Kobe's play in a Finals game for the ages
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Tony Almeida
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 12, 2009 4:31 pm    Post subject: Kobe's play in a Finals game for the ages

This game was arguably just as good as Game 1, FG% be damned. Did the missed shots hurt? Of course. After the first, he could never get into a consistent flow for his individual scoring. There were also numerous missed calls making that percentage looks worse than it should have been, but it wasn't about that. This game was all about championship mettle, start to finish. And one player's fingerprints were all over this game. Kobe Bryant.

Despite the obvious slant in officiating, Kobe seemingly remained more calm than others, particularly in the first half. So serene through the biased officiating that I felt the team would inevitably fight their way through. They had to, for no other reason than the guy calmly keeping the game close in the first quarter while chewing the gum believed it. There was a point in the first quarter where he was flanked with Mbenga, Powell, Farmar, and Walton. That's 05-06 bad. And yet, the Lakers only lost 1 point in that span. He did not lose his cool, just played and did what needed to be done to keep the game manageable.

It didn't end there, as that was the theme throughout the night. Do what needs to be done, by any means necessary.

That means, at halftime, sending the message to your team that it's not enough to try and make plays, but to go out there and just make them. Forget the officiating, just go out there and make things happen. For Bryant that meant, in the 3rd quarter, having the ball and making plays on one end, maintaining intensity on the defensive end. Cobra was absolutely huge, and Mamba's presence made many of the opportunities possible. Either with the assists, drive to the hoops sucking in defenders and opening up offensive rebounds, or the hockey assists. Do what needs to be done. Hit free throws, hit the last shot of the quarter, grab some rebounds. Oh, and by grabbing some rebounds, I mean taking away Superman's manhood after he got offensive board. Hit a wall? Run right through it. Go up to arguably the stronger player in the league, who has been bullying your team all night long, rip the ball from him, and promptly tell him to shut the (bleep) up. Does it matter that this freak of nature has close to 50 pounds and over half a foot of height advantage? Not in the least. Not when a championship is on the line.

And yet, that didn't seem like it would be enough with the way the referees were handing the Magic the win in the 4th. Apparently, that didn't matter. Not when you are leading by sheer will and determination, and have a team of guys that are ready for this moment. When you have someone like Ariza who continues to go at it, a guy like Odom who continues to fight, a guy like Gasol who doesn't want to be denied, your team has a chance. There were still some more memorable plays to come. And yes, not all great plays have to show up in the box score, or have to be a made basket.

Consider with less than a minute to go, a five point deficit, Magic ball, and as Mike Breen put it, a frenzied Magic crowd (reminded me of Game 6 against the Suns in 2006, with Staples rocking, believing the team was just seconds away from the second round). Defensive stop (btw, this is key), followed by a play that can be summarized as once again, keeping the game manageable. Right to the basket, attract not two, not three, but four Magic defenders, and have the vision and ability to spin and deliver a perfect pass to Gasol for a dunk. Three point game, and no need to intentionally foul.

Except, that need arose when the Magic found Dwight Howard wide open for a dunk to seal the game. No, not on this night. Superman couldn't even get off the attempt as Bryant made sure to bring the behemoth down to the ground. What looked like a sure tomahawk sledgehammer, ended instead with two bricks from the line. The Lakers, led by Bryant, are not done just yet.

The man who once called him uncoachable draws up a play out of the timeout that calls for Kobe to use the Magic's respect level for Kobe, against them. By anticipating the Magic would swarm Kobe, he sets it up so Kobe can provide the opportunity for someone else to add to the Los Angeles Laker Legend. The Uncoachable One plays his role as drawn up by his coach, to a T. Double comes, reads the play correctly, passes out to Ariza, who then passes to Fisher. The rest is history. Thanks, Derek, for adding to the legend of the greatest franchise in sports.

Of course, we're not finished just yet. Not even close. The Magic still have 4.6 seconds left, an eternity for a team that has made big shot after big shot, especially against a team that has been prone to defensive lapses from time to time. As mentioned, their last offensive possession to this point was going to be a wide open dunk from Howard. Here's where I once again saw great basketball. On the inbounds play, Bryant somehow ends up switched onto Howard. It won't make the highlight reel, and yet, the ball denial was something I couldn't help but appreciate. He was just fighting and took away any angle for a post-entry. Reminded me of earlier in the game where he was switched onto Lewis, and wasn't going to be beat. Anyway, despite what should have been an advantage for the Magic, Hedo couldn't make the pass, panics and gives it to Pietrus, who launches and bricks. That's not just trying to make plays, that's actually making them. The importance of which can not be understated.

Overtime begins with a bang...for the Magic. A weary Orlando crowd regains life as Lewis starts off with a three. It wouldn't last long as Kobe responds with two baskets, putting the Lakers up 1. Those two baskets were needed to prevent momentum, to keep the Magic in check, to keep the game manageable. Offensive struggles ensue from both teams, neither team able to much of anything. That is until, Derek Fisher decides to add another moment in the hallowed Laker Legend. And once again, orchestrated by the much maligned Kobe Bryant. The Selfish One reads the defense, waits for the double, and without hesitation finds Fisher who calmly nails the game winner. #24 making a play that they said he would never make, not like #23 did many years ago.

The truly legendary ones, help get the job done, by any means necessary. Basketball for these players is not defined by a stat sheet. That's why I always found the recent Great Debate more of a Great Farce. The stats don't tell the story of what really happened last night, and it's not just with Kobe either (most notably obviously was Derek Fisher). One of my favorite quotes of the year was from Brian Shaw, and it was after Game 4 against the Jazz. He said that game was like having bullying you, but then having your big brother show up. Having Kobe is like having the ultimate trump card.

