The Lakers Are 2008-2009 NBA Champions: Kobe Bryant, A Distinction In Commitment

Barry Bonds’ timing mechanism. Reggie Jackson’s swagger. Tiger Woods’ precision. Michael Jordan’s desire. Tim Duncan’s consistency. Derek Jeter’s professionalism.

After last night, now we can add Kobe Bryant’s level of commitment.

Kobe Bryant is without question the best player we have in the game today and proved it the way it should have been done…he earned it.

He hates losing. He hates losing so much people hate him greatly for his will to win.

Don’t doubt him because he will competitively kill you.

Just ask the world after he hit big shot after big shot during the Olympics. Do you remember? You should.

There is a distinction in professional commitment between who wants to be good and and who wants to be great.

Damn right he’s great, but it hasn’t always been this way despite his prodigal roots.

Three air balls in Utah. Colorado and the adulterous aftermath. Phil Jackson’s book. Shaq’s indifference. USA basketball pressure. Diminished respect in light of new NBA talent. Haters out the ass.

How many of us would close up shop and say the hell with it? How many of us would still be married? How many of us would have totally snapped after all the scrutiny and just settled into a good but not great career?

Not Kobe. Every failure became an inspiration to become the best in whatever next moment there is.

Like Lamar said, “Champagne on my shirt.” Sums it all up huh?

Something I asked him before USA Basketball headed to Vegas:

Michael Tillery: Kobe in terms of your development as an NBA player…obviously you are going to be one of the legendary players who has played the game. Do you look at these moments as something you focus on just a little bit more to try and challenge what already is a superior talent?

Kobe Bryant: “The way I approach it is I just stay in the moment. I look at the here and now.”

Simple, but complicated answer grounded in 2008-2009 critical NBA mass.

The critical moment in my opinion was his inability to hit free throws late in the Magic’s lone Finals victory for whatever reason.

His Larry Bird moment.

After Kobe missed 5 of 10 free throws in a Magic Game 2 win, Kobe went 16-16 the rest of the way.


He did what he had to do. He didn’t make excuses. He stepped his game up by getting out early before Game 3 and shooting from the line until he knew he wouldn’t miss again and let his team down.

He never smiled. He scowled, frowned, pushed, smacked, banged and didn’t crack.

“It feels like a big ole’ monkey was off my back!” Kobe said with comedic validation while fielding questions in the post game presser.

He finally could smile. Yeah it was personal. He cares less what any of you think of him that is seen as negative. That specifically means the media. A media who has tried to bring him down any chance it collectively gets. You should have heard some of the questions posed to him this year.

How some of these people have jobs is beyond me, but that’s besides the point.

Yeah he was tired. What is to be expected after so much time with the soul rock?

Phil Jackson cut his minutes this season. He’s played 200 plus NBA games the last year…excluding the Olympics…and it was all for this moment.

Nothing would stop him.

It’s inspiring. Kobe inspires me though his commitment. I acclimate his desire for excellence and funnel it through my need to learn how to become the best writer I can be. Right now, I’m Dwight Howard just out of high school and I know I have to put in the time to advance immaterial “potential”. Nothing is given to you. Nothing. There is no easy way. If you were in fact given something early on, there is going to be a moment where your ability will be questioned and it’s up to you to summon whatever is inside of you to see it through. No whining, crying, making excuses or any of that.

Set the bar high and achieve it.

Kobe has set the NBA bar so incredibly high it’s gonna take something really special to surpass his weathered eyes and mind of determined fury.

Not getting along with his own Mom and Pop?


Committing adultery in front of the world?


Losing all his endorsements?


Haters calling him selfish for scoring 81(second all time) points in a win where he shoots 28-46? What?


Steve Nash winning two MVP awards?


Dirk Nowitzki winning the next year? Seriously?


Dwyane Wade winning Finals MVP with his former teammate Shaq in support?


Tim Duncan shutting up and playing until the final buzzer 4 seasons past?


Olympic hatred from our own people here in America?


Boston winning by 39 on their way to a championship he thought was his?


Tell me how my ass tastes?


LeBron James winning MVP a year after Bryant took the Lakers to the Finals and was the definitive favorite this season? Huh?


Ron Ron and the Rockets attempting to take the Lakers mental and physical will?


Denver trading for Chauncey Billups just to beat his squad?


Mizzo and everyone else calling the Lakers soft defensively?


He can’t win it without Shaquille?


