(AP Photo/Kevork Djansezian)
Will the Spurs recover or are they done on this level?
How fitting that NBA games on TNT are often interrupted by commercials for the show “The Closer.” The protagonist here isn’t a fierce female attorney though, it’s a dominant alpha male basketball player. These playoffs are cases and he just closed another one brilliantly. Let’s call Kobe Bryant the Thurgood Marshall of the NBA.
Kobe Bryant is climbing the ladder of seasonal success rung by rung and doing it with surprising ease. He’s picking his spots, dominating in spurts and coming through in the clutch. Each win, each accomplishment, each goal met moves him closer to the goal he most ardently desires: A title.
Looking back maybe the Lakers struggles of the last few seasons prepared him for this. Maybe it was his law school. Perhaps Kobe had it too easy to begin his career. All the sunshine in California might have softened him. Perhaps he wouldn’t have been prepared for this moment without first having to experience struggle.
Losing in the Finals to Detroit. The losing seasons. The playoff collapses. In a way those trials endeared us to him.
Some questioned his methods, but we couldn’t question his desire. Being the best involves overcoming various ordeals and still finding the will to win. Well my friends that’s what Bryant is doing and we’re all watching it unfold.
Consider Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals in Los Angeles.
Much similar to Game 1, LA was down big early, 17 points at one time in the first half, and looked as if they were content to concede a win to the Spurs and try again for a victory in the next game.
What’s incredible about Bryant though is that every game, every series, he’s involved in becomes about him. He is a magnetic force capable of pulling loose parts together and enabling them to function as a whole.
The 2nd half proved that theory. As the focal point of an impeccable offensive machine Bryant shot, passed and rebounded his team back into the game.
LA took the lead at 70 – 68 at 9:34 in the 4th and would not relinquish it. By scoring 17 of his 39 points in the 4th quarter Bryant provided compelling rebutalls to each and every San Antonio argument.
The NBA Finals is the premier stage in pro basketball. Let’s say this is the Supreme Court. The Boston Celtics or the Detroit Pistons will present an incredible case why they should be champions this year; both in theory and on the court.
Thing is, with Kobe in the role of “The Closer”, their litigation might not be sufficient.