Kobe Bryant: Credit Aldous Snow for Sasha Vujacic’s Success

Most of the time Kobe Bryant is pretty hard-nosed and serious. There are some moments though when Kobe takes off the game face and actually plays around, like when he does commercials or post-game interviews. Take for instance Kobe’s comments after the Game 7 win against Houston. Why did sharpshooter Sasha Vujacic have a good game (9 points on 4-7 shooting)? Kobe pulled out the Forgetting Sarah Marshall Aldous Snow card to explain:

Thanks to the Kamenetzky bros, who heard Kobe say that at his post-game press conference and posted the Kobe/Sasha Vujacic video. It never really occurred to me when I was watching the Lakers that Sasha resembled Russell Brand but I definitely see it now. I guess if were a guy like Kobe who likes Sasha and is around him all the time that might have caught my eye. If you ask me, all it really takes is a European dude with long hair and stubble to resemble Vujacic.

LeBron James’ All-Time Dream Team

Ordinarily an issue like this wouldn’t even matter, but since it’s LeBron James, a highly respected player who will likely go down as one of the greats, the subject becomes interesting. Who does LeBron regard as the best players of all-time? Who would he want on his all-time dream team? He answered the question with Dan Patrick:

    PG: Magic Johnson
    SG: Michael Jordan
    SF: LeBron James
    PF: Kevin Garnett
    C: Shaquille O’Neal (LeBron almost went Kareem Abdul-Jabbar)
    Coach: James Naismith (we can’t lose with the guy who invented the game)

Think that will add any fuel to Kobe’s fire should the two meet in the finals? I guess that’s getting ahead of myself but we all know Kobe wants to outdo anyone he can, MJ included. I’m pretty stunned that LeBron went as modern as he did considering his knowledge of the league’s history. Russell, Wilt, and Kareem all seemed like better answers than Shaq. And I was really surprised to see KG’s name up there. Maybe he just has tremendous respect for Garnett because the two clashed in a seven game series last year. Just think, prior to last year, KG’s name never would have been on that list!

Rafer Alston Sure Likes Kissing Guys

The NBA point guard formerly known as Skip to My Lou may have to change the first word to match the name of a popular 70s rock band. For some reason, When Magic guard Rafer Alston wants to thank someone on the court, he doesn’t high five or chest bump. Oh no. Rafer (reefer?) has some sort of lip fascination that makes him want to kiss everyone. Check out his reaction to a traveling call late in Game 6 against the Celtics on Thursday night:

As the intrepid You Been Blinded points out, that’s not the first time Rafer Alston’s kissed a man on the court. The dude’s also had smooching sessions with former Houston teammates Carl Landry and Chuck Hayes. Keep it in the locker room, Rafer.

Houston Student Angel Mata Sent Home from School for Ron Artest Haircut

Well Angel Mata’s first mistake is cutting his hair like Ron Artest. The ‘do maybe was “hot” the first time around but now it’s getting a little out of hand because the fade is going too high on the sides. Anyway, when Charles Barkley says athletes aren’t role models, he might want to look at this story and think again. Where else would the kid get the idea from?

Angel Mata had the Houston Rockets logo shaved into his hair just like Rockets forward Ron Artest. But the haircut violates school policy and Angel has been told he can’t come back until the design is gone.

Angel’s father, Mike, said he is going to let his son keep the design until the Rockets are through playing. The Los Angeles Lakers have a 3-2 series lead in the NBA’s Western Conference semifinals.

Artest said he appreciated the support but wanted the kid to follow the school’s rules (which prevent designs in hair). While that’s the proper response I would expect to hear, to think that there’s a parent out there who would prefer to break the school’s rules and keep his kid from being in class is ridiculous. Even Ron freakin Artest knows better, and when he’s giving a good lesson in parenting, you know something’s wrong.

Photo Credit: Houston Chronicle

Who Wore the Red Jacket and Bowtie Better? Aaron Brooks or Kenny Smith?

Rockets guard Aaron Brooks sported the valet look following Sunday’s game against the Lakers. Brooks claims he was tricked into wearing it by one of his teammates who said that it was the mandatory attire for the day. Brooks on his own decided to go all-out by adding the bowtie. Then he went out and had a career-high 34 points against the Lakers and had to meet the national media wearing that ridiculous outfit. A few nights later, it was Kenny Smith on TNT’s Inside the NBA sporting the look. I’d have to give the nod to Brooks since his bowtie was a matching shade of red. “A” for effort to Kenny though.

Thanks to The Sports Hernia for the Brooks photo.

Dwight Howard Rips Stan Van Gundy for Not Getting Him the Ball

There’s been a lot said lately about Stan Van Gundy buckling under pressure. Quoting Shaq on his former coach in Miami: “I know for a fact he’s a master of panic and when it gets time for his team to go into the postseason and do certain things, he will let them down because of his panic. I’ve been there before. I’ve played for him.” Combine that with current Magic center Marcin Gortat’s comments to a Polish newspaper: “The nature of our coach, he panics very often during games. He’s got some behavior which is not good for us. With his gestures he makes us nervous on the floor.” And anyone who’s heard Stan Van miked up during a national TV game knows what they say is true — the pitch in the guy’s voice because more squeaky and unnerving, making even the listener panic. Well, to pile on, now it’s Magic center Dwight Howard calling out the coaching following Orlando’s loