Saturday, October 27, 2007

Ko Be or not Ko Be - there really is no question


Post #16 Topic: Kobe’s Beef

If you have been reading this column regularly then you are undoubtedly impressed by my predictions.

I successfully predicted a Rockies/Red Sox world series

I successfully predicted that Nigel Dawes would be a worthwhile call-up for the Rangers.

AND, I successfully predicted that Kobe Bryant would be traded to the Bulls. Today, ESPN reported that there have been “substantial ongoing talks between the Bulls and the Lakers, regarding the future of Kobe Bryant”. Out of the three aforementioned correct predictions, you’ll note that the Kobe to Chicago is perhaps the least impressive. Due to the lack of NBA teams boasting both considerable youth and talent, there were only several options to begin with: The Clippers, the Nuggets, the Nets, the Mavericks, the Suns and the Bulls. The Sonics are not included because, as mentioned in an earlier column, Kevin Durant is untradable.


But now that Kobe seems to certain to be on his way out… we sports fans must ask… Kobe, WHAT’S THE BEEF?

Kobe seems so certain that he wants to get out of Los Angeles. Unfortunately, in deciding to forego a college education, Kobe has not learned that the grass is not in fact always greener. In Los Angeles, Kobe is THE STAR. He is the leader of a team that although currently inexperienced, has room and money to grow through some aggressive trading, smart drafting, and player patience. Should Kobe wind up in Chicago, he is joining a team that has several of its own “rising stars”, of which at least several will still be around should he switch cities. People in Chicago want to see Luol Deng. He’s insanely athletic and during his third year in the league is poised to become one of basketball’s most dangerous weapons. People in Chicago want to see Tyrus Thomas, who could potentially be a BETTER version of Dwight Howard (who I predicted to have a monstrous year). Thomas rebounds, he blocks, he runs and plays defense. Should he ever EVER become more comfortable in the post, either with a short jumper, a small hook, or a quick step to the net, Tyrus Thomas will be a star.

The Bulls also have a supporting case full of guys that, if playing elsewhere, could also be considered stars. Ben Gordon has quietly been one of the NBA’s most consistent over the past few years, AVERAGING MORE POINTS OFF THE BENCH THAN WHEN STARTING. Kirk Hinrich is one of the smartest PGs in the game and will be crucial to the continued development of the Deng/Thomas combination. Joakim Noah showed us two things in college: That he can be the team star, and he can be the guy to do all the “little things” that make winning possible. As of yet, which role he will take with the Bulls has yet to be determined, but he is sure to take on one or the other. Oh and then there’s Ben Wallace, who now more familiar with Coach Scott Skiles’ defensive scheme, should return to the effectiveness he became synonomous with in Detroit.

Should Kobe be traded to the Bulls, several of these guys (for the record I predict Joakim Noah, Ben Gordon, Andres Nocioni and a future 1st rounder), he will quickly find out that the grass is most certainly not greener.

Coming to Chicago would mean Kobe would INSTANTLY expected to win a championship. His major beef is that LA is not in a position to compete, thus we can assume that he would only accept a trade to a club that was… and that club will then be expected to win. The question then is, “Can The Bulls Win?” My suspicion is yes… now. However, I feel that with Kobe, the Bulls would only become more ineffective. Rather, Kobe’s best chance at winning a championship may ironically be to stay in Los Angeles. Critics claim that Andrew Bynum could develop into the starting center the Lakers had been hoping for. If he should, then Kobe Bryant would be in position to benefit the most. All of the sudden, the return of the inside presence that helped Kobe stand out returns Kobe to his “dominant” notoriety, and more importantly, some of his weight is lifted. Then Lamar Odom slides into the spot he should be in.. 3rd option, and gets more chances to draw a double team and create more room for Bynum and Kobe. Then rookie and 2nd year PGs Jordan Farmar and Javaris Crittenton get significant court space to show their worth, and fight to become the future point guard of a team that all of the sudden doesn’t look so bad. PLUS, the Lakers salary number will be low, their attractiveness becomes higher to the following year’s free agents. Oh, and Phil Jackson is still Phil Jackson.

