Tag Archives: Rick Fox

Kobe Bryant still building legacy brick-by-brick

The case against Kobe Bryant officially began with a set of missed field-goal attempts.

The Lakers were eliminated in overtime of Game 5 of the Western Conference semi-finals when Bryant shot an air-ball at the end of regulation, followed by another that would have tied the game in the extra period. He was comforted by his  teammate Shaquille O’Neal who encouraged him to keep shooting the ball. It was advice that would ironically contribute to their division years later.

Kobe Bryant hasn’t stopped shooting. He became the NBA’s all-time leader in missed field-goals during the Lakers 102-107 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies. As infamous as it sounds, being known as the player who has missed the most shots means you have been around long enough to take them.
It wasn’t a forgone conclusion that Kobe Bryant would miss the most shots in NBA history. He had a mere 176 attempts during the regular season of his rookie year. To put it in perspective, fellow 96 draft class rookie Antoine Walker hoisted away 1,354 attempts for the Boston Celtics. It took Bryant two seasons and change to become the starting shooting-guard for the Lakers after Eddie Jones was traded to the Charlotte Hornets during the 1999 lockout season.

Kobe has been consistently good for so long that the evolution of his game is taken for granted. Unlike LeBron James, Bryant wasn’t given the green-light as a rookie. He even endured DNP’s under coach Del Harris when he was known as “Showtime” because of his flashy play in practice. But Bryant still had to earn minutes behind Eddie Jones and current Head Coach Byron Scott.

And he kept shooting.

He quickly earned the reputation as an introvert by choosing not to be a part of the Hollywood club scene with known playboys like Shaq and Rick Fox. His competitive nature and aggressiveness got around the league quickly, and the elder statesman started laying the wood as a right of passage. It all culminated with a fight with Chris Childs against the New York Knicks during the Lakers 2000 championship run. The nationally televised game between the two most popular teams in the NBA was the graduation of Kobe Bryant into superstar status.

His longevity has masked the fact that he’s played in seven seasons of 70 games or less. It took him five years before he completed an 80 game NBA season.

Bryant hasn’t ceased firing away, continuing to add bricks to the foundation he’s set. He has the chance to join Michael Jordan as the only players to lead the league in scoring at 36-years old. He has displayed that athleticism is still very much a part of his game, and although they won’t admit it, many analyst privately expressed that Bryant would no longer be an all-star after the layoff.

Kobe said he would rather go 0-30 instead of 0-9. He’s missed the most shots because he’s had the drive to make the most.

 

Rick Fox Had Tunnel Vision In Lakers-Kings Preseason Battle

The Staples Center is made in classic Coliseum spherical style. One can make a complete revolution around the arena through the tunnel area. This allows easy access to both locker-rooms to those with backstage access.

Rick Fox was well aware of this when he cunningly met Doug Christie at the visitors entrance to finish a physical confrontation in a memorable exhibition game from the 2002-2003 NBA season.

The Sacramento Kings suffered a trifecta of defeats in the Western Conference playoffs to the three-time champion Lakers, the last of which was a 7-game heavyweight bout. After going up 2-1 and seizing home-court advantage, the Kings fell victim to Robert Horry’s epic Game 4 shot which served as the coup de grace in the playoff trilogy.

The Kings were flashier, but had been criticized for being too much of a finesse team that could not physically compete with the Alpha’s in the conference. Fox was the Lakers de facto enforcer who had gotten into Peja Stojakovic’s jersey and head in the previous two series. Stojakovic, Christie, and Hedo Turkoglu seemed to have wilted amid the harassment on defense.

The Lakers and Kings squared off in their preseason finale, and it was obvious early on that Sacramento wanted to ditch the soft label. Doug Christie immediately began to blanket Rick Fox on defense and drew an offensive foul after Fox caught him in the jaw with an elbow only two-minutes into the game. They got tangled up and Fox’s left hand slapped Christie in the jaw, who immediately retaliated with an uppercut to Fox’s chin.

After both players got tossed from the game, Fox ran off the court past the Lakers’ locker room and waited for Christie to enter the tunnel. Christie arrived to find Fox who put the unprepared Christie into a headlock. Shaquille O’Neal was involved in the scuffle in the tunnel, but he nor the Sacramento players who left the bench received any suspensions. Fox and Christie received six and two game bans respectively.

Though the teams would not meet again in tournament play, it wouldn’t be the last time they had conflict.

Later that season Shaquille O’Neal became the 28th player in NBA history to score 20,000 points in a Lakers’ 107-99 loss in Sacramento. On top of receiving boos during the halftime announcement of the milestone, someone at Arco Arena defaced the game ball presented to O’Neal.