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Entries in Kobe Bryant (4)


90 Seconds: Friday, April 15, 2011

90 Seconds Tile

One Great Season

+ From the yawny legal file that inquired yesterday whether you cared about the Barry Bonds trial, are you paying much attention to the NFL talks? Ten years ago, we'd be whining about how greedy NFL players and owners are, but I think our culture has become more accepting of the huge business sports — particularly pro football — has become. Regardless of where you stand on zillion-dollar salaries and ticket prices, the stalemate is significant for reasons beyond the financial.

+ Speaking of money and football, the Fiesta Fiasco could turn into an interesting case. And this one will be entirely about greed. Lawmakers in Arizona might have to re-imburse the Fiesta Bowl for accepting free flights, lodging and dinners. So the next time you judge a broke-ass 18-year-old athlete for accepting dirty money, just know that college sports don't discriminate. Rich old dudes take bribes as well.

+ I've noticed many folks aren't weighing in on the Kobe fine this week. Why? Because no one wants to say this, but "fucking faggot" is as common a frat-house insult as dick jokes and locker-room cracks about your mother. The fine is correct because someone like Kobe Bryant can't say it so openly, publicly and hatefully like that. But if it was just Jim from Accounting, it's a different story. Not quite sure what Bryant expects to come of his appeal, which is about as funny as David Stern's charming combination of paranoia and arrogance.


Is Paul Pierce The NBA's Third-Best Player?

Paul Pierce

Celtics' Star Just As
Dangerous As LeBron, Kobe

One Great Season

If LeBron James is the reigning two-time MVP and Kobe Bryant is going for his fifth NBA championship, what do we do with Paul Pierce?

Surely I considered him one of the better forwards in the NBA prior to the 2007-08 season. Then, after watching him lead the Big Three and the Celtics to the NBA championship that year, it was difficult not to consider Pierce an elite player.

And he's struck again this postseason. After a pair of lukewarm games early in the Cleveland series, Pierce got back on track and carried the Cs to the Eastern Conference semifinal-round triumph.


+ OBIT: Dennis Hopper's Shooter Character One Of Sports Cinema's Best
+ BRACKET: The 2010 World Cup ... Of Brands
+ NBA: Cleveland Needs To Show LeBron Some Love Now
+ NBA DRAFT: Evan Turner Will Slip To No. 4

And he was just as dominant in the conference finals at Orlando, leading visiting Boston to a pair of wins in Games 1 and 2, then saving his best effort for the sixth and final game of the series in which he had 31 points and 13 rebounds in a blowout of the Magic.

Pierce can beat you many ways on the offensive end. He's got good enough range to be considered a serious threat from three-point range, he can knock  down the mid-range elbow jumper, he can slash or at least craft his way to the basket and he can bang underneath for some garbage scraps. He truly is a quadruple threat, and he's not a bad defender on the other end. And though he never smiles, he plays with huge heart and passion and that does matter.

While the NBA's great debate continues to ask one simple question -- LeBron or Kobe? -- I think it's time we start to recognize that Pierce just might be the league's third-best player.


OGS Notebook: Derby, Big Ben & Gretzky's House

One Great Season

A few topics made headlines in the sports world today. Here are some nuggets for you:

+ The Kentucky Derby should never be run at night. I understand the sport could use some new money, and an evening telecast certainly would address that issue, but the Derby is one of those events that should just stay where it is. Modernists love to rip the traditionalists who appreciate the pageantry of sport, but the tradionalists never get their way with anything. Just look at the NFL Draft, which was moved from Saturday at noon to Thursday and Friday evenings. I read today that it rated well and I'm sure the NFL pockets are deeper, but does it always have to be about the money? Is maximum profitability the only way to do it, or can just being profitable ever be enough?

+ Ben Roethlisberger said Monday he won't appeal the six-game suspension the NFL handed down last week. Smart move. The only way to climb out of the hole he's dug for himself is to do it slowly, and I think he will. He clearly had advisers write that statement for him today. No reason to think they'll abandon him going forward.

+ A buddy of mine called today to say he was in a restaurant recently and overheard a National League pitcher say, "Yeah, I met her at Gretzky's house. She was playing tennis and she was hot as hell." No link. Just funny.

+ I love how people are asking whether Kobe Bryant and the Lakers are losing their edge. Remember when the Cavs began the regular season 0-2 and ESPN was freaking out in November? Remember how the Cavs lost to the Bulls on Thursday and suddenly LeBron and company were being pushed to the limit? Remember how LBJ carried his Cavs to a Game 4 win in Chicago Sunday, putting his team one game away from advancing? Prior to both the Cavs-Bulls and Lakers-Thunder series, most folks said they wouldn't be surprised of the top seeds lost a game in the early round. I wish people would calm down, stick to their guns and quit changing their philosophies or abandoning rational thought just because of the outcome of one game. I realize the Lakers are tied 2-2, but the defending champions are still a very dangerous team in the Western Conference.

+ I'm embarrassed that I haven't watched much of the NHL Playoffs, especially considering I wrote this about the Stanley Cup back in December.


Kobe Or Lebron? I Vote Lebron

Kobe Bryant, Lebron James

One Great Season

Kobe or Lebron? Lebron or Kobe?

To try to figure out who the best player in basketball is right now, you need to define what "best" means. Because every time someone sides with Lebron, someone says, "Well, all I know is if the game is on the line, and you only have time for one shot, I want the ball in Kobe's hands."

True as that may be, and I agree with it actually, how exactly do you figure out who the best player is? Kobe has four championship rings, four more than Lebron. Does that mean Kobe's better? In the last 15 years or so, our just-win culture has placed so much more emphasis on championships than there used to be.

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What's complicated isn't determining who's better. The difficulty is actually in defining your terms. So what does "best" mean?

In my opinion, if you're the best player in the game, you:

+ Score many points
+ Pass and rebound well
+ Play good defense
+ Are dangerous at any point on the court
+ Involve all of your teammates
+ Make your team better than the sum of its parts
+ Win

Kobe doesn't really lack in any of these areas, but Lebron does the majority of them slightly better, which makes him more of a complete player. And in my book, that makes him the best player in the game.

The only knock I have against Lebron's game is that he'll put up a real ugly shot once in a while. But he can beat you in more ways than Kobe can, so Lebron gets the nod.

Is Kobe a brilliant assassin? More so than anyone in the league. And he certainly has that nice jewelry collection. But for the sake of cheap speculation, who's to say Lebron wouldn't have rings if Shaq -- in his prime -- was his wingman, and Phil Jackson was his coach?