Insights & Art

Straight from the dome to the plate.

Tag: Los Angeles Lakers

The Royalty of King James.

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Goodnight, sweet prince.

The rankings on my top 10 greatest basketball players of all time are as dear to me as water, sun and food. I constantly revise the list and after a few beers I can even name the players backwards. Every player wants to retire from the game, knowing they are widely regarded as a legend, knowing their style and flash inspired a generation of fans, knowing their name will be fondly remembered when a fresh crop of basketball players have replaced them. Truly every basketball player tries to fight for the audience’s memories and loyalty, knowing that time will eventually fade away their greatness. My top 50 greatest player rankings and in particular my top 10 ranking stands as a testament to the basketball players that have forever cemented themselves into basketball lore, their combination of talent, skill and style has forever changed the game of basketball and evaluated it to a higher place. I woke up yesterday, watched some basketball clips, watched a pissed off Chris Paul torch the Washington Wizards whilst throwing up the filthy stat line of 38 points, 12 assists, 3 steals, 3 rebounds on 11/14 shooting from the field. I also watched Joe Johnson single handedly become the human torch, he could of shitted out fire by the end of the game and not have surprised a single person, draining an ungodly 10 out of 14 three pointers and turning the 76’ers game into an NBA2K game.

I also watched LeBron James just put him stamp upon the Utah Jazz, like an artist gently controlling how their painting turns out, LeBron James also was in total control of the game. He was the perfect combination of Magic Johnson, Larry Bird and Scottie Pippen, consistently collapsing the defence and kicking it out to Chalmers, Allen or Lewis, grabbing rebounds and anchoring the defense so Bosh could save his energy for offense and turning into a bulldozer on the break. I’ve never ever seen anyone control the game like LeBron James, he probably influences the game more than Magic Johnson, because defensively as a perimeter defender, he’s second only to Jordan and Pippen. I’ve watch Jordan games religiously and even I don’t think MJ can match his level of complete and utter domination of how the game plays out. Jordan slowly allowed Pippen to play Point Guard, smartly relinquished his touches so he could primarily focus upon his greatness gift, getting buckets and allowing the offense to flow more smoothly. James is expected to be the primarily scorer, grab the most or second most amount of rebounds, be the primarily play maker, be the defensive anchor and be the ice cold assassin in the clutch. He’s unbelievable and I sincerely think every Miami Heat player should donate 20% of their salary to James, he’s the work horse that never flatters, never tires and survives on 2 litres of water a week. My Bulls may never win a ring because they’re playing in the King James era, I may never get to see Derrick Rose humiliate LeBron James in the post season (Unless he keeps playing till 45) but regardless it has been a privilege to watch James play, greatness transcends time and I have no doubt I will be telling my grand children about LeBron James 4 decades from now.

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(Full credits to Kirk Goldsberry)

As I began to tire from watching Youtube clip after Youtube clip of basketball I slowly slipped away to my NBA fantasy land, a place where Michael Jordan is always 28 years old and only wears red, a place where Larry Bird’s threes never miss and a mystical land where Olajuwon’s dream shakes works 100% of the time. I began to wonder… Why isn’t LeBron James in my top 10 greatest players of all time? Right now he’s scarface after a mountain of cocaine, he’s Bo Jackson after being injected with moose testosterone, he’s the best player in the world. Well LeBron’s biggest weakness would be longevity, James has “only” played 9 years in the league, compare that to O’Neal’s 19 years (Though you could definitely convince me to forget his last 2 or 3 years after a few shots of bleach), Jabbar’s mind boggling 20 years (Though he was a walking corpse after year 18) or Jordan’s 13 seasons (I’m a Bulls fan, I will never EVER acknowledge his Washington days, EVER.) Right now my top ten listing currently stands as … 1) Jordan, 2) Jabbar, 3) Russell, 4) Magic, 5) Bird, 6) Duncan, 7) O’Neal 8) Chamberlain, 9) Bryant, 10) Olajuwon (I will say number 7-9 is completely interchangeable and they are separated only by a hair’s width) Does LeBron James deserve to crack the top 10? Does his once in a generation mixture of skill, size, athletic dominance and talent make up for the fact he hasn’t even played 10 full seasons yet?

I say yes.

