Epic  Fail poster

Note: Many thanks to Sturla for the graphic. I also used it for today's NBA Closer column on Deadspin.

Ahmad Rashad: I'm going to let Basketbawful reader Sami take this one. "I was watching 'Live at the Finals with Ahmad Rashad' on NBATV an hour before Game 4 began. Ahmad was interviewing Andy Garcia when he asked what I assume to be one of the dumbest sentences ever uttered, to go Bill Walton on you, in the history of Western Civilization: 'Do you think Kobe Bryant is the greatest Laker ever?' (My wording may not be spot on perfect, but that was the question.) Was Rashad even thinking when he asked the question? George Mikan, Jerry West, Elgin Baylor, Wilt Chamberlain (although he was older when he joined the Lakers), Kareem, James Worthy, Shaquille O'Neal, and probably some more that I'm forgetting. Oh, and I think I may have forgotten to mention that one guy...oh yeah! Magic Johnson! Kobe is a great scorer, in the discussion for Top 10 Lakers ever, and possibly Top 5 Lakers. But the greatest? I don't know what to say."

Wow. Me either. Inexcusable question (at this point). Here are my top five Lakers: Magic, Mikan, West, Kareem and Shaq, with Elgin Baylor sixth (thanks CW) and either Kobe or Worthy at number seven. Aw, screw it. Worthy's seventh. He has just as many titles (3) and a Finals MVP to boot (doesn't look like Mamba's getting a Finals MVP this year). And Big Game James never blistered his teammates the way Kobe has over the years.

The Celtics in the first quarter: My memory of it all is very, very blurry. I don't know the psychological term for it is, and I'm too lazy to look it up even though the Internet is only five fingers away. Let's just say I've blocked the details out. Trying to remember them is like trying to read stereo instructions through a dirty ashtray without my contacts on. Bad passes, worse shots, Rondo looking terrified of the ball. At some point, I think when the Lakers were up by 24, ABC flashed a graphic at the bottom of the screen that said the 21-point wound was the largest first-quarter deficit in NBA history. Thanks for making a bad situation feel even worse, ABC.

Random note on Rondo: He has officially become a liability and Doc should yank him out of the starting lineup. You know, a similar thing happened when the Boston Celtics were playing the Detroit Pistons in the 1991 Eastern Conference Semis. Brian Shaw was Boston's starting point guard at the time, and he wasn't just playing poorly, you could see his confidence was shot. Dee Brown, on the other hand, was playing great. But NBA head coaches are always really nervous about making major rotation changes during the playoffs, and Chris Ford was no different. So even though the Celtics were playing much better with Brown on the floor, he stuck with Shaw as the starter and Boston went on to lose the series in six.

And although I think that, at this point, the Celtics can still win with Rondo starting...why take the chance? Did you see Rajon's face when he got pulled in the second half? He had one of those thousand-yard stares going on. If I was on the Celtics, I wouldn't want somebody who looked like they were about to go Private Pyle on somebody running my team with a title on the line. This was the first time all season I thought all those "Matt Maloney on the 1996-97 Houston Rockets" comparisons were justified.

Right now, Boston's best lineup is KG, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen (back from the dead!), James Posey, and Eddie House. There's no question. Doc needs to go with that lineup and sub out (KA-POWE!!) when necessary. Am I wrong?

Boston's end-of-the-half defense: The second quarter was going about as well as I could have hoped. Boston had cut the Lakers' lead to a very reasonable 12 points (51-39) with under a minute to go when Doc Rivers took out Kevin Garnett. Now, I understand why he did it. He didn't want KG to pick up his third foul before the second half because he was going to need a full two quarters out of the DPoY if the Celtics were going to have a shot at winning this one. But almost immediately after KG went out Pau Gasol converted a three-point play. Lakers by 15.

Then, after Rondo hit one of two foul shots, Jordan Farmar ran unmolested three-fourths the length of the court and banked in a three-pointer as time expired. Mind you, Kobe had picked up his third foul and wasn't even on the floor at the time, so it's not like the Celtics were overplaying Mamba and that's why they gave up the shot. As Hubie Brown would say: You always have to stop the ball handler. Always, always, always. Boston didn't do that, and the Lakers killed their momentum and built their lead back to 17 by halftime. What a boner. Now I know how an ant feels when I accidentally sprinkle it with lighter fluid and set it on fire.

The Lakers in the second half: First of all, let me just say, I gave up on this game midway through the third. Yeah, I should have known better. I've been watching the NBA long enough to realize that every team makes a run. But Farmar's three at the half broke my spirit. With the Celtics still down by 20 points, I grabbed a book and went to take a dump. I tuned everything out, forgot about the game, and read a book about zombies.

About 15ish minutes later, I shuffled out of the bathroom like a zombie myself only to hear Mike Breen excitedly saying something like, "And the Celtics cut it to two!"


Turns out Boston outscored L.A. 31-15 in the third quarter, and most of that happened during a huge 21-3 run in the final five minutes of the third...during which I was making a donation to the children of Crapistan. I couldn't believe I missed all that, but it's not totally unprecedented. The exact same thing happened in 2007 when the Indianapolis Colts made an historic comeback against the New England Patriots. I walked away from that one, too, only to come back later and find out my team was back in the game. Yes, yes...I truly was the difference in both situations.

But despite Boston's debt management, I still wasn't sold. Teams that have to claw their way back from ginormous deficits on the road rarely have enough to get over the hump at the end (see the Lakers in Game 2). Plus, the Lakers are coached by a Zen Mastery, Hall of Fame coach. As Breen's bleating voice kept reminding me, they also have the best closer in the game in Kobe Bryant. How could the Celtics possibly do this?

