so far. Boston on Christmas Day was the first and playing against LeBron's Cavaliers will be the second. A showdown of the best. Kobe vs Lebron. This will be a game of high numbers.

Key Matchup: Kobe Bryant vs LeBron James





Okay, let's start with the facts. Kobe is averaging 27 pts., 5 rebounds with 5 assists. LeBron is averaging 28 pts., 7 rebounds with 7 assists. Kobe is the better finisher with more speed as LeBron is the bigger scorer with more strength. These two All-Stars will put on a show for sure! The games victor will go to the highest producer of the two.

D. Fish will have to play well and contain Mo Williams. Mo has scored in double figures in the last 12 games. D. Fish is bothered by a slight groin strain, so if Phil notices that Derek is effected by it then Kobe will play the point guard position.

Sasha Pavlovic is replacing Delonte West (wrist) at the SG position. Pavlovic scored 19 points in his first start of the season. He is a 3 point threat and the Lakers can not allow him to be left open behind the arc.

The tall tale of the game will be in the paint. The Lakers will have the advantage. The big men in yellow should attack Clevelands inside void with Ilgauskas being out (fractured left ankle). Pau Gasol should have no difficulty throwing up numbers against Anderson Varejao and the aging Ben Wallace. Andrew Bynum will have no strong defender playing him so his well needed inside performance will be vital for the Lakers 32nd victory this season.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Let's make it 4 in a row in Houston

Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Houston Rockets (24-15) vs Los Angeles Lakers (30-6)

Both teams are hot, coming off of 3 wins in a row and neither one has any intention to break the streak. Houston Rockets without McGrady have been playing surprisingly well just like last seasons performance without Yao. This proves that teams can survive without their star players when coached well and when playing good team ball.

Injuries will definitely hurt the Rockets in this game with having McGrady and Artest out. "Skip To My Lou" Rafer Alston will have to play well around the strong defensive that comes with playing against our boy D. Fish. The spark for the Rockets has been with Von Wafer. Wafer was almost taken out of the line-up but thankfully Houston kept him as he's been playing well, helping with filling in the injury gaps.

Aaron Brooks will be pushing strong coming off the bench and will test our depth. He's averaging 24 pts. in the last 3 games. Shane Battier will not pose a threat because he remains injury prone and seems to be trying to get his groove back. Who knows, this game might open the door of opportunity.

Now, to Houston's big men. Lets start with the Great Wall of China, Yao Ming. Yao, whose reputation in the league has been labeled as being too soft has been playing well but still not consistently. He will score in the double figures but will not utilize his height effectively by crashing the glass. When you're 7-6, you have to get more rebounds and more blocks...like Manute Bol! Yeah I said it, Manute friggin' Bol! Wait bad example, hmmm, Shawn Bradley, crap, another bad example. Are there any 7-6+ centers out there that pose a serious defensive threat anymore?

I think Luis Scola is currently the better big man of the two. Just give him the minutes and Scola will give you production.

Surprise player of the game will be Carl Landry. He will come off the bench and give key second shot opportunities.

Key Matchup - Luis Scola vs Russell Brand





I would usually pick Scola to win this battle of look-a-likes but today I have to side with Mr. Russell Brand. Come on, his hair alone gives him the height advantage. True, Scola can pick Brand up with one finger and eat his scrawny limbs with one horrific gulp but Russell can run around him with his Brit-Speed and rationalize him to death.

No but seriously, the deciding factor in this game will come down to how well each teams second string plays. The starters will do their usual thing but when it's time to rest them, the gaps will close in and the bench will ultimately decide the games outcome. Although the Lakers are the strongest on paper, the strongest on the court tomorrow night will end up winning their fourth game in a row.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Last Place Pacers Take On First Place Taker Lakers

Friday, January 9, 2009
Los Angeles Lakers (28-6) vs Indiana Pacers (13-22)

Can the Indiana Pacers, who sit at the bottom spot in the Central Division, keep up with the high paced Lakers? Definitely! They've proven that already by beating us earlier in the season! The Pacers have shown all season long that they have the caliber to beat the better teams having already beat the Lakers, Dallas and Phoenix just the other night.

One player in yellow to look out for will be Danny Granger. Granger will throw up Kobe-like numbers guaranteed. He's averaging 26 ppg while Kobe is averaging just above that number at 27 ppg. Granger has scored at least 35 points in the last three games and will carry on that momentum and energy into tomorrow nights game.

Stephen Graham at the SG position has been given some considerable playing time due to Marquis Daniels being out (strained left groin) and is taking full advantage of it by scoring in double figures and pulling in rebounds.

Troy Murphy will have an off game (Purple & gold intuition) and Gasol should easily play around him and take Murphy to escuela (school).

Nesterovic will need to use his size to box out Bynum effectively to give Indiana second chance baskets. He also needs to put up some post up numbers. His presence against our big men in the inside will have to be seen.

