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Tag:Kobe Bryant
Posted on: January 15, 2012 11:12 am
Edited on: January 15, 2012 11:17 am
 

Kobe Bryant - Best Player in the NBA

I am having problems with many other NBA fans that I talk to in regards to who the best player in the NBA is. To me the answer to that question, and it comes as an automatic response, is Kobe Bryant. This has nothing to do with the recent 40 point scoring outbursts that he has been accomplishing at age 33 and with a sore wrist. This has more to do with his body of work, accomplishments, and most of all that "killer instinct" that he possesses. These attributes to me, make Kobe the consensus, hands down best player currently in the NBA. Yet, lately, when the conversation of who the best player in the NBA is comes up, it seems like that is not the case and it really disturbs me. In fact, ESPN recently launched a poll ranking the players in the NBA and Kobe was seventh on that list. Seventh best player in the league? To me that is just disrespectful to Kobe. Even more disturbing is that people seem to rank LeBron James ahead of him. That just makes no sense to me and brings up the notion that Kobe, may in fact be underrated.

For starters, here is a list of some of Kobe Bryant's accomplishments:

5 time NBA Champion(2000, 2001, 2002, 2009, 2010)
2 time Finals MVP (2009, 2010)
2 time Scoring Champ (2006, 2007)
NBA MVP (2008)
13 All Star Apperances
4 time All-Star Game MVP (2002, 2007, 2009, 2011) record tying*
2008 Olympic Gold Medal winner
13 All NBA selections (9 times All-NBA first team)
11 All NBA defensive team selections (record tying 9 first team selections)
Second all time in history for points in a single game (81 points)
Sixth, currently, on NBA all time scoring list and climbing (Has opportunity to become #1)


These are the obvious career highlights that make Kobe great, however, it goes beyond that. What really separates Kobe from the rest of the pack is his "killer instinct". Kobe has that "it" to his game where even at this stage of his career, he can simply take over a game and seems almost unstoppable. He has to be the most feared player the NBA has seen since Michael Jordan. When he gets that feeling or is given any type of extra motivation, opposing teams in most cases face severe consequences. Kobe has no limitations to his game. He can get to the basket whenever he wants to, has an unstoppable jumpshot with no range (Kobe does have the record for 3 pointers made in a game with 12), great free throw shooter, excellent defender, and most importantly he comes up big in the clutch. He is known as the best closer for a reason and is probably right up there with MJ as far as closing out games. He could be having the worst shooting game ever, yet, when the game starts ticking down, that "killer instinct" kicks in and when that happens there is almost no hope for opposing teams. He gets into zones which most basketball players never experience and it is just unbelievable to watch. I'm sure everyone remembers the 81 point game, which was unbelievable to accomplish in the NBA in this era, but there were so many moments in addition to that where it seemed that Kobe wasn't even an earthly being as far as what he does on a basketball court. In addition to that, Kobe gets better as the stakes get higher. He is no doubt, one of the best Playoff and NBA Finals performers in the history of the game. His competitive fire just burns and burns regardless of how much he accomplishes. He still works harder than most even when he is at the top and never resorts to being content. That is simply admirable and puts him in a class that very few players are in. While there are many great players in the NBA currently, none have proven to be in that class.

When the topic of who the best player in the NBA is, it seems like most people list LeBron James as #1. This drives me wild. LeBron is a great player and is one of the most gifted athletes in all of sports. There is no doubt that he can do so many things on the court that most human beings could never dream of doing. However, we are talking about a player that has never won a championship (lost twice in the finals) and is becoming known for disappearing in the clutch. How can a player that struggles to close out games be considered the best player in the league? LeBron has not shown that he has that unique "killer instinct" trait and has a lot more to prove before he can even be considered for that crown. I do not even believe that he is even the best player on his own team (Dwayne Wade holds that title) let alone best player in the league. I do not want to turn this into a LeBron bashing, otherwise I could go on and on. The point I am trying to make is that NBA fans need to be more informed and understand what it takes to be the best before they put any player ahead of Kobe Bryant. I hate the fact that this even needs to be pointed out because when Michael Jordan played there was never a question whether he was the best player in the league . I believe that Kobe Bryant has earned that status. Not only that, it also makes the nickname "Black Mamba" (the most deadly snake in the world) most appropriate for Kobe. This is Kobe's league until somebody takes it from him. What is scary is that, due to his great conditioning, he probably still has 4 or 5 good years left in him to add to his already amazing resume.

