Monday, May 08, 2006

Quitters Never Win?

I quit exclusively watching the Suns/Lakers game in the middle of the third (flipping back to it occasionally) because it was unbearable watching a JuCo team take on the Suns. Frankly, I think I came out a winner.

But did Kobe Quit?

That's the question that's on everyone's mind today. Boyer posed it to Scott and I in an email this morning. Did he give up? Was he trying to prove a point to his teammates? His coach? The fans?

Shawn Marion was asked at halftime if they were worried that Kobe had 23 points at the half. He blew off the question saying - nah - we don't care what he has - we're up by 15. He's right! If we overlook the desperation rally game (5), the Suns withstood 4 quarters of the Kobe-ball we've been accustomed to all year without Raja Bell and won in LA, and they dominated during an additional 2 quarters of Kobe-ball in Phoenix. Down by 15 with two quarters to go, I've gotta think Phil said - hey - something here isn't working.

In the first four games, the Lakers shocked the world by working it inside, slowing it down (not jacking up a bunch of shots) and playing a team game, led by Kobe. And it worked. And it's not like they weren't trying to do it on Saturday - only the inside/out team game was not simply working in the first half. So at halftime what do you do?

You can't win if Kobe hoists up a bunch of shots. You can't win if he doesn't and the other guys don't step it up. What do you do?

It’s like Mike & Mike were talking about this morning - Kobe can't win….you’ve got 3 options….

- Kobe doesn’t shoot and they lose – people call him a quitter

- Kobe shoots a lot and he misses a lot and they lose – people call him a gunner

- Kobe shoots a lot and and hits…and they still lose – people say he needs to get his teammates more involved

So the only way Kobe’s coming out of this looking good is if they win….so how are they more likely to win? If he was sticking to the gameplan, it all makes sense. But isn’t there a point where you abandon that gameplan and say – screw it – I’m going for 60 tonight….? If he did quit – what point is he trying to prove that no one already knows? I’m the man? No one here can do this apart from me? Please sign me some help this offseason? All the world knows this….and ‘quit’ isn’t in him, I don’t believe. ‘Pout’, however, is…was he sabotaging the gameplan? Maybe… Steve Kerr said on ‘The Herd’ that he’d never seen Kobe less active. Even in games 1-4 when he was passing, he was still attacking the basket and creating shots for his teammates. Phil’s gonna create an offense where I’m not getting my shots? I’ll show him….there goes that post-season record….

The real answer may lie somewhere in between. Walton/Brown/Odom/Parker/Cook, etc. were playing beyond/above themselves for four games. And that’s how long they could keep it up. (either that or it’s how long D’Antoni figured out how to counter it….but I’m guessing it’s the former). This group has no business being up 3-1 on the Suns. Would Jordan ever have allowed that to happen, though? Jordan made people around him better (and for longer than four games) and still got his shots within the flow of the game – but he bent the flow of the game to suit him and his game.

The Suns are going to have a lot of trouble in the second round. The Clips actually ARE the strong inside/out TEAM that the Lakers pretended to be for a few games. And they can still get out and run – they’re all young and fast…even the bigs. The only thing the Suns have going for them is experience and HCA and Cassell carries the Clips in such a way that it negates the experience that the Suns bring to the table. This should be a fun series.


At 10:53 AM, Blogger Boyer said...

Here's my beef with Kobe. I have never seen an elite athlete, besides maybe the ever-loathable Barry Bonds, that pouts more than this kid. I mean, it is very evident to me that Jelly Bean and Mrs. Bryant handed everything to him and he was never the wrong party at any point in his life. He is an adult and acts like a 3 year old when things do not go his way. Was Jordan surly with the media at times, of course. Was he brutal on his teammates, most definitely. But did he visably whine and pout when things were not going well, no way. He willed that team to victory more often than not, and that is something I just see missing in Bryant. Call it intestinal fortitude, call it gamemanship, call it whatever you want. Kobe lacks it.


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