Kobe has dealt with a lot of BS…self induced and otherwise…but has fought through the drama to become one of the most unique champions we’ve had since Mike.

Wade had Shaq.

He too has help. He wouldn’t have won the title without the contributions of all of his mates…Pau Gasol, LO, Trevor and Derek Fisher specifically…but his leadership and drive was the strike force on a team led by arguably the greatest NBA coach of all time.

It’s not that Phil Jackson is lucky. He’s won championships with Mike and Scottie (6), Shaq and Kobe (3) and now has one with Kobe, Gasol and Lamar.

Jackson is a perfectionist so he’s not one to deal with stretched out drama. If you remember or have read stories of Phil Jackson the player, you know he didn’t take any stuff from anyone. He expected nothing but the best and when you are coaching, you want to bypass everything that prohibits a player from properly focusing on winning the championship.

In Kobe Bryant, he has an athlete who encompasses everything great. Kobe leads by example. He’s a coach and has had to learn what leadership is all about. Emulating Michael Jordan, Kobe in his mind has dissected the game in ways one could only imagine.

James Beale of the City Paper here in Philly and I were trying to simplify what Kobe sees on the floor and James mentioned that it’s quite possible Kobe sees the floor as a grid.

Kobe may drive on an angle here or bank a shot there. Pass here or bomb a three there. Implement players into that grid and his thoughts become more streamlined to navigate the obstacles before him. It’s not that he diminishes NBA talent, he just knows what to do in a moment regardless of who is guarding him from studying film like no other.

Kobe is as close to Michael Jordan at this stage in his career as we will most likely see…well at least until LeBron gets his bearings and advances his learning curve.

Maybe you do in fact have to go through something. Life slows down the game. I tell my kids there is no such thing as athletic pressure.

Pressure is a fireman in a dark hot child screaming room or a construction worker working 100 stories high on two hours sleep. Pressure is not sports.

You have to become the moment and make it yours. Two seconds left on the clock, down one and walking to the line with 20,000 screaming fans moving frantically beyond the glass with hate in their eyes? You better want it. You better not shrink up. Let ’em hang and bang two with grown man courage.

Not many athletes see it that way. Maybe it’s the way they were raised. Maybe it’s entitlement but regardless of what the case may be, there are few players who want the entire universe on their back with it all on the line.

One of them is Kobe. The only other true champion in the NBA is Tim Duncan. Everyone else is questionable.

The crazy thing is, Kobe is still in his prime. Judge yourselves accordingly because he ain’t done yet. All that GOAT stuff is a bunch of BS but trust…he’s coming for you Mike.

How it all ends up is up to him.

Trevor Ariza, SF 41 5-12 2-5 3-6 1 4 5 1 2 0 3 3 +12 15
Pau Gasol, FC 42 6-9 0-0 2-4 4 11 15 3 0 4 1 2 +15 14
Andrew Bynum, C 17 3-11 0-0 0-1 4 1 5 0 1 0 1 5 -6 6
Kobe Bryant, SG 43 10-23 2-5 8-8 0 6 6 5 2 4 1 2 +14 30
Derek Fisher, PG 32 4-7 1-1 4-4 0 4 4 2 0 0 1 4 +16 13
Lamar Odom, PF 32 5-12 3-3 4-5 3 7 10 0 1 0 3 4 +16 17
Luke Walton, SF 14 1-2 0-1 0-0 1 1 2 1 0 0 0 0 +1 2
Jordan Farmar, PG 14 1-3 0-1 0-0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 -2 2
Sasha Vujacic, SG 5 0-1 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 -1 0
35-80 8-16 21-28 13 34 47 13 6 8 10 20 99
43.8% 50.0% 75.0% Team TO (pts off): 12 (16)
+/- denotes team’s net points while the player is on the court.
Hedo Turkoglu, SF 42 4-8 1-1 3-4 0 2 2 3 1 0 2 5 -11 12
Rashard Lewis, PF 45 6-19 3-12 3-5 1 9 10 4 1 0 2 3 -14 18
Dwight Howard, C 39 5-9 0-0 1-3 2 8 10 1 1 3 3 5 -14 11
Courtney Lee, SG 26 5-11 0-2 2-2 1 3 4 1 1 0 0 3 -6 12
Rafer Alston, PG 33 5-15 1-6 1-2 1 4 5 3 2 0 3 5 -16 12
Mickael Pietrus, SG 17 2-5 0-1 0-0 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 -13 4
Jameer Nelson, PG 13 2-7 1-3 0-0 0 2 2 4 0 0 1 0 +2 5
Tony Battie, C 3 0-1 0-0 0-0 1 1 2 1 0 0 0 1 +1 0
Marcin Gortat, C 9 2-4 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 +1 4
J.J. Redick, SG 13 3-3 2-2 0-0 0 0 0 3 0 0 1 1 +5 8
34-82 8-27 10-16 6 30 36 20 6 3 12 23 86
41.5% 29.6% 62.5% Team TO (pts off): 13 (17)
+/- denotes team’s net points while the player is on the court.

