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Thursday, October 29th, 2009 at 4:39 pm  |  74 responses

Links: Predictions and…Kobe

Why Kobe will win the MVP…

by Lang Whitaker

The other afternoon, after that lunch with the Chuckster and EJ and Kenny, after hustling into a cab back to the office, after spending an hour on an NBA TV production conference call as I wrote the post about lunch, while I was editing about a dozen stories for the new issue of SLAM, I realized that it’s time. My summer is over, and the NBA season is upon us, which leaves me grasping for any semblance of free time like I was Larry David falling off a roof.

I mentioned last week that I’d decided that this was going to be a Kobe Bryant breakout season, and if anything, that thought has only strengthened over the last week. (By breakout, I mean I think he’s going to close that gap between him and LeBron in the best player in the League discussions. And I think he’s on track for the MVP, which I wrote in SLAM 133.) Five quick reasons why I think Kobe is due for a huge season, maybe his biggest ever:

1) It cracks me up every time I hear someone argue that Ron Artest is a step down from Trevor Ariza. Really? Really? There’s a reason Trevor Ariza has been on four teams in four seasons. With the Lakers, he found a perfect fit as a complementary player, more importantly, in a system that played up his strong suits and downplayed things he can’t do (like dribbling).

When I was out in Vegas I got to spend some time chatting with Andrew and Brian Kamenetzky, who blog about the Lakers for the LA Times. They mentioned seeing a play in a preseason game where Artest caught the ball at the top of the key, dribble-drove to his left and got right to the rim. It was the kind of play Ariza never was able to do, but the kind of play Artest makes regularly, the kind of play that will make the Lakers a better team. And the people who say Ariza was a great defender? Well, paging Ron Artest! Defense aside, the more offensive weapons Kobe has playing alongside him, the more space that is opened for Kobe. I know Artest has always been more and more prone to force shots throughout his career, but, especially in Sacramento and Houston, Artest was usually the best perimeter player on his team. Playing within the triangle should give him structure, as should being lined up next to Kobe and Odom and Gasol and realizing he doesn’t have to do everything on his own anymore.

2) He’s healthy, at least as healthy as he’s been in a long time. No summer hoops, no surgeries, no court cases. Which meant…

3) Kobe spent the summer working on his post game, at some point connecting with Hakeem Olajuwon. The more dangerous his post game is, the more defenders have to help on him, the more open jumpers for everyone else.

4) The Lakers play 17 of their first 21 games at home. They get that familiarity, get to sleep late, eat at home…and Kobe gets to feel comfortable.

5) Most importantly, to me, nobody is talking about Kobe right now. At that TNT lunch the other day, do you know how much we talked about Kobe? We didn’t. Seriously, I can’t remember Kobe being mentioned at all, other than vaguely and in passing.

It’s strange to think of Kobe as being under-noticed, but if anything, that’s what’s been going on the last two months. While everyone talked about Ron and about Lamar and Khloe, Kobe was putting in work.

Nobody’s concentrating on Kobe right now, and that’s not something Kobe likes. How does he get all eyez on he? Play dominant basketball.

• I know that there are many people these days who massage numbers and statistics in order to try and predict the NBA standings. Well, when writing the annual SLAM NBA Preview, I don’t. Instead, using an unusual mixture of accumulated intelligence and insight gleaned from people who both cover and work with these teams and players, I have made my annual predictions in SLAM 133 (on sale now!). And now, presented totally without context (of which there is plenty of within the actual magazine), here’s how I project this season’s final rankings:

Atlantic
1. Boston
2. Philly
3. Toronto
4. Jersey
5. New York

Central
1. Cleveland
2. Detroit
3. Indiana
4. Chicago
5. Milwaukee

Southeast
1. Orlando
2. Atlanta
3. Washington
4. Miami
5. Charlotte

Northwest
1. Denver
2. Portland
3. Utah
4. OKC
5. Minnesota

Southwest
1. San Antonio
2. Dallas
3. New Orleans
4. Houston
5. Memphis

Pacific
1. Lakers
2. Clippers
3. Phoenix
4. Golden State
5. Sacto

And I’ve got L.A./Cleveland in the Finals. (I know, the Cavs are 0-2! The horror! Hopefully they’ll get to play another, I don’t know, 80 games!) The champs? Lakers.

That’s it. Catch you guys next week.

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  • AP

    You mean the Cavs are 0-2
    good predictions…why Chicago so low?

  • tekno

    Lang, I’m guessing you’ll be taking the over on the number of games before Ron-Ron does something that will detrimentally affect the Lakers.