NBA fans are obviously free to have their own opinions. However, when considering who the best player in the NBA is; it is a fact that Kobe Bryant has a stranglehold on that title. I will go a step further by saying that he is not only the best player in the NBA today but he is second all time behind only the great Michael Jordan. No disrespect to Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Oscar Robertson, Hakeen Olajuwon or any other former players. But Kobe's greatness on the basketball court has put him ahead of everybody except Jordan. In fact when his illustrious career is over, he might be the only player who can ever even threaten Michael Jordan's status as the greatest of all-time. For me as a basketball fan, it has been an honor to say I was able to follow the careers of both players.

In closing, to everybody out there, make no mistake Kobe Bryant is the best player in the NBA. Period.

Posted on: January 6, 2012 4:07 pm
Edited on: January 6, 2012 4:16 pm
 

NBA Headlines 2 Weeks Into The Season

Nearly 2 weeks into this 66 game NBA season so much has already happened. With just a short part of the season underway, what headlines have been the most notable? Well here are a few things that have grabbed my attention thus far:

1) Being a New York Knicks fan, their slow start (2-4 record) has been very noticeable for me. I know this team probably needed a full training more than any other team. They acquired Carmelo Anthony at the trade deadline last year and Tyson Chandler this offseason and have not had any preparation time to build any chemistry or flow on either end of the floor. With that being said, they have also had to deal with injuries early on this season (Amare Stoudemire, Iman Shumpert, Jared Jeffries, Mike Bibby and ofcourse Baron Davis) which has also contributed to their slow start. They were supposed to be better on defense this year with the addition of Chandler but have only showed it in spurts thus far. I think there is still a ton of room for improvement on the Knicks and the 2 most important things that will lead to improvement are (1) Consistent effort on defense by the whole team but especially Carmelo and Amare, as the leaders of this team, they need to lead by example (2) the health and production of Baron Davis, I believe Baron still has a lot of game in him and he addresses a lot of the problems that the team is currently suffering through. Another thing to pay attention to with the Knicks is the job status of Mike D'Antoni. I think D'Antoni will not last through the season if the Knicks do not improve drastically and even if he does he is in the last year of his deal and the guy who hired him, Donnie Walsh, is no longer in charge. Questions about "retired coach" Phil Jackson will surely arise. Doesn't it seem like going back to the Knicks (was a player for the Knicks and on their last championship team in 1972) and having success there, is the only thing missing from the Zenmaster's illustrious career. I think the Knicks will turn it around and make a nice run...........or at least I hope so.

2) The Minnesota Timberwolves have become one of the most exciting teams to watch this season. Ricky Rubio has been great thus far for the team and the city. Kevin Love is looking like an all-star again. JJ Barea has produced nicely and the team is just filled with so much young talent. This team has the same vibe that the OKC Thunder had a couple years back. I don't expect them to make the playoffs this year but they are on the cusp of being a very good team for years to come. One thing to keep an eye on for the T'Wolves is Michael Beasley. I think Beasley is very talented but from what I have seen this year, he just doesn't seem to fit in. He still seems to be a bit selfish on the floor and I just think he becomes expendable if Derrick Williams continues to play well. I am curious to see if they try and trade him for another veteran player to help this team grow. Regardless, I think the future is looking bright in Minnesota.

3)  "The Injury Bug" has hit several teams this year already. Stephen Curry injuring his ankle 3 times in 5 games has to be concerning for Warriors fans out there. I had to make a note of that. It seems like he rolls his ankle every time he plays. You would hate to see a player that young have chronic ankle problems. Hopefully that is not the case and he takes some time to allow himself to heal before getting back on the court too fast. Zach Randolph, who was one of the main reasons for the Grizzlies success last year, is out 6-8 weeks with a knee injury. That could seriously damper the hopes of Memphis buliding on last year's success especially in a shortened season. Manu Ginobili is out at least 6 weeks with a broken hand, this is devastating to the Spurs as he is the primary scorer and playmaker on this aging roster. It will be interesting to see how they fare while he is out. Kobe Bryant seems to be doing fine with his wrist injury thus far hopefully he can make it through the season because without him the Lakers will sink.

4) The World Champion Dallas Mavericks have had a rough start to their season (3-5 record) and have taken a beating in some of those losses. I think many of us expected them to decline a bit after losing Caron Butler, Tyson Chandler, DeShawn Stevenson and JJ Barea this offseason but I don't think anyone expected it to be this bad. Sure, they will improve once Lamar Odom and Vince Carter become more comfortable with the team, but I have to say they look old and don't look like a team that will be a real threat this year. The good news is they have a great coach in Rick Carlisle and he will do his best to right the ship.