Flagrant Fouls: None
Technical Fouls: PLAYERS: 2 ORLANDO ( H Turkoglu 1 ) LALAKERS ( T Ariza 1 ) – TEAMS (def3sec): None – COACHES: None
Officials: Ken Mauer , Dan Crawford , Joe Derosa
Attendance: 17,461
Time of Game: 02:31

39 Responses to “The Lakers Are 2008-2009 NBA Champions: Kobe Bryant, A Distinction In Commitment”

  1. Temple3 says:

    Mizzo — That’s one of your best pieces. I really appreciated the run down on Kobe’s redemption. It’s been some walk.

    Thanks for this archival piece on a legendary player.

    Couple of thoughts:

    I realize Phil Jackson has coached teams to 10 championships. It’s hard to believe, but I get it. I don’t want to diminish his accomplishments, but I cannot help thinking that when he has won, he has had the BEST player in the league on his team AND had the BEST TWO PLAYERS in a Finals series. When Chicago won, MJ was clearly the best player in the league and Pippen was often the 2nd best player on the court – or a very, very close 3rd.

    In 1991, Scottie Pippen was allowed to hand check Magic Johnson beginning in Game 2. In Game 1, a Laker win, Magic took only 5 shots (yeah, 5) and had a triple double — 19, 11, 10. Pippen’s use of his arms to keep Magic out of the lane allowed the Bulls to gather themselves, keep their bigs on the floor and otherwise stymie the Lake Show. Perhaps it was the pre-Donaghy fix. Perhaps it was the “spectacular move.” In the Game 5 clincher, Scottie went for 32, 13 and 7 — and 5 steals. So, he was in full effect in that series on both ends. For me, that was a David Stern Gimme. This title lacks legitimacy from where I’m sitting — and I’m sure Phil and the Bulls could give a good $@@#~!! (LOL)

    In every series since then, when Jackson has won, his teams have had far more talent than the opposition. Portland’s only star was Drexler. The Suns only star was Charles Barkley. Seattle had Payton and Kemp but they were not equal to Jordan and Pippen. Utah had only one superstar in Malone. When Phil has lost, it has been against teams with equal or superior offensive talent and a commitment to defense. Detroit (’04) and Boston (’08) were loaded — and the Lakers were favored both times.

    Phil Jackson is probably a great coach, but we may never know if he’s the greatest of all time until he does the unexpected.
    Kobe deserves a lot of credit for being “that dude.” His example should also encourage us to limit our wanton use of the word superstar. The word simply doesn’t apply to that many folks. There is nothing wrong with being a “star.” And that means you Dirk, T-Mac, Chauncey, Carmelo, Dwight, Steve, etc. No shame in that at all.

    Trevor Ariza is Scottie Pippen Lite.

  2. michelle says:

    I said LA in five yall. GIMME SOME!!!

  3. kos says:

    michelle –
    You know you always get props here.

    I said LA in six. I was presently surprised by the Lakers. I think that Stan Van outcoached himself, though, which enabled the Lakers to have an easier time than they should have. From trying to play Nelson big minutes after a four month absence, to an inconsistent substitution pattern.

    The Lakers winning isn’t going to help Kobe’s rep to those that hate him just for being Kobe. The guy is just a better player than anyone else in the NBA right now, whether folks want to admit it or not.

  4. Mizzo says:

    Yes you did Michelle. Mad props.

    Temple3 I agree bruh but it’s not just about how he manages the floor. He demands a certain measure of excellence from the entire organization and that is what I think distinguishes him from others.

    Tex Winter is gigantic in Jackson’s legacy and yes, the sum of his parts along the way have offered him competitive comfort.

    Hedo Turkoglu will opt out of his contract and declare for free agency.

  5. Temple3 says:


    In the past 30 years, how often has the best, healthy team LOST in the NBA Finals?