Let me just say if I jumped into a time machine and could select any basketball player from any year to start my franchise, my picks would be… 1) Jordan, 2) LeBron James, 3) Jabbar, 4) Johnson (You could definitely convince me to take Magic over Kareem, there’s still O’Neal, David Robinsons, Moses Malone, Olajuwon etcetera, the next best Point Guard is Oscar Robertson… A bigger drop off), 5) Bird, 6) O’Neal, 7) Olajuwon, 8) Duncan, 9) Chamberlain, 10) Bryant. I still wouldn’t pick the King over Michael, he’s the one player that stills intimidates every one in the room just due to his sheer presence. He’s the ultimate competitor and if he wasn’t a basketball player he’d be in jail for being an over competitive psychopath. He’s the one player that cheats in a game of cards against the parents of his college team mates because winning is everything, winning defines him and to be honest it’s an unhealthy obsession. He’s the one player that will dedicate his entire life to destroy my team if he found out I picked him second. But from an athletic position, LeBron James sits up there with the Air Jordans, the Shaquillie O’Neals and Wilt the Stilt. A long with Magic LeBron James is the ultimate glue player, he comfortably plays the 1 to the 4 and can guard centres for brief periods of time. I have no doubt LeBron James can easily play until he’s 35, even in these last 9 years he has evolved his game in multiple ways constantly redefining himself. For the first few years it was clear LeBron wanted to emulate Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant, he for some strange reason viewed the post with disdain opting to dominate the ball and thus kill ball movement and willing choosing to play hero ball more often than not.

Image (Credits to Kirk Goldsberry)

Having to share the ball with another ball dominant alpha dog (Dwyane Wade) and a completely over qualified third wheel (Chris Bosh), LeBron James in Miami, focused less upon quantity and more on quality and efficiency now that the team’s burden wasn’t completely placed upon his shoulders. In 2011 he took less threes, played less hero ball, though all three stars were still unable to adjust thus resulting in a lot of standing around and isolation plays. It wasn’t until his world wide humiliation at the hands of the Dallas Mavericks that LeBron James finally noticed “Hey! I’m a 6’8 monster with a 44 inch vertical, I’m built like a Russian tank and 95% of times my opponents will never be able to contain me, Maybe I should work in the post!” BOOM, there in 2013 LeBron James has unleashed the most complete inside outside game since 1996 Jordan. Blessed with unparalleled basketball IQ, even in 2020 LeBron James can still be a dominant force in the NBA, following this trend of embracing the post, spreading the ball and only taking over in the final minutes. Does this overshadow the fact LeBron James has only played 9 full regular seasons? Absolutely. You can throw any team mates around 2012/2013 James and I’m guaranteeing you at least one championship, how many other players have that ability in the modern era of basketball? Jordan, Magic, Bird, Duncan, O’Neal, Olajuwon and maybe Chamberlain, maybe Bryant… There are 7 or 8 players maximum in the whole history of basketball.

We’ll look back at LeBron James, the same way my grand father looks back at Russell, the same way my uncles remember Doctor J, the same way children in the 70s looked at Bird and children in my generation remember Kobe Bryant. He has defined the league ever since Kobe Bryant became slipping in 2011 as a player. Now more than ever this is officially LeBron Jame’s league. The best thing? James has a nemesis; Kevin Durant and the upcoming Paul George. Jordan always lacked a rival, someone who could inspire him to greater heights, someone who would force him into the corner a few times leading him to respond with greatness. There was talk of Clyde Drexler being Jordan’s equal in 1991 as him came second in MVP voting. A bitter and pissed off Jordan went out to smoke the Blazers with 6 three pointers in the the first half (NBA record for the finals) and dropped 35 points in the first half also an NBA record for the finals, that discussion was never mentioned again. Jordan retired two years later, bored of basketball, he had conquered the world, he had broken multiple records and was one of the most famous people in the world, there was no leaf left unturned. (I would give both my limbs to the basketball gods if they allowed Bryant to be born in 1960 and thus eligible for the 1984 draft.)

My opinion? King James becomes the third greatest player of all time. He’s already had a better career than Olajuwon and in terms of hardware, LeBron James is already in front. Bryant’s peak at 2006 was wasted on a rebuilding Laker team, but regardless he never reached the same mastery that LeBron James displays, the same mastery that allows him to influence EVERY action on the court from an offensive and defensive stance. Chamberlain and O’Neal never had that killer instinct LeBron James is now equipped you won’t want either player in at the final 5 minutes of a tight playoff game, would you really rank them over James? Bird and Magic don’t deserve to be in the same breathe as LeBron James defensively, 50% of the time LeBron James is already better. Russell would struggle in today’s NBA, a 6’9-6’10 centre that shoots as well as Kwame Brown, lacked any real post moves and relied mostly upon the fast break or put backs for points. (Did I mention he’s built like Durant?) Kareem Abdul Jabbar is LeBron’s first real barrier, this man played for 20 years and won finals MVP 14 years apart… Will I be surprised if James edges him out at the end of his career? Not entirely. But will it be hard? Dam straight. Then and only then does LeBron James deserve to be mentioned in the same sentence as Jordan, but I feel like in 2020 after one decade of complete dominance under his belt, it’s going to a much closer conversation.