This is how: Perkins (bum shoulder) and Rondo (missing confidence) were out, Posey and House were in. Suddenly, instead of having only three scorers on the floor, the Celtics had five. Whether Doc made this decision consciously or whether injuries forced his hand, we may never know. But the Lakers defense -- which really isn't all that good -- appeared to be helpless when forced to cover five capable shooters. This was never more apparent than when Ray Allen walked by Sasha Vujacic for a reverse layup with 20 seconds left, essentially clenching the game. Oh, and it's not like Ray-Ray was fresh; he played all 48 minutes last night.

For your viewing pleasure, here's Sasha -- who shot 1-for-9 last night -- throwing a post-ego-ectomy hissy fit on the L.A. bench. This made me almost as happy as seeing Derek Fisher crying after the Spurs eliminated the Lakers back in '03. Almost.

From Basketbawful reader socalsun: "Regarding that clip of Sasha lashing out at his own team staffer -- that's the sort of thing you get from the Kobe 'curse you publicly for your mistakes' Bryant school of leadership." Speaking of the Mamba...

Kobe Bryant: You guys knew this was coming, right? Kobe was the shining star of last night's Epic Failure. He didn't score in the first half. He finished the game with 17 points on 6-for-19 shooting (although he did have 10 assists). And he was completely unable to impose his will on the game in the fourth quarter, which is his supposed specialty. And let's face it: This isn't a one-game aberration. Mamba has not impressed during the 2008 Finals. He was kinda-sorta spectacular only once: In Game 3. Well, once and a fourth if you count the final quarter of Game 2.

Now, I've been taking heat for ragging on Kobe for years. But here's the thing: I've never denied his greatness. Nor have I failed to give proper respect to his ability to score the basketball. To me, he's among the league's five all-time great scorers (with Wilt Chamberlain, Michael Jordan, Kareem Abdul-jabbar and Karl Malone). My arguments against Mamba have been that he has often been a lousy teammate (there's just no reasonable way to deny this), sometimes lapses into selfishness (although he's been better about that this year than he ever has), ultimately trusts no one but himself (and that's the bleeping truth), and -- SHOCK ALERT!! -- he probably isn't the greatest player of all time.

And you know what? There's no "probably" to it. He's not. The comparisons to Michael Jordan need to stop. Hell, they've needed to stop for almost a decade now. Kobe is not Mike. He will never be Mike. How is this not obvious? Why does this subject come up year after year after year? Let me put it this way: Had Jordan's Bulls been up by 24 points at home in a must-win game in the NBA Finals, do you think there's any way in hell the Bulls would have lost the game? No. Freaking. Way.

And this isn't me hating on Kobe. I'm not being subjective when I say he didn't come through last night. He failed. Imagine if Dirk Nowitzki stumbled in the Finals the way Kobe did last night? Actually, scratch that. Dirk already did it, and he was absolutely crucified for it. Which was unfair then, and it would be unfair now. I'm not suggesting we string Kobe up for losing a big game, because that's happened to many great players before him and it'll happen to many great players after him. But this game should be Exhibits A through Z that Kobe Bryant is Kobe Bryant...and not Michael Jordan.

Update! Stephanie G reminded me about P.J. Brown's dunk on Kobe, which totally reminded me of Kevin Willis' putback slam on Shaq when the Spurs knocked out the Lakers in '03. Here's the video:

Kobe Bryant, quote machine: Paul Pierce specifically asked to guard Kobe in the second half. And, all things considered, he did a damn fine job of it. But when asked about Pierce's D, Kobe was immediately dismissive. "There's no difference [from Ray Allen's defense]. They were determined not to let me beat them tonight. I saw three, four bodies every time I touched the ball." Yes, the Celtics gave help, just like every team in the league has done against Kobe for his entire career. But that's a pretty lame excuse. The fact is, Pierce did a fantastic job of containing and contesting Kobe, and getting help when necessary. Not that I expect Kobe to admit it, but that's what I saw.

But here was Mamba's best post-game quote, in reference to a question about how he would deal with the loss: "Whine about it tonight. Lot of wine...lot of beer...a couple shots...maybe like 20 of 'em... digest it, get back to work. Nothing you can do." Here's the second-best: "We wet the bed. A nice big one, too. One of the ones you can't put a towel over. It was terrible." I've got to admit, that was awesome. Here's the full video from Kobe's press conference.

Update! Random extra: I got the following text this morning from my buddy Craig (who's a huge Lakers fan) from The Association: "I took Kobe's advice and tried about 20 shots...it's worse the next day." To which I replied: "Wow. Then you must have hit more of your shots than Kobe hit of his." His response: "Haha...very hung over. Enjoy it." I will.

Phil Jackson: After the loss, the Zen Master was stunned by typically defiant. "Some turnaround in that game. The air went out of the building. Well, it's not over. This is not over. The series is not over." Technically speaking, no. And sure, anything can happen. The Lakers could come back. But...well, I'm not going to say anything. Anyway, let it be known that Doc Rivers -- who has taken a lot of heat in the press and was recently referred to as the worst coach to ever call plays in the NBA Finals -- thoroughly out-thunk Jackson the Great last night. Phil should stuff that in his peace pipe and smoke it. Maybe he'll have a vision about how to hold onto a 24-point lead.

Fun with photos: Got the following e-mail from Rob of Upside and Motor: "Saw these and my first thought was Basketbawful: Lamar Odom is great at layups. People in LA make signs that make sense. I promise. And Rick Fox shooting us all a very sultry look through the camera." True, true and true.

David Stern: This pretty much sums it up. And so does this.

Update! Advanced stats: Basketbawful reader Mike pointed this out. Tony Allen played two minutes and 15 seconds. He had 1 rebound and was zero for everything else. Yet he had a +/- score of +10. Which was better than Paul Pierce (+9) and Ray Allen (+6). So I guess he was better than either of those guys. Right, Mr. Lenovo?

Update! The Hollywood elite: They may spend most of the game trapped in a money-and-fame-induced stupor, but -- as Yahoo's Ball Don't Lie has shown us -- they sure got pretty weepy when their team pulls the biggest choke job in NBA Finals history.