    I would argue that it’s happened one time — maybe twice, if you want to argue that the Pistons should have beaten the Spurs in ’05 (and that series came down to the wire).

    In every other series, the best team has won or two relatively equal teams duked it out. There have been less than a handful of true upsets (talent, not expectations fed by advertisers and gamblers) in the NBA Finals in 30 years. Leaving all the hype aside, don’t the best teams usually win?

    So, the next question is, how is it that the Lakers and Celtics and Spurs became champions with teams punctuated by unlikely high level draft picks in close succession AND absolute STEALS in trades?

    LA – Magic, Worthy (drafted). Trade steals (Kobe from Charlotte; Gasol from Memphis).

    Boston – Bird, Pierce (drafted). Trade steals (McHale, Parish, Garnett, Allen). And so what you will about San Antonio and Detroit and these other teams, if Len Bias and Reggie Lewis didn’t die, the list of NBA champions over the past 20 years would look very, very different.

    There is a trend here. This particular association appears to be sustained by an implicit gentleman’s agreement that ensures that two franchises remain competitive and elite as polar “opposites” to ensure bi-coastal interest. Why else would teams keep giving elite players to the Lakers and Celtics for next to nothing?

    Perhaps the alignment of star power in Chicago under the auspices of Phil and Mike and company was a coordinated reaction by the association to minimize the impact of Bias’ death. The Knicks sure as hell didn’t go after top talent. Neither did the Nets, Sixers or anyone else except Detroit during those years.

    Phil could be all that — or maybe he’s just the Chosen One.

  6. Mizzo says:

    He is definitely the Chosen One with a Chicago young Philly star in his eye.

    The trend you mention is nothing to shake a stick at. I never liked Phil or Larry Brown for that matter because of their sense of entitlement others are kicked out of town for.

    Dude’s talent is sick. I don’t doubt many coaches would have duplicated his legacy but for the sake of the moment he deserves props.

    His teams are definitely head and shoulders above the league. I think you are diminishing just a tad how talented that Portland team was.

    For Webber’s interview I spoke to Shaq who said Portland’s team was the best he’s ever faced.

    It’s arguable if Sac was a more formidable team as well, but we all know how that went down.

    Why the Lakers were victorious remains to be seen.

  7. GrandNubian says:

    Great piece mizz….

    Congrats to the Lakers on taking the title and congrats to Kobe for getting that 350 lb “monkey” off of his back. 😉

    I have mixed feelings about Kobe’s performance in this series. Eventhough he had MVP numbers on the surface, I was left coming away from this series with the notion that he didn’t really put a “stamp” on the series. Aside from game one, his performance wasn’t what I expected to see from him. Maybe it was largely due to him being fatigued and perhaps he didn’t have the legs. Afterall, he did play w/ TeamUSA in the olympics last summer.

    Trevor Ariza and Pau Gasol showed up big time. Ariza could’ve won MVP of this series. He made the big plays when the Lakers needed it most. He’s turning into a very good all-around player, especially with his defense. Gasol, meanwhile, was outstanding on the glass. It seemed to me that he played inspired ‘ball to get that ‘soft’ label off his back. However, i’m not sure if he removed totally, if at all. But the bottomline is this….the Lakers don’t win without Ariza and Gasol.

    As for Phil Jax, I think T3 and I are on the same page. I think that Phil Jax was fortunate enough to be in the right place at the right time in Chicago. He took that opportunity and created more opportunities for himself in LA. I hesitate to say that he’s the greatest coach ever simply because on every team he’s coached, he’s either had arguably the best player or the two best players on the floor. I’d like to see him coach a team of non-superstars, like the Pistons team that beat him in the 2004 Finals.


    “In 1991, Scottie Pippen was allowed to hand check Magic Johnson beginning in Game 2.”

    Wasn’t hand-checking allowed during that time?

  8. Temple3 says:


    I’m not talking about the Portland team that Shaq faced with Rasheed and Pippen. I’m talking about the Portland team that MJ knocked off with Kevin Duckworth and Terry Porter and Cliff Rob and Wayne Cooper and Alaa Abdelnaby and Mark Bryant and Jerome Kersey and Buck Williams.

    The problem with that Portland team was that Arvydas was “35.” Steve Smith was 30; Greg Anthony was on the roster; and Detlef was 37. They had some serious skillz, but they were gray on the frontline except for ‘Sheed. Jermaine O’Neal was a 21 year old toddler in that series.

