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Sunday, May 30th, 2010 at 12:10 pm  |  65 responses

Kobe Bryant Outshines The Suns

by Tzvi Twersky

I don’t know if people should be using the word “killer” to describe Kobe Bryant’s Western Conference Finals performance. In 2010, a time when a current and former players in the NFL, NBA and NHL have been convicted of murder, it’s probably a poor choice of words. In leading the Lakers past the Suns in six games, however, Kobe Bryant once again proved why we struggle to come up with superlatives to describe his game. With six-game averages of  33.7 points, 8.3 assists, 7.2 rebounds and 1.2 blocks, a 31-year-old Bryant elevated his play to G.O.A.T heights, and once again proved to the world that he’s the best active NBA player.

Let’s turn to Kevin Ding of the OC Register for more:

It was a long time ago that Kobe Bryant said there were just two killers in the NBA. Michael  Jordan was still playing, which should answer both the when and who questions.

It was back then that Bryant sat in the locker room at the Rose Garden in Portland in the middle and best season of the Lakers’ 2000-02 three-peat, just before playing an elimination game against the Trail Blazers. An interview with Scottie Pippen came on the TV in the locker room, and Bryant half-listened.

Then he said to Pippen but really to himself: “This is your last day of work.”

The Lakers finished Pippen’s team that day in their first chance.

They did the same to the Phoenix Suns to end the Western Conference finals Saturday night.

This is what Bryant, the killer, does … and it was perfectly appropriate that he did so this time with blood on his hands. It was his own, which he actually likes because he feels that seeing it motivates him during games, from a first-quarter cut on his left ring finger.

But with the gold “E” in “LAKERS” on his chest splotchy with blood Saturday night, Bryant scored 11 of the Lakers’ last 14 points — and assisted on the only other field goal.

“He’s the best player in basketball,” Suns coach  Alvin Gentry said. “And I don’t think it’s even close.”

With the victory, Bryant moved into a tie with Pippen for most playoff victories with the same coach — and he is literally the same, Phil Jackson: 110. Difference is that Bryant has many more days of work, starting Thursday night in the NBA Finals.

Bryant averaged 33.7 points, 8.3 assists, 7.2 rebounds and 1.2 blocks in perhaps the best playoff series he has ever played. He was magical in all three games in Phoenix, even though the Lakers lost two of those. Bryant hadn’t played a playoff game here since losing that Game 5 in 2007, after which he asked for the trade that he’s now glad never happened.

But that sort of unhappy ending to a series is now the clear aberration for Bryant, whom longtime teammate Derek Fisher said Saturday night “literally can will the ball in the basket” when necessary.

And to relish the opportunity to drive that dagger into the opponent so much, you need a rare coldness.

He did it down the stretch Saturday night. He has done it often in making the Lakers so heavy-footed when the opponent’s fingertips are all that’s left on the cliff.

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  • Ben Flook

    Great read. Loved the ‘best player in the game, its not even close’ quote. I’ve read that a few times today by different people. I’m guessing that will cause a lot of debate, although i’m with Gentry on this.

  • kwame

    ill

  • mick

    kobe shoots 38% in the finals

  • truthteller

    I hope this finally settles the stupid debate on who’s better btw lebron and kobe! 24!

  • Robb

    There’s only one king in this league and that’s King Mamba. I hope people cherish it because these kind of players don’t come often. And no, Lebron is not one of them.

  • Jake

    The Celtics don’t have a perimeter defender for Kobe anymore. If anyone thinks Paul Pierce or Tony Allen is going to stop him you can think again…I’d consider inserting Shannon Brown or Jordan Farmar into the starting lineup and having Fish play the second half though,just so that he doesn’t have to deal with Rondo at full speed.Or have Kobe/Artest guard him.Either way this series is going to be nowhere close to the one that was played in 08.It’ll be a much tighter,competitive series and even as a Lakers fan I can honestly say there is no clear cut winner.

  • Aaron

    CO-SIGN ROBB

  • James

    man watchin Kobe in this game a song kept goin thro my head. its called No More Pain by 2pac. idk it just fits Kobe when he goes into his killer mode

  • CDef28

    Mick that may happen. Even if Kobe does shoot that poorly against the Celtics, he’s still better than LeBron for now until he finally can’t physically run anymore. Luckily for LeBron, the time may come soon. I’m interested to see how well Ron Artest guards Pierce. Don’t underestimate Ray Allen’s defense. He can run for days and will not be afraid to get in Kobe’s face. But then again, the Suns were right with Kobe in game six and that didn’t matter at the end. I just don’t think he will keep hitting those jumpers at that high of a percentage.