  • http://www.sonicbids.com doyouwantmore

    Bump Toronto, Chicago, and OKC up a spot and I would agree with those standings.

  • andrew

    Only two things i disagree with, The hawks ending up higher than the wizards, i would swap those two. And i dont think the Cavs will make the conference finals let alone the League Finals. I say its Boston v Lakers and Lakers win in the finals.

  • http://fashionsensei.files.wordpress.com/2008/02/jackie-moon.jpg Jackie Moon

    Thanks Lang!

  • Bruno

    Langs knows his stuff

  • Bruno

    … sorry is Lang

  • Bruno

    and I agree Artest is better than Ariza
    Ariza just blossom in the triangle now we’ll see how he does in houston

  • http://www.teflinprague.com SAB

    well… as much i disagree with you, on nearly everything, i hope you know that deep down, i still love you Lang

  • http://www.slamonline.com James the balla

    If Kobe wins MVP. I would be very happy. Right now it is really nice to see him with that bounce in his step. It is crazy to think that the last two years, Kobe hasn’t had that step and he is still f()cking amazing. Really great write up Lang. I think you have the second best job in the world.

  • http://nba.com Reflex

    I’d be surpised if the Cavs even made the Conference finals for various reasons
    1) Orl & Bos got so much better & deeper in the offseason, the gap between Cavs and those two just got wider
    2) They still run the same stale offence which involves LeBron doing it all, the top teams will happily let LeBron get his in so far as his teammates are only contibuting for ,40/50 pts, compared to Orl & Bos who both have more balanced offenses.
    3) The still have Mike (Coach of the year) Brown as their coach.

    I know it’s early but I wouldn’t count against a 5 game win differential between them and the Wiz come the end of the season.

    I love the Lakers but I find it hard to see past Boston winning it all if healthy, they’re just too deep, experienced, mature & gully.

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  • http://idunkonthem.blogspot.com/ albie1kenobi

    i watched some of the suns/clips game last night, and the suns are not convincing at all. they needed nash to carry them down the stretch last night to etch out a win. clips on the other hand looked pretty good, even without blake. camby and kaman finally looked comfortable on the court together, and gordon was doing his thing. they’ll be fun to watch once baron is fully healed and griffin plays his first real game in the league.
    as for bulls and pacers, really? so you think Granger has a better supporting cast than Rose does? i thought that’s a stretch, but you are possibly right. i’m guessing you are not picking the bulls to make the playoffs then. come to think of it, they’ll probably get murdered by the spurs tonight. let’s see if Rose will get shut down tonight.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Canuck

    Solid list, but I would have Chicago one, possibly two spots higher, and I’d like to say right now that there is no way the 76ers will finish ahead of the Raptors. If Kobe deserves the MVP I’d be happy, but I don’t want him getting it simply for being on the team with the best record. The MVP should go to the best player for a team with a GOOD record. There shouldn’t be a 60 win minimum for the MVP, which is the way voters seem to be leaning recently. Not that LeBron didn’t deserve it last year abviously.

  • Chris

    a) No way Cavs beat the Magic or a healthy Celtic team in a 7 game series. As great as LeBron is, he can’t win it by himself. Who’s the second best player on the Cavs, Shaq? Mo williams? Would they even start on the Magic or the Celtics?

    b) Kobe might have a down year due simply to the fact that he’ll be asked to do less. With a healthy Bynum, Gasol, Odom, and Artest, plus the number of blowouts this team is likely to have, Kobe might be putting in a lot of 20pt 9 asst games. True hoop heads might recognize that as greatness if the Lakers win, but the less astute observor might be more impressed with 30-8-8 LeBron will put up because he has to do it all.

    c) if Artest if content and happy to play his role, he can duplicate what Ariza brought to the team.

  • JoeMaMa

    the Lakers, the defending champs, got slightly better.
    the Spurs, who were injured much of the year, come back MUCH better. A healthy Ginobili, Jefferson, McDyess, Blair…why aren’t more people picking these guys? I get that the Lakers are a top team, but these Spurs boast four all stars in their starting line up and amazing role players.

  • http://www.shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com/ TADOne

    I’m actually surprised Lang put the Pistons to finish 2nd in the Central.

  • http://www.manutd.com Z

    Kobe has a very good chance of winning the MVP (as always) but the reasons you provided are flimsy, at best. / Just to remind everyone that Bron went to the Finals with Eric Snow and Damon Jones as his point guards and a depressed Larry Hughes as his sidekick. The season is very, very long.