    That Sacramento team was very good too. Frankly, if Vlade does anything other than tip the ball directly to Robert Horry, they win.


    I believe you’re right about the rule. He used it to better effect than anyone else including Dennis Johnson who always defended Magic well.

    That was the absolute key to that series. It’s all water under the bridge now. Magic, with a little luck, could have won 8 rings — and that’s not factoring in the HIV announcement in 1991-1992(?)

  9. Dredded One says:

    Michele ALWAYS wants some! hehehe

    I have to go with T3 on the NBA conspiracy. Memphis got absolutely NOTHING in that trade for Gasol; The Wolves got nothing for Garnett (some draft picks, right?), and I coulda swore Ray Allen just packed his ish and left the Bucks.

    As exciting as the playoff series were this year (best in years to me), we still will probably not see Portland go very far with the most underrated player in the league, we won’t see much of the development of Kevin Durant because they won’t be able to get players or tv time; and it goes on. Celtics went from last place to 1st in one year. Yeah right.

    as for the Phil Jax, he’s more of a manager of men and that’s why he does so well. He knows when to step back and let his star run the show and when to reel the star in and get everyone else involved.

  10. Origin says:

    Temple I have to disagree with you on that 1991 finals. Its seems that there is a lot of revisionist history when it comes to that finals (not refering to you but more so the media and sports analyst).

    The most important part of that finals was when james worthy sprained his ankle on Kersey’s foot in the 1991 WCF (game 5). It was a bad high ankle sprain. Worthy was barely able to play games 6 (which the lakers won). They had no choice but to have worthy play. If the lakers lost they would have had to go to Portland in game 7.

    The bulls had swept the pistons in the ECF. ANd had sometime to rest. The lakers were never able to rest and had to begin the finals 2 or 3 days later. So Worthy was never able to rest that ankle.

    Worthy only lasted 3 games in the finals before shutting it down. But you could see by game 2 of the finals he was playing on fumes. Also Byron Scott hurt his shoulder in game 3 and didn’t play the rest of the finals.

    Now as far as Pippen on Magic. It wasn’t magic’s dribble penetration that bothered the bulls. It was him posting up Paxson in game one. The magic that we saw in 1991 was a different magic from the younger version. He and Worthy dominated the Trailbalzers in the WFC with Magic posting up Terry Porter and Worthy posting up Kersey.

    By putting Pippen on Magic in game 2 this took away the Lakers post up game. Realize that during this time Magic was the best post up player that the lakers had. Divac was a 2 year starter and they had no Kareem.

    Now Jordan guarded Worthy, Paxson guarded Scott, Horace on Perkins and Cartwright on Divac.

    If you remember game 1 the reason Perkins was able to hit that 3 pointer was because Magic was in the post and passed to Perkins for the game winning shot.

    After the game winning shot Jordan had a 18 footer that would have rimmed out. Shoot if I remember Perkins tried to call a TO after Jordan’s missed shot. Luckly the bulls fouled and a lakers player had to shoot free throws. The thing was that the lakers were out of TOs and the bulls should have gotten a technical free throw for Perkins trying to call a TO.

    All of that happened and Pippen threw up a long 3 from half court that hit the rim and almost went in. If it did the bulls would have won game 1.

    That game one Phil was out coached and did try to run or put a full court press (during this 3 peat the bulls were know to run more and full court press with Grant, Pippen and Jordan).

    After game 1 phil made some key adjustments

    1. have pippen pick up magic full court (in order to eat up shot clock and tire out the 32 year old Magic).

    2. Run a full court press to have someone other then Magic bring the ball up the court.

    3. Have pippen to test out Worthy’s ankle more on the offensive end.

    4. Go into Cartwright in the being of the game and use MJ to get the other teamates involved.

    5. Run more on transition because the lakers starting 5 (except Divac) were all in their 30s.

    These and most of all Worthy’s injury were a key to the series.

    Lets not forget that the bulls bench was young and had more playmakers. That Lakers bench was really bare bone.

    Tony Smith, Elden Campbell and Threat were the best players on that bench. Campbell and Smith were rookies or 2nd year players.

  11. Origin says:

    Now as far as the hand checking. Pippen didn’t actually hand check magic…..he more lets say bumped and grinded on him.

    When playing full court press defense Pippen was a great at using his height and length to stay in front of players and bump them.