LeBron James.
2 Rings.
4 MVPs.
2 Finals MVPs.
9 All Star Games.
NBA Rookie of the Year 2004.
Scoring Champion 2008.
7 Time All-NBA First Team.
2 Time All-NBA Second Team.
Playoff averages of 28.1 points, 8.6 rebounds, 6.7 assist, 47.2%.

– Chingy out.

14 Questions for 2014, Part Two.

There’s a common misconception that God almighty took a  rest on the seventh day of creation, that’s false, instead he sat down and wrote 14 QUESTIONS FOR 2014 PART TWO. Get some while it’s hot!

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“Is Dwight Howard’s legacy tainted forever because he’s a bitch.”
Dear Lord, I almost sound like a bitter Laker fan, I’m going to take one of those long depressive baths you saw in the Hurt Locker and cleanse myself from the Laker infection. Let’s get some facts straight, from 2009-2011, (2009) in particular, Dwight Howard was an absolute beast on defense, his worth and value were much more than just numbers, he made every player scared to attack the paint, he made them hesitate because a 6’10 locomotive was waiting in the lane. Give me 2009 Dwight Howard’s defense along with 10 points over 18 points and 2013 Howard any day. Give him another 3/4 uninjured years and he would of solidified himself as one of the greatest defenders of all time. Shame shame shame. Then two things happened, Dwight Howard decided to star in his very own reality television show!!! (Sorry, couldn’t help myself) and Dwight Howard hurt his back injuring a herniated disk in his spine.

He’s never been the same.

I had Howard ranked 15 in 2013’s top 30 list and as the second best center after Marc Gasol, does he really deserve to be around the 15 position? Not really the Lakers failed miserably in the playoffs and his goofy, fun loving attitude wasn’t exactly productive to team chemistry especially since Kobe is trying to equal Jordan in rings. My biggest surprised was the fact Kobe didn’t start an all out brawl at the Staples after Howard goes 4/14 from the free throw line for the third time in consecutive nights.

So how does D12 blend in with Houston Rockets, firstly I don’t think Howard is built for the big cities, he just doesn’t give the impression that he lives or dies for basketball the way a DRose, KB24 or even a Carmelo Anthony gives off. That 3/15 from the free throw line with that big smile even after a 30 point spanking just doesn’t fly in Los Angeles. Unacceptable. Now he’s teaming up with James Harden, a HUGE step down from Kobe Bryant in terms of competitive fire also Harden isn’t as alpha as Kobe so they should gel decently well, better than Howard and Kobe bonded anyway. The quick pace the Rockets love to play is also going to highlight Howard’s strength and downplay his weakness. Firstly no center can keep up with Dwight Howard, his physical gifts should really shine in Kevin McHale’s system. Secondly Dwight Howard still has yet to get more than two post moves (Running hook with both hands and shifting to a face up position and blitzing past the defenders.) in such a guard dominant system, Howard wouldn’t have to occupy the post as much, he just needs to grab rebounds, defend and score easy buckets. Shouldn’t be too hard right? After all he led a mediocre Orlando Magic team to the finals based on the same philosophy.

So is Howard’s legacy tainted forever? No, not really, he still has a chance to be one of the greatest defenders of all time with 7 All Star appearances and 3 DPOY awards. Will he surpass David Robinson and Patrick Ewing in the second or third tier of great big men? Probably not. His legacy has been dented but not broken.

