Wednesday, May 23, 2012


I Wouldn't Doubt Kobe Bryant.


“I’m not fading into the shadows, if that’s what you’re asking. I’m not going anywhere…We’re not going anywhere. It’s not one of those things where the Bulls beat the Pistons and the Pistons disappeared forever. I’m not going for that (stuff).” The Black Mamba.

Need we say anymore? Or did he paint the picture clearly enough for you? Easel, canvas, artists brush or mid-range stroke, how do you want it? Everyone may have predicted the L.A. Lakers would lose to the NBA favorite Oklahoma City Thunder but the ones who shed the same lack of confidence on this contending ball-club and their superstar leader can step back into the shadows of their doubt.

I wouldn't bet against Kobe Bryant.

Would you?

They're going to say it. They're going to say he's done. Not what we was, vulnerable, easy to beat. They're going to say he can't get it done. Too old, the venom's gone, the dobermans been made to sit. They're going to compare this to last years sweep and the slow, head-down walk off the Dallas Maverick floor, like his walk off the Boston parquet a couple of years and championships earlier. They're going to talk about the injuries, how money his clutch is really worth and his play with his teammates. They're going to put him further down on the list then eighth best player in the league.

They're going to be all wrong.

And proved as such. It's just in Kobe's nature. He's no gold and shrinking violet. This soldier has a purple heart. That competitiveness That killer instinct that no one else in the league has as deadly. Not Oklahoma, not LeBron. Not since Jordan. Kobe's still got so much to prove. He wouldn't have it any other way. To the fans, critics, haters and himself Kobe will always need to do more. That's just the way the curse is when your the greatest. Bean's been here all too many times before though. From the airballs to the catcalls. He knows struggle. He knows survival. He knows no rival...

...Well maybe a few.

Along with Oklahoma Kobe's still got Dallas to avenge. LeBron and Miami to beat and critics and his own demons to exorcise. Kobe won't stop to all negative notions of him are ghost. That's how much spirit he has. How strong, driven and resilient he is. As passionate and enthusiastic as a Rookie of the Year. Consistently in his prime like an MVP, no matter who gets the trophy. This legendary legacy is still lasting. Chapters are yet to be written to his verse in Basketball's Bible. He's still a few points behind Wilt (100 in a game to Kob's 81), still behind Kareem all-time (points recorded) and still behind Michael Jordan's all round game.

He's still beside himself with the desire to will it all away.

Still like The Beatles, to overcome 'The Heatles', the hammer of Thor Thunder (or any of the other supergroups or superteams associated with National Basketball) Kobe won't get by without a little help from his friends. His 42 points alone can't get it done. Thanks to the Buss bredrin some relationships with some family favorites became fractured. Kobe's already lost Lamar Odom and Derek Fisher and it will take some major LeBron like recruitment to get them back...if at all. Needless to say the Lakers need to look to keep young guns happy like Ramon Sessions and Devin Ebanks, as well as defending the spots for their old guards like Matt Barnes and Metta World Peace. Still it's Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum that need to show up in more ways than one next season. The Lakers lost the Chris Paul and Dwight Howard race and if they want to pick up anyone like Deron Williams or improve what they have they need to not point fingers and instead extend a hand.

No matter who stays or leaves like Phil Jackson or Mike Brown Kobe will be still here and still Kobe. Putting his team on his shoulders and proving what burdens wrong. Sure the Lakers window of opportunity may be closing but Kobe's career is far from the drawing of the curtains. Win or lose. The shadows can wait until the end of the Kobe Bryant story sees the light.

“I’m not fading into the shadows, if that’s what you’re asking. I’m not going anywhere." Kobe Bryant.

Monday, May 14, 2012


Got Clutch?


I know making a big, team changing move before the late season trade deadline is a clutch decision, but you don't make a last second play by trading one of your and the NBA's greatest clutch players of all time. Here's guessing and proving the Lakers organisation didn't learn from losing Robert Horry to free-agency in the past. Now even though Jordan Hill is trying to prove he's a big contributor the Lakers could have given up someone else for him. Not Derek Fisher.

The Lakers are supposed to be a "family". Again did they not learn from losing Lamar Odom and all the problems (for each party) that came with that? Guess not. Even Kobe wants to play LeBron this Summer and be the best recruiter and get his boys back this offseason, but just like the signing rules that prevent the team from reacquiring Lamar, this 'aint going to happen yet...if at all.

Sure, all of this is no new news but it's going to make for one hell of an NBA Playoff story come tonight as the Los Angeles Lakers and the Oklahoma City Thunder start their playoff series. David Stern couldn't script it or nix it better. The Oklahoma City Thunder are already the league favourites (the experience and competitive advantage of Fisher could be the final piece to this championship puzzle too) to win it all and many consider the Wild West torch already passed from the purple and gold grip to the former Seattle Supersonics.

Now after the Thunder stormed through and swept the reigning champions the Dallas Mavericks who of course swept last years reigning champion Lakers Oklahoma look stronger than ever. As for the Lakers unfortunately after an unnecessarily drawn out seven game series with the Denver Nuggets the dampened Lakers look like they're in for a real dry patch in their abilities to weather Kevin Durant and co's storm over a seven game series...if it even reaches that.