Bryant in this Game 4 personified the hunger and killer instinct this franchise is known for, exemplified what it means to be a legend in this game, and now the franchise is on the brink of yet another championship. This player, this team, this franchise, won't be denied.
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 12, 2009 4:37 pm    Post subject:

hell yes! amen
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JUST-MING
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 12, 2009 4:41 pm    Post subject:

HELL YEAH.
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ksmgf
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 12, 2009 4:43 pm    Post subject:

+1
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ImmortalD24
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 12, 2009 4:43 pm    Post subject:

Great post!
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guberchink
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 12, 2009 4:44 pm    Post subject:

this was a perfect example why stats don't show impact on a game.
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 12, 2009 4:46 pm    Post subject:

Well put.
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limchrc
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 12, 2009 4:47 pm    Post subject:

Good post, thanks.
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City_Dawg
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 12, 2009 4:48 pm    Post subject:

BUH BUH BUH 11-31



GTFO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Spirit
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 12, 2009 4:56 pm    Post subject:

Truth.
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 12, 2009 4:59 pm    Post subject:

Beautiful. Brings a tear to my eye Tony.
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 12, 2009 5:01 pm    Post subject:

Nice writeup Tony.
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LonestarLakerFan
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 12, 2009 5:06 pm    Post subject:

Great post!
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j-Laker
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 12, 2009 5:06 pm    Post subject:

Tony...Great Write up....it is too bad the National media and Others dont change there hate glasses and see this as well... There is more to this game then scoring...

And case in Point if Kobe does not rack Howard to make him go to the line...No one would be talking about the the Free throws instead we may be looking at a 2-2 series with game 5 Sunday in Orlando...
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Sister Golden Hair
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 12, 2009 5:06 pm    Post subject:

Good points, Tony. I re-watched the game last nite. On replay, Kobe's game is fairly remarkable, IMO. The pundits try to make so much about the shot attempts, but conveniently never mention the ref's swallowed whistles. It would have been a fifty point game is the game is called fairly. The 4th quarter was almost laughably absurd.

In total, Kobe accounted for about 48 points (points plus assist), nearly half of the team's total. And yet all I heard today was about how Kobe had another crappy game, or about how he was no longer the best closer yadda yadda yadda.

To paraphrase and old joke, if NBA writers and media pundits saw Kobe walk on water to rescue a bus full of drowning children, the next day's headline would be: "Kobe Can't Swim!"

You have to laugh at the absurdity of the hatred and just appreciate what you have because a player like this won't be coming around the pike again anytime soon.

SGH
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SoCaLjAy
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 12, 2009 5:08 pm    Post subject:

Great post, I couldn't agree more!
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ForumBlueFrank
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 12, 2009 5:18 pm    Post subject:

Amen!

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no_more_mr_nice_guy
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 12, 2009 5:26 pm    Post subject:

I'll say it again, the MAMBA is the GOAT. He won with less talent support than Magic, MJ, Bird, Kareem, Wilt or Russell.

Pau Gasol is good but nowhere near top 100 of all time. Plus the league is far more competitive than it was back in the day. The discussions will begin after we wrap this up. On ESPN, Fox, etc all the "where does Kobe rank now in all time list?" will start. And he deserves #1 IMHO!

If he wins 2 more, the argument would be over, case closed.
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calistrtballr
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 12, 2009 5:42 pm    Post subject:

wow, good post Tony.
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chilake24
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 12, 2009 5:45 pm    Post subject:

i have to say during the game, i cursed kobe a lot. i think i just expected him to be perfect. when i was so emotionally charged, there were so many great plays i didn;t enjoy. this game worth to rewatch many times. to see how the res try to srew us and how this great team fight through. if there was a wall, that was the atrocious refs and the devil who sent them to this game. like kobe said. they just break through it and the trophy is lying ahead of them now. just go and get it, my laker heros

great great post
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AliG
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 12, 2009 6:20 pm    Post subject:

yes..I watched the game on replay.. and I can't honestly accuse Kobe for having a bad game. Some of the posters on LG are just pure pathetic. Kobe is just a human. The shot he missed, especially those that he droved to the basket, were either fouled, or they were good shot but he just missed them.

I can't imagine the day when he decides to call it a quit...
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67ShelbyGT
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 12, 2009 6:28 pm    Post subject:

Great Post, TA. Legendary player needs honest and objective reporters who understand the game paint the picture. Now how do we get you to work for ESPN?

Maybe write an article opposite of this to get in... then screw ESPN by publishing this. Seriously, this is one of the best articles written about basketball I've seen in a while. Great job.

Forget the boxscore watchers and highlight mongers. The GOAT is here and he wears #24!
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thurloly
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 12, 2009 6:31 pm    Post subject:

Legend
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chilake24
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 12, 2009 6:33 pm    Post subject:

AliG wrote:
yes..I watched the game on replay.. and I can't honestly accuse Kobe for having a bad game. Some of the posters on LG are just pure pathetic. Kobe is just a human. The shot he missed, especially those that he droved to the basket, were either fouled, or they were good shot but he just missed them.

I can't imagine the day when he decides to call it a quit...


just enjoy him now.  
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kobeyashi
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 12, 2009 6:47 pm    Post subject:

Don't make me bring up the stats of Jordan shooting low fg% in the finals. That is what happens, you play against a good team in a series and they make sure to adjust their defense to suffocate the best player on the team. I'm sure Dwight's fg% also dipped in the finals because Dwight is the main focus of the Laker's defense.

Let's also not forget that Kobe is averaging 8 assists and 5.5 rebounds for this series. Not to mention he doesn't get a second rest period after the 3rd quarter like he usually does. He's played all of the 2nd half and OT in games 2 and 4 and all of the 2nd half in game 3.

Give the man his props.
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