“Should we the most attractive cheerleader in every NBA organisation perform a one minute solo during the half time break and then the world can answer the critically important question of which team has the hottest cheerleader bro? Dude are they wearing underwear or shorts? Allowing male audiences to systemically rank each organisation not on wins but on boobs.”
MAKE THIS HAPPEN DAVID STERN 2.0 (Adam Silver)

“Will the New York Knicks be better than the Brooklyn Nets?”
One important aspect of basketball that the 2013 Lakers highlighted, you just can’t throw a bunch of big names together and expect them to gel you have to factor their age (Steve Nash, I’m looking at you) and their personality (Dwight Howard) and you need a coach that knows what a post move is. (D’Antino) On paper Nets have a better team, the starting five of Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Brook Lopez looks ferocious on paper, it includes 3 players which are in my top 30 and 2 other players in my top 50 players for the 2013 season. Throw in Jason Terry (Sparkplug), Reggie Evans (Homeless version of LeBron James with better rebounding skills) and Kirilenko and that’s some serious fire power. Jason Kidd remains to be a mystery but he was one of the five smartest players of the 2000s along with Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, Chris Paul and Tyrus Thomas in an alternate reality. There’s no way he becomes a horrible coach? Right? Maybe especially with a lot of talent around him…. But then again my mind flashes with Bill Russell (Coached a poor team to a poor record), Willis Reed (Meh) and Wes Unseld made everyone in Washington suicidal and don’t tell me Bill Russell wasn’t a basketball genius. Just don’t.

The Knicks have a forever injured Stoudamire, Andrea Bargnani whose excelled so much as the Three-Pointer-Shooter-No-Defense role I’m surprised Dirk Nowitzki hasn’t popped the question, Tyson Chandler who did not look like himself in the playoffs (Neither did KG but KG’s passion is infectious, how many times has Carmelo Anthony thought “Hey I should rebound because that’s what Chandler wants me to do?” Not many times) and the second best scorer in today’s game; Carmelo Anthony. I’ve always been a believer in a great scores will always win you one game in a playoff series’ll throw up 42 points (Think Harden against the Thunder) and only a few guys in the league can do this; Kobe, Carmelo, LeBron, Durant, Westbrook, Chris Paul, Curry, Harden and MAYBE Parker that’s it. Sorry Wade, Nowitzki and Paul Pierce.

So who’s going to be better? Probably Brooklyn… Am I going to discount the Laker’s crash and burn failure of 2013? Some what, Brooklyn just has so much talent on paper, their disgraceful collapse at the hand of a Bull team without Rose, Deng and an injured Noah whilst allowing Nate Robinson to look like a midget version of Durant was unacceptable. But that should probably be fixed with Garnett’s addition to the team, he’ll install a competitive fire under Deron William and Lopez’s ass because he’s a maniac, a psycho that lives and breathes basketball and then eats little children after games. Speaking of which can we get Kevin Garnett to play in international beach volley after he retires, the image of a 7 foot Zulu tribe leader playing on white sand is too funny.

14 Questions for 2014.

It’s the first installment of Chingy’s 14Qs to start off the 2014 season where we ask the real questions, so gather your little children around the campfire, roast your mash mellows and proceed to share all your hair in ecstatic delight this is 14 Questions for 2014!

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“Will Miami Heat 3-peat?”
Yes. I hate this and I’m probably going to be become an alcoholic in 2014. The Miami Heat are still the best team in the east despite the addition of Derrick Rose back to the Bulls (HELL YEAH!), despite the Nets acquiring Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett and despite Indianna Pacers trying to desperately rip off a Bad Boys impersonation. The Heat have the biggest advantage in the whole league right now, LeBron James, who is experiencing his greatest stretch of basketball since Michael Jordan’s peak years of 1988-1993. There are two reasons and only two I have to doubt the Heat.

1. Dwyane Wade’s knees which have a ridiculously large amount of mileage and he can no longer consistently  perform like he did in 2009 where he was just an athletic freak of nature that was guardable on the fast break, and an unguardable slasher, someone who could will himself to get 10 free throws a game just by charging into the paint recklessly. Apart from losing the Zydrunas Ilgauskas award (Hardest name to spell in the NBA) to Nikoloz Tskitishvili of the Phoenix Suns, Wade has also lost a lot of the explosion in his knees. It seemed the sports world had a little bit of an orgasm after Wade produced one or two good games in the Eastern Conference Finals and one or two good games in the 2013 finals. Should we really be surprised that the fourth greatest shooting guard all of time is able to perform under pressure? Should we be surprised when 7 years ago he had one of the greatest finals performances of all time with O’Neal as his second in charge and the referees as his sixth man? (Sorry, too soon) A performance where he averaged 34.7 points, 7.8 rebounds (WHAT), 3.8 assists and had a crazy 33.8 PER? Probably not… Yet Wade’s game hasn’t evolved he has yet to get a consistent jumpshot and let’s not even start about his three point shooting. Wade also had a Gary Payton/Jason Kidd kind of post game he would switch too if he had little munchkins like Nate Robinson or Chris Paul guarding him, he definitely didn’t have that in the finals.