Update! Me: Okay. I'm ready to admit it. I was wrong. Posey does not suck. That is all.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...
kobe sucks

Blogger stephanie g said...
You correctly note that Bryant has competition to just get into being a top 5 Laker but then you say you consider him a top 3 scorer of all time? I guess it depends on whether we're talking per game, total career points, or just in the array of moves he can pull off in a single game but...Kareem? Malone? Iverson? Gervin? Olajuwon? Come on now.

IMO he's a top 3 SG of all time and he'll probably break 30,000 points given his dedication to keeping in shape.

Blogger Basketbawful said...
stephanie -- Crapity crap. I can't believe I left out Kareem and Malone. What a boner. My bad. :(

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Some random thoughts:

1. Am I the only one who doesn't like Paul Pierce, James Posey or Kendrick Perkins? Pierce is overly arrogant, and Posey and Perkins are just not likable characters. Maybe I'm just still bitter that they knocked the Pistons out of the playoffs...or did Rasheed Wallace knock the Pistons out?? Hmmm...

2. Your top 5 Lakers was right on (I MIGHT have swapped West and Mikan) but Elgin Baylor is 6, Worthy is 7 and Kobe is 8 at best.

3. I think Rondo is just afraid to have the ball in his hands. And that's bad for a point guard.

4. If I were a Sacremento Kings fan (and I hope one of my close friends would smack me around if that ever happened), I would be PISSED right now.

5. Absolutely nothing to do with the finals, but as a lifelong Piston fan, I gotta have somebody answer this for me: MICHAEL CURRY as the new Pistons coach? I don't think they even interviewed Avery Johnson! Joe Dumars' shiny armor has a few more chinks in it now.

Blogger Basketbawful said...
CW -- Dude, you're right. I should not have left Elgin off that list. I guess I still think about how the Lakers went on a 33-game winning streak and won a championship immediately AFTER he retired. But he saved the Lakers in the 60s, and deserves a spot. I'll fix that.

I'm not really a Kings fan, but I'm pissed.

Michael Curry. It's mystifying at BEST. I'm totally dumbfounded. And sorry for you, as a lifelong Pistons fan. That's not a good sign for their future...

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Maybe it's the Suns fan in me, but I haven't really bought this Laker team as championship caliber all season, and I am ecstatic to see this play out. I couldn't have been more giddy with last night's result if I was Bill Simmons. The only thing that can approach watching that happen live is going to be listening to LA sports talk radio implode as the sound of Laker fans impotent whining drowns out all reason.

Regarding that clip of Sasha lashing out at his own team staffer--that's the sort of thing you get from the Kobe "curse you publicly for your mistakes" Bryant school of leadership.

Blogger Wild Yams said...
Which zombie book are you reading? It's not World War Z by any chance is it? I just finished reading that and thought it was great.

Kobe, on the other hand, was not great last night. There have been many instances where he trusted his teammates and they let him down, and probably even more where he didn't even give them the chance to let him down; but last night they came through and he didn't. True, a lot of Lakers had very poor 2nd halfs, but let's face it: the Laker role players held up their end of the bargain. The deal is if Kobe facilitates in the 1st half and they deliver a huge halftime lead with Kobe not contributing much in the scoring department, then it's up to him to close the game for them.

What is probably going to get lost in all this, especially over time, is that it wasn't just a Laker choke job (which it was), but that the Celtics are just the clearly better team. Boston only gave everyone this perception that they'd be underdogs in this series because of their first two rounds, but to give credit where it is due, they just have a hell of a good team. They were my pick before the playoffs started to win it all (although I thought they'd be playing Phoenix in the Finals, so that shows what I know), and even though I doubted picking them in the 1st two rounds, the real Celtics have shown up in the last two.

The real Lakers have shown up as well. The reason I figured Phoenix would be in the Finals was due to their size, because I figured nobody else in the West would be able to handle them, and especially not the Lakers. San Antonio stopped them though, but I feel like in doing so they weakened themselves enough to need 7 to get past New Orleans, at which point they were running on empty. The Lakers have length and height in the post, but no bulk, and I knew they'd have problem with any team with some bangers (namely Phoenix, Detroit and Boston).

Defense and post play wins championships. The Lakers play intermittent defense and rely on finesse in the post, while Boston plays superb defense and plays more aggressive in the post. I wouldn't go so far as to say that Boston's got great post play on offense, but they definitely do on defense, and that's why they're on the verge of their 17th title.

I'll be interested to see what the lingering mental effect of a choke job like last night's will be on the Lakers next season. Will it make them more determined the way it did with the Lakers after the 84 Finals, or will they wilt the way the Blazers did after the 2000 WCF or the way the Mavs did this year?

What will Boston's mentality be like moving forward if they win the title? Will Kevin Garnett lose some of his edge or will he become a more savvy player with that championship experience? Will the Celtics come back next year with the same intensity they had starting last summer, or will they breathe a sigh of relief?

I hate that we probably only have one more game left in what has been a great NBA season.

Blogger Basketbawful said...
Yams -- Yes, it was World War Z...although I was rereading it (first read it about a year ago). Great stuff, probably the best piece of zombie literature ever. Which sounds crazy, but it's true.

I can't disagree with you on any of those points. I too was reminded of Magic and the Lakers' choke in '85. It galvanized them in '85, and they came back to win it all. Will that happen with Kobe and this year's Lakers? Time will tell.

Conventional wisdom tells me the Celts will wrap it up in Boston in Game 6. But this series has thrown conventional wisdom out the window, so...

Blogger Wild Yams said...
I'm tempted to delve into a World War Z discussion here, but with the summer looming I'll table that for now and will come back to it at some point in the future.