  • nastierthanu

    I think anyone who knows the game realized that 24 was going to put up monster #’s for the series. Phoenix has never been know for their lock down defense. I have to preceed all comments from here with the facts, HOWEVA the degree of difficulty the shots 24 was hitting is awfully high. How he uses his shoulder to create another foot of space. The way he has completely mastered the art spinning away from the defense to bury nail in the coffin jumpers and the tap on the butt of opposing coaches as if to say “make sure and punch ur time card on the way out” all this says 2 things. 1 lebron should give back his mvp trophy. It was kobe’s to begin with. So many game winners its obvious that he’s the best in the world right now. 2 I’m not afraid to say this. Kobe is just as good and has the chance to be better than mike. There I said it hate all u want.

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/CathedralsRecords?feature=mhw4 Earl

    :) :) :) :) :) :) Lakers WIN!! :) :) :) :) :) :)

  • http://www.boogiewilliams.com Boing Dynasty

    “In 2010, a time when a current and former players in the NFL, NBA and NHL have been convicted of murder, it’s probably a poor choice of words.” RANDOM. Fix your skirt, OJ was 15 year ago.

  • Kadavour

    Orenthal was never CONVICTED of murder.

  • riggs

    celtics sweep.

  • ripslam

    Ray Allen is very underrated as a defender. He can shut down Kobe as well as anyone in the league, same with Pierce. If the Celtics D can stop Orlando, it can sure as hell stop LA.

  • Robb

    @ ripslam shut him down like when Kobe shot above Ray and scored the winning shot this season?

  • hoodsnake

    Celtics in 5. thats all

  • The Philosopher

    @nastierthanu: Kobe isn’t better than Michael, PERIOD.

  • The Philosopher

    You must don’t understand the kind of sh!t Michael used to do. You just don’t.

  • http://www.dimemag.com Royal

    @ripslam: Orlando had Wince Carter and Rashard Clueless on their team
    it’s not too hard to shut down a team that has them in their starting five

  • http://Hibachi20.blogspot.com BETCATS

    I will say this once and only once; Kobe is great but he is not THE great.

  • vtrobot

    god d*mn you, kobe bryant. that was impressive last night. i wanted steve to get a trip to the finals, but kobe sh*t all over that. i hate the lakers, but that was next level. kobe vs. lebron. who cares? they’re both not as good as the “best player in the world”, a.k.a. the truth. ha ha. @ riggs: I was imagining that the other day too. would be funny as hell.

  • http://slamonline.com Krishan

    Jake: I have to disagree with the whole benching fish thing. Farmar is not a better defender, and shannon only slightly. And fisher gives them that mental toughness that they desperately need, and is a good alternate clutch scorer when teams are swarming kobe. He deserves all his 30+ minutes.

  • Nashty

    I watched most of the games between LA and Pheonix, and Kobe was really great in all of them. Congrats to Kobe and the Lakers. By the way, what did the doctors do for Kobe after the Thunders series? He’s got his explosiveness back.

  • Nashty

    I watched most of the games between LA and Pheonix, and Kobe was really great in all of them. Congrats to Kobe and the Lakers. By the way, what did the doctors do for Kobe after the Thunders series? He’s got his explosiveness back.

  • Roc

    Man, I was on SLAM all season long and I can recall the Cavs/LeBron bandwagoners talking trash all season about what Cleveland was going to do, how LeBron is the best player in basketball. This is redemption right here. Hubie Brown even said on ESPN radio after game 6 that Kobe Bryant has proved himself the best player in basketball. And no one knows the game better than Hubie. I’ve never had a better post season as a fan. LA has the next three years locked up, and Kobe will retire with 7 rings, and GOAT status.

  • truthteller

    @The philosopher: you need to read this article because you obviously have no idea. maybe this will make you appreciate Kobe much better:
    http://nbcsports.msnbc.com/id/37431045/ns/sports-washington_post/

  • Jessdogg

    “Bryant averaged 33.7 points, 8.3 assists, 7.2 rebounds and 1.2 blocks in perhaps the best playoff series he has ever played.” Lebron’s entire playoff average last year (14 games) was 35.3 points, 9.1 rebounds and 7.3 assist while shooting .510% as a 24 year old. Just something for the KB24′s to think about.. don’t get too excited. Theres a long, long career ahead of LeBron.