    So it was more hip checking then anything.

    Now Pippen also used this full court press defense on (in the playoffs)

    1. Mark Jackson in the 1998 ECFs.

    2. Penny Hardaway in the 1996 ECFs. (remember the bulls even came back from 20 down in game 2 uses the full court press after half-time)

    3. Tim Hardaway in the 1996 1st round.

    Just to name a few.

    Now the Pippen you saw in 1991 was a totally different player then in the second 3 peat. In the lakers series he was scoring off of transition buckets and penetration.

    Once Jordan came back in 1996 he was a much better all around player and a much more consistant shooter and post player. He was one of the best SF shooters in the league.

    As far as the hand checking. Hand checking was legal then, the league changed the hand checking rules in 1995.

    A defender was no longer able to put a hand on an offensive wing players hip (Derek Harper in the 1994 Finals had both of his hands on each one of Kenny Smith’s hips as he was bringing the ball up the court….thats real hand checking…LOL!!!).
    Only an arm bar was allowed on an offnsive wing player. THe league also shortened the 3 point line that year.

    Then in 2001 the league introduced the zone and 3 second defensive rules. A defender could no longer use the arm bar when guarding a wing player.

    So actually the no hand check rule ended in 1995.

  12. Origin says:

    Last Temple as far as the league making a gentlemens agreement for the lakers and celtics.

    I have always thought that there were gentlemen agreements in all sports.

    These leagues owners know that if the Lakers, Celtics, Knicks, Cowboys, Steelers, Redsox and Yankees, do well then their respected leagues will do that much better profit and news wise.

    I mean everyone here in Dallas new that the Cowboys were tampering with TO when he was in Philly. Yet he goes to Philly and the league never files tampering charges.

    The Cowboys get a ton of picks for Hershell Walker.

    I mean these were all shady behind the scene deals to help a flagship franchise out.

    We even see it happen in College sports. Team A gets caught doing dirt and they get the death sentence.

    Yet a Ohio State, USC, Notre Dame and the ect. have dirty hands and everyone looks the other way.

    These teams are your big power houses……nothing good can happen making them pay for wrong doings. Hey they need to be in the bowl games or NCAA tournament so that money can keep flowing.

  13. Origin says:

    Also meant to mention that the Lakers in 1991 beat the trailblazers in teh WCF because they forced the blazers to play a half court game. The lakers couldn’t run with the blazers and the blazers couldn’t function in a half court setting. Plus the blazers were notorious for bad shot selection. Shooting too quickly with the shot clock at 15 secs. Not holding for the last shot. And turning the ball over in the open court.

    These weaknesses also got them beat by the lakers. Even though they had home court. But it seemed as though it took everything for the lakers to beat them. The lakers looked extremely old and tired after that series.

    In game 1 of the finals the bulls played right into the lakers hands by playing mostly in the half court. Once they bulls bagan running in games 2-5. It was a over

  14. I have to say that some of these conspiracy theories are a little too paranoid for my taste.

    I mean, let’s say that the league wants to empower the Celtics and Lakers. OK. Then let’s look at the 1997 draft: Boston had the best odds of ending up with the #1 pick (and Tim Duncan). Instead, the pick goes to San Antonio. Boston endure a decade of mediocrity.

    I mean, wouldn’t be easier to rig a draft than it would be to interfere with trades and shit?

    And it happened again, in 2007. In fact, that’s WHY the Celtics traded for Garnett and Allen, because they got screwed in the Lottery EVEN THOUGH THEY HAD THE BEST CHANCE TO WIND UP WITH ONE OF THE TOP 2 PICKS (along with the Grizzlies). It’s funny to think of now, but they were actually crushed because they thought Greg Oden was the next Tim Duncan.

    Again, why not just give Boston the first (or at least SECOND) pick?

  15. AXG says:

    Michael I read this piece with a wide smile, kind of like the one you described worn by Magic Johnson in ’80. Good work my friend. I was hanging with Kobe last week and he is as focused as he is an outright good natured person.

    People hate him, but they don’t know him…

  16. Temple3 says:


    Given that the Knicks have sucked more often than not; haven’t won since I was in day care; and never went out to acquire a prime shooter (only the over the hill gang), I cannot say they’re a party to that agreement. In fact, I believe the Knicks sit squarely outside of that agreement.

    I still maintain that Pippen did a whole bunch of hand checking in 1991 — even if it was legal. The Lakers had a lot of miles on those legs in ’91.


