“I Don’t Think He’d Wear Yellow…”

jesus.jpgThe Lakers lost today for the fifth time in their last seven games and slipped to seventh place in the Western Conference. Today was another example of the inconsistency in Lamar Odom and Smush Parker, who regularly alternate despondence and brilliance. Giving up 115 points today inflated their PA average to an unacceptable 103.2, deeming them inferior to the defensively inept Phoenix Suns (103.1). This is the worst defensive team Phil Jackson has ever coached and with another loss after today, it will be the worst record he has ever finished a season with. Today Kobe Bryant showed why he should be this year’s MVP.

A couple weeks ago, Phil said that the Good Lord himself couldn’t save the Lakeshow. This Easter Sunday, Kobe Bryant couldn’t either. But despite all of this year’s obstacles, because of Kobe the Lakers can reclaim sixth place with a win over Denver tomorrow and keep a playoff date with the Spurs whom they’ve taken two outta three from so far. What would Jesus do?

Kobe’s critics and his supporters will both look to today’s game as fuel for their respective arguments, but the chasm between them is the context. The prevailing logic among the pharisees is that the mark of an MVP is in team performance and Nash’s statistical dominance contributes to wins while Kobe continues to lose. Bullshit.

A teams record is reflective of their performance as a unit, but making it the primary factor in an individual award presupposes that every team is equal in their capabilities, which certainly isn’t the case. Including substitutes, this year’s Western Conference All Star squad had six sets of teammates, led by the Suns with three All Stars. Only Kevin Garnett(32-44), Ray Allen(31-46) and Kobe Bryant(40-37) represented their teams alone. Of them, only Kobe will make the playoffs.

The Suns (58-19) and Lakers (40-37) records may be laughable by comparison at face value, but a more revealing statistic lies underneath. Those same six teams that have multiple All Stars (Dallas, Phoenix, San Antonio, Utah, Houston & Denver) are all ranked ahead of the seventh place Lakers. Against those teams they have posted a respectable record of 9-11. Comparatively, Phoenix is only 10-9 against Western Conference teams above .500. Dallas is an impressive 13-7, led by MVP favorite Dirk Nowitzki, the beneficiary of an even deeper, more disciplined unit. The Lakers are one of the youngest, most inexperienced teams in an undeniably strong Conference. In addition to learning the mysteries of the Triangle, they’ve have also been confounded by a litany of injuries to their starters, who combined have missed more than 80 games. Their starting point guard could be back in the NBDL at any moment, and his backup was just there.

Kobe Bryant’s only deficiency this year was his inability to sustain a superhuman effort to curtail the losing streaks of a team ripe with shortcomings. He’s keeping a woefully substandard roster competitive with the league elite, yet he’s asked to do more? What more could he have done? When the team was at full strength he was taking seven less shots per game and they were battling for homecourt advantage. When Phil cut him loose he made league history and singlehandedly kept the team on track. Missing two or more starters, could any other player put together a five game winning streak by himself with 50 per?

The best player should by definition be the most valuable, yet we use different criteria to judge the two. Only two players this season are averaging 25, 5 & 5-Kobe and LeBron, who has admittedly sleepwalked through the Eastern Conference at times. If not for injury, Dwyane Wade would certainly round out this list which would also be the consensus of the league’s three best players, and there would be no argument amongst them about who’s number one. There are undoubtedly other statistical marvels in the game, but their effectiveness is dependent upon support. Are we as certain that Nash or Dirk could work their magic on any roster? Only a few can carry a team on pure will, giving us glimpses of the games evolution in their dominance. That’s an MVP. It was in that spirit that Wade was awarded 2006 Finals MVP and Kobe has exhibited an equally impressive performance in leading this M*A*S*H* unit into playoff contention. How long will we sit in awe of his ability and historical greatness yet continue to proclaim someone else more valuable? Besides Jesus.


21 Responses to ““I Don’t Think He’d Wear Yellow…””

  1. I agree with what you have to say about Kobe for MVP, and personally feel he is the most worthy candidate. However, the thing about the MVP is this: it always goes to a player from one of the top teams. I believe you would have to go back to the mid-70’s, to Bob McAdoo on the 49-win Buffalo Braves, to find a MVP from a team that won less than 55 games in that MVP season.