5)  The Miami Heat so far have looked dominant and unbeatable this year. They are playing at an extremely high level to start the season and have addressed may of the problems that they faced last year. LeBron James and Dwayne Wade have silenced the critics with their lack of three point attempts this year and are doing all of their damage closer to the basket. I think many other teams are wishing the critics would have kept their mouths shut and let them stay on the perimeter because those two may be the best finishers in the league right now and are starting to work really well together. I think they are more relaxed and are playing so good on both ends of the floor. Right now they are definitely the team to beat. One area they could improve on is working on beating those zone defense schemes. (That was hard for me to say considering I am a Heat hater, but I have to say the truth)

6) Sacramento Kings fired head coach Paul Westphal after only 7 games and after his clashing with DeMarcus Cousins. This was a little surprising and it seems like the Kings' owners chose to back their players over their coach on this one. My thought on that is Cousins and Tyreke Evans better be as good as the Kings expect them to be because they just got their coach booted.

These are just a few notable observations early in the season and I look forward to sharing more throughout the year. Overall, it has been an exciting start to the season and I can't wait to see what will happen next............
Posted on: December 4, 2011 3:16 am
Edited on: December 9, 2011 2:40 pm
 

2011-2012 NBA Season Preview

I am excited for the upcoming season as I'm sure most NBA fans are as well. Now, we can finally talk NBA basketball again instead of lockout updates and players playing with teams overseas. We can actually prepare for NBA basketball. With that being said here are some headlines to follow leading up to the start of the season.  What can we expect from the upcoming season? How could it possibly top last year? Which players will change teams? Which coaches are on the hot seat? How will Miami fare in Year 2 of the "Big 3"? Who will be the surprise team(s)? Who will be crowned 2012 NBA Champions?

This season should shape out to be a very entertaining season for more reasons than one. For starters, it will be another season that will include the "surprise element". What I mean by that is there is no clear cut favorite to win the title this year. The Dallas Mavericks surprised most of us last year after their impressive championship run and there is a strong possiblity that we may be surprised again. Parity amongst teams has increased drastically in the NBA over the past few years, it's hard not to believe that every team has a chance. The Western Conference has been very competitive for years now, sometimes only a few games separated the first seed in playoffs from eighth seed. Now, I think the same will start to happen in the Eastern Conference as some of the teams who have been bottom feeders for years now are ready to contend. Its clear now that any team could lose any given night and that makes every game exciting. 

The offseason and free agency is typically one of the most exciting times of the year. Due to the lockout dragging on as long as it did, it will be a very short free agency period. However, that just might make it even more exciting. Free agency is set to begin on Dec. 9 with the regular season set to start on Christmas. That leaves just a couple weeks of time for teams to pursue free agents as well as securing their own current free agents. Also, in addition to that, the amnesty provision could result in even more players being available than expected, perhaps even big names. Expect things to get very competitive in a hurry. Some notable free agents to track include:

Tyson Chandler                   
Marc Gasol
Nene
Jamal Crawford
David West
Samuel Dalembert
Grant Hill
Tayshaun Prince
Jason Richardson
Jeff Green
Caron Butler
JJ Barea
Shannon Brown
Josh Howard
Michael Redd



Some names rumored to be made available via the amnesty clause include:

Mike Miller
Baron Davis
Brandon Roy
Gilbert Arenas
Rashard Lewis
Vince Carter
Elton Brand
Richard Hamilton
Travis Outlaw

In addition to those names, we can't forget about the uncertain futures of superstars such as Chris Paul, Dwight Howard and Deron Williams who are all in the last year of their contracts and all sorts of doubt surrounding them resigning with their current teams. We will hear rumors all year similar to the chatter that went on with Carmelo Anthony last year. I believe that at least 2 out of those 3 will be moved prior to the start of the season or by the trade deadline. With all the free agents, amnesty casualties, and superstars available; player movement this year should be nothing short of spectacular.

This will be a vital season for many new coaches and current coaches to produce results. Some coaches may not have too long of a leash and others may be subject to very high expectations to meet. Here is a list of coaches to keep an eye on:

Mike Brown (Lakers- Large shoes to fill in LA with a team that expects to win......and Kobe Bryant
Erik Spoelstra (Heat)- Pressure to win with Big 3.....will Riley get impatient?
Mike D'Antoni (Knicks) - Last year of contract, Donnie Walsh gone, pressure to win in NY after acquiring Melo/Amare
Mark Jackson (Warriors) - Last coach was only given one season, Jackson has no coaching experience. Will he impress or fall flat?
Stan Van Gundy (Magic) - Has he lost this team? Doesn't seem like any of his players would mind if he was replaced.
Vinny Del Negro (Clippers) - Clippers have talent now, that leads to expectations. Will those expectations be met?