  • Kadavour

    Z: And what, pray tell, happened when in the finals? The East was a joke that year.

  • http://fdjsklf.com Jukai

    Z: I love Cleveland bro, but there were no teams as good as the Magic and Celtics that year… I mean, the Pistons, as good as they were, were a melting pot ready to explode any second, and did so in the playoffs.

  • Kadavour

    scratch that “when”

  • http://realcavsfans.com Anton

    The first rule of Kobe Bryant…you don’t talk about Kobe Bryant.

  • skywalker

    i think kobe will be content with the finals mvp again

  • http://shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com Cheryl

    I like your list. And i think you’re right about Chicago missing Gordon’s daggers late in close games. But I think it’s gonna be Boston/Spurs in the Finals with Spurs taking it in a 7 game awesome series.

  • http://www.manutd.com Z

    Juks: The Celts are clearly the better team right now. I still don’t know about Orlando. They have good team defense but mano a mano, they’re not very good except Pietrus and Dwight. What I’m saying is the Cavs might get there by the end of the year, keeping in mind that they’ll develop chemistry, add Stack Jack, get West and Powe back.

  • http://www.manutd.com Z

    Oh nevermind Juks, you were talking about when they went to the Finals. You’re absolutely right.

  • http://fdjsklf.com Jukai

    Z: they’re not getting Stack Jack. That’s really optimistic thinking. You think The Warriors are gonna take Big Z’s aging body? They want young talent, that’s it.

  • Teddy-the-Bear

    Trevor Ariza is going to be great for the Rockets. You watch, Lang. 25 points, 5 rebs, and 5 assists is just the beginning.

  • Teddy-the-Bear

    Oh, and Toronto > Philly this year.

  • Shelton

    Did u watch Ariza, he looks very awkward on offense

  • http://www.manutd.com Z

    Juks: they’ll take his expiring contract, though. that’s what broussard and stein are reporting and, apparently, bron and shaq signed off on it.

  • http://shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com/ Tariq

    I’m kinda surprised that Chicago is so low. Not that I think that they’re really good or anything, but they’re probably better than the Pacers.

  • http://shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com/ Tariq

    I hope you’re right about Artest, Lang.

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/officerbarbrady what

    Chicago should be much higher and Detroit should be much lower.

  • Vish

    Good points Lang but I doubt Kobe ends up with the MVP no matter what he does this year (I would love for him to get MVP too). The voting has always had a bias against him and will continue. He should have had 2 MVPs by now but you know who they gave it to that one year…I think Kobe will have a monster year and he will be holding up one more champions and finals MVP trophy but I kinda doubt him being voted the MVP…the voters always find a reason not to

  • http://www.teflinprague.com SAB

    his problem is that it’s assumed they’ll win 65 and that he could easily get 28-6-6 in that. and because that’s assumed, anything less than that will be in the voters minds as “Kobe underachieved”. stupid i know, but that’s how it works… i told you all in the top 50, there’s only 2 ways Kobe wins MVP: if the Lakers win 6 or 7 more than anyone; or if Pau is out for a significant stretch and Kobe does it all to keep them at the top of the conference. both of those could happen, but i don’t see either being likely…

  • http://www.alllooksame.com Tarzan Cooper

    MELO IS MVP!

  • http://slamonline.com/ Spaceship Jay

    I think that having Ron Artest will also allow Kobe to be a better on ball defender than he was before. The mere fact that he reached out to Hakeem is legendary in itself… Like one of those high wire Kung-Fu movies.

  • davidR

    detroit finishing 2nd in the conference? i just don’t see it happening, especially with their new style of play.

  • http://slamonline.com ben osborne

    Just reach for the stomach flab, lang.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Wayno

    Chicago is seriously downplaying the loss of Ben Gordon… he was thier closer period, he’s one of the most clutch guys in the game. I think Detroit is gonna suprise people this year and shouldn’t have too much trouble holding the 2nd best record in the Central Division. Chicago MIGHT callenge them, but Indy and Milwaukee just are not good at all.

  • http://MADRAG@GMAIL.ORG trendz

    WHO EVER SAID RON ARTEST WAS A STEP DOWN FROM TREVOR ARIZA IS SMOKING HEAVY, HEAVY CHRONIC. RON ARTEST IS THREE TIMES THE PLAYER TREVOR ARIZA IS !!!!!!!!!!

  • http://www.slamonline.com Wayno

    caps lock…

  • http://slamonline.com/ Spaceship Jay

    No Wayno, shift key. It creates more of a challenge.