I think this series is over on Sunday. It'll say a lot about the Lakers' resiliency if they can rebound from that game and win the next one, so even if the Celtics do wrap it up in 6, I think Laker fans would be able to think somewhat optimistically that maybe the Lakers weren't totally broken by last night. But like I said, I expect the Celtics to be celebrating in Staples on Sunday.

BTW, Kobe played like crap last night, but a lot of people here and around the web are really letting their joy over last night cloud their judgment in how Kobe's ultimately going to be remembered, or how good he actually is. Kobe's only 29, and with the way he keeps himself in shape he'll probably play for another 10 years. With the pieces on the very young Lakers squad, it's not much of a reach to think the Lakers will be title contenders for a long time and Kobe may end up finishing with more than the 6 titles Jordan had. If that happens will people really look back at one bad game like this and dismiss him? Look at how bad Magic was in the 84 Finals - it doesn't seem to have tarnished his legend much.

A pet peeve of mine is people trying to compare current players to players from previous eras, especially when the current player still has a hell of a long way to go before his career is over. People always lose perspective and think that the current storyline about a player will ultimately be the prevailing one. In 1984 Magic was considered a choke artist. In 1990 Jordan was considered selfish and a guy who would never make his teammates better. In 1999 Shaq was considered a huge disappointment who spent more time making bad movies and rap albums than focusing on basketball, and was most famous for saying he'd won at every level except college and the pros. Until a year ago Kevin Garnett was thought of as a candidate to have the most disappointing career ever. Why even bother trying to predict how someone will ultimately be remembered? Kobe's probably got another 10 years of basketball left in him. Most people nowadays don't remember how awful he was in the 2004 Finals, just like they don't remember how great he was in much of the Western Conference playoffs from 2000-2002. Let's wait till he's retired before we try to figure out where his place in history is.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Did you see Kobe do a TERRORIST FIST JAB with that woman right at the end of that video clip?!

Anonymous Anonymous said...
That epic fail photo, are you sure Kobe didnt score that one? I'm surprised by the level headed criticism of Kobe, reading other websites has led me to believe he should retire now. One of the oddest basketball matches I've ever seen. I also missed the 3rd quater but the 4th was abysmal as well. More worst of the nights for you 1) JVG declaring the game over in the first quater 2) The Vujacic/Gasol defense on the final possesion where a stop was needed. Allen just strolled in and layed it up.

Blogger stephanie g said...
I re-watched the game because, well, it was amazing. But one thing I kept track of was the officiating. It was remarkably good IMO and it made the game a whole lot more fun to watch without constant stoppages in play. The only egregiously bad calls that I noticed:

- 5:27 left in the 2nd (Celtics start cutting it from 24 to 18) they call charging on Kobe. Looked more like a blocking foul on Pierce, his feet weren't set and he was out of control.

- 1:24 left in 2nd KG blocks Radman's shot. Breen says it was close to being a goal tend. It looked like a goal tend but it's one of those calls where you can flip your opinion with a better angle. I wished they'd show more replays of non-shooting fouls. Sometimes they do and sometimes they don't and I don't understand. For example I loved when they showed Sasha scissoring Ray's legs.

- 3:57 left in the 3rd Posey pulls the chair out from Odom's post up, foul called on Posey. Clean and intelligent play by Posey.

- Start of 4th Powe should have shot two free throws. He grabbed the o-rebound and had two hands on the ball and was trying to put it in and got his left arm pulled down but it was ruled a non-shooting foul. Pierce ended up with an offensive foul on the new possession. At least JVG agrees with me.

- I didn't write the time down but I think it was in the 4th. Anyway Kobe dribbles the ball off Pierce's foot and it's called a blocking foul on Pierce. Charge/blocks are fairly subjective but I don't think so. Should've just been ruled a kicked ball, reset out of bounds.

As an aside that half green/white mouth guard Posey wears is fugly as hell.

And PJ Brown posterizing Kobe at the end of the fourth was nummy. He can taste that ring!

Blogger Silly Bitch said...
you pretty much didn't need to post anything other than the "epic fail" poster. that says it all, there are no two ways about this one. just plain awful.

Blogger Basketbawful said...
Yams -- If you ever want to discuss WWZ, just drop me an email. As for Kobe...I agree. He's got a lot of career left, to succeed or fail. My argument for his place in Lakers history applies to his standing as of right now.

However, his performance in the Finals is definitely affecting how he's seen right now. He's the MVP and NBA's "best closer," yet he's not being very MVP-like nor is he closing (except in Game 3). Like I said, if he were Dirk, he'd be getting killed even worse than he is today.

I mean, no excuses, right? He's got the teammates. He's got the coach. He's the MVP now. He just hasn't reached that glorious Larry-Magic-Michael level. Which is nothing to be ashamed of; not everybody does. And as you pointed out, he has time.

jed -- Heh, yeah. I noticed. She must have felt so cool.

anonymous -- I believe Kobe got fouled on that shot attempt. But 1) the photo was sent to me and 2) I would guess that the image just perfectly represented what happened in the game, as it looks as though Kobe's being overwhelmed. You're right about JVG, and I may go in and add him. I did mention Vujacic's defense, but I forgot to mention Pau didn't provide any help.

stephanie g -- I agree. There were only a handful of goofy calls that had me scratching my head (although the officiating did seem a tad bit in the Lakers favor in the first).

Thanks for reminding me of the P.J. Brown facial. I added it to the post.

silly bitch -- True dat. But you don't mind that I wrote something anyway, do you?

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Wild Yams - probably the best basketball comment ive seen all year. well said. In fairness to Kobe, the MJ i watched all those years was also a fierce competitor who got upset at team mates if they screwed up. I think the problem w LA is they have too many guys who are head cases, by which I mean that they can fall apart or be taken out of the game easily despite their talent. - Odom, Gasol, Vujacic, specifically. Maybe when Bynum comed back hell fix things.

