Saturday, June 16, 2007

OK, Everybody Look At Kobe Now...

I suppose my lifelong allegiance to the Lakers forces me to comment on the inanity that is taking place in La-La Land, despite the fact that just writing this gives that egomaniacal self-dubbed "Black Mamba" exactly what he wants: more attention. Still, I feel honor-bound to put my two cents in, especially since I've been exceedingly lazy with the blog lately.

As much as it pains me to agree with the man on anything right now, I will grant that Kobe does have two good points:

1. This ship has been positively rudderless since Jerry West traded Hollywood for Graceland.
2. The above has caused 3 years of the prime of one of the top 20 players ever to be utterly wasted.

Of course, the obvious retort to any of Kobe's complaints about the team is that he set its demise as a championship caliber squad in motion with his childish feud with Shaq. As someone who grew up watching Magic become the team leader while Kareem willingly turned into a role player, I would have hoped to see something similar with those two. And of course, the obvious reason it did not happen is that while Magic took every opportunity to respect "the Big Fella," Kobe worships only at the Altar of Kobe. We have all the evidence we need that Shaq would have played the circa 1987 Kareem role had Kobe been the type of guy that, for instance, Sir Charles keeps on speed dial. However, #8/24/whatever number might best serve his "legacy" next year decided that he wanted to be The Next Michael Jordan and win a championship as the unquestioned lead guy. And now that his cap-crippling contract is preventing the team from getting more than 3-4 players that could be in the rotation for an upper-echelon team, he wants to leave? Michael Jordan may have also abandoned his team while in his prime, but only because David Stern ordered him to let the gambling allegations die down (or to chase a lifelong dream, if you believe the official story). I don't see Stern anywhere ordering Bryant to avoid cleaning up the mess he created.

You know, I didn't anticipate going here, but isn't it kind of funny how all of the Next Michael Jordans, while certainly talented, are looking like disappointments right now? Kobe was the first in the wave, but his leadership skills are clearly nonexistent. Vince Carter is the only current NBA star whose penchant for quitting on his team rivals Kobe's (I can't wait to see what he does if the Nets, say, ever do trade Kidd). T-Mac can't get out of the first round of the playoffs. The jury's still out on the "Global Icon," but he didn't offer up much to recommend himself during his first Finals appearance. Thinking about all the Jordan wannabes out there (and by the way, we're now 9 years removed from his last memorable season, for those scoring at home) makes me think wistfully about one of my favorite Steve Prefontaine quotes. Shortly after getting to Oregon, Pre said of then mile record-holder Jim Ryun, "Forget Ryun; he's done. I want to be the first Steve Prefontaine." Whoever decides to take that mentality is going to be the dominant player of this generation. At the moment, your leader in the clubhouse is the previously referenced Dwayne Wade, although if he really wants to do something impressive, he could try winning a championship where he doesn't get foul shots for being breathed upon.

Oh shoot, I didn't talk about Kobe for most of the last paragraph. There, there, Kobe, we haven't forgotten about you; don't cry...


Blogger Amanda said...

I'd write a real comment, but I'm still suffering from watching eleventy billion references to Cleveland's 43-year title drought and having nightmares of Tony Parker slashing through the lane at will.

1:46 PM  
Blogger Lock Ness Monster said...

I don't blame you. Frankly, I wish someone would have flattened Parker once or twice to see how he handled that. If nothing else, we'd have found out if Ginobili's been giving him any flopping lessons.

8:16 PM  

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