  • http://eric32woodyard.wordpress.com Eric Woodyard

    Finally! I have read a post on KB that speaks directly to me!!

    Great points…I couldn’t agree with you any more

  • KaponoE

    The voters will find a way to not hand the trophy to KB24. The year Dirk was MVP over Kobe everyone used the best team player on the team with the best record argument. Kobe avg 35ppg and dropped 81 that season and no one gave him a sniff. He played WAAAY above the level of everyone in the league. But they said, “He is a ball hog.” DWade does the same thing last year and “He’s doing everything it takes to win on an offensively challenged team.” Double standard and usual Kobe hate.

  • Orlando Green

    I might have to stop by in a mag store to look at the context cuz I dont agree with some of ur predictions.

    First, Chicago under indy and Detroit, Hansborough won’t be that good, and the Gordon/Charlie V. exp wont work.

    Other than that, T.dot will finish ahead of Philly and the Wiz ahead of ATL.

  • Orlando Green

    Oh and there is no way the cavs beat the celtics in a 7 game series, assuming everyone is playing.

  • http://www.slamonline.com James the balla

    KaponoE, I couldn’t say it better myself.

  • doyouwantmore

    I hope the Raptors shock everyone. Chris Bosh is the sleeping Cobra Commander Ninja Predator with the stealth assassin bazooka sword this year. He’s gonna be all “Hedo! Break Rashard’s arm! And Hedo’s gonna be all “Yes, Cobra Commander.” Just wait.

  • ciroqobama

    Boston is winning the East. Melo for MVP.

  • http://www.hibachi20.blogspot.com Hursty

    Well, Ariza just had a 32,3,3,2 game against Portland.
    I’d still take Ron Artest though.
    With the positioning, Toronto might only be a game behind Philly. You don’t know. Or it could be 10 games.

  • http://myspace.com/2grownup2beshownup Jack

    Yeah, exactly, 17 out of the first 21 games of the season AT HOME, while LA’s major Western Conference threat, Denver has the worst schedule in the league. Don’t give me any of that “it evens out over 82 games” shit either.

  • http://www.triplejunearthed.com/dacre Dacre

    It works out over 82…….

    Even without the context, i don’t understand how anyone that KNOWS A THING can rate ANY of the teams in the west, that didn’t make the playoffs last year ABOVE the suns. think about it – the suns have all the tools to replicate IF NOT improve on their 46-36 record from last season, whereas for the clippers to beat that they have to put up a season whereby they complete something in the range of a 25-30 game turn around? The clippers don’t have that in them – Baron Davis is not going to be anywhere near the top 5 PGs in the league to be able to produce the leadership required and that front line of camby, smith, kaman and griffin is far from being ‘Ironman’ material.
    The ONLY team that beats the Suns in the Pacific is the Lakers, and by not that much either.

  • http://www.triplejunearthed.com/dacre Dacre

    Atlantic
    1. Boston – most intune team will be back to top gear
    2. Toronto – will surprise EVERYONE this season
    3. Philly – read above…
    4. New York – quickest team in east = tastiest snot.
    5. New Jersey – surprisingly will miss Carters HEART.

    Central
    1. Cleveland – Will streak ahead after slow start
    2. Chicago – the best left in the weakest div.
    3. Detroit – team struggling to find new face.
    4. Milwaukee – injuries will make bad team worse.
    5. Indiana – Granger will explode, no one will see it

    Southeast
    1. Orlando – Dwight dominates from within 14 feet!
    2. Washington – agent zero has license to THRILL.
    3. Atlanta – teams identity established!
    4. Miami – Rounds out the strongest division EVER.
    5. Charlotte – Was A.I coming here?

    Northwest
    1. Denver – Strongest team to face LA in WCF
    2. Utah – Paul Millsap got ROBBED a starting pos.
    3. Portland – GO gets younger. BRoy takes over?
    4. OKC – Durant explodes (see indy comment)
    5. Minnesota – will give up by Feb (again…)

    Southwest
    1. Dallas – 1 Kidd healthy = matrix/Nowitzki nirvana
    2. New Orleans – Byron Scott unfolds arms.
    3. San Antonio – injuries and age = HUGE OBSTACLE
    4. Houston – read as above, but even worse.
    5. Memphis – wheres that #1 draft pick?