Side note - is it possible to be super happy for KG, one of my favorite players, finally winning a deserved title, but still dislike Pierce who I think is a dick, and very overrated (with a few flashes of brilliance, otherwise blah.), and hope he somehow doesnt get a ring? He was nothing before KG got there.

Blogger Wild Yams said...
Mr. Bawful, is Kobe not getting killed all over the web right now? Seems to me from what I've read that people are really letting him have it. It's reminiscent of the end of the crappy re-release of Return of the Jedi when the Emperor's statue is toppled and creatures throughout some galaxy far, far away go crazy (complete with a stormtrooper crowd surfing and Admiral Ackbar dancing with an Ewok). OK, maybe it's not that joyous, but there's been a little celebratory heckling :)

Like I said, surprisingly people seem to have largely forgotten just how miserably bad Kobe was in his last trip to the Finals, and he's been far, far better in these Finals, believe it or not. Last night's game may be more remembered for being a spectacular collapse/comeback than it will for Kobe simply not delivering the goods. Time will tell.

As for all time Lakers, I refuse to put Kobe's name in there cause it's only half a career thus far, but I wouldn't have Wilt in the Top 5, just because he wasn't there all that long and his real glory days were in Philly. For me I'd say Kareem first, Magic second, then rounding out the top 5 who aren't still Lakers I'd go with Shaq, West and Mikan, but dunno about the order (those three get the edge over Baylor for winning rings).

I thought the reffing was pretty even last night, but with Javie at the helm that's to be expected. I don't know why he isn't there for most of these games.

Blogger XForce23 said...
I can't really say anything that hasn't been said, so I'll leave an inane comment.
That picture makes it look like KG has a D-cup under that jersey

Blogger Hersey said...
A few thoughts...

As I mentioned before I'm watching these games in Switzerland starting at 3 am... with deadpan Portuguese announcers... I had no idea how dead the LA crowds have been cuz the TV is practically muted.

I was ready to give up on this game too. After spending halftime and the first 5 minutes of the 3rd mesmerized by the amount of nudity on regular Swiss TV, I come back to 68-48 and the beginning of the Celtics run.

I am so happy for Eddie House. I went to Arizona State when he starred there so I've always rooted for him. Several people have been clamoring for him to play and he made the most of the minutes last night.

James Posey is the type of player every team needs. Championship swagger, plays tough D and hits huge shots. He's easy to hate but I was pissed my team didn't sign him.

I'm a Suns fan too and I take great pleasure in seeing the Lakers lose (especially on this big stage) and seeing Sasha Vuja-bitch throw a fit... Glorious.

Blogger Basketbawful said...
Yams -- I'm going to be honest; I haven't done a lot of reading about the game beyond what I've written. TrueHoop didn't have many bullets today, I'm kind of lazy, etc. Now, please don't ever mention that re-release of Jedi, ever, ever again. Oh, and Greedo shot first. I don't care what anybody else says. Ever.

And, uhm, I didn't put Wilt in my Top 5. Or my top eight. And Kobe's still in my top eight Lakers because, damn, he's been there 11 years, won three titles, scored 81 points...he gets Top 10 Lakers status, even if he does have another 5-10 years in him.

I do have to argue with you, though. Kareem should NOT be named the number one Laker. NO WAY. His Laker teams were mediocre before Magic showed up. And even during his statistical glory days with the Bucks, he didn't win a title until Oscar Robertson showed up. Plus, he didn't have the cultural impact that Magic had. He also didn't give his heart and soul to the team the way that Jerry West did. And of course, Mikan WAS the Lakers (in Minneapolis) and orchestrated the league's first-ever dynasty. Hell, the Lakers would be five titles further behind Boston without Mikan's power in the pivot.

Which is why I stand by my Top 5 the way it is: Magic, Mikan, West, Kareem and Shaq (who started the Lakers' post-Magic revival).

Blogger Unknown said...
Aw, man, I totally had that motivational poster idea first, at 2:00 am this morn. Posted it too, at www.tscblogs.com

Damn you and your higher readership...

Blogger Unknown said...
"Had Jordan's Bulls been up by 24 points at home in a must-win game in the NBA Finals, do you think there's any way in hell the Bulls would have lost the game? No. Freaking. Way."

This wins for both most unoriginal thought and most speculative thought of the year.

And Jordan's Bulls may not have blow this team, but Jordan on this Laker team instead of Kobe may not even have won a game.

Blogger acnefighter said...
The Celtics have looked like the better team ALL SERIES. From the first game to last night, there was not one point in any of the games that I thought the Lakers looked dominant. And this is coming from a big Lakers fan. The Lakers will have to completely revamp the way they play in these next 3 games. That means, more energy off the bench, more showing up by players not named Kobe, and, sorry to say, but smarter coaching by Coach Jackson. He is getting outcoached and outprepared by Doc Frickin Rivers.

Blogger Wild Yams said...
Mr. Bawful, you don't read HP every day? I figured since you guys do like cross-promotional stuff like your powerless rankings and stuff that you guys would be reading each other's sites. The people who think the anti-Laker bias here is bad should read that site to gain some perspective. Actually, read it anyway, it's a good blog.

I didn't mean that you specifically had Wilt in your Top 5 Lakers, just that in general he shouldn't be in there. I put Kareem first because IMO he's the only guy who from a statistical standpoint genuinely can challenge Jordan for the Best Ever title, if you look at individual achievements both on offense and defense and you look at team success. I think you really can make the argument that Kareem was the best player the league's ever seen, but he's often overlooked in those debates for whatever reasons. I'd still put Jordan ahead of him, but I think when you factor in all around play, individual achievements and team success, it's Jordan, followed somewhat closely by Kareem, and everyone else is rather far behind those two. Magic was definitely the face of the Lakers and along with Bird helped to revive the NBA in general, but I'm just going by stats. If I was gonna go with those less tangible criteria then I'd put Jerry West first, since he was basically the heart of the Lakers in various forms for more than four decades.