Everyone's favorite team to hate or love last year was clearly the Miami Heat. After a rocky start the team ended up 2 games shy of winning it all. That would be considered a successful season to many teams, however, it was clearly a disappointment in regards to this team. So what lies ahead? Do we see a similar result? Will they take the next step and win it all? Will they take a step back? To answer those questions adequately, we must see what additions/subtractions the Heat will make to their roster. They do not have any cap room so they will have to be creative in acquiring real talent. One of those ways could be to use the amnesty clause on Mike Miller and create cap room to sign a big man or a point guard, Because of how much Wade and Lebron dominate the ball, the money would be much better spent on a big man who could provide a defensive presence and rebound. The big names out there are out of their budget so they may be looking at the likes of somebody like Dalembert or take a chance on somebody like Eddy Curry. They could also use some more reliable shooters. Redd would be an ideal fit for them from an ability standpoint and a financial standpoint. One question that has to be asked is will the Big 3 all play out their full contracts with the Heat, or is it possible that management will deal one of them for a player who fits the team better? With names like Paul and Howard out there, it would have to be at least a possibility that the Heat throw in the towel on their current Big 3 and choose to include one of them in a deal. The Miami Heat will definitely contend next year, I don't expect them to be crowned champions just yet, but they are still a great team and definitely have a chance. It will be interesting to see how their roster looks coming into the season and what adjustments they make to get to the next level. 

As the teams stand right now (after free agency this picture will be very different), which teams/players will be surprising? Many teams will surprise us with their success and others might surprise us with their lack of success. One team to keep a close eye on will be the Boston Celtics. The window is closing on this team as father time is catching up to their Big 3. Trade rumors have already began to swirl surrounding Rondo which could create a problem. A compact schedule which will include games on three straight nights on several occasions certainly is not a formula for success for this team. They are obviously still a playoff team but I do not expect them to win their division or have home court advantage in the playoffs. The Celtics era with the current Big 3 has seen its best days. On a similar note, the Los Angeles Lakers, may be facing the same problem. They are just a year removed from back-to-back titles and three straight finals appearances, yet they seem to be headed in the wrong direction. A shortened offseason after bringing in a new coach will certainly hinder the team. The point guard position needs to be addressed as Derek Fisher is clearly past his prime and cannot hang with the likes of starting guards in the Western Conference such as Russell Westbrook, Chris Paul, Steve Nash, and Barea/Kidd. The Lakers simply lack the necessary youth, toughness and athleticism to compete in the Western Conerence. The fact that they have who I still consider to be the best player in the league, Kobe Bryant, still gives them a chance but they definitely need to improve in many areas. The Portland Trailblazers will be an interesting team to watch. They have an abundance of talent on the roster and some players with health concerns that decisions will need to be made on. The team has great young talent in Wesley Matthews, LaMarcus Aldridge, Nicolas Batum and the newly acquired Raymond Felton. They also have Gerald Wallace, who was acquired at the trade deadline last year, along with Marcus Camby, Brandon Roy (who they may choose to cut via amnesty clause) and also free agent Greg Oden, who they intend on bringing back. This is a loaded roster with no real weaknesses. If they can stay healthy, and thats a big if in Portland, this team is good enough to beat anybody and has a great home crowd to support them. I see them as a top 4 seed in the Western Conference. The Memphis Grizzlies, who were last year's surprise team, should also be able to build off their success last season. Lionel Hollins proved to be a very good coach and helped this team gain the confidence they needed to believe that they could compete. With Rudy Gay returning from a season ending injury the team improves on paper, but hopefully he buys into the team's concept when he was out as it proved to be more successful. If he messes up the chemistry the team had late last season, the team may be better off tradind him for a player who fits the team better. Retaining Marc Gasol is their most important task for the time being. If they lose him with nothing in return, the team will suffer dramatically. I see Gasol as the intangible on that team and maybe the most important next to Zach Randolph. Lastly, the New York Knicks will be a team to watch. This is another team that made some big moves last year and seem to be heading in the right direction. The questions surrounding the Knicks will be, who they add in free agency, if they somehow acquire Chris Paul this year, and if D'Antoni is truly the right coach for the team. The Knicks obviously need to be better on defense if they expect to contend for a title. They added Mike Woodson to the coaching staff to address that but it will also take a commitment from their players (especially Melo and Amare) to truly improve in that area. The team also needs to use their cap space wisely to surround their superstars with the right role players. The Knicks lack overall depth, size, and true shooters and if these areas are addressed they could be a legitimate contender. Without knowing what happens in free agency it is hard to pick a favorite to be crowned 2012 NBA Champions, but if I had to pick a few candidates I would say Heat, Bulls, or Knicks from the Eastern Conference and Thunder, Trailblazers, Mavs, or Lakers in the Western Conference. My predictions will be bolder as the season goes on.

These headlines as well as many others will make this season very exciting to follow. Hope you are all as excited as I am!!!

By: Derrick Karim
 
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com