2. Mental fatigue. It’s my biggest issue, Wade’s a warrior he’ll come back he may no longer be the high flying death machine he was from 2006-2011 but he’s still a good player. Mental fatigue is the biggest killer on this team, it’s hard to still motivated after so much basketball, after the world criticises every action and word you say, after you go to 3 finals in a row and LeBron James played at the 2012 Olympics, that’s seriously a lot of ball. Will Norris Cole and Haslem be able to stay motivated? Especially since they’re already wearing two rings? Will LeBron James be able to consistently enter Boston game 6 where he ripped out the throats of his defenders? Do the Heat still care enough after winning 27 in a row and cementing themselves in the history books? Hmm…

“Which team is most likely going to have an all out brawl in practice.”
See I’m telling you, I’m asking the questions that really matter! Well I’m definitely going to throw the Sacramento Kings in at one number, they’ve been an absolute disgrace as a basketball team, why did I still have to ask the following questions in 2013, how come Tyreke Evans IS STILL shooting anything from 20 feet and beyond, why is Boogie still death stares the referees without running back to play defence, why does Michael Malone (coach) look like he wants to kill himself on most days. Legitimately any team that features Boogie, Isiash Thomas or Travis Outlaw deserves to make it to Chingys-All-NBA-Brawl-Team of 2014.

I have the Clippers finishing at second, there’s already beef between Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan (Runner up for most ghetto first name with Marshon Brooks coming first) and it’s documented. Griffin dislikes how much sway Paul has, he dislikes he isn’t relied upon more to close and he dislikes how everyone thinks he’s a bitch around the league. Paul doesn’t trust Griffin to close, he doesn’t like it how Griffin and Jordan seem like they love dunking more than winning and Jordan is pissed off for some reason. Can’t you totally see CP3 flipping out at Jordan after he rubs him on the head like Pau Gasol? I can, sign me up for the Clippers-WWE-Match! Make it happen David Stern/ Adam Silver!

“Will the LeBron James win MVP”
Yes. LeBron James is a monster right now and he knows it, you know the scene in Terminator 2 where Arnold Schwarzenegger enters the bar, destroys everyone, steals the biker’s clothes, impresses every female with his long penis and rock the sunglasses like an absolute boss with Bad to the Bone playing in the background? That’s LeBron James, he’s Scarface after a mountain of Cocaine, he’s Michael Jackson after Thriller, he’s king of the world right now. Who else in HISTORY can defend the 1,2,3,4 and 5 like James? Pippen? Not strong or athletic enough (Read that statement again, Pippen not athletic enough? Dear Lord is James a cyborg?), Magic Johnson? He isn’t close to the on ball defender that James is…. Who else? No one. LeBron James is the first person in history to create the Power-Guard-Defend-Every-Player position. He’s the second greatest passing Small Forward behind Larry Legend, his on ball defence deserves mention in the league with Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and Michael Cooper. Athletically he’s up there with Chamberlain, MJ23 and prime O’Neal, he’s a gust of wind and we’re the leaves. He’s the best player in the world and only Jordan from 1991-1993, O’Neal (2000-2002), Larry Bird (1985-1987) and Hakeem Olajuwon (1993-1995) have submitted a matching three year crescendo of basketball dominance. Wilt’s statistics meant every little in the playoffs as he’s performance dipped and he often shrunk underneath the pressure, Elgin Baylor’s and Oscar Robertson’s greatness likewise produced nothing when it came to rings, Kobe Bryant’s 2006-2008 stretch had one finals appearance. Fun fact, if I had the second pick in the Greatest Basketball Draft of all time, I would pick LeBron James (2013) second. Who else can be your point guard, your defensive anchor, your lock down perimeter defender, can guard every position, can destroy you on fastbreaks and overpower you in the post and to top it off be athletically invincible? No one, that’s who. I respect greatness when I see it and LeBron James is great.

Chingy out.

PART ONE OF 14 QUESTIONS.

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My love-hate relationship with Kobe Bryant.

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Kobe Bryant is the most polarising basketball player of all time no other player has some many fans or haters, no other player is considered the second greatest player of all time whilst left out on half the population’s top five. Behind him stands two battle hardened legions, the Kobetards, who defend Kobe like he was their mother or the Kobe haters who attack him as if he was responsible for world hunger. My perception of Bryant has really evolved and changed through out the last year in particular, it was a journey from being a bias, dismissive Bryant hater who saw number 24 as an embodiment everything wrong with basketball today, from being a shoot first, second and third player to being the golden child. But Kobe Bryant’s strength, resilience and hunger for the game has started to grow on me, his hunger for victory shines even more distinctly today in a league filled with huge egos, fame hungry players who view money as the most vital element of being a basketball player. Kobe Bryant is a great players whose strengths are also responsible for his flaws.