I've just always felt real uneasy about all the comparisons people have made with Kobe and Jordan, really since way, way before they ever should have (like in his 2nd season, for instance). I just feel like when you look at an athlete during their career, you're much more aware of their limitations and their detractions, and once they retire most of that stuff is forgotten. You don't hear people harping on Jordan's gambling or how he punched out Steve Kerr or how he played miserably when the Bulls were eliminated by the Magic in 95 and all that stuff anymore, you just hear about the heroic stuff he did. Same with Magic and his choke artist act in the 84 Finals and his attempts to run Paul Westhead out of LA.

While I do doubt that Kobe will ever be as universally beloved as Jordan and Magic now are, all the people saying "Jordan never would have done what Kobe did" when we're at the midway point in the guy's career always come across as really having an ax to grind. I think by the same token the people who really want to say he's better than Jordan are totally silly, especially at this point in his career, and I understand that the "haters" are probably just saying that stuff cause they're sick of having the idea that Kobe is better than Jordan rammed down their throats. I'm sick of it too. I'd rather wait till after a player's career before trying to speculate on where their place in league history will ultimately be.

Kobe could be killed in a car accident on the way to Game 5 or he could play till he's 43 and finish his career with 8 rings, 5 Finals MVP awards and break Kareem's scoring record. You never know. He's probably an asshole and cocky and all that, but I would wager that many of the world's sports stars are cocky assholes too. I don't know him and he's not calling me a bitch out there on the floor, so I don't really care about that stuff any more than I care whether Paul Pierce was celebrating too much last night, or any other comments I've read about that from various people. These guys aren't my friends, they're just guys I watch play basketball on TV.

Holy cow am I rambling. Long week...

PS - If you watch the re-release of Jedi DVD real close during that end celebration you can both see and hear Jar-Jar say "Weesa free!"

Anonymous Anonymous said...
"But this game should be Exhibits A through Z that Kobe Bryant is Kobe Bryant...and not Michael Jordan."

Kobe obviously ain't no Jordan, but most people who bring that comparison up do it just to feed their the irrational hate or exploit it to get more website activity (ESPN is the main culprit of course).

Aside from Kobe and Fisher, this Lakers team is composed of softies and space cadets. The average age of the bench is 24 yrs and they are all mediocre 2nd rd picks.

Now when Kobe trusts these guys to make their shots like they did in the first 1.5 quarters, he's lambasted for not being selfish enough to score on double and triple teams.

It's amazing they got this far. Kobe took the heat when Kupchak wanted to develop younger players the past few years. He should be fired if he can't turn that into some reliable vets this offseason.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
We're talking about the same Rondo who had 16 assists in game 2, right? 15 if you don't count the bogus one to Leon Powe on that coast to coast. 7 assists in game 1, and 15 points.

Flat truth is, he's a second year PG who gets edgy away from home in the playoffs. He was still on his way to a decent game in game 3 when he twisted his ankle. Game 4, I dunno, I don't think it was all the ankle.

But he's not crap. He's fast, he's a good rebounder, and he's a good defender. Doc'll start him if he can play and keep him on a short leash, which is the correct thing to do. He'll either have a solid game or a short one.

Blogger Evil Ted said...
Some time back when people were comparing Dirk Nowitzki to Larry Bird, I wrote a post about how absurd the comparison was, and that really the main reason it was being made was simply that the players are both "white and blonde." To some degree, I think the Kobe and MJ comparisons are made for the same shallow, appearance-based reasons. Both players are chiseled, attractive, and unbelievably talented athletically (yes, I can say "attractive" about men and not be gay) with a number of similar shake and bake moves, and a pretty jumpshot stroke (yes, they're both black, but that's not the most discerning characteristic for a player on a pro basketball team in the last 20 years). And even with marketability, Kobe is back doing "NBA Cares" commercials despite his Colorado mess, and he was as big as MJ from a promotional standpoint before that.

Those comparing Kobe to MJ simply have allowed their memory of MJ's profound greatness to evaporate. Just as it is blasphemy to call Kevin, Paul, and Ray "The Big Three," so is it ludicrous to allow Kobe / MJ "greatness" comparisons.

Of course, if Kobe pulls out 3 60+ point games to win this series, I reserve the right to reconsider my argument.

bryant durrell - Rondo adds speed, solid defense and play making ability, and he does have significant value to this Celts team, which should grow in years to come. In this series however, Rondo has more often looked tentative, and his unwillingness to take shots has grown obvious to the point where it's strangling the C's offense. It has proven necessary to spread the Lakers' defense with better jump shooters, and here's to Doc Rivers for figuring that out (or for at least listening to every commentator in the world who had already figured it out for him).

Blogger 80's NBA said...
In terms of shock factor, I can't think of a more satisfying event that has happened to the Lakers (and their fans) on their own court.

O.k... maybe Ralph Sampson's miracle shot or 1969's Game 7.

But this was still satisfying.

Blogger 80's NBA said...
Evil Ted said:
"Those comparing Kobe to MJ simply have allowed their memory of MJ's profound greatness to evaporate."

When Jordan retired (the second time, in '99) Kevin McHale said at that time "in a couple of years, people will be like 'Michael Who?'"

I thought McHale was crazy, but maybe he was right. Then again, maybe most of the folks who watched basketball in the days of His Airness have stopped watching this circus crap. So it's not that Jordan's fans and admirers have forgotten about him. It's that they've been replaced mostly with the A.D.D. kids who have grown up knowing only the bright flashy kid in L.A.

I just know that I didn't like Show-Be when I saw one of his first interviews. You could tell he was trying to act like Jordan. I knew he was a wannabe from the moment I saw him.