    Unless you go to Wikipedia right now, which currently lists Smush Parker as the 2006-2007 MVP. Wikipedia vandalism occasionally makes me smile.

  2. maxairington Says:

    That is true, but there have also been two MVP winners who were on below .500 teams in Bob Petit & Kareem. Jordan almost became the third player to do so, placing second in ’87 with a 40-42 record. That year he defeated the reigning three time MVP, Larry Bird who led the Celtics to another division title that year. From my understanding the implication is that Jordan’s performance was more valuable because he did more with less and made league history in the process. I think that Kobe has certainly placed himself among this kind of company.

    Grindhouse. Why? Cause it was that f’in good.

  3. Glad to hear people speaking some sense. I’m sick of Dirk and Nash getting all of the MVP hype and Kobe only being spoken about in passing. With regard to the MVP going to a player on a top team: agreed. However, we should recall that the league broke with tradition by naming Nash the first MVP not to lead his team in scoring. I see no reason why Bryant should get snubbed two years in a row when he’s carried a battered, depleted, inexperienced squad to the playoffs in an ultra-competitive Western Conference. If the Lakers were in the East there’s little question they’d be a fifty-win team.

    Love him or hate him it would be the tragedy of our generation if Kobe Bryant never won a single MVP award.

  4. The fact that the player who is so far and away better than anyone playing the game won’t win the MVP-AGAIN-simply proves the award is invalid and will never have any validity as long as media garbage votes for it. Last Year, Kobe had a year even better than Jordan’s 86-87 team, when adjudted for league averages, and was only 5th in the balloting while being left off of 25% or so of all ballots cast. If that doesn’t prove the award is a joke, I don’t know what does.

  5. maxairington Says:

    The thing is, you have to respect how Steve Nash has carried himself through all of this. He’s a praticularly humble and conscious cat, and I think he honestly wouldn’t have given himself MVP three straight years. But he’s also a competitor and he’s not going to wither from the storm of controversy if he does win it again this year. He repsects the game and is genuinely honored by the company he continues to find himself in. Can’t hate on that. If the Suns go down in the West again, which I believe they will, that doesn’t make Nash a choker. It just means he didn’t deserve three fucking MVP awards.

  6. I have absolutely nothing against Steve Nash. He’s a great competitor and has worked to become a great PG. I’d rank him all time only behind
    1. Magic
    2. Oscar
    3. Isiah
    4. Kidd
    5. Payton

  7. maxairington Says:


  8. maxairington Says:

    Oops! Stockton too.

  9. maxairington Says:


  10. Cyde was definitely a 2. I’ve thought about Stockton Vs Nash and I think you’re right. Over the course of their careers, you’ve got to put Stockton over Nash.

  11. I’ll never understand why everyone thinks Kobe is “the most talented” player in the league. Is there really any evidence for this? He’s good, even great, but how can everyone claim he’s “more talented” than, say, Tim Duncan?

    What’s the barometer people are using to say Kobe is the best? Is it really just about scoring, an aggressive defensive stance and some spectacular dunks? I’ve never understood this. People who like Kobe are constantly putting the blame for his lack of team success on his teammates and on injuries. For some reason other teams have managed to overcome long stretches with injuries to key players (Houston, Miami, Utah, Denver, Detroit), and last I checked also-rans and mediocre players like Dampier, Posey, Webber, Rafer Alston, and Antoine Walker were managing to get big minutes on championship contenders.

    Where are the people signing Tim Duncan’s praises? The guy has never played on a bad team, even when injuries and old age were ravaging his teammates. He is the best defensive center in the league, he’s the most efficient post scorer I’ve ever seen who wasn’t named Shaq or Olajuwan, he always makes the right pass and finds ways to get his teammates involved, and he’s only averaging 20, 10, 3.5 apg, and 2.5 bpg at age 31! And do I even need to mention that nobody wants to play the Spurs in the playoffs?

    And people have the audacity to say that Kobe freackin’ Bryant is clearly the most talented player in the league? Really? Whatever…

    If you think that Kobe is “clearly” the most talented player in the league, that just shows you don’t know what you’re talking about.