  • Rikson

    Outshined seems a bit too much after the suns won 2! Ya know, if were just talking stats here, take a look at the post above ^^

  • The art of deception

    yes kobe’s stats are impressive but they cannot be compared to lebron’s. mainly because the cavs offense revolves around lebron which enables him to put up high pts and assists. lebron could get the same rebounds in any team because of his size. kobe plays in the triangle offense and its offensive capabilities are realized when the whole team is involved.

    Look at it this way…if the cavs have possession of the ball and don’t pass it to lebron then its a bad possession. if the lakers don’t give the ball to kobe then it can still be considered a good possession if the ball gets worked into the post.

  • bill breedley

    jessdog.. your boy the choken one may stuff the stat sheet all he wants, still he has yet to manage to even get one ring after 8 years? 8 long years and no ring to show for? we are all witnesses to the biggest hype job of david stern and nike.

    the queen is a karl malone and david robinson. even mj with a mediocre team managed to get his first after 8.

  • Justin

    Look, Kobe was absolutely unbelievable in this series and he is also absolutely the best player in the game. Has been for a number of years. But let’s stop the G.O.A.T. talk right now. He is not MJ and even Kobe knows it. Yes, he has a great stat line and if this was his best playoff series ever, consider MJ in the ’93 Finals vs. Phoenix: 41.0 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 6.3 assist. ‘Nuff said people

  • BostonBaller

    I haven’t read the article and only a couple of comments but I have to say this: No one on our team can shut Kobe down so that’s just a crazy statement…with that said I’m sure our collective D will be just fine against them. I have had Kobe at 1a and James at 1b as best player for a couple of years now and progression should have changed that by now (AND it has) No not LBJ 1a &KB24 1b but KB24 #1 & LBJ #2. When the lights were shinning bright LBJ’s game to not consistently elevate where as KB@$’s did (not just scoring). I look forward to a great series in The Finals…GREEN for 18 !!!

  • The Philosopher

    @truthteller: I DO appreciate Kobe Bryant. More than my past and present posts may indicate. The thing that people have to understand is that in Michael’s day… if they were to play that kind of defense on Kobe that they played on Michael, Kobe wouldn’t be Kobe. Today’s defense allows multiple talents to be able to at least emulate the antics of Jordan.

  • The Philosopher

    Think of this, trurhteller: When the Lakers lost to the Celtics the last time they met in the Finals, Kobe looked like he was figured out, and it is not the only time Kobe looked like he was figured out… and this is again with no hand checking and no real permission to guard anyone because of the rules. No one has ever been able to figure out Michael Jordan. EVER. Again, I do appreciate Kobe, because he is certainly one the best to ever play in The League, but… if he was going to be better than Michael, then he would have been better already.

  • http://Www.slamonline.com Negetivekreep

    Philosopher: #1 Saying Jordan never looked figured out is just the type of blind human worshiping statement that Jordan fans always seem to make.As if he never had bad games, As if he didn’t need teamates and the goat coach to win rings. #2 Jordan never saw the amount of double n triple teams Kobe has seen since the L changed the rules and allowed illegal Defense (the zone) to be legal in 2000/01. One thing I do know is that Jordan was a top 5 physical player of his time and he used the physical rules to his advantage not just on D’ either. No one has ever gotten away with more hooks/push offs, & yet gotten those same calls on the other end Like Jordan did, as if it wasn’t already the assingment from he’ll to guard him. See Jordan rules. Kobe on the other hand just doesn’t get that kind of special treatment from the refs period. So if ur gonna come with that kinda statement next time bring facts.

  • http://Www.slamonline.com Negetivekreep

    *hell

  • The Philosopher

    @Negetivekreep: Facts? O.K. Jordan’s career field goal percentage is at or around fifty percent. Kobe has never shot that percentage.(and the rules are to Kobe’s advantage) Jordan never got lit up by the likes of a Larry Hughes, or a Gilbert Arenas. Jordan was the better athlete, was the more durable athlete, better passer, a better defender. To touch on being a ‘Jordan fan’, Magic is MY guy, for Magic is the best player of all times, in my opinion. Now, Jordan did have bad games, but it wasn’t because somebody shut him down. You DON’T shut down Jordan. Period. As opposed to Kobe, we all have seen Kobe get shut down on numerous occasions… it’s just the truth. If one were to judge off of stats, then there REALLY wouldn’t be an argument on Kobe’s behalf.