Surprise Player of the Game: Mike Dunleavy made his season debut scoring 14 points in 21 minutes coming off the bench last night and was key to their victory over the Suns. His surprise performance will give the Pacers any fighting chance to pull the upset.

Key Players





Tomorrow night will be an opportunity to show Indiana why the last victory against us was just a mere fluke.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Battle of the Best from the West

Tuesday, January 6, 2009
Los Angeles Lakers (27-5) vs New Orleans Hornets (20-10)

The last time Lakers met the Hornets was just two days shy of Christmas. Lakers took the victory in New Orleans and carried the momentum off the plane for Boston back home. Having beat the Grizzlies and the Hornets, this was just the right amount of fuel we needed to beat Boston.

Hornets are bitter from the Lakers recent sting and now hungrier to becoming the best team in the Western Conference. Like L.A.'s record, the Hornets record speaks for itself too. Currently the Hornets are second best in the Southwest Conference sitting just under the Spurs.

This is why the Hornets can not beat the Lakers tomorrow night. First things first, hornets are afraid of water. Secondly, Tyson Chandler has been inconsistent all season long and is not the same player as he was last season. Fresh off a one day suspension, I think he will play with caution and will be off his game. Dang it! This is all I have!

Scratch the last paragraph, Hornets are STRONG and will be very hard to beat even having home court advantage and winning the last 15 home games. CP3 is, well CP3. Chris Paul is going to kill us at the PG position. D. Fish and Sasha will have to tie their shoe laces extra tight in order to keep up with him. D. West will outscore Gasol but Gasol should out rebound. Lamar will have to defend the perimeter well against Stojakovic. Lately Peja has been playing well.

Kobe will have an easy night against R. Butler. This matchup will be altered I guarantee by the Hornets coaching staff.

Key matchup of the game





Needless to say, this game will be an action packed early preview of the Western Conference Playoffs. I can't determine who will win but I can say it will be another nail biter. Come on Lakers! I have no more nails to bite...wait, never mind, I have my toes.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

The Young and The Royless Trail Blazers Come to Town

Sunday, January 4, 2009
Los Angeles Lakers (26-5) vs Portland Trail Blazers (20-13)

Portland Trail Blazers are seeking retribution after losing against the Lakers on opening night back in late October. This will be a good challenge for Portland as Brandon Roy will not be in attendance due to his sprained right hamstring.

The Spanish rookie, Rudy Fernandez has been filling in for Roy and is scoring in high numbers again. Rudy, a possible Dunk Contest contestant and a strong slasher, not afraid to throw his body around. You can remember his performance against Team USA in last years Beijing Olympics Championship game. He and Gasol were very dangerous together and made Team USA really work hard to gain the gold.

At the Center positions Bynum should beat Oden. Oden is much better defensively but Bynum should score fairly easy around him.







The Key match up will be against Gasol and Aldridge. Gasol will have his hands full with young Aldridge. Both Gasol & Aldridge are flat out scorers and rebounders. It will be fun to watch these two play.

Another Blazer to look out for is of course Travis Outlaw. Travis when given minutes plays well. If he gets his groove on the hard floor then we are in trouble. Phil will have to match up Outlaw correctly and I'm hopeful that he puts in Trevor. That would be exciting to see as Trevor has been playing very well all season long.

So in conclusion, the well experienced Lakers should beat the young and still diapered Trail Blazers.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Lakers start the new year with Jazz and no Booze. BORING!

Friday, January 2, 2009
Los Angeles Lakers (25-5) vs Utah Jazz (19-14)

Lakers first game in 09 will be against the Utah Jazz. As of late, Jazz have had a bad rep for not following the unsaid BYOB (bring your own booze) guy rule when visiting old friends. Carlos Boozer has been on the IL since mid November and is scheduled for arthroscopic surgery to repair his damaged quad tendon.

Also, Paul Milsap will be missing another week due to his sprained posterior cruciate ligament in his knee. Having said this, you would think Utah will be hurting in the paint, but actually they're doing okay. Let me explain.

Mehmet Okur is back in the starting line-up, fresh off of back spasms. He is averaging 17 pts. with 8 boards a game. This man has stepped up BIG for Utah. Let's not forget about AK-47, Andrei Kirilenko ended the year with a BANG (pardon the pun). His December production was critically needed to help fill the void Boozer left behind. Kirilenko serves as a defensive threat with his blocking abilities.

Okay, enough with my Jazz azz kissing. Lakers will own the perimeter in this game. I feel that Ronnie Brewer, C.J. Miles and Kyle Korver are inconsistent players but have been playing well in their last games. Depending on how well or badly they play, Kobe's numbers alone should be enough to win the SG/SF miss match.

Having expressed my confidence in Kobe, Utah will beat us at the PG position. I'm sorry, but Deron Williams is too strong for D. Fish and with Farmar out for 8 weeks and Sasha playing at the backup position, Utah will have to rely heavily on Deron's high scoring and high assists to keep Utah in contention.