Being a Point Guard and someone with a natural pass first mentality and approach to the game of basketball and life in general, I found Bryant’s style of play very hard to swallow, Kobe is a scorer at heart. Apart from Bryant’s turn around fadeaway or his numerous game winners, Kobe’s most iconic play is the isolation followed with a few jab steps. I viewed his constant reliance upon his one on one skills as detrimental to the team chemistry, insert former players like Smush Parker, Shaquille O’Neal and Andrew Bynum. His signature isolations near the top of the key allowed defenses to recover, stops the momentum of the Lakers and when over used hurts the development of younger players. As someone who worships Larry Bird and John Stockton it was just impossible to stomach the amount of poor shots Bryant has taken in his career, sure no one in the league apart from Carmelo makes more difficult, off balance, out of control shots but he’s not young anymore, surely there is a better use of his energy? The most frustating thing about all this was Kobe could be a great passer, his basketball IQ is off the charts, his understanding of the game is what has allowed him to remain a top 5 player and scorer even at 34. Many defenders of Kobe point to his career average of 6 (Check) assist, but that’s not the point, to Kobe it seems getting his team mates involved is a secondary priority and it doesn’t seem like he has an issue with taking 8 dribbles before throwing up a heinous fadeaway. I rarely see Kobe screening for the ball handler and then working off the his penetration, or feeding the big man in the post and working off Gasol or Bynum’s dominance in the post. Bryant has always been a volume player, he never had Jordan’s accuracy as a scorer, someone who hit 50% of his shots on the field, the only reason Bryant is in the discussion with Jordan is because he’s played a few more years and taken a lot more shots, volume over consistent excellency. This is most obvious through the differences in their scoring mentality, Kobe relentlessly fires away attemptings to launch enough shots until he finally finds the spark and catches fire, Jordan however was able to work more within a designed offense and could still be aggressive without holding the ball, someone who could change games through defense alone.

The Mamba’s defence these past few seasons has been poor, his off ball defence in particular during the 2013 season was horrendous and lazy, it was clear he reserved most of him energy for scoring. This lack of defensive hustle from Kobe along with Dwight Howard’s injured shoulder and back clearly had a negative impact upon the defensive intensity of the purple and gold. Do I necessary blame Kobe for his defensive flaws? Not really? He’s 34, trying to pull a disorganised Lakers team under D’Antoni to the 8th seed, he’s going crazy on the offensive side scoring well into the high 20s with increased efficiency. Nor do I blame him for the slew of injuries that have crippled any signs of momentum building amongst the Lakers, however that doesn’t mean the media show give their golden child a pass, defence is 50% of the game. 50%. Another issue that has really divided me is Bryant’s leadership, I see him as a flame; a flame that burns brightly and can be the leading torch on any team towards a championship, however get too close or misjudge yourself and that flame is just as likely to burn an ally. Clearly Bryant is an alpha male, he quickly dismissed any notion on the 2013 Lakers being Howard’s team on and off the court with the air of a army general. Bryant’s constant obsession and drive to become the greatest player of all time combined with his inhuman work ethic installs respect and almost fear amongst his team mates. Would Pau Gasol of responded with a monster game 7 in the 2010 finals (19/18/4) if Kobe didn’t tell him to metaphorically put on his big boy pants in the post game conference? Probably not. Kobe’s personality blended well with Derick Fisher’s, which was Fish’s biggest contribution of the purple and gold, he was able to play good cop whilst Kobe played the ruthless field marshall that accepted nothing short of perfection, almost in a Michael sort of way.

Whilst Bryant’s attitude can be an inspirational flame, consequences such as breaking the most dominant team in the 2000s are by products of Kobe’s personality, often isolated, introverted and someone who early on didn’t aim to build connections with his team mates. That’s why even now we hear back handed comments from Smush Parker, Andrew Bynum and the freestyle of “Tell me how my ass taste” from the Big Aristotle. That’s also the biggest reason why I see Tim Duncan as the greatest player of his era, he’s one of the greatest most loved team mates to ever grace the court. Someone who will never rock the Spurs boat, who will never challenge the authority of the coach and a player that can successfully channel the energies of the team into one thing; victory. We’ve never heard of Duncan calling out a team mate, calling out the staff or requesting a trade. In fact the only signs Duncan gets frustrated is how his eyes bulge after the referee makes a poor call. Duncan plays the role of the loving big brother as well as anyone and has allowed the Spurs to remain relevant since the conception of the twin towers featuring Duncan and David Robinson. So whilst a team mates may gravitate towards Kobe for his firey passion, they may also shun away due to his obsessive, dominant and demanding personality. In fact a few years ago I had become so fed up with watching Bryant I ranked him 13th or 14th behind Karl Malone on my greatest of all time ladder. (It has enjoyed massive renovations since then.)

