Monday, 5 March 2012
I WOULDN'T BET AGAINST KOBE BRYANT
By Tim David Harvey Let's take a look back at the NBA's lock-down iron-fist post lockout.
The Los Angeles Lakers were supposed to cool off the Miami Heat with their own Big Three this offseason.
They were supposed to acquire both Dwight Howard and Chris Paul for a few pieces in order to lasso the Dallas Mavericks and take revenge for the champion’s knockout sweep of them this past playoffs, while taking back Larry O'Brien.
Then David Stern happened.
Then a nixed CP3 trade happened as the commissioner wanted to keep the New Orleans Hornets together. Still, Chris Paul ended up heading to Los Angeles and the STAPLES Centre anyway—for the Los Angeles Clippers?
Then the rumor mill was whirling with news that Dwight Howard was still going to be traded—but to the New Jersey Nets?
If that wasn't bad enough, the Lakers/New Orleans trade may have been blocked, but you can't take back hurt feelings, and an offended Lamar Odom demanded a move. So the Lakers sent their most versatile player and threat to the team that swept them and their biggest new rival, the Dallas Mavericks? For practically nothing? Now the Lakers are left with a depleted, disgruntled front line featuring trade bait Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum (who are still incredible players, but probably can't help but feel little loyalty), some out of shape World Peace, no real point guard, and according to some critics no real chance. Now If that wasn't enough, remember that Phil Jackson and his Zen are somewhere between Montana and some previous rumors of New York.
Still, I wouldn't bet against Kobe Bryant.
I wouldn't bet against the greatest player in the league and the greatest player ever not named Michael. Carmelo Anthony, Derrick Rose and Kevin Durant can still wait like LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, for Kobe is still the player to beat. Until he unlaces them, Kobe will run this basketball game from a player perspective. You can't retire that.He is still that good. Sure, he's older, but he's nowhere near done. He's nowhere near M.J.'s level, but he's also nowhere near Floor Jordan's level when he was at the Washington Wizards—and Mike was still schooling cats then. Kobe's got his hops back, his killer-instinct is still intact and as for that Maverick sweep? No. 24 is out for revenge. Kobe's walked off opposing teams' floors before, head-down, looking purple with opposing-team colored ticker-tape falling down in someone else's celebration. They said he was done back then in Boston, but then he made twice as nice on some championship rings sans Shaq. No wonder O'Neal calls him the greatest Laker ever.
Back when they played together, Shaq called Kobe his idol. Hate it or love it, Bryant is still the poster boy of the NBA. He hasn't just built walls—he's knocked them down. Only Jordan in his prime has Kobe's skill, will or killer instinct. At the end of the game, two down with two on the clock, who else do you want to have the ball (apart from Derek Fisher behind the arc, of course)? It's no contest. If there's a way to win, Kobe will find it. This season has been one of the hardest for the Black Mamba, but he's still got venom. This has been one of his best seasons overall with everything considering. They tried to knock him down...literally. The All-Star took all pain and no love after mid-February at the post-Valentine's break. One broken nose, one concussion and one Rip Hamilton mask later and Kobe's still dropping 31 and playing and dunking hard and with a Afro like youth. Showing the STAPLES fans and the city that his play is far from R.I.P. Welcome to Los Angeles. Lob Angeles doesn't run California yet.
This is personal.
Its got nothing to do with the sad news of his divorce (that's his private life—respect that). Its got nothing to do with the endorsements, hyperdunks, critics, lockout, all the talk, blogs and bull that comes with the great hype and buildup of the world’s greatest league. It's to do with how the game has played out and by the end who has put the ball in the basket more times. At the end of it all, after it's all said and done, whom else do we need to talk about?
That's Kobe's bread and butter. That's Kobe's job. That's Kobe's forte. That's Kobe. That's all you need to know.
I wouldn't bet against Kobe Bryant—would you?