    You may have a point — but much of this stems from the NBA’s own doing. It is clear that not every franchise seeks to be competitive. We know this from the example of the Clippers. There are others, but they are the poster boys. So, if you have an association in which you permit members to field non-competitive teams, what exactly ARE you doing?

    The business of the NBA is business — not winning. I don’t know the level at which any machinations take place, but I find it bizarre that if 30 franchises are engaged in an authentic competition that the Boston Celtics could be carried to a championship on the heels of a trade with Kevin McHale in one season while the Los Angeles are propelled to a championship on the heels of a trade with Jerry West.

    McHale and Jerry West give arguably the most talented defensive big man and the most talented offensive big man to the Celtics and Lakers and I’m a conspiracy theorist? Yeah, aiiight.

    I can’t speak on the Duncan scenario. It could be that the NBA was actually concerned with international expansion at the time or maybe the draft was just legit. Who knows. I don’t think things work that way anyway. It’s not about having these teams win every single year…but the Lakers have missed the playoffs FIVE times in 6 DECADES.

    Perhaps a better question is why the Spurs are the #3 winning hoops franchise since joining the NBA — and why that franchise was picked to join the NBA in the first place. You know that not all teams were asked to join the Association. Teams in high-value markets with solid fan bases and valuable players were asked to join.

    Perhaps the answer is strictly demographic.

    What was the Spurs attendance ranking during Duncan’s first five years?

    What’s the Spurs attendance since then?

    Too much of a good thing is boring. When San Antonio’s attendance went down, Dallas’ went up — and they got a shiny new arena. Orlando has nice attendance and some nice players. Hmmm. Shiny new arena next year. Lakers have a shiny new jammy too. Just like Boston.

    I don’t think every team that gets a new gym gets a ring — but remember, not everyone is actually TRYING to win a championship. Some are. Some are just cannon fodder. That’s why Gasol said of Memphis, “We couldn’t get better.”

    Maybe he’s a conspiracy theorist too. LOL.

  17. awb says:

    Who is the greatest coach of all time? It can’t be Auerbach because the same criticism of Jackson applies to his teams big time and he had the benefit of no free agency.

    Honestly, I thought the same way about Jackson for years and would elevate coaches like Larry Brown over him. However, Larry Brown has never been able to get along with the superstars on his team or even some of the stronger personalities.

    It is not coincidence that the Lakers could not get past Utah until Jackson got there and realized that he had Jordan 2.0 on his team. A Jordan level player with the benefit of a real center. This is what differentiates Jackson from guys like Brown. I mean Shannon Brown flourished when he got to L.A. after languishing in Charlotte.

  18. Temple3 says:


    I am NOT going to argue that Del Harris is a great coach or a great assistant or even that he knows how to tie his shoes. I am simply going to say that in the last full season before the Lakers hired Phil Jackson, they won 61 games with Harris at the helm with a roster of:

    1) A 19-year old Kobe Bryant.
    2) Eddie Jones
    3) Nick Van Exel
    4) Rick Fox
    5) Robert Horry
    6) Derek Fisher
    7) Corie Blount
    8) Elden Campbell
    and Shaq.

    Only Shaq and Eddie Jones averaged more than 12 points a game. Only Shaq and Horry shot better than 50%.

    This was a talented team with a bunch of short dudes trying to make plays in transition.

    When Phil Jackson took over two years later, Kobe was two years older and much stronger and battle-hardened after his Utah fiasco.

    The Lakers roster in 1999 had:

    1) Shaquille O’Neal
    2) Kobe Bryant
    3) Glen Rice
    4) Ron Harper
    5) Robert Horry
    6) A.C. Green
    7) Brian Shaw
    8) Rick Fox
    9) Derek Fisher

    This team was much better from a talent perspective. They had a nice mix of youth and experience. They had 5 guys make at least a third of their three-point shots. They could beat you inside and outside — and they could defend the perimeter and the post.

    Frankly, there is no comparison between these 2 teams and it’s not hard to see that something OTHER THAN THE GENIUS of Phil might have contributed to this team pushing through to a championship.

  19. Origin says:

    Temple says

    “Frankly, there is no comparison between these 2 teams and it’s not hard to see that something OTHER THAN THE GENIUS of Phil might have contributed to this team pushing through to a championship.”

    True Temple… can also add that bulls team he took over in 1990 from Doug Collins.