  • The Philosopher

    @Negetivekreep: Kobe, in FACT, has never seen the kind of defense Michael used to see. They used to literally pull Jordan’s @ss out of the air (with bad intentions) just to try to stop him. Today, it’s called flagrant 1 or 2… Laimbeer, John Salley, Dennis Rodman all used to try to damn near maul Jordan. This is the truth. Kobe will NEVER see ANYTHING like that, and he STILL gets figured out more often than some would like to admit.

  • truthteller

    @ Philosopher: Youo’re pretty much saying that Kobe isn’t tough enough to play with a tough defense? Do you realise or have you forgotten that kobe hasn’t been 100% healthy for 3 season now? what gives you the idea that Kobe isn’t tough enough to handle defenses that are geared towards stopping him? that’s why I said you don’t really appreciate how good this guy is. MJ does though. he’s said it several times and several other vetearns who played in that “tough” era also appreciate his game. is there something that you knwo that they don’t?

  • truthteller

    And for everybody else like Rikson, Art of deception and all the ohter delusional so called fans on this post who are actiing as if this is Kobe’s only great playoff series need to really quit the hate and go to youtube, NBA.com and look up previous playoofs where Kobe has been a part of. Kobe is way more accomplished than the Lebron is especially in the playoffs. everybody fails, even MJ! he’s failed too. but the reason why we call the GOAT, clutch, etc is because he’s come through more times than he’s failed. yes, kobe has failed but he’s come through more times than he’s failed. lebron has failed more times than he’s succeeeded in the playoffs and until he starts coming through more often, we need to stop comparing him to kobe because there is a huge differnce btw the two and lebron is seriously lacking!

  • The Philosopher

    @truthteller: Defenses that are geared to stop Kobe are different than the defenses that were geared to stop Jordan. Back then there was ‘no blood, no foul’, so to speak. Now, you can barely touch a guy, for there is REALLY no such thing as tough defense in today’s game. The ONLY semblance of a tough defense is a team coached by Larry Brown.

  • The Philosopher

    Again, I do wholly appreciate Kobe’s game. In fact, I’ve always loved Kobe’s game. It’s just that he isn’t as good as Michael.

  • Jackie Moon

    Steve Kerr – “He’s the only guy you can legitimately say is right there with Michael,” Kerr said. “Kobe actually has better shooting range than Michael. Now, Michael was more physical. The rules when he played allowed the Knicks to maul him. But in the end, they’re both killers and the most incredible players of their eras.” … Hmm, who is more credible, a guy who played on the same court as MJ and Kobe, or a commenter on a basketball website? I’m going with the former.

  • The Philosopher

    He didn’t say Kobe is better, either. Jackie Moon’s quotation of Steve Kerr validates my argument.

  • truthteller

    @ Philosopher: Please tell me why or how Kobe isn’t as good as MJ. Make me see this.

  • The Philosopher

    @truthteller: As I’ve said before, Michael was MORE durable, Michael was a better defender. A better athlete, a batter passer, BETTER shot maker, better shot blocker/shot changer. Jordan also had bigger hands, which is a huge advantage, which IS ONE of the reasons Jordan amassed more steals. One could NEVER, EVER accuse Michael Jeffrey Jordan of quitting on his team at ANY point in his life, even IF it were to make a ‘statement’, such is an excuse some afford Kobe Bean Bryant. Jordan’s 10 scoring titles, I mean, to this day and in history is unheard of. The MVPs. In Jordan’s day, those guys were REAL tough guys… I can go on, but I want you to rhetort.

  • The Philosopher

    Before you do though, I just want to express how clutch Michael was. No matter HOW bright the lights were… Michael was THE most hyped player of his day, and he delivered more consistently than ANYBODY in League history. I’m telling you, no one could touch this man. He has destroyed the validity of a many of careers, hall of fame careers at that. You just don’t know. If Jordan doesn’t retire, Hakeem Abdul Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler have zero rings.

  • The art of deception

    @truthteller when did i try to put kobe’s stats down? read my comment again and you’ll see i’m actually praising him for playing in a team offense and still be able to produce #’s.

