A decade of working in downtown Chicago has taught me two things: 1)
Don't give money to people begging on street corners (you're better served making donations to a shelter or a food kitchen), and 2)
don't respond to crazy people. These lessons have served me well, but I'm going to make an exception to rule number two in the case of David Friedman
. This is because, of all the people who have commented on our site, he has the most rockin'est mustache*. Seriously, David, if you ever run into Ron Jeremy
on the street or your local adult bookstore, he may very well murder you and have your mustache grafted to his face. So, you know, consider yourself warned.
*I apologize in advance if this statement has offended any of our mustachioed readers. If you believe your mustache kicks more ass than David's, please send us a picture and we will seriously reconsider our evaluation. Best Mustache Contest winners receive an unautographed t-shirt commemorating Greg Ostertag's career-high 18-point game.
David found my analysis laughable. I, on the other hand, found his analysis of my analysis -- and his mustache -- laughable. One of his sticking points was my contention that Phil Jackson used to hide Michael Jordan on defense during the Bulls' second threepeat:"Did you actually watch any of the games that you are talking about? Pippen guarded Foster at times when the Bulls went with a small lineup and Pip was at the four spot. I don't think that MJ ever guarded Foster, except on a switch. Far from hiding MJ or Pip (or Kobe), Jackson liked to have them guarding the other team's top threat, the only exception being if they were in foul trouble. MJ and Pip took turns on Magic in the '91 Finals and Jackson loved to put MJ or Pip on Price, Stockton or Mark Jackson during key stretches of playoff games to disrupt the other team's offensive execution."
all of those games on either VHS or DVD. In fact, I have a copy of every NBA Finals game (and most other playoff games) on video from 1990 to the present. So yeah, I've watched and rewatched them several times. And honestly, I didn't pay much attention to whom Jordan was guarding back in 1997, but I've spent a lot of time analyzing those series since then. And in the '97 Finals, Jordan guarded Greg Foster whenever he was in the game. Hey, feel free to fly out to Chicago and I'll gladly watch the games with you and your mustache.
It is indeed true that Jordan guarded Magic during parts of the '91 Finals, and he was used as a lock-down defender at various other times in the early 90s (when his defensive prowess was justly recognized). But Jordan was not a great defender early in his career (I can show you plenty of videographic evidence of guys like Danny Ainge simply walking by Jordan on their way to the basket), and Jackson protected him late in his career. Pippen and Rodman were the lock-down guys during the second threepeat. It was Pippen (at times) guarding Mark Jackson and John Stockton in 1998, not Jordan. And Jordan only ever guarded Reggie Miller on switches and, of course, that classic end-of-game situation where Reggie hit a three-pointer over Jordan to lead the Pacers to victory."Back to Kobe; the Nash/Kobe defensive numbers that you cited are completely meaningless. Was Nash actually guarding the nominal point guard in the games that you cited or was he guarding someone else? How much help did he get when he was beaten off of the dribble? What do the players that he guarded normally average?"
Thanks to the wonders of NBA League Pass and TiVo, I do catch most of the Suns' games, so I'm accutely aware of whom Nash guards. I even compiled the stats of both starting and backup point guards when the starter got into foul trouble. Mind you, I don't think the numbers are infallible (there are, as you point out, numerous variables to consider). They weren't meant
to be. But they're hardly meaningless. They provide a general snapshot of what opposing point guards have been doing against the Suns (in general) and Nash (in particular). The fact is, despite what the Anti-Nashers say, opposing point guards aren't lighting the Suns up on a nightly basis.
Honestly, I don't have the time or inclination to rewatch every Suns game and track every single defensive position. Unlike some people, I don't have a mustache to keep me company and therefore must go out into the world to seek companionship. But at least I'm citing some kind of evidence. All the Kobe Lovers ever seem to do is show up and make blanket statements about how Nash "gives up more points on defense than he produces on offense." Yet, as far as I can tell, there isn't a single shred of evidence that this is the case, other than heresay. How about you, oh great basketball guru? What evidence did you show up with? Other than the ever-insightful "You're Wrong" argument."As for Kobe, one of your previous commenters already mentioned that Bryant was not burned one on one by Arenas or Wade or the others in their big games; those guys got their points because the Lakers bigs don't know how to defend the screen and roll."
Well golly gee, if one of previous commenters said it, it must be true!
Let me ask a question you keep asking me: Did you watch those games? I know I did. Take the game in which Arenas scored 60. He did, in point of fact fact, burn Kobe one-on-one -- more than once -- which is why Kobe was (rightfully) embarrassed afterward. Bryant then tried to dismiss the scorching by claiming that he just wasn't prepared to defend Gilbert's "bad shots." You might remember this choice Kobe quote: "Some of the shots he took tonight, you miss those, and they're just terrible shots. Awful. You make them and they're unbelievable shots. I don't get a chance to play him much, so I haven't gotten used to that mentality of just chucking it up there. He made some big ones, but I'll be ready next time."