    Pacific
    1. Lakers – Kobe & Artest = Jordan & Rodman remix.
    2. Phoenix – the fastest team wins 2.0
    3. Golden State – will entertain like suns, less wins
    4. Clippers – Will blake PLAy when he plays?
    5. Sacto – ROY wont be seen on national TV…

  • http://fashionsensei.files.wordpress.com/2008/02/jackie-moon.jpg Jackie Moon

    Nice list, Dacre. I liked reading it.

  • http://www.twitter.com/sveinnbirkir sveinnbirkir

    Can we now refer to Manu as ‘The Vampire Slayer’?

  • http://www.triplejunearthed.com/dacre Dacre

    thanks jackie moon….shame i didn’t get the sp[acing right on the divisional groups – reads like a sportsmans shopping list.

  • http://www.twitter.com/Th3_R3al_Chris Th3_R3al_Chris

    I can’t see ANY team beating this year’s Celtics if they can avoid injuries. I also think that Denver is the only team out west that has the potential to knock off the Lakers in the playoffs.

  • Shem

    Artest is a better player. Artest has better D and has a post game ALTHOUGH i would rather have Ariza over Artest. Ive been watching Ariza all preseason and the beginning of the season he really improved that jumper and upped his dribbles. I think i would rather Artest if i was going to contend for a championship but Ariza woulda been nice for the future with guys like Bynum and Farmar

  • http://slamonline.com Ben Osborne

    I’ve been in the Ariza-over-Artest camp since it happened. I still think the Lakers can be great this year, but I told Lang they were toss ups now, and in two years? Ariza will be MUCH better. Based on Ariza’s 33-point outing yesterday and Artest’s brick fests, maybe he IS better already.

  • http://www.triplejunearthed.com/dacre Dacre

    I think there is one think to get in context regarding the ariza/artest debate, and for me that would be this “fact”:

    Artest, today (as in right now) is more hungry to win a championship, than Ariza is. THAT, is what Kobe wants to see from his LAKESHOW team mates. That hunger. Bynum is hungry to win, and to actually CONTRIBUTE at a high level – he expects that of himself, and Kobe really would love to see that come out in Bynum’s activity. I think the history of any underlying friction between Artest and Kobe would have disappeared the very hour Artest came onboard with LA – It would have instantly turned into teamsmanship for that pair. This season certainly, you would take Artest over Ariza to support Kobe’s hunger and desire to dominate in the NBA, if not the world.

  • Robert

    Look, if Trevor stayed in LA he wouldn’t get the opportunity to be a go-to-guy that he is getting in Houston now. I love Trevor and I think he will be better than Ron in the future because he’s still young but the Lakers are a team built to win now not tomorrow and whether its Trevor or Ron playing in LA; both will still be at least the 5th option behind Kobe, Pau, Bynum, and Odom in that order. Hopefully Ron can find his jumpshot back and get acclimated into the triangle.

  • http://www.triplejunearthed.com/dacre Dacre

    QUOTE OF THE WEEK!!!
    “We did not bring him here to be a passer,” Alvin Gentry said regarding Channing Frye’s VERY quick start, shooting wise into the season. He has just topped his career high of THREE’s made in a season (13), which he’s done 3 games into this season. THE MAN HAS BEEN SERIOUSLY WORKING ON HIS SHOT.

  • http://www.triplejunearthed.com/dacre Dacre

    Thats my point, Trevor would rather be considered the GO TO GUY on an undermanned, undersized ball club that will FIGHT to get over .500 looking for $$$ on the way. You do realise he is NOT the go to guy when, either/both TMAC and Yao return?? He’ll be…thats right a fourth stringer behind Yao, TMAC, Brooks.

    So he’ll be back in a similar position – but with FAR less wins, and he’ll regret it. He’s about 2-4 yrs behind Stephen Jackson. JAX doesn’t want to be ANYWHERE NEAR GState right now, and he left San Antonio for the exact same reasons, as Ariza, right after a championship run no less…. You think Jax wouldn’t like to be right back there? Of course he would. Ariza will learn too….

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    lol @phx finishing lower then the clippers. lol at everyone who doesn’t have phoenix in the playoffs. arguably this team is better then that 04-05 team. think about it

  • Danny W UK

    “I know Artest has always been more and more prone to force shots throughout his career, but, especially in Sacramento and Houston, Artest was usually the best perimeter player on his team”.

    Wow F*@k you Kevin Martin (and your 48 points last night).

  • http://www.triplejunearthed.com/dacre Dacre

    nbk knows the score.

  • Da Hood

    Kobe is Jordan is his dreams

  • Tenorca

    Clippers huh? Let me know how that works out.