Sure, let's have some hope though. If Andrew Bynum can grow by the game and take on Laker hater Kendrick Perkins in the post and if Ramon Sessions can show more of his potential against Russell Westbrook then who knows. Player for player, bench for bench the Lakers can go toe-to-toe with the Thunder. Their perimeter defensive trio of Matt Barnes, the elbow artist formerly known as Ron Artest and the Doberman could really contain Kevin Durant and as 'Sixth Man of the Year' James Harden goes to war with Metta World Peace, as long as no more 'Ludacris' arms are thrown there will be another match-up to revel in.

Then of course there's Kobe. One of the Lakers and the leagues greatest champions and clutch players, despite some saying he's not as "money" as everyone else affords. There is nobody-you see-who many would want with the game-ball in their hands in the waning, critical seconds of a game. Except...Derek Fisher. Even Kobe knew when to defer to him, like he did this year as D-Fish downed Dallas in a revenge rematch this season. Sure the Lakers may have Steve Blake's threes on point but from the history to the legacy nobody beats Derek Fisher.

The buzzer time with the twine is Derek's major moments and when it comes to winning big games Fisher is king. From 0.4 seconds in San Antonio to silencing Philly, Boston and having more tricks in the bag for the Magic Fisher is THE man. While also taking charges and energizing his team from the locker room, Derek is also much more than a clutch-hitter, he's a big time team player. Still it's behind the three-point line with the game on a similair straight which is where Derek Fisher makes his bread and butter and championship gold.

Now 'the Fish that saved L.A.' could be 'the Fish that slayed L.A.' as these two teams go to battle. Fisher still has love for Kobe and the Laker fans, but when it comes to the court it's all business and in some ways personal. Revenge on the organisation which traded him will be a dish best served in the the fourth quarter. Kobe's going to play Fisher hard and the Lakers former number 2 will do the same in kind. No Laker fan wants to see the guy that helped them win so much be the playoff death of them but if it comes to the clutch can you see anyone else taking that big shot against the Lakers? The NBA powers that be, God's of sports story-telling and the rival Oklahoma Thunder wouldn't have it any other way.

Now the question is will Derek Fisher make the Lakers pay?

Only time will tell...the time that ticks down in the fourth quarter. The games are about to begin. Let's get it on!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012


A Quick Impact.


After all the nixed Chris Paul trade and the eventual Clipper problems that came with it the Lakers finally made their point with the signing of Ramon Sessions a month and change back. What a change it was too. This star of the future was heralded as the next leading Laker and the teams first real Point Guard in years. With all due respect to playoff hero and ultimate team player Derek Fisher and all he's given the team (raise his jersey in honour Buss family) these people making that point about the new point may just have one.

Its been a long time since the Lakers had some Magic at the leading, quarterbacking Point Guard position...literally. Still for the last potential promising P.G. that suited up in Lakers purple you might have to look to 1996 or currently at one of the assistants on the Atlanta Hawks bench. At 40 Nicholas Van-Exel may have the young, soaring Hawks by the talons as a player development coach but in his younger days 'Nick The Quick' was the flash and fancy that looked to bring the gold shine back to the rebuilding, post 'Showtime' nighties Lakers.

Whether it be showing a Fisher like clutch in the playoffs even before Derek, by hitting an overtime and a deciding basket against San Antonio in the 1995 playoffs. Or putting the final nail and basket in by scoring the last Laker point in the fabled fortress of the Boston Garden Nick Van Exel is a part of Los Angeles Laker history. From "handling the rock well" as Jigga Man, Jay-Z rapped on his wife's massive hit 'Crazy In Love' to dazzling with his dribble drives, this kid left fans drooling and opponents schooled. Along with the All-Star all round game of shooting guard Eddie Jones, Nick formed a backcourt set to be at the frontline of the Lakers flashy future. It all looked so good for the mid-nighties, middle of the road Lakers. Until things got better for the team and worse for Nick and Eddie as Shaq and Kobe came into town.

This still resulted in an All-Star year where Shaq, Kobe, Eddie and Nick all suited up for the '98 Western team in the NBA's mid-February classic. Still when problems and disagreements ensued (even before Bryant and O'Neal got into it) the fabulous Lakers four before Malone and Payton suited up disbanded like The Beatles. Still this dream team woke up an otherwise dormant Lakers before the team picked up a Fisher, a Fox and a Big Shot Bob, moved to STAPLES and packed up some championships with them.

Nick's quick video game play made him and the Lakers an armchair, television fans favorite, whether for the remote control or the joystick generation. After exceeding the second round, 37th Draft choice selection with the Lakers Nick flashed forward through Denver, Dallas, Golden State, Portland and San Antonio, giving the Nugget, Maverick, Warrior, Trail Blazer and Spur ballclubs some real brilliance.

Whether wearing 9, 31 or 37 or 19, or hitting numbers like 14.9 points per, Van Exel put up the big numbers in excess of a decade in the game. The quick draw lefty shot opponents down in the Wild West and drew double teams and fouls the right way, leading to his unorthodox one foot behind the line free throw habit. Nick stayed ahead however, from being a top assist man over the seasons to leading all the Lakers in history with three-pointers made before Kobe took over him. Even before he was replaced in the Forum by new Laker talents, Nick earned his place in purple and gold legacy no matter how quick it lasted.