The next series – now that the Lakers beat New Orleans is Dallas. They match up great against my Mav’s, Dallas doesn’t have physical bigs, so Bynum and Gasol will get closer to the basket and the Mav’s are not young and fast at point guard, they’ve got Jason Terry and Jason Kidd. So the Lakers match up brilliantly with Dallas. They don’t match up great with any team with a world class point guard, that’s why the Celtics give the Lakers problems. Rondo’s a nightmare along with Shaq and Glen Davis; they push on Gasol and Bynum.
So I’m watching Kobe Tuesday night and the LA Times called it the “Tri-ankle offense” credit to the LA Times for a very funny line. But you know, there is this sense that – and Kobe goes out and shoots 62% in a playoff game, being double teamed, 62% on a bad foot. There has always been this sense that Michael Jordan is untouchable and that he’s the greatest player and that nobody is even close. I’ve been saying this for the past 2 years – why we don’t have Kobe at #2? Now, forget about Wilt because he was just a physical aberration, nobody denies that.
But I’m talking about skilled basketball players not just guys who are physically dominating. I don’t know why Kobe is not #2 all time! Larry Bird, athletically, is not even in Kobe’s league. Magic was wonderful but he wasn’t a great offensive player and he wasn’t even close to Kobe as a defensive player, he was a distributor first.
But if you look at the parallels between Michael and Kobe, its freighting how even they are. MJ played 15 years and won 6 rings. Kobe has played 14 years and won 5 rings, he may get his 6th this year. With Michael in the regular season, 30 points, 5 assists, 2 steals, 6 rebounds….all of these numbers in the playoffs with the exception of field goal %, slighty tend to go up for Michael. Kobe averages 25 points, 5 assists, 1 ½ steals, 5 ½ rebounds and all of his numbers go slightly up come playoff time. Both have Olympic gold, both elite defensive players, the Lakers have won 31 playoff series with Kobe, Michael Jordan won 31 playoff series. MJ was a 14 time all-star, Kobe a 13 time all-star.
The big difference is – and its why Michael always scored more than Kobe, not because he was a better offensive player, nobody disputes that Kobe’s got much better range, Kobe’s a better shooter than Michael was. Kobe’s got smaller hands than Michael, but Michael was better around the tin – though not significantly better because he could palm the ball so seamlessly. Kobe’s got smaller hands; he goes to the basket with two. But Kobe’s got better range – nobody disputes that! Pippen will tell you that, Scottie will tell you “oh, Kobe is a better shooter!” Michael scored more close to the basket, size of his hands – big advantage. But Michael also scored more and was better in the finals because he was ALL THEY HAD!!! Kobe’s played with Shaq, Gasol and Bynum, he’s had terrific bigs.
So in some games and some finals, Kobe gets doubled or he’s relented, he’s handing the ball over to the bigs. So he’s not going to average as many points – and it should be noted, Kobe’s first two years in the league were outta high school and as a result, hurts his career average. He averaged 7 his first year and 18 his next. If Kobe, like MJ, had gone to Duke for 2 years (MJ went to Carolina…Kobe would’ve gone to Duke, he liked Duke and Coach K). If he goes to Duke for 2 years, he’s coming into the NBA averaging 25 points per game, just like Michael Jordan and their averages would be closer.
But you know, there has always been this sense – and I’ll be the first to acknowledge, MJ was better defensively at his prime, than Kobe. But there is this sense that MJ is way up there and Kobe’s way down there. If you ask the Pippen’s and the players who know both, they will all tell you, Kobe is a better shooter, Kobe makes more tough shots, Kobe’s also had to play against the Rockets in their prime, the Suns in their prime, a thicker and heavier Western Conference, the Spurs as well through their dynasty.
Whereas Michael Jordan, heck the Celtics were awful for the years he was in his prime and he didn’t beat Detroit until they got old and he dealt with the Pacers and the Knicks. The Knicks weren’t a great team, they’ve never been historically great neither were the Pacers. So I’m not saying that Kobe is better than Michael – that’s not my point, but when you watch Tuesday night’s game, he shoots 62% on one foot, when he’s getting double teamed on every touch….he’s absolutely remarkable.
Yet we are so willing to give Lebron the best player of the decade award – Lebron is not as clutch as Kobe, give me a break!!! Offensively, I don’t care what the numbers are. Kobe is a significantly more artistic player than Lebron James. We want to give it to Derrick Rose; Derrick Rose folks won his FIRST PLAYOFF SERIES Tuesday night!!!! Kobe’s got 31!!! You know, before we anoint everyone else with greatness, Kobe is absolutely remarkable and Tuesday night I got burned – I’m watching it and I’m like Kobe’s ankle is no good, he throws down a right handed jam in the lane, this is a guy that’s got – heck, how many games does his legs have? Could Michael Jordan have thrown that dunk in his last year in the league? I mean, go to Michael’s last 2 years, he wasn’t throwing down stuff like that! Then Kobe comes down a quarter later and throws a left hander down the lane.
The kid is just – and he’s had 4 knee surgeries, his ankles have been ripped, he’s played in the West where the worst team is Memphis (who look bound to knock off the Spurs), he’s had 2 major finger surgeries. Listen, we all acknowledge that MJ is the dude, but I think if you’re brutally honest and your talking skill, we are looking at Van Gough, we are looking at Mattise, this is one of the great artists, in my opinion, the 2nd greatest artist in the history of this game!