Tag:Lebron James
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 12, 2012 3:09 pm

Should the Miami Heat break up their "Big 3"?

Just a few weeks into the season, there is no doubt that the Miami Heat appear to be the team to beat. They have bounced back well after losing in the finals last year to the Dallas Mavericks and have made adjustments that have made them the favorites early on this year. While things are going well for Miami in this early season, I still ask myself the big question: Will the "Big 3" all play out their contracts with Miami or will the team be broken up?

Some might think this is a dumb question to ask at this point for many reasons. The Heat did make it to the finals last year and even though they lost they were very close. Some might believe that a few slight adjustments and better complementary players like Shane Battier and Norris Cole might get them over the hump this year. This all may be true and the with the way Miami has started the season, it is hard to argue against that. So why consider breaking them up? One big reason for me is the availability of Dwight Howard.

It seems as though there is no chance Dwight Howard remains with Orlando past this season and I highly doubt Orlando will allow themselves to just let him walk via free agency. We have heard a ton of trade rumors already surrounding Howard and I think those will only heat up more as the season continues. I state this to point out the essence of time surrounding where Howard ends up. From the Miami Heat's perspective it seems as if there would be no reason for them to jump into the Dwight Howard sweepstakes at this point. However, they have to understand that if they are able to put together a deal (and they have the pieces) and they pass it up, they may never get an opportunity to acquire a player like Howard again. Now if the team goes on to win championships with the team they have, then I'm sure they will never give it a second thought. However, if their current "Big 3" do not end up winning some championships, then I think they would look back and regret not trying to acquire Howard. With that being said let's take a look at a potential deal in which the Heat could acquire Dwight Howard and evaluate how it helps the team.

Miami would send Chris Bosh, Mario Chalmers, Mike Miller, Joel Antony, a future draft pick and cash to Orlando.

Orlando would send Dwight Howard, Hedo Turkoglu, Chris Duhon to Miami.

First let me explain how this helps Orlando. The Magic would receive another star player in Chris Bosh while also adding nice complementary pieces in Chalmers, Miller and Anthony. They also get to rid themselves of their two least desirable contracts in Turkoglu and Duhon which helps them financially. A future draft pick could help them build even though Miami's pick will not be a high draft choice. But overall, from the Magic's perspective this deal should work for them as they will probably not get this kind of talent back in any other deal. The fact of the matter for Orlando is that they are probably not going to be able to retain Howard so they must get as much talent in return as possible. They will be put in a position, similar to the position the Denver Nuggets were in last year with Carmelo Anthony, where they are forced to take the best deal possible even if that means sending Howard to a team that they may not prefer to send him to.

For the Miami Heat, one might consider this a "stretch" and not worth doing. Allow me to explain. Dwight Howard is the most lethal post presence in the NBA on both ends of the floor. He finishes around the rim better than any other center in the league and has the athleticism to keep up with Wade and Lebron. They would also have a player that they could dump the ball in the post to and allow him to work. This would also create double teams that could free up Wade and Lebron even more (something Chris Bosh is unable to do as he is mostly a perimeter player). The Heat could then move Haslem back to the power forward spot where he could flourish next to Howard. He can hit those mid-range jumpers consistently and with Howard getting most of the attention from opposing defenses, he would see a ton of open looks. Miami could also ease the pain of losing Chalmers and Miller (who hasn't really adjusted well in Miami anyway) with rookie Norris Cole, who Miami has been very impressed with this year, Duhon, Battier, Turkoglu and James Jones. The Heat's starting lineup would be Cole, Wade, LeBron, Haslem, and Howard. The they could bring Turkoglu and Battier off the bench and both can play multiple positions. I think this definitely improves the Heat on offense, however, defensively it would make them maybe the best team ever. Howard is a perennial defensive player of the year candidate and has won the award three straight years. He would also give the Heat a boost in rebounding and shot blocking in the post (which are both deficiencies for the Heat) and if you team him up with James, Wade, and Battier; they would instantly become one of the best defensive teams that the NBA has ever showcased. I know it sounds cliche but we all know defense wins championships.

It would be tough for Miami to abandon the plan they have for their current "Big 3" because it is still just their second year together and they are playing well. However, with this move they would have a "Bigger 3" and one that I think would yield them those multiple championships that they promised the city of Miami.

There are also many hurdles to the deal as I'm sure the Magic would prefer not to make a deal with their cross state rival, especially knowing how dangerous the team they would be assisting them in establishing could be. However, they may not have a choice because if that deal was on the table and they had no better offers, how could they say no? Especially in this case where they would be receiving good talent in return.

This is obviously an idea that may never come to fruition, however, as I continue to think about it and evaluate the effects for both teams, it just seems like it makes more and more sense for both teams.

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