Tuesday, March 2, 2010

I love Kobe, kinda

This entry will be both a defense and an indictment (something he's not foreign to) of Kobe Bryant.  Angelinos seem to come after me, calling me a hater; telling me that I support Lebron in some non-existent dichotomy.  I have defended Kobe many, many times, and yet these cries go unheard.  I have called Kobe the greatest player ever but to no avail.  This is going to be the final time I make this defense.  Please, refer to this from now on.


In his Bulls career, including playoffs, Micahel Jordan played 1,109 games and logged 43,361 minutes.  Assuming his short-lived Wizards run never happened, we'll call that his career.  Comparably, Kobe Bryant has played 1,162 games and logged 42,873 minutes.  Pretty similar number right?  However, after Jordan hit the 1100 game mark, he quit.  He hung em up.  He stopped playing (at least until he became GM of another team and drafted himself).  Kobe will finish this current season somewhere near 1200 career games played.  He will (undeservedly) finish second in the MVP race, and most likely lead his team to the NBA Finals.  So, 100 games after Jordan retired, Kobe Bryant will still be near his peak.  This is a stat that no one has bothered to mention in the media.  This number is fucking staggering. 


Added to which, Kobe already has four rings, with a really good fucking chance at five or even six.  Which would equal Jordan's total.  However, Jordan's six rings came sandwiched in a transition era of the NBA, an era without another transcendent star playing in his prime.  An era when the style of basketball that Jordan spearheaded was still in its infancy, and Jordan's last ring was won when Kobe Byrant was in his second year,  Tim Duncan was a rookie, Dwayne Wade was a sophomore in high school, Carmello Anthony was in 8th grade, and Lebron James was in 7th grade.  The superstars that have made the NBA more competitive today than any era other than the mid-1980s were not stars yet.  The stars of the old guard were all retired or playing out the string.  Jordan was left alone to win ring after ring after ring with arguably the greatest coach of all time, and arguably the greatest second banana of all time.  Kobe has a chance to match Jordan's ring count, and do so in an exponentially more difficult era.  To not mention Kobe in the greatest players of all time discussion is fucking ludicrous.  He can defend, he can score with the fucking best of them, and he is arguably second only to Jordan in the competitive drive department.  Jordan's mythology will always outweigh Kobe's, much to Kobe's very visible chagrin—but mythology does not make history, and Kobe's career is second to none.  I mean that. 


But on the other hand…


This season has to be considered one of Kobe's strangest seasons.  Let me preface this by saying I am about to throw out numbers or "stats."  A certain Kobe apologist currently reading this seems to think that while stats are important, relying to heavily on them is unwise.  He has taken to calling me "a stat guy," as if my reliance on science, math, and numbers is some sort of political alignment akin to being pro-choice or pro-gun control.  Let me set this record straight.  We are all "stat guys."  Every one of us.  Yes you can learn a lot from watching and observing, but honestly, all you're doing is keeping your own stats.  When Kobe makes a long jumper with a hand in his face, it does not count for more points in the stat book, but nor does when he misses an open jumper.  Stats will show that Kobe makes less shots with a hand in his face, so the successful jumper probably happened with a frequency consistent with how often Kobe makes well-defended jumpers.  The stats refuse to lie.  I am not a stat guy.  Stats are simply numbers that tell you what happened.  You can't argue with them.  They're fucking science. 


In 55 games this season, Kobe has shot from the field less than 40 % fourteen times.  To put that in perspective, Lebron James has done so seven times.  Kobe has shot less than 35% eleven times, Lebron has done it twice.  Kobe has shot less than 30% six times.  Lebron hasn't done that all season.  I'm not trying to draw a dichotomy here, I'm simply arguing that a guy whose name is being mentioned for MVP ahs had six games in which he shot respectively: 5-20, 7-24, 4-21, 4-19, 2-12, and most recently 3-17.  That's 88 missed shots (essentially turnovers) in 6 games.  That's almost 15 MISSED shots a game.  Now I will concede that these six games represent the worst games he's had all year, and in those six games, his team managed to go 4-2.  I will also concede that for two of those games, he was hurt.  However, I am not arguing that Kobe Bryant doesn't have unfathomable ability to score the basketball.  I am arguing that in those six games, his team won DESPITE his horrible shooting night.  I am also arguing that those missed shots (the second worst result of a given possession) are products of Kobe buying into the same belief that Laker's fans continue to buy: that Kobe is the best player in the NBA.  Perhaps if Kobe did not have this maniacal drive to prove himself INDIVIDUALLY, he wouldn't have games in which he missed a staggering seventeen shots. 


I have to go to work now, and I will continue this tomorrow, please read tomorrow too..