But that’s really where my beef with Kobe Bryant ends and I have grown to appreciate and respect one of the greatest of all time. Kobe Bryant rightfully so is a top 10 player, he’s the second greatest Shooting Guard behind Jordan,(Yes he’s better than Jerry West.), he stands as one of the most creative scorers of all time, with even more scoring options and moves than Michael himself. He has a menu of ball fakes, clockwise and anti-clockwise spins, fadeaways, hop steps and jab steps which he can constantly reach into to string together the most ridiculous combinations for better or worse. When Bryant catches fire there is literally no way to prevent the ball ending in his hands or the barrage of money fadeaways and penetrations that follows. He has also entered the pantheon of “Don’t-Talk-Trash-To-Them-Or-He’ll-Murder-You” along with Jordan, Bird, O’Neal, Olajuwon and Iverson. Likewise Bryant has also entered the greatest all around players a
group of players that can affect the game in every way on the highest level, including LeBron James with Oscar Robertson as the captain and co captain, with Bird, Jordan, Elgin Baylor, Kobe, the Logo and some Magic Johnson (He couldn’t shoot.) In some ways Bryant is this generation’s Pearl Monroe or Pistol Pete, someone with an unlimited and dazzling offensive arsenal and a natural knack at drawing a foul or creating space. Not to mention Bryant is fearless in the closing moments of the game and I genuinely mean that, Kobe’s hand does not shake in the final possession of the game, instead he relishes in his ability to put the final stamp upon the game (He had basically four game winners in the win against the Raptors this year) For better or worse, this has led to Kobe having the second most game winners in NBA history despite his mediocre field goal percentage (Volume, volume, volume.) Also Kobe HAS to take the last shot, he won’t accept anything else. So even if Metta World Peace has a wide open jumper or Gasol has a hopeless victim defending him around the post, expect the Black Mamba to throw up a 20 footer. Bryant’s shoot first mentality really solidified during the 2005-2007 stretch when he was saddled with game changing allies such as Kwame Brown, a young Bynum, Chris Mihm and featured the deadly pick and roll of Luke Walton and Smush Parker. And even if Kobe has a much better approach to the game now, someone who is more willing to share the ball and rely upon the strengths of his team mates, but I can still see the moments when he’s unhappy about the ball game and something clicks turning KB24 into a one man army.

Where does Kobe Bryant stand on my greatest players of all time? He’s not better than Michael Jordan who has basically every advantage over Kobe excluding the three point jumpshot, but that’s more a difference in context than Jordan’s flaw. Today’s league stresses the importance of three pointers more and more to stretch the floor against improved and more sophisticated defences. Defensively it’s not close, Jordan was the Bill Russell of Shooting Guards, whose athletic ability allowed him to shut down constantly opponents from the 1,2 and 3. Here’s a few more numbers to buffer my argument, 5 MVP (Should of won the 1993 and 1997) against Bryant’s single MVP award in 2008. (Chris Paul should of won that year and Bryant should of won in 2006), Jordan averaged 31.5 points, 6.3 rebounds, 5.4 assist shooting 50.5% from the field, Kobe for a career averaged 27.8 points, 5.7 rebounds, 5.2 assist and 45.5% (I’ll ignore his first three years because he was too young and his statistics were not that great.) So basically Jordan still retains his position of greatest in my opinion. Is he better than Kareem Abdul Jabbar? I don’t think so, Kareem was a rock defensively and offensively, someone who could successfully anchor a team’s defence and the scorer of the most points in NBA history. Throw in his longevity, his ability to create his shot at ANY time because of that magnificent skyhook and it’s hard to argue for Bryant, maybe the fact Kobe is more clutch? Meh, not strong enough. Nor is Bryant better than Bill Russell (3) or Magic Johnson (4), two individuals who forever transformed the game of basketball. Russell throw being the first revolutionary defender, the first big man who put fear into the hearts of scorers and the anchor of the first great basketball first break featuring Cousy, Heinsohn, Sanders and Sam Jones and winner of ELEVEN rings within a thirteen year time span.