Bringing in Kobe relegates the remaining young Bulls as supplementary players. If I’m Jerry Krause/Scott Skiles… I want Deng taking 25 shots a night…getting him accustomed to the weight of a city hungry for a return to basketball glory. On top of that, I want ben Gordon rushing the ball up the court to set up fast-breaks for Thomas and Noah, both of whom should start getting comfortable in a supporting role. In addition, I’d want Hinrich handling the ball with 5 seconds on the clock, when the Bulls are down by 1 to the Cavs and need a “bright” ball-handler. Those demands seem to set Chicago’s starting lineup. So where does Kobe fit in?

I don’t think that he does. Financially and player-wise, Kobe does seem the perfect fit. But Kobe is one of those rare players, that comes along every so often, that only makes sense to trade for if your roster is otherwise bare of “ball-demanding” player. As of now there are only a couple of teams that fit that bill.

Toronto: Young, talented, good role players, Chris Bosh… But a trade of Barngani and any 5 of the other bench players on their roster makes this unfeasible.

Houston: Tracy McGrady tends to make the worst of most of his good situations. After 3.5 years in Houston (injuries), Tracy still hasn’t reaped the benefit of playing with the games BEST CENTER. Send Houston Tracy, along with Shane Battier and Luther Head (more as insurance policies on Tracy’s crumbling body), and perhaps Kobe gets his star center back.

Atlanta: Kobe Bryant for Joe Johnson, Marvin Williams and Josh Childress. This gives the Lakers a great young starting 5 with Childress and Johnson at the guards, Williams and Odom at the forwards and Bynum at center. Plus, it gives the Hawks what they really need… A GO TO GUY NOT NAMED JOE JOHNSON, To play with rookie Al Horford, one of the NBA’s most underrated players in Josh Smith (and his 16 pts, 3 blks and 8 rebounds), and Shelden Williams clogging the middle until something better comes along. The Hawks also have Acie Law, entering his 1st year, who could be the starting PG sooner rather than later.

But Kobe won’t go to any of these places, since according to Kobe, only Chicago and Dallas are poised to win championships. Which raises another point. A good Basketball player takes the responsibility of creating a winning team upon himself, doesn’t look for a place where other people’s sweat have created a championship contender, swoop in and take everyone’s minutes and hotel clerk/prostitutes.

Dear Kobe,

Stop being an ignorant ass. You are no longer the best player in the league. Lebron is. And Lebron was able to get his team to the finals BY HIMSELF. You never have and never willk do that. Perhaps this is a sign that you can’t win a championship on your own, and rather, you are merely a product (albeit a very good one) of the players that surround you. Furthermore, if these teams you are requesting to be traded to are already of championship caliber, then why would they upset their chemistry by adding a brat who sells out his teammates. And why would the fans join your fan club when both Chicago and Dallas have put in their respective time rebuilding, and having some home grown talent to show.

I believe, Kobe, that you would be wise to stay in L.A, the home of the “vicious cycle”. So long as the Lakers are in LA, then Jack Nicholson comes to the games. So long as Jack Nicholson makes the Lakers “cool”, the rest of the seats are filled with celebrities and the rest of LA. So long as the seats are filled, the Lakers are making money. And so long as they Lakers have money, they will spend it, to make sure that Jack Nicholson is still a fan.

Agreed Kobe. Ever since Shaq has left you’ve been on your own. But what did you expect? All of these other teams that have become good again have done so through the draft and patience. The Lakers, although richer are no different than these other clubs. So hold your horses. Keep your points up and your speeches down. And in several years, the right free agent, the right draft pick, or the right injury to your right foot will come along and make the Lakers the competitive force they have been in the past, once again.



Other Notes:

Somebody tell Korean Restaurants to stop serving Hamburgers.

The other day I went to a Rangers/Devils game. The Rangers shut the Devils out but that is irrelevant. At the game I saw somebody wearing an Atlanta Thrashers jersey. We get it buddy, your powerful brain acknowledged that this was a hockey game, and figured out to put on a Hockey Jersey. I was pissed. I mean who really wears a Jersey of a non-playing team to a game. That’s like wearing a Dr. Dre concert shirt to an Enya performance. My anger towards that man was soon dismissed when I noticed a man wearing a SeaHawks Jersey.

Imagine what its like to be a fish. Your whole life you swim around knowing your environment and satisfied that “what you see is all that will ever be”. Then some ass comes and plucks you out of the water and right before you die, right before you’re about to kick the literal bucket, and all the while you’re struggling to discern what strange world you’ve been taken to, right before you get that funny looking lock jaw, some obnoxious kid comes and pours Cheetos on your head. YOU HATE CHEESE. What a cruel world.

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