  • Jackie Moon

    @Philosopher – so you agree that “Kobe’s the only guy you can legitimately say is right there with Michael”. Right?

  • Jessdogg

    Kobe is not even close to Jordan.. Anyone even comparing was clearly born after 1988.. idiot kids.

  • truthteller

    All you guys keep validating my point. @ Philosopher: MJ was clutch but still came up short several times! He wasn’t as perfect as you guys are making him out to be! Phil Jackson, Steve Kerr and a few players who played with him and against him admit that Kobe is a better shooter than MJ was. MJ even admitted that Kobe was more polished at a younger age than he was. And you said that MJ had bigger hands and that made him a better defender? Did you actually write that with a straight face? This is what I’m saying folks: kobe bryant is the closest thing to MJ in EVERYTHING! In all aspects of his game and a lot of you guys don’t even have him being the best player! You all think LeBron is the best player and he’s nowhere even close to MJ in anyway!!! That just proves the article that I posted for you guys to read right! Kobe is’n't as likable and no matter what he does he will never be accepted!

  • truthteller

    So you guys root for Lebron and put him on this unrealistic pedestal just to spite Kobe!

  • truthteller

    And Lebron keeps coming up short and Kobe keeps succeeding and in the process keeps making you guys look stupid.

  • truthteller

    @ Philosopher: did you watch the shots that Kobe was making on Saturday against the Suns? C’mon man!!! And he’s been doing that for a while.

  • The Philosopher

    @truthteller: Trust and believe, I will get back to you on this in a few hours. I have to take care of something. Oh, Jerry West says LeBron is better than Kobe. LeBron isn’t as good as Michael either. LeBron is still the King, though.

  • The Philosopher

    truthteller, think of this: When Michael was winning rings, he was beating hall of fame talent, TOP 50 ALL TIME TALENT. In Michael’s day, those guys were from a different breed. Now, Michael destroyed the validity of a many a career. Now Kobe, on the other hand… who is he REALLY playing outside of The King, D. Wade, Duncan, Garnett, Pierce? I only name those guys because they have rings. Kobe isn’t as good as Michael Jordan, and even Magic says the same thing. I’ll take Magic’s word over a coat tail rider.(Kerr)Oh, having longer shooting range doesn’t make one a better player, you know that.

  • Justin

    Lebron is not as good as Kobe…yet. Keep in mind, he’s only 25. Kobe is not as good as Michael was and nor will he be. He’s not going to get better from this point in his career. Truthteller, you say it yourself. Kobe is the CLOSEST, which means he is not there. And just because he’s the closest does not actually mean it’s close. In ’92 everyone said Clyde Drexler was the closest to MJ but how close was he really? The Finals showed how far apart it actually was. And no, I’m not comparing Clyde to Kobe

  • truthteller

    he’s the closest and he’s getting there and can and just might. Who knows. My point is:
    1. Lebron has a long way to go to catch up to Kobe talk less of MJ
    2. Putting Kobe in the Mj conversation isn’t as blasphemous as you all are making it out to be!

  • truthteller

    @PHILOSOPHER: If your saying that Kobe’s legacy is a little tarnished because he didn’t play against great competition compared to MJ then how is Lebron King?

  • truthteller

    Lebron hasn’t even won a championship!

  • truthteller

    He hasn’t even won a NBA finals game!

  • The Philosopher

    @truthteller: My 9:20 a.m. comment was off because, LeBron doesn’t have rings, as opposed to everyone else that I mentioned.

  • The Philosopher

    Now, truthteller, this is where it gets tricky about why LeBron IS ACTUALLY The King. With LeBron, it is bigger than basketball. There are circumstances present that enable him TO BE THE KING. The unnatural clout, the immeasurable influence. No player in the game today, AND in NBA History has that ability to affect the lives of a many of men with the stroke of a pen. Not even the great Black Mamba himself, Kobe Bryant.

  • The undisputed

    I don’t see why any1 referring to the time that these individuals played when Michael played in the NBA there weren’t many superstar wing players compared to this day in age n Michael did not always have to guard the best player on the opposite team as Kobe did until this year and last but not least should we say Mike is not as good as Oscar because he never averaged a triple double give the man his credit Kobe would’ve been a great player in any era in my opinion and oh yea before I forget Magic has gone back on his words many times stating that Lebron was better than Kobe smh

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