Tag Archives: Kobe Bryant

Ending The Hate Affair With Kobe Bryant

As if Elden Campbell didn’t go 1-13 from the field while Karl Malone got 32 points and 20 rebounds, the Los Angeles Lakers being eliminated in 5 games by the Utah Jazz in 1997 NBA Plaoyffs will be remembered for two air-balls by an 18-year old rookie named Kobe Bryant.

As if he didn’t refer to himself as the general manager of the Lakers, publicly excoriated Nick Van Exel after being eliminated from the playoffs leading to his trade, or yelled “Pay me” to Dr. Jerry Buss during a preseason game, Kobe Bryant blamed for Shaquille O’Neal’s departure from L.A.

Phil Jackson went on highly paid speaking engagements while promoting his book in which he claimed Kobe Bryant was un-coachable, only to return to the Lakers to win two Bryant led championships.

There are tales of him sabotaging his Lower Merion High School games so he could be the hero at the end. The streets said he wasn’t real because he grew up in Europe. The analysts said he stunted team development by taking too many shots.
The afro he wore was out of style and too grimy. He married a video dancer. His line about injustice, a Dr. Martin Luther King quote, during his acceptance speech at the 2003 Nickelodeon Kids Choice awards was edited from the broadcast because it was deemed too controversial.

He’s been mercilessly booed during NBA All-Star events; once in 2002 after winning the MVP in his hometown, and in 2005 by the crowd in Denver for deeper seeded reasons than basketball.

Kermit Washington punching Rudy Tomjonivich remains a dark day in NBA history. But Chris Child’s two-piece and Raja Bell’s clothesline is capsulized through widely popular GIF’s and MEME’s.

From sponsors to rappers, cable news outlets to internet message boards, coaches to fans, lots of people have been salty towards Kobe Bryant.

 

Now he has resigned, and you won’t have Kobe Bryant to kick around anymore.

LaMarcus Aldridge will go down as the last marquee free agent to spurn joining the Lakers (according to anonymous sources) because they (allegedly) didn’t want to play with Kobe. The Lakers will have all the cap-room they need to solidify their roster now that Bryant’s hefty contract is gone.

But the hardest part will be finding a suitable replacement super villain. There has to be a back story, like skipping college to go straight to the pros. There has to be mini sub-plots, like having an R&B star watch you winning the dunk contest as Brandy Norwood did in Cleveland in 1997, or using the owner’s private jet to make it to a road playoff game in Houston in 2004 the day of a court hearing.

There has to be adversity like the 2005 season which he courteously finished on the All-NBA third team while missing the playoffs for the first time before there can be triumph, like when he got MVP chants on road games in Lakers’ rival territory like Boston, Chicago, and New York.

Those waiting to get lined up at the barbershops will still carry on the argument over who was better, Kobe or Mike, but there will be no more game-by-game scrutiny of his field-goal percentage.

Many teams around the NBA only sold out when he came to town. Fans around the country packed the arenas to express their hate.

But now they must find someone else whom to engage in a love-hate relationship.

You won’t have Kobe Bryant to kick around anymore.

Nick Van Exel Interview

Nick Van Exel spent 13 seasons in the NBA handling the rock and breaking ankles. The former All-Star is now calling plays from the sideline as head coach for the Texas Legends in the NBA Developmental League.

Van Exel spoke with RunTheTriangle.comb exclusively at the 2016 NBA D-League Showcase about his transition to coaching, the 1995 Lakers vs. Celtics playoffs series, and how he knew Kobe Bryant would be the next Michael Jordan from what he saw in practice.

For Kobe 31 Is The New 81

Kobe Bryant can get hot still. He scored 31 points in a vintage performance to lead the Los Angeles Lakers to a 108-104 victory over the Washington Wizards.

The rumors of his demise have been greatly circulated. The declaration that he his playing in his final season lit social-media on fire, and before it ends he’ll probably start another trend.

After shooting 1-14 against the Golden State Warriors from the field, there were lamentations for Bryant to immediately call it quits. He was embarrassing himself. It was over.

But dead men don’t make go-ahead buckets to get road wins on the second night of a back-to-back. For one night Bryant was resurrected.

If it were as bad as the experts claimed, then his 31 point outburst is right up there with the game in which he scored 50 more than that against the Toronto Raptors. Five years before that he scored 61 in three quarters against the Dallas Mavericks. Everyone knew that Kobe was capable of the unbelievable. But this Kobe, the wounded warrior with nothing left to give basketball, nobody is expecting the spectacular.