Blogger Evil Ted said...
One other thing about Kobe/MJ: Just watched Kobe's press conference. Realized he has the same voice and cadence and attitude of Jordan as well. Again, all inconsequential things that cause people to make such comparisons. I haven't heard Kobe bastardizing the English language and making up words like MJ, but if anyone has examples of it, I'm sure that would be fun.

Also: Bawful cited an article calling for refs to be available to the media in the Stern segment of this post. I think that would be a disaster. I simply want referees to call games correctly. I don't want to hear about what they were thinking, or them justifying themselves, etc. It would be worse than watching a political debate: refs aren't about to admit they screwed up. COULD they even admit that? Would the league fine refs who admitted mistakes? Would the league punish them? Would the league want to give any particular egomaniacal ref a reason to be put in front of a spotlight ('cause even if it's for the "wrong" reason, an egomaniac quite enjoys the spotlight). It would never work, and Stern shouldn't bother trying it. What he SHOULD do is get his refs to perform better. You know what I want? I want to not know one single name of any referee in the NBA. If you asked me to give you the name of any ref, ump, judge, etc. in any other sport, I'd be hard pressed. When these people do their jobs correctly they are invisible, and that's how it should be.

Blogger acnefighter said...
I've noticed lately on blogs (including this one obviously) and the net overall, that because Kobe Bryant lost this game, it automatically excludes him from oh-so-elusive "Michael Jordan comparison club". I wrote a specific response to it in my blog, which I wont repeat here, but basically, if it took last night's game for bloggers (and commenters) to realize that they're two different players, then the stupidity is on their part.

They were never the same players, and to compare them was ridiculous in the first place. The only people that truly believed that Kobe was better than Jordan without winning a title on his own were Kobe fanboys that couldn't have been more than 15 years old, at the most. There's no way anyone who actually knows of Jordan's accomplishments and such truly believed that notion.

Kobe didn't like the comparisons, I myself hated them, and it fuels an unneccssary amount of flaming and baiting on any site, even though Kobe Bryant's accomplishments are nowhere near that of MJ. I love how the wolves are attacking right now on Kobe Bryant...this is pretty much what I had expected. There are way too many people that despise the man to remain quiet. While I love reading blogs and columns, I find it unbelieveably stupid that the same people that hate the man dedicate numerous blog posts to him that focus on criticizing him about every stupid little thing that he does. People need to get a life; it is fine to dislike the man, but don't dislike him and then cover every little thing he does just so you can get hits on your site

I'm not saying this blog does that, otherwise I wouldn't be here, but there are bloggers out there who hate on the dude simply for the purpose of stirring an unecessary discussion when you KNOW there's no way you could change their mind. I'm looking at The Big Lead to be specific.

Blogger stephanie g said...
I thought the MJ/Kobe comparisons got killed in the 04 Finals. Or when LA choked the 3-1 lead over the Suns. Or, you know, when anyone checked out the vast statistical gulf between the two. And it's not like MJ played in the 50s and 60s and there's not thousands of hours of game tape from him. Just watching them play it's kinda obvious who's better. I don't think many outside of LA are confused about this though.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
lol, what you say is so ironic 80's because kobe might be the -least- manafactured star out there, although admittedly its not for want of trying.

You think Nike told Kobe to do whatever with that girl or blow up bynum in public? pfft, kobe's great if only because its entertaining seeing someone who doesn't read off a Nike script 24/7 aka. Lebron "I love China and Darfur" James.

Keep in mind I'm not saying Kobe is someone who is out there being this great guy or anything, I just find him entertaining the same way we all find rasheed entertaining. Whether they are right or wrong at least they show their humanity as opposed to all the press release robots running around...

Anonymous Anonymous said...
totally agree with your assessment on kobe. the comparisons with MJ just need to stop. but i guess the next MJ is waiting round the corner, the media just needs to spot him. these comparisons will just continue forever...

Blogger ChrisH said...
oddly enough, I too headed for the bathroom midway through the third to take a shower. when I came back my wife was watching something else and I didnt care. then she offered to turn it back to the game so I said "nah, it's over. well maybe just check the score real quick". she flipped to it and it was a commercial, luckily she left it on and as I sat here at the computer I eventually heard mike breen announce they had cut it to two. I've cheered for the lakers my entire hoopswatching career (starting in 1980) but ever since it became the kobe show I have hated them. I hate bill simmons and douche-bag fans in boston a lot as well, but not as much as kobe. Maybe when it's over he'll call up the mailman and bitch out his answering machine for talking to vanessa. what a chode.

Blogger 80's NBA said...
"They were never the same players, and to compare them was ridiculous in the first place. The only people that truly believed that Kobe was better than Jordan without winning a title on his own were Kobe fanboys that couldn't have been more than 15 years old, at the most. There's no way anyone who actually knows of Jordan's accomplishments and such truly believed that notion."

First of all, even if Kobe won 10 titles in a row, he'd still have less talent than what was in Jordan's left pinky. (By the way, a stat I like to pull out and tell Laker fans: Shaq titles without Kobe - 1; Kobe titles without Shaq - 0).

Now... Ahmad Rashad is not 15 years old any more, but he is considering Kobe (as reported by Bawful reader Sami) as maybe the greatest Laker ever?!?!?!? He could just be saying this stuff so he can glom onto Kobe's starlight. Or he might actually believe it, like most Laker and Kobe fans do. (Then again, this could all be because Rashad and Jordan broke up - they were dating, right? Maybe Rashad The Ass Kisser is now courting Kobe by saying shit like this).

Anyway, part of the fun of all of this "bashing" is to give back to the Laker community.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
The sad thing is that this series shows that the Spurs template rules the NBA. Yes, the Celtics are better than the Lakers, because they are the Spurs this year. (The Spurs lost to the Lakers because they weren't really the Spurs this year.)

Blogger 8 said...
Excellent point. Intriguingly, I did exactly that same thing-took a long bathroom break, came back to "..and the Celtics cut it to two!"

My book was about the 1800 Presidential election, though.