  12. maxairington Says:

    Tim Duncan was certainly a player I had in mind when I said that “Only a few can carry a team on pure will, giving us glimpses of the games evolution in their dominance. That’s an MVP.”

    Tim Duncan is a living testament to the value of fundamentals, but so is Kobe Bryant. Both execute with sound footwork and practically never travel. More than I can say for most folks, but Kobe’s creativity and superior handle give him options Duncan doesnt have. Tim Duncan is an excellent defender, and so is Kobe Bryant. How many players in the league can guard Iverson AND Bron? Tim Duncan has gone against the best the game has to offer and dominated, but so has Kobe.

    I think Kobe Bryant is a better overall player than Tim Duncan. He has an equally devastating array of post moves and his range extends much further than Duncan’s, in addition to a steady hand at the free throw line, something Duncan lacks. I don’t question Duncan’s play in the clutch, but I know that Kobe is more clutch.

    When their respective careers end, an effective argument could be formed on both sides as to who is the “better” player, but there is no real question about the more “talented” player. Kobe can do things with a basketball that defy physics. Tim Duncan has skills, but the foundation of his game is in the fundamentals. He is not going to beat you with athleticism.

  13. Great reply MA. I’ll just add this. Kobe is unique because his offense game is as perfect as anyne has ever seen. He can drive equally well with his left as well as his right. Jump equally well with either foot or off of both feet, finish equally well with either hand. He can rise up and elevate over his man from 28 feet or so and can split multiple defenders at will. His footwork facing the basket and with his back to the basket is as good as anyone’s ever has been and his sense of balance on par with that. Defensively he is a lockdown defender with the ball in his man’s hands and also in denying his man the ball. He is probably the most clutch player in league history and dominates a league with the biggest, fastest, most athletic players in the history of the game. Tim Duncan is a great, great player. But anyone who actually thinks he’s on par with Kobe as far as skill set is concerned simply doesn’t know a thing about basketball.

  14. maxairington Says:

    Thanks for the backup Kev. You might like this too…

  15. MA, thanks for the heads up. Dude is alright, recognnizes that Kobe is the greatest scorer of all time AND that “The Wire” is the greatest dramatic Television series of all time.

  16. maxairington Says:

    That’s me Kev, but The Wire isn’t televison. It’s HBO.

  17. That’s you? Much props.And BTW, anyone who appreciates the genius that is Scarlett, well, even moreso.

  18. maxairington Says:

    Don’t you go eyeballin my woman now. That’s my silky haired cracker….

  19. KevDog…

    Great, now we’ve exchanged ridiculous statements how our conclusions determine what we ‘know’ about basketball. 🙂

    MA (and KD)

    I guess this is kinda my point: You don’t have any way of measuring talent. So while Person A can say: “Kobe’s the best because he scores blah blah.” And person B can say “Dirk’s the best because his team is successful blah blah”, and person C can say “Duncan’s the best because he’s so important to his team blah blah.” You can’t quantify talent with statistics like ppg or team wins, because there are always equally valid counter-arguments. Suggesting Tim Duncan is less talented because he has a different skill set doesn’t really make sense. Why is one skill set more or less important than another? There hasn’t yet been a guy win a game by himself.

    What you’re really doing is just stating your personal preferences for a particular style of play. That’s fine, it just isn’t everyone’s.

    and for the record:

    Kobe can’t guard LeBron OR Iverson, they’ve both been able to score pretty easily against him….

    Of course, Timmy can’t guard Dirk or Amare, so I guess just because you’re a good defender doesn’t mean you can stop everyone…

  20. maxairington Says:

    Tim Duncan is not more talented than Kobe Bryant. How do you measure talent in this game? By one’s physical capabilities. Speed, quickness, strength, vision, hands, leaping ability, body control, etc. If you want to talk about who’s the better player, state your criteria and start measuring, maybe you have a case. But as far as talent-which you brought into the conversation by the way-it’s not even close. Duncan will tell you that himself.

  21. MA, give Scarlett a coupla strokes for me wouldya?

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