Those last couple sentences sure sound like an admission of guilt to me. And did you watch the Cavs/Lakers game prior to the All Star break? Kobe tried to lock down Lebron James and failed
. It wasn't just Lebron's 38 points, either; James controlled that game, and, not coincidentally, the Cavaliers won. In L.A.
It completely amazes me that you have the balls to call my
analysis laughable and then simply dismiss Kobe's poor defensive outings as a result of Kwame Brown's and Andrew Bynum's inability to play screen roll. Oh, it's that simple, is it? Kobe's mistakes aren't his mistakes, they're somebody else's mistakes
...why didn't I think of that?! You and your mustache truly understand the game of basketball!
If you want to play that way, then let's apply the same logic to Nash on defense. If you've bothered to really watch the Suns play over the last three seasons, you'll know that they employ a team defensive scheme that calls for Nash to sink in and cheat on the opposing teams' big men when the ball goes in the post. This also happens when anyone else gets beat off the dribble. As a result, Nash ends up surrending a lot of open threes and drives to the basket. Yet, according to Seven Seconds Or Less
, that's exactly
what coach Mike D'Antoni wants him to do. So, if you honestly don't fault Kobe for giving up points on screen rolls (and whatever else you want to blame the Lakers' big men for), you need to go back and subtract every point scored on Nash when he's providing help defense (which is often)."One more point about Kobe's defense: the All-Defensive Teams are voted on by the coaches, not the media or the fans. When you say that he is getting by on his reputation you are saying that NBA coaches that see Bryant on a nightly basis know less about the defensive capabilities of NBA players than you do."
Wow. I didn't realize that NBA coaches get to watch Kobe Bryant on a nightly basis. That's pretty nice of the team owners to give their coaches time off to watch Kobe play instead of, oh I don't know, coaching their teams. Look, every account I've ever read of NBA coaches (such as in Seven Seconds Or Less
and The Pivotal Season
) seems to indicate that these men are very
busy minding their own team. Coaching in the NBA is more than a full-time job. Somehow I doubt they spend much time breaking down tape and doing in-depth analysis after they get their All Defensive Team ballots in the mail.
This isn't to say they don't know what they're doing, but do you honestly
think coaching selections are infallible? The coaches select the reserves for the All Star Game. Do you agree with every selection they've ever made? You're telling me you've never questioned coaching choices for All Star Reserves, All Defensive Team honors, or anything else? Come on, now. Whatever you may think, coaches are not machines churning out flawless analyses of NBA teams and players. There are many reasons, poth personal and political, that they make the choices they do.
And yeah, I do
think that players do get by on reputation. It happens all the time. Most people agree that Gary Payton was getting All Defensive honors long after he'd lost six or seven steps on D. And according to Peter May's The Big Three
, Kevin McHale himself admitted that his selection to the All Defensive First Team in 1988 was due mostly to reputation. Hell, Larry Bird, whose individual defense has been routinely criticized over the years, made the All Defensive Second Team three straight times. You don't suppose the fact that he was Larry Bird had anything to do with that, do you?"Hey, Kobe and Nash are both great players. I have Kobe, Dirk and Nash 1-2-3 in that order for MVP. If someone else has them in a different order, fine. But you simply hate Kobe, as you admit, so why don't you just leave it at that rather than throwing out a bunch of spurious, misleading numbers?"
I didn't realize that I'd been hiding the fact that I hate Kobe. I figured the words "Actually, I do hate Kobe" in my last post were pretty obvious. As for my "spurious" and "misleading" numbers, I don't think you have much room to talk. After all, you just wrote an article titled "60 More Reasons That Kobe Bryant is the NBA's Best Player." According to your article, scoring lots of points over the course of a handful of games, and doing so at a high percentage (higher, by far, than his season average, I should point out), is all the evidence we need that Kobe is the best player in the league. Scoring = The Best? Talk about spurious and misleading.
(By the way, do you know who Kobe was guarding last night? Mike Miller. Mikey scored 33 points on 11-16 shooting. But it's okay to give up points as long as you're scoring a lot, right?)
The fact is, there is no one statistic, no two statistics, no ten statistics that prove who's the best. And there's no statistic that, by itself, proves anything at all. Red Auerbach once pooh-poohed scoring averages because the number, by itself, doesn't tell you whether the player scored the most points versus good teams or bad teams, whether the points were scored during the game or in the clutch, and so on. At the end of the day, all you can do is review all the evidence you can, watch the games, and make your decision based on what you see and what you think you know. And I stick by my choice: Nash over Kobe.
Labels: crazy people, defense, Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers, mustaches, Phoenix Suns, scoring, Steve Nash