  • Andrew

    bump up the heat to 2nd in their divison there 3-0 and with a healthy dwyane wade and jermaine oneal they can make a run

  • bill breedley

    article makes a whole lot of sense
    Bleacher report: Who’s better, Kobe or LeBron? It’s no debate at all.

    In the same manner in which Kobe Bryant was unfairly compared to Michael Jordan in the late ’90s, the debate continues with LeBron James being similarly compared to Kobe.

    Some fans and pundits have even had the temerity to go as far as saying that James has already surpassed Bryant as a player.

    They reinforce their arguments with statistics and the many milestones that James has accomplished at such an early age. Many of these same milestones are marks that Kobe held until James surpassed them.

    There are areas of the game where James holds an advantage over Kobe, most noticeably the physical specimen department, but most arguments are based on the potential of James and not his current accomplishments.

    The only problem with gazing into the crystal ball is that sometimes the present intervenes and renders all predictions useless. It’s much better to live in the present, and based on that, the James argument doesn’t hold up.

    While James and Bryant are great players, there are some areas that James has yet to catch up, and in some cases, never will.

    The part of LeBron’s game that has seen the biggest improvement is on the defensive end. He is still a much better help defender than ball defender, but his man-to-man defense is steadily improving.

    As a youngster James was able to rely on his superior athletic ability to mask his shortcomings on the defensive end. He was simply able to overwhelm opponents with his quickness, size, and strength.

    It was clear early in his career that he had the proper defensive principles, but he lacked the technique. His defensive posture was bad, and he had a habit of crossing his feet instead of sliding them.

    James has taken steps to correct this and it’s evident in his game, as he has become a better on-ball defender, which helps complement his superior ball-hawking skills.

    Kobe had no such problem, as he was an excellent defensive player from the time he entered the league. His man-to-man skills remain superb, and he has the ability to lock down an opponent almost at will.

    Bryant was obviously schooled on the importance of defense and that can in part be attributed to his NBA lineage. He recognized the influence that getting stops has on a game and the way it contributes to momentum swings.

    Conversely, James is a product of the AAU circuit and the various summer leagues, which place a low premium on defense and emphasize the highlight aspect of the game.

    Michael Jordan’s footprints are all over another aspect of Kobe’s game, which is sometimes called the lost art of the mid-range jump shot.

    It became the most dangerous weapon in Jordan’s arsenal, and Bryant has emulated it to the barest degree. His ability to pull up from anywhere within 18 feet has made Bryant one of the most versatile offensive players in NBA history.

    This is the part of LeBron’s game that could use the most work, as all of his damage is done either from distance or at the rim, there is hardly any in-between.

    A mid-range jumper is something that you have to work at, and the evidence is spread throughout the league, with only a handful of players showing the ability to master it.

    Besides being the ultimate student of the game, Bryant is probably one of the most fundamentally sound. His techniques on both ends of the floor could be used in basketball tutorials.

    James is no slouch in the fundamental department, but Bryant is above reproach. I’m not sure if even the most dedicated regimen could put James in Bryant’s class, which may be second only to Jordan himself.

    I feel that all of the above points are solid, but they can be argued, alas this one can’t. The hardware disparity is real and it has grown since James has been in the league.

    I have stated that it is fruitless to argue what James may accomplish in the future because we live in the present. The Kobe and Jordan argument would have never started if Kobe was unable to win a ring.

    Charles Barkley and Karl Malone are considered two of the best power forwards to play the game, but they are trumped by Tim Duncan, and the argument will always end with the number of rings Duncan is wearing.

    Likewise with John Stockton and Magic Johnson. Stockton may hold the assists record, but how many of those assists ever accounted for championships?

    This is the final peg on which Kobe hangs his hat. LeBron has the potential to be the greatest player ever, but tomorrow is never promised.

    I pay homage to the greatest active player today, who has the game and championships to back it up. Until LeBron wins a ring he will be relegated to second-hand status.

  • http://slamonline.com Niya-girl-fresh

    L.A. has been extremely sluggish lately, they aren’t in sync yet kind of like Cleveland right now. Once the guys get used to each other completely the team will fall into place and Kobe can conserve energy for the playoffs. When Pau Gasol comes back it will be a big plus for the team. Because you two versitile big men out there (Pau and Lamar) a young consistent center (Andrew) and Ron artest. Then you have the bench who needs to step up and do something gawd damn it! That way Kobe can be more of a playmaker than a “Do everything” guy right now. Save that energy for the playoffs.

  • Jalepino Sausage

    you put jersey 4th ? you blind brotha ?

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