    In 1991, paxson, Pippen and Horace were becoming better players.

    As far as the 1991 finals lets just agree to disagree on that. I know how you Lakers fans get about your team. I have a friend that still swears up and down that the lakers should have beaten the pistons even after magic blew out his hamstrings in game 1 of the 1989 NBA finals.


  20. Temple3 says:


    I think one thing that Phil Jackson deserves credit for is his philosophy of having lots of serviceable bigs on his teams. The Bulls had to be the tallest team in the world when they were making their runs. The bigs weren’t great, but they could play sound position defense, block shots, rebound and give lots and lots of fouls. Many of them even shot free throws well, so they were able to get productive minutes out of guys like Bill Wennington, Will Perdue, Stacy King, Luc Longley, Bill Cartwright, Scott Williams, even Robert Parrish.

    When you go into a playoff series with 5 or 6 guys who are between 6-10 and 7-2, you’ve got a real chance to do some things. So it continues with Gasol, Bynum, Odom, etc.

  21. James Beale says:

    You can say Kobe is selfish, you can say he’s a dickl (if you’re one of the people who stick to the point that a guy can’t come back from the incidents in Colorado I think you have some serious legs to stand on), and you can say he doesn’t connect to his teammates on a personal level. And, truth be told, you’d probably be right.

    What you can’t say is that Kobe put in the hours. Dude works harder than everyone else out there. If he’s not in the gym he’s watching take (or doing both). As such, the man knows what to do in every possible situation. He doesn’t want to give up the last shot not because he doesn’t trust his teammates (though he may not), but because he knows that he’s worked harder to get there. Maybe he’ll miss, but he believes he won’t take the wrong shot. The miss will be the product of percentages, not mistakes.

    At the end of the day, maybe the guy who cares that much and who works that hard deserves the chip. Maybe the takeaway isn’t ‘nice guys can’t win’ but rather s a lesson about putting the hours in. There are worse lessons out there.

    Good shit Mike.

  22. GrandNubian says:

    In other news…..

    Donte Stallworth takes a plea and gets only 30 days in jail.


  23. Temple3 says:

    That’s pretty amazing stuff.

    I think the overarching factors in him getting that degree of leniency were:

    1) His approach immediately following the accident.
    2) A demonstration of remorse and outreach to the family.
    3) The fact that the victim was not in the crosswalk.

    Stallworth is about as fortunate as a man can be who has taken a life through their own negligence. It’s just an awful mess. I wonder what level of punishment the family sought?

  24. It’s just insane to me that Stallworth gets 30 days in prison while Michael Vick gets his testicles handed to him in a plastic bag for dog-fighting. Weird.

  25. kos says:

    Some folks love their dogs to a sickening degree. This lady in my city got killed one night when her dog ran out in the street in front of a car. A lady in my department could only worry about whether the dog was alright. As a matter of fact, whenever a story involves dogs, she’s always more worried about the dog than a person.

    Now if that ain’t some sick isht, I don’t know what is.

    With Stallworth, part of the reason is he was remorseful, and the family just wanted this business to be over with. Stallworth has already worked out a settlement with the family. It’s pending on if the DA decides to accept the plea.

  26. Mizzo says:

    I’m really not getting the dog thing. It’s almost alien. I’ve been really attached to dogs I’ve had as pets my entire life and have felt mad sadness when they’ve departed, but never to the degree of how I would feel if a human passed. Never. Not ever.

    There’s just no way.

    Temple we’ve followed this case from the beginning and both thought he was going to go down hard. The three points you allude to are obviously all contributing factors and I would also add the settlement (outreach?) kos mentioned. If dude dropped the fam a couple of millions things change dramatically. That was prerequisite we thought when the victim was the sole breadwinner in the house.

    My bad folks for the absence of posts. Been out of commission.

  27. I don’t know. I guess American society just baffles me sometimes. I’m not saying I WANT Stallworth to rot in hell or anything, but I’m just saying that I notice that certain athletes (and celebrities) tend to be singled out and reviled while others get slapped on the wrist for more serious offenses.

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    Kobe Bryant, ‘Bad To The Bone’!!

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    ALL——-Laker players should be kept, as a reward for winning the whole ‘nine yards!

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    There has ‘never’ been a basketball team like this present Laker team, and coach, Mr Phil Jackson; They, the Lakers, are able to mesh into one mind when it is time to do so. Congratulations Lakers!!!—————–Glenn Parker

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