Magic and Larry were able to break through the belief that MVPs could only be awarded to big men, (Chamberlain, Russell, Wes Unseld, Jabbar) pionering an era where players like Derrick Rose, Iverson and Michael Jordan could win MVP. Their tremendous passing abilities injected new life into a sport which was plagued by image problems, (Coacine and more coacine.) However defensively Bryant was clearly superior, he also has the longeivity element on the previous two players. Now it’s getting closer and closer, I have Duncan at 6 who in my opinion is the greatest player of his generation, for reasons explained before. O’Neal is thrown in at 7 for being absolutely unstoppable in his prime, Jordan, Pippen or LeBron James could of defended a 2006 Kobe, but not even 1967 prime Chamberlain could of stopped 7’2, 315 pound monster from unleashing the “black tornado.” At eight falls Wilt the Stilt, for being the second most unstoppable force unleashed but he gets marks deducted for being a horrible team mate until hepaired with West, for being the main reason he played for 9 coaches in 14 years (Dwight Howard anyone?) for prioritising statistics over victories (The SELFISH season when he turned into Bob Cousy, maintaining the never foul out rule which costed his teams many games.) So why would Chamberlain rank at 8 despite his obvious flaws? His individual dominance was unparallel, even Bill Russell couldn’t defend him in a one on one matchup, he dropped a 50-28 season which ranks in the top 5 most dominanting events ever in NBA history along with O’Neal averaging around 40 points against the Pacers in the finals and Kareem Abdul Jabbar going for 38-17 in the 1977 postseason. Chamberlain gets extra points for creating the mold of a physical overpowering centre which O’Neal so blatantly ripped off he should be paying royalties (He even stole hisfreethrow numbers.) a mold which Dwight Howard and Andrew Bynum are trying to implement all these years later. Kobe Bryant had a lot of people to shape his game after (A lot of Jordan, some Drexler and a touch of Pistol.) thus he loses points in the “originality” category. So there Kobe Bryant sits at number 9, though he’s a few seasons or events away from swinging infront of Tim Duncan, the gap between them is shrinking and shrinking as Bryant still manages to exlude father time for now…

I guess that’s what I will remember Kobe Bryant for when he finally hangs up his sneakers and decides to play in an Italian league routinely draining 6 threes, taking every game over after once the fourth quarter starts and giving scared shitless Italian players the “Mamba Face.” Kobe was a shooting guard that gave everything to the game, a man who like his idol could not, would not settle on anything other than victory and perfection. A player who could of been a fantastic passer but instead settled for the more appealing and glamorising role of a scorer, A team leader that could inspire with his irrational confidence and his work ethic yet destroy team chemistry in a swoop with one misplaced comment. An individual that trusted in his own supreme abilities and would do anything to secure a win from shooting 30 times in one game to being the Lakers’ playmaker for three quarters, yet in doing some wouldn’t understand that he had isolated other some
players who became frustrated when Kobe wasn’t “on.” Yet despite all this criticism, hatred, love, passion and milage, everyone knows Bryant will go out there every night as long as his heart still beats and he will give everything to the sport. It’s funny that the Archilles tear happened to Kobe Bryant so late in his career, but I feel like if any players can recover from that at age 34 their last names would have to end it either Jordan or Bryant. As a 35 year old veteran, Kobe Bryant’s resume speaks for itself and the scary thing is…. It’s still continuing to grow.

1 X MVP (2008)
5 X Championship Ring (2000, 2001, 2002, 2009, 2010)
2 X NBA Finals MVP (2009, 2010)
15 X NBA All Star (1998, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013)
4 X NBA All Star MVP (2002, 2007, 2009, 2011)
2 X Scoring Champion (2006, 2007)
15 Season Averaging 19.9 or over
1459 Games (Regular and Playoffs)
11 X All NBA First Team (2002, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013)
2 X All NBA Second Team (2000, 2001)
2 X All NBA Third Team (1995, 2005)
25.5 Points, 5.3 Rebounds, 4.8 Assist, 45.4% Field Goal, 33.6% Three Point Percentage
9 X NBA Defensive First Team (2000, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011)
3 X NBA Defensive Second Team (2001, 2002, 2012)
NBA All Rookie Second Team (1997)
NBA Slam Dunk Contest Winner (1997)
Los Angeles Lakers All Time Leading Scorer
28 Game Winners
Being the face of the Lakers from 2005 to 2013