Like Wilt Chaimberlin’s 100, Kobe should have drawn 31 on sheet of paper and taken a photograph. No player at 37-years old has returned from achilles surgery to score 31 and make a game-winning shot. Bryant’s heroics are that of legend, I guess you can say a new one just begun.

Lakers’ Trip On The Magic Buss

The Los Angeles Lakers have set precedent when it comes to paying top-dollar. Kobe Bryant received a lucrative $48 million contract making him the NBA’s highest paid player after suffering a torn achilles.

Current Lakers owner Jim Buss continues to draw criticism for paying Bryant so richly during the twilight of his career. The reason why Buss took such a gamble on Bryant may have more to do with genetics than loyalty.

It was his late father and former Lakers owner, Dr. Jerry Buss, who made headlines in 1979 by lavishing rookie Earvin Magic Johnson with a 25-year, $25-million contract. It seemed ridiculous in the moment, most notably the the length of the agreement . But the NBA’s increased revenue and television ratings that followed confirmed Buss’s foresight.

The latter Buss has has proven he’s a gambler like his father. Selecting little known Andrew Bynum in the 2005 NBA Draft, and passing on Jahlil Okafor for D’Angelo Russell in the 2015 installment proved he’s more than willing to risk his chips.

Despite missing the playoffs the past two seasons, and being eliminated in the first-round twice before that, the Lakers continue to rake in the dough. Forbes estimates the Lakers are worth over $2.6 billion, most in the NBA. This is in large part due to their rich local TV deal with Time Warner ($4 billion over the next 20-years.)

Needless to say the team is striving monetarily. What’s forgotten in the midst of the newfound losing ways of the purple-and-gold is that the franchise ultimately exists to make money. Although hanging banners while entertaining the fans with a quality basketball product is a top priority, what really matters is the bottom line.

By that measure, Jim Buss has become more successful than his father.

His ability to generate capital has not freed him from being viewed by a large assortment as the chief culprit behind the demise of Lakers exceptionalism.

Their belief is that Dr. Buss would have convinced both Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol to remain Lakers, and been able to lure Carmelo Anthony or LaMarcus Aldridge as he did with Shaquille O’Neal.

So as the Lakes go on to miss the playoffs for a third straight year during Bryant’s farewell tour, Magic Johnson believes it’s time for Buss to seek assistance.

“I love Jim Buss. He should just be the owner, like his dad was just the owner,” the Dodgers owner said. “Let’s go back with facts, so I can back this up with facts: 27 wins a couple years ago, 21 wins last year.”

ESPN Analyst Stephen A. Smith asserted that Johnson himself assume full control of the Lakers’ affairs. This season James Worthy joined the staff as a consultant. Others believe the Lakers have made a mistake by not having more of their hall-of-farmers in the mix. But then again, some of those same people are calling for the ousting of Byron Scott.

It was the Magic-Buss connection that sparked the beginning of the Showtime era. It remains to be seen what next Jim Buss will conjure up for Lakers fans.

Young Wants Lakers To Get Act Together

The ordinarily comical Nick ‘Swaggy P’ Young was sharply critical and disappointed with his Los Angeles Lakers team following a 103-91 loss to the (then) winless  Philadelphia 76ers.

“All I know is the circus came to town today and we did what we normally do,” said Young, referring to the increased media attention and arena demonstrations to honor Kobe Bryant following his retirement announcement.

The irony of Young, who is in a high-profile relationship with pop music artist Iggy Azalea, being concerned with distractions is that it was he who last season interrupted a post-game interview following a victory which ended up on Kobe Bryant’s Summer Jam screen on the Jimmy Kimmel Show.

But after a season of being publicly scolded by Byron Scott for lackadaisical play, it is now Young going on the offensive in the media.

“It can’t be like a video game & you’re playing with your favorite player, you know,” said Young after a Lakers’ 111-77 loss to the Golden State Warriors. “We’ve all got to share the ball.”

It is no secret that the Lakers attempted to trade Young this offseason and had no takers. Their relationship became rocky with Chicago Bulls forward Pau Gasol after seasons of failed trade attempts.

Time will tell if Young is developing into a veteran who is more of a vocal leader, or has grown weary playing under the lights of the greatest show on earth.

