Thursday, April 14, 2016

Kobe's 60-point Finale--Totally Bogus

All you Laker fans are in la-la land, Do you really think Kobe Bryant's 60-point outburst in that 101-96 win over the Utah Jazz was for real? It was bogus, carnival-sideshow time.

Utah was in on it. Their players let it happen. They didn't care about the game. It meant nothing to them. They knew when they were playing that their slim hope of squeezing into the playoffs had vanished, that their season was over after that game. So they clearly switched into low gear, playing minimal defense. If Utah had been playing seriously, trying to win, Kobe might have scored 15-20 points, shooting 20-30%--his usual so-so game.

This game was an aberration, even from the Lakers' standpoint. Kobe's teammates were feeding him, letting him take almost every shot. So he took 50, making 22, which, with all the help he was getting, wasn't all that difficult. It was like an exhibition game, on a lower level than even the All-Star game.

What was the point? All it proved is that Kobe could score a lot of points playing against a soft defense in an offense geared to setting him up. He's a broken-down, twenty-year yet. The only way he could score 60 is with a lot of help from both teams.

It was all fake but Bryant acted like it was for real. Many fans, not knowing the Utah players were mentally on vacation, thought it was real too.

Call it a massive exercise in ego-stroking. For Kobe fans it was fun. For the rest of us it was just an irritant, something to avoid.

I, for one, am glad the Bryant circus is finally history. With him and all the nonsense associated with his retirement in the rear view mirror, the Lakers can get back to focusing on winning games.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Fed Up With Kobe Bryant And That Final Tour

Are you as sick to death of Kobe Bryant as I am? Has all this fawning and gushing over the LA Lakers' retiring guard been turning your stomach? Are you as happy as I am that it is finally over?

This "final tour" wasn't at all necessary. What did it accomplish aside from stroking Bryant's insatiable ego? Yes he was a great player but players better than him retired without all the over-the-top fanfare. When Michael Jordan and Kareem and Wilt and Bird and Magic called it a career, nothing remotely like this happened.

This has been the worst season in Lakers' history, with only 16 wins. Of course, the record would be better if the team had been concentrating on winning games rather than showcasing Bryant  The Lakers have a nucleus of good young talent, including D'Angelo Russell, Jordan Clarkson, Larry Nance and Julius Randle. This season they were supposed to learn to play together. We were supposed to get some idea whether they fit in the Lakers' future. But we found out very little because the focus was on Kobe, not them.

What these young players mainly learned was how to play with a broken-down has-been who keeps demanding the ball even though his shooting skills have woefully diminished. He can sometimes score in the 20s and 30s but it takes him so many shots and totally throws the rest of the team out of positive offensive rhythm. When he's on the floor it's all about feeding him, not playing team basketball. How's that for a learning experience?

When it's time to play defense and Kobe is on the floor, the Lakers have been in real trouble because Bryant can't play defense any more, so it's four Lakers vs five opponents. You can't win many games that way.

So, for the Lakers, this has been a wasted season. The coach, Bryon Scott, is probably a lame duck. He's there now because he knows Kobe and Kobe is more comfortable having an old friend as a coach during this final season. Once again, it's all about Kobe and what makes him happy, not about the team.

As you might expect, the Lakers are circling the drain. They had hoped to attract some free agents for next season. There's plenty of money because they won't have squander any more on overpaying Kobe. But what quality free agent wants to step into the Laker chaos?

While the Kobe circus has been grinding on, there has been an ugly D'Angelo Russell mess playing out. Russell recorded Nick Young making comments that have compromised his romance with rapper Iggy Izalea. That record came out on the Internet. Russell claims he didn't release it but few believe him. The players are furious with Russell and now thoroughly distrust and dislike him..According to sources close to the team, things are so bad the Lakers may have to trade him. The Lakers haven't been able to give this critical issue their full attention.

I'll give you one guess why.