They don’t hand out championships, dynasties or reasonable comparisons to maybe the greatest athlete ever just because of viral campaigns or TV commercials or media sycophants or even because of a singular MVP award. To be the best player on a team that wins six NBA titles, you must first be the best player on a team that wins one.
Kobe Bryant has yet to do even that.
The Lakers’ star is right at the top of DB.com’s “Love-To-Hate List.’’ His willingness to roll with the “next-Jordan’’ annointments – along with his pouty disappearances from games, his frequent front-office demands, his haughty affectations, his Madison Avenue-controlled image and, oh yeah, the rape thing – is why we usually refer to him not by name, but by our nickname.
“The Drama Queen.’’
The Celtics’ easy dismissal of the Lakers in the NBA Finals – a laughable 131-92 victory that ended the series in six games – comes with a twist of irony: In a Finals starring “The Drama Queen,’’ there was no drama.
Boston closed the second quarter by outscoring the Lakers 26-6, and the rout was on. Kobe’s supporting cast didn’t help, Gasol scoring a total of four baskets, Odom scoring a total of two baskets, Sasha playing as if the whole thing was a family goof-around on the driveway.
But we’re comfortable blaming Kobe. Because Kobe – by a reputation he forges – is supposedly to be capable of single-handedly preventing a championship-caliber team from losing by 39 points.
Not capable of single-handedly winning every game; just single-handedly preventing great teams from being blown out.
Kobe is a brilliant talent, of course. In terms of being Jordan-like, he ranks with LeBron James as today’s best candidate. In terms of sheer Jordan-level excellence, regardless of style of play, Tim Duncan and a handful of others belong in the conversation.
But in this series, not only was he not Jordan. … he wasn’t Paul Pierce, he wasn’t Kevin Garnett, he wasn’t Ray Allen.
Think about that (and it’s a comment on Boston’s excellence, too): Over the course of these six Finals games, Kobe Bryant was never better than the fourth best player on the floor.
Kobe couldn’t cover Pierce, who won the Finals MVP. But Pierce could cover Kobe.
Kobe couldn’t cover Allen. But Allen could cover Kobe.
Kobe couldn’t outperform KG. But KG could outperform Kobe.
Kobe couldn’t cover Rajon Rondo. But … well, everybody could cover Kobe.
ABC’s Mark Jackson made it his mantra during this series to repeatedly proclaim Kobe “the best player in the world.’’ Finally, in Game 6, watching the debacle up close, Jackson revised his thinking only slightly:
“Pierce realizes that Kobe is the best player in the world,’’ Jackson said, “But he (also) knows that, ‘You know what? That doesn’t mean I can’t outplay him in a seven-game series.’’
In other words, even if Kobe ISN’T the best player. … he still IS! Evidence, performance, results, be damned!
In Game 6, The Drama Queen’s shot selection was more comical than ever. He was 7-of-22.
Make the players around him better? Nope. He recorded just one assist.
Settle down the Lakers through tough patches? Nope. He had four turnovers. And forty temper tantrums.
For the series, Bryant shot 40.5 percent. He was 12-of-20 for 36 points in LA’s Game 3 win. Other than that game, he shot 41-of-111 – a laughable 36.9 percent.
More numbers, just for the record: Michael Jordan’s career numbers: 30.1 points, 6.2 rebounds, 5.3 assists, 2.3 steals, 0.8 blocks, 2.7 turnovers, 49.7-percent shooting.
Very impressive.Maybe as close as this era has to a Jordan-type. But not Jordan.
Kobe’s publicists, fans and apologists may not recognize this today. He’s handsome and rich and smooth and sexy. He moves product. Now, previous to this season, the Kobe-led Lakers have, in reverse order, been eliminated in the first round, eliminated in the first round, and failed to make the playoffs.
But, well, he moves product.
"Once you taste defeat, that makes you a little tougher," said Bryant, maybe framing himself for another adidas campaign, but. … “once’’ you taste defeat? Without playing Robin to Shaq’s Batman, defeat is all Kobe has tasted.
Multiple championships? Dynasties? Comparisons to the greatest ever? These Lakers have no more right to make those claims than do the Cavs, the Suns, the Mavs.
Excuses? Easy to find. They double-teamed him. His teammates bobbled his passes. He had bad luck. He couldn’t do it alone.
But those excuses – reasons, if you will – apply to any great player who leads a team to defeat. They double-teamed Dirk, you know.
Kobe is, by carefully-crafted reputation, supposed to be above that. Above, literally: Did you see him jump over that Aston-Martin?
Some may not recognize reality. But the fans at the TD Banknorth Garden did. At game’s end, they celebrated with cheers and songs and chants and, of course, arrests. In the fourth quarter, after the Lakers had waved the white flag, they hooted, “Where. Is. Ko. Be?’’
But it was in the third quarter when Boston fans celebrated the truth. The Drama Queen took center stage by approaching the foul line. And the sing-song’y chants came raining down.
"You're. Not. Jor. Dan!’’
"You're. Not. Jor. Dan!’’
"You're. Not. Jor. Dan!’’
... written by Jonathan Green , June 19, 2008
Mike, the last time I checked it was the media that label Kobe in the class with Michael. A recent ESPN inteview with Stephen A Smith, Kobe responded appropriately to the assertions and asked that the media not compare him to Michael Jordan but let him be Kobe. Therefore is this article just to simply highside as we call it?
... written by randye , June 19, 2008
he moves product. Fish, that's perfect, Pretty much sums up what motivates national sports coverage these days.
... written by LessThanThrilledGOP , June 19, 2008
I love Ray Allen, Garnett and Pierce. What a classy bunch of guys they have on that team. Saw Pierce being interviewed in a dark suit, plain white shirt and dark tie -- just an adult man talking about his business.
As a woman, I think Kobe got away w/rape. As a sports fan, I love to watch him play. I love his fire and skill.
It's just plain crappy to pile on him when he took his time to the finals.
I plan my life around the Mavericks' schedule, but we didn't get there and Kobe's team did. They would not have w/o him.
Unless I missed it, there has been no scandal attached to Kobe since the rape trial. He conducts himself like an adult -- not like some pimp. We have to remember, the guy got drafted out of high school. He has had to grow up in front of us.
So, this White GOP female is taking up for Kobe Bryant. Not just because he's so damn good looking -- but because he is a great player who acts like a grown up.
... written by Holy Roller , June 19, 2008
You win NBA titles as a team. Jordan always had a team around him that could pick up the slack if in the rare occasion he didn't perform. Kobe does not have that team anymore. He is going to have to leave the Lakers to win anymore titles. Although to me, this is karma for him throwing a fit when he was drafted by the Hornets.
... written by redsox nation rules , June 21, 2008
the better chant of the bos fans:
No means No!
the banners above the court were rocking when the fans got that chant going.
Kobe is a pig and should have gone to jail. nice to know money can buy ones freedom.