We at Basketbawful enjoy getting feadback from our readers, because it justifies our existence and validates everything we believe in. And what we believe in, of course, is that there are a lot of morons out there who have access to the Internet. In that spirit, reader Anonymous had this to say about our Random Kobe Facts post:
"damn.. You oughta be ashamed to be basketball fans..."This comment is as disappointing as slipping your hand into that hot cheerleader's bra and instead of being greeted by a firm, erect nipple ready to chant out the letters in your name, you yank out a wad of sweaty Kleenex. We put a lot of work into this page. After all the hours of cutting and pasting text, downloading naked women, breaking to take a cold shower, downloading more naked women, and responding to Greg Ostertag's angry e-mails, the only response we get is this stupid thing typed by an illiterate's elbows? Couldn't you have at least pasted one of our head's onto a little devil body and tattooed it to your ass? I guess what I'm trying to say is: shut up, you idiot.
Mr. Anonymous didn't stop there. He also took offense to our Kobe Bryant DID NOT score 81 post:
Wow...Why can't you guys just grow up and enjoy the amazing show of talent that it was. If people would only open their eyes and let him have a chance again, without always trying to shoot down great things, you guys might have a new enjoyment for the league and its best player.Here's a newsflash for you, Anonymous: when we write here, we get to say whatever we want about anything we want. If we were writing Wolverine, then Marvel Comics could force us to follow the Comics Code Authority rules, tell us to have him fight Speedball, make us start a believable romance between him and She-Hulk, and have us to tie it all in to this month's X-Men "Time Travel Fall of the Mutant Massacre Caper" mega-crossover. But we're not writing a comic book, and you aren't our publisher. If either of these things change anytime soon, then we'll be happy to embrace the Kobe-love. Until then, we reserve the right to call it as we see it.
And this is how we see it: Kobe is not the league's best player. Is he the league's most unstoppable scorer? Absolutely. But then, so was Dominque Wilkins once upon a time. And you'll notice that Dominique was conspicuosly omitted from the Basketball Hall of Fame last year. While no explicit reason was given, we think it's because 'Nique, for all this highlight-reel-above-the-rim-put-the-damn-ball-in-the-hole talent, never made his teammates better. And neither does Kobe. What's more, he doesn't even seem to care about getting his teammates involved. That's what separates the league's best players from its best scorers.
There's a reason why certain players have had the best seasons of their career while playing alongside guys like Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, John Stockton, and Tim Duncan, only to fade into statistical oblivion after they jumped ship to become "The Man" somewhere else. Basketball isn't a one-on-everybody-else sport. There are four other guys out there on the court with Kobe, but you'd almost never know it, unless he's triple-teamed or falling out of bounds...situations where he's physically incapable of shooting the ball.
The common assumption is that Kobe has to shoot so much because he teammates don't back him up, that they don't hit shots when they have the opportunity. But I'm here to tell you, the other Lakers are in a no-win situation. You can't be frozen out for most of the game and then be expected to hit shots when you're ice-cold. Everybody needs to be involved, included, working together toward a common goal. When your only directives are to pass Kobe the ball and watch him dribble around until he can shoot, how can you possibly be expected to succeed? By rebounding the ball when he misses? That's ridiculous.
That's why we weren't in complete and total awe of Kobe's historic scoring feat. Yes, we watched it. It was incredible that he could do it. But we love the sport of basketball in it's purest form. As a group who enjoy watching well-executed plays, crisp passes to the open man, players moving without the basketball, everyone sharing in the experience of the game, watching Kobe run-'n-gun for 81 made us sick. There were times he drove straight into double and triple-teaming defenses while other Lakers were twiddling their thumbs under the basket. Once he had the Raptors on their heels, he could have shifted gears at any time and started passing the ball. But he finished the game with two assists. Two. Possession after possession with three or four Lakers wide open, and he dished it twice. I'm supposed to be impressed by that?
Look, the last two seasons have been one long dress-rehersal for this hot streak Kobe's on. If you take a truly great scorer -- which Kobe is, no question about it -- and let him jack up 30 to 40 shots a game, every game, then an unbelievable scoring explosion is bound to happen eventually. Go back, for example, and watch Larry Bird's 60-point game. There were possessions where he didn't even touch the ball, and long stretches during which he wasn't even involved in the offense...despite the fact that he was red-hot. The Celtics didn't play that way; they ran a set offensive scheme and hit the open man, period. Are you telling me Larry couldn't have scored 70 or 80 if he'd been gunning it for the whole game, or even for a full half? If so, you're probably reading this from the padded comfort of your cell.
Okay, I'm done. I'll reopen this conversation once Kobe starts passing the rock and inspiring his teammates.