Blogger acnefighter said...
"First of all, even if Kobe won 10 titles in a row, he'd still have less talent than what was in Jordan's left pinky. (By the way, a stat I like to pull out and tell Laker fans: Shaq titles without Kobe - 1; Kobe titles without Shaq - 0)."

That doesn't make any sense. If he wins more titles than Jordan, then he'd obviously be considered greater than him because there's no way the media wouldn't be drooling over his every move and there's no way we as fans wouldn't accept him as the greatest when people already consider him one of the best to ever step on the floor. Even before this Lakers team played a game in the NBA Finals, pundits were considering the Lakers a dynasty to behold in the future (I'm more afriad of the Hornets to be honest).

Second, as far as the "Kobe titles without Shaq" goes, he's amazingly close this year, and even if he doesn't get it this year, who's to say he won't get it in his remaining years? And if he does, would that change your opinion?
Shaq's not winning any more titles, and Kobe's window is just starting right now in my opinion, so if he were to win one, everything would change for you?

Also, that Heat title is ridiculously tainted for me (and others I'm sure). For starters, Shaq didn't do jack-sh*t compared to D-Wade, and I wont even get into the hand the officials had in the 2006 NBA Finals. A title is a title, I know, but it wasn't really "Shaq's title", but rather something that was mainly due to Dwyane Wade.

Blogger 80's NBA said...
"If he wins more titles than Jordan, then he'd obviously be considered greater than him because there's no way the media wouldn't be drooling over his every move and there's no way we as fans wouldn't accept him as the greatest when people already consider him one of the best to ever step on the floor."

Bill Russell has more titles than Jordan (or anyone else). So if we are going by titles alone, Russell is and will always be the greatest ever. Obviously, it's got to be a combination of talent level and titles. And my point was, that no matter how many titles this kid gets, he will be nowhere near the level Jordan got to in terms of talent (especially mentally).

"that Heat title is ridiculously tainted for me (and others I'm sure). For starters, Shaq didn't do jack-sh*t compared to D-Wade, and I wont even get into the hand the officials had in the 2006 NBA Finals...."

Fair enough. There are way too many factors that go into comparing 2 different title teams.

"A title is a title, I know, but it wasn't really "Shaq's title", but rather something that was mainly due to Dwyane Wade."

If the Lakers don't win this year, but they do next year (as some are already predicting because of Bynum's return), then will you say that a Laker title next year is due more because of Bynum and not Kobe?

Blogger Unknown said...
Hey, Kobe said in a news conference on Saturday "I borrowed Phil [Jackson]'s peace pipe. We had a big 'Kumbaya' meeting,"

Did he read your blog or is that from somewhere else?

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Shaq probably won't win more than 1 more title if he does manage to win a champ with the Suns, but still 4 rings with him being the leading player for 3 of them is quite an accomplishment, just like Duncan.

The only thing I am wary about Kobe is possible injuries in the future. He hasn't ever missed significant time (read: half a season), and even though he is young in age (29), his legs have a lot of mileage. Next year will be his 13th year in the NBA and that is a lot of running, especially when you factor in all of the playoff games he has been. Because of this mileage I would say that Kobe is in his prime window right now, and not just getting into it. He definitely has some good chances to win a 4th title, but he has to hope the Lakers get some more players around him, especially another great ball-handler, and NOT in the man-love sort of way. Fisher will not be there forever and Farmar is a nice young player but he doesn't seem like a great handler.

The Suns may be on the downturn, but they will try one more push. The Spurs have something like $25 million in free cap space, they can get a big time free agent to bolster their squad and make them another title contender. The Jazz and Hornets are both improving and have the premier point guards in the league. The Rockets can still be dangerous with their defense, but have been held back by various injuries.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Your rankings of the Lakers are completely off. You even admit that Kobe is a top 5 scorer. And people forget, but he is a great defender. I don't think he is a great teammate, but he has a burning desire to win. He may not be Jordan, but he is better than everyone on that list save Chamberlin, Shaq, and maybe Kareem. He will go down as the top 3 shooting guards ever. I think Shaq is the best center ever but that is debatable and he wasn't on the lakers for a long time although he was there for a few championships. And I think Wilt is better than Jordan. People don't understand that although Kobe is a complete jerk, he is the best player in the NBA right now. He is better than Lebron, Chris Paul, etc. He may not appear as god-like as Lebron on commercials or dish out as many assists as Pierce, but Kobe is the king. If he was in the east he would be in the finals every year even if he was on a worse team than Lebron. And Kobe is a game changer unlike CP who relies on setting others up to be the game changer. There is a reason why the lakers are in the finals. The only aspect Kobe is overrated in is his ablity in the fourth quarter. The only goat on the lakers is Odom.

Blogger Joel said...
Kobe Bryant may be physically built like Jordan, but his game is far more perimeter oriented. Jordan was much stronger and a more physical defender. His game was (at analogous stages of their careers) far more dependent on dribble penetration. Some of this was due to circumstance: Jordan came into the league and was asked to run the offense for a mediocre team (rather than play off the lead scorer of a championship team).

I understand why the comparison comes about; they're both shooting guards, and they both have a way of drawing attention to themselves; but stylistically, Kobe reminds me more of Dominique (he's better, of course) than Jordan.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
hey basketbawful, check this out:

apparently, someone is still pissed off and refused to acknowledge the fact that boston is leading LA 3 to 1 as the Series at a Glance box still says it's 0-0. sorry, i dunno how to make and post screenshot here.

Blogger Silly Bitch said...
days later i'm back to say:

Basketbawful said:
silly bitch -- True dat. But you don't mind that I wrote something anyway, do you?

nope, not at all... i love this blog, it entertains the office every morning.

(and my captcha word is "kobum" hmmmm...)

Blogger Jeremy said...
Love the observation on Rondo's play and I couldn't agree more with the best Celtics lineup including House and Posey.