Wednesday, June 9, 2010
The Legend of Black Mamba
Have you ever seen The Legend of Bagger Vance? I'll give you a quick Honest Man Synopsis. Matt Damon is a golfer. Will Smith is his magical, mystical negro that appears out of nowhere from time to time (think Gazoo from Flintstones). Anyway, the legend helps Damon get his swagger back and even with the corny golf outfits, he "overcomes" obstacles to save the day.
Today's post is a spotlight on my Lakers. More specifically Kobe Bryant aka the Black Mamba. To me, he's the most polarizing NBA player of my current generation. He's loved by many. He's hated by many. To those that hate him, their blood gets going if anyone talks about him being on or near the same level as Michael Jordan. To those that love him, it's a neverending saga of defending every move that he makes (the Colorado incident, the 2004 Lakers breakup, the 2008 Finals debacle).
Unless you don't follow sports or are living under a rock, the NBA Finals is currently going on. Before the series started, I exchanged email conversations with a good friend of mine (lifelong Jordan fan, probably a lifelong enemy of Kobe if I had to put money on it). Anyway, he sent me some good articles about Kobe's legacy being defined by this Celtics-Lakers series and it got me thinking. No matter what Kobe does, no matter what door he shuts (inability to win an MVP, inability to win a title without Shaq), there is always a question. So it prompted me to write the following:
"What did I say about perspective :-)? After the 2004 debacle, never was the question asked "Can Kobe beat the Celtics?". You know why, b/c they weren't good. The only questions asked were "Can he win a title without Shaq?" and "Can he lead a team?". So flashforward to 2008, the Celtics are "back" and now that question is asked. In 2009, he answers two of those questions and the other one goes into hiding b/c the Celtics don't get to the Finals.
Now we're getting LA vs Boston again and it's "Can Kobe beat the Celtics?" again. If he wins, he answers that question but then the next questions will be "Can he tie and/or surpass his Airness?", "Can he get more titles than Magic?", "Is the he greatest Laker of all time?" yada yada yada. I'm like can we just appreciate what he's doing right now. 3 straight Finals appearances, and a current postseason run that he has been playing out of his mind. Sans the Thunder series, he's been killing folks.
You're right, he's playing a much better defense in Boston. And like you, I'm interested to see what he does this time around. He was flustered and frustrated in '08. I think that series helped him more than people want to believe. I forgot what article mentioned this week but so much has changed. '10 Rondo is more potent than '08 Rondo. Bynum didn't play. Artest wasn't on the team. Perkins D has evolved greatly. Glen Davis is a factor. Just lil stuff like that that folks are not considering. This is not a slam dunk series for either team, no matter what anyone wants to believe. I think it's stupid when I get posts on FB saying Lakers sweep or Boston in 5. Really? Do you watch basketball or just wanna show your diehardness? I know you didn't ask about that but I had to throw that in LOL.
Considering he has 4 titles, played in 7 Finals all over a 13 yr career, I say his way has been pretty successful. There a few players currently playing that have achieved the same success as Kobe. Do I agree with everything Kobe does? No. I blame him partly for the early 2000s breakup. I don't care how much someone agitates you, you don't put another man's personal life public (was, is, and always will be a bitch move). I didn't like the whining about trade me antics in 2007. And it drives me crazy that he only plays good defense when he respects his assignment.
Geesh you've got me speaking on this subject for more than 4 sentences and I vowed not to do that again :-). My wife and I argue about this quite a bit so between that and other folks comments, I usually go mum. No sense in arguing when there is no tangible outcome but for me to shrug my shoulders and go "Ok" ;-)"
Not really a lesson but more of food for thought for both Laker lovers and haters!