We’re a circus,” chided Young. “We’re playing terrible. We lost to Philly. Philly! What does that make us?”

The End Of Kobe Bryant: The Beginning

“Posthumously.”

It was an SAT word we learned but never used. That is until the 1996 release of Tupac Shakur’s album The Don Killuminati under the pseudonym ‘Makaveli’ following his unsolved murder.

A few months before, Magic Johnson had officially called it a career. His retirement in the summer of ’96 coincided with the beginning of the new Los Angeles Lakers’ dynasty.

Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant arrived in Los Angeles during a tumultuous period of transformation. The city was going through a major police scandal, and homicides spiked amid gang violence. The infamous Death Row record label began to crumble, losing foundation members Dr. Dre and Snoop Doggy Dogg. The Los Angeles music and sports entertainment industry would forever be changed.

Shaq and Kobe became intertwined with hip-hop. They would both drop records before winning their first championship.

In the fall of ’96 a rapper named Jay-Z released his debut album titled Reasonable Doubt. Although sales were mediocre, Bryant says the album is his favorite. Despite both rookies having slow starts, Kobe and Jay-Z would ultimately go in the pantheon of greats in their respective professions. It was O’Neal and Bryant’s hug after winning the 2000 NBA Finals which inspired the line “Jigga man is diesel, when I lift the eight up,” in his song Breathe Easy off his 2001 album, The Blueprint.

In October of ’96, Shaq released You Can’t Stop The Reign with rapper Notorious B.I.G. only a few months before the Brooklyn native was slain. After entering training camp out of shape, critics began accusing Shaq with being more concerned about being an emcee than a basketball player.

Meanwhile Bill Clinton was re-elected in the 1996 Presidential Election, the first Democrat to win a second-term since Franklin Rosevelt.

1996 brought the retirement of Magic Johnson, the arrival of Shaq & Kobe, the exit of Tupac (rather Makaveli), and the entrance of Jay-Z. All are still very much relevant 20 years later, but only one still holds the same job with the same company.

Bill Clinton’s wife is now running for president, Jay-Z ditched the Roc and became a mogul who raps part-time, while Shaq is still watching Kobe play as a TNT commentator.

Now Bryant announced he is walking away from something he has done for more than half of his life. To put it in perspective, Kobe has been a Laker longer than he has been an adult.

All eyes or on him now that he’s decided it’s check out time.

Kobe Starting To Phil It Up

After the Lakers 111-77 shellacking by the Golden State Warriors, Kobe Bryant had a PHILosophical take on his abysmal 1-14 shooting performance.

“I feel okay. Just pissed. Just frustrated with what were doing,” Bryant said after the game. “It bothered me. So I got out of my Zen.”

There is a bit of irony in Bryant embracing Phil Jackson’s philosophy, which at one time he found boring and restrictive to his game.

As Bryant struggles through the 20th season of his career averaging 15 points shooting 31% from the field, he no longer has the comfort of the Triangle Offense at his disposal. Bryant thrived in that system which got him to his sweet spots on the court. It also helped him get open shots without having to beat defenders one-on-one, a daunting task now at his age.

The Lakers passed on re-rehiring Jackson in 2012 in leu of Mike D’Antoni.

This current Lakers team still hasn’t grasped their offensive philosophy, making it difficult on the 37-year old Tex Winter disciple.

“The way I played, the way I shot, blowing coverages defensively, coming down offensively and not having concept of what we’re trying to do,” Bryant exclaimed.

It is difficult enough for Bryant to be effective on offense with his age and mileage. What has made it worst is the Lakers inability to establish balance, something Jackson routinely preached.


 

Kobe & K.G. Have 20/20 Vision

Kobe Bryant and Kevin Garnett set an NBA record on the opening night of the 2015-16 season. They became the first players to face each other having both played 20 or more seasons. It was a fitting beginning to the possible end of their legendary careers  which have mirrored each other in many ways.

Garnett originally made headlines when he was selected 5th overall by the Minnesota Timberwolves directly out of high school in 1995.

Bryant followed Garnett’s lead after graduating from Lower Merion High in 1996 and was sereptitiosuly drafted by the Charlotte Hornets, then gifted  to the Los Angeles Lakers in a trade.

Both were immediately recognized as throwback players. Hard workers in practice, trash talkers who got under the skin of their older NBA counterparts.

They both were part of dynamic tandems that were disbanded.

In 1996 Garnett was paired with electric point guard  Stephon Marbury. They were supposed to be the updated version of Stockton and Malone. But as with Shaquille O’Neal in 2004 with Bryant, the two seemingly parted ways prematurely, although the latter hoisted three trophies together. Bryant’s Lakers twice eliminated  K.G.’s Wolves in the 2003 and 2004 Western Conference playoffs.

Garnett and Bryant’s talents were showcased together as teammates at the 1998 NBA All-Star game in Madison Square Garden. The two kids out of high school were both in the starting lineups, Bryant having received more votes than Mitch Richmond in the final weeks leading up to the exhibition game. They lit up the crowd, throwing alley-oops to one another and waiving off veteran screens. Their symmetry and fluidity on the court led some to wonder: What if Kobe and K.G. were on the same team?

The summer of 2007 finally brought Kevin Garnett to Los Angeles during free-agency. Unfortunately it was to meet with Paul Pierce about his eventual trade to the Boston Celtics soon afterwards. Garnett was spotted shopping on Rodeo Drive and fans were sure this was an indication of him joining the Lakers. But although Garnett owned a home in nearby Malibu, he still chose Boston and won his first title in 2008 against Bryant and the Lakers.

Garnett not going to Los Angeles led to the acquisition of Pau Gasol. Bryant would get his revenge in the 2010 NBA Finals, a 7-game heavyweight bout. The two classic series have embedded Bryant and Garnett into Lakers/Celtics lore.

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Bryant & Garnett on NBA Live 97 on Sega Genisis

And some 20 years after their arrival they met in battle yet again. Both in their starting lineups, both still proudly representing their era, both mentoring upstart players drafted nearly 20-years after them. Bryant recently spoke about the longevity he and Garnett are displaying.
“It’s fantastic. It’s amazing. It brings a smile to my face, man,” said Bryant via ESPN’s J.A. Adande. “Because I remember thinking about making my decision and speaking on the phone with him, him going through his first season. Now fast forward, his 21st season, my 20th. It’s pretty amazing.”

K.G. actually advised Kobe to go to college in that phone conversation. Advice Bryantly appreciatively ignored.

Michael Jordan Has Brotherly Love For Kobe Bryant

Michael Jordan made it abundantly clear about his feelings regarding Kobe Bean Bryant during his 20th annual Michael Jordan Flight School in Santa Barbara, California.

“Even though he stole all my moves, but that’s OK. I still love him like a brother,” proclaimed the iconic Jordan.

“I think he’s one of the great players of the game, I think he’s done a lot for the game, and he has a true love for the game of basketball,” he continued. “I absolutely have high regard for Kobe Bryant.”

Mainly anonymous sources, along with some players and coaches around the league, have been known to make Bryant out to be a competitive yet treacherous nomad with whom nobody gets along.  A few others have tabbed him as the reason the Los Angles Lakers have been unable to land big name free-agents lately. And then there’s that whole Shaq thing.

But when the greatest player in the game expresses high regard and love for you, how much does the opinion of Jared Dudley really matter?

We discuss how the power of Michael Jordan’s love exceeds any hate for Kobe Bryant in this edition of P.A.G.E. 24.

 

NBA’s Western Conference Mirrors Crowded GOP Race

Kobe Bryant told Yahoo Sports that the Los Angeles Lakers could ‘absolutely’ make the playoffs this season. Sure it is mathematically possible for the Lakers to finish in the top eight of the Western Conference. What is more likely to happen is they fall short while battling in a competitive field.

Much like the 2016 Republican presidential campaign, the Western Conference is so fully loaded that teams with adequate talent will not make the playoffs the same way Governors Rick Perry and Bobby Jindal didn’t qualify for the first presidential debate.

45-37 was good enough for the Lakers to get the 7th seed in the 2006 season, but that win total wasn’t enough for the Oklahoma City Thunder to make the playoffs in 2015. After 21 victories last season, the Lakers can drastically improve, even double their win total, and it still may only be good enough for 9th place.

The Lakers will join the Utah Jazz, Phoenix Suns, Denver Nuggets and Portland Trailblazers  in jockeying for position like Senators Lindsey Graham and Rick Santorum- except they have a better chance of making the playoffs than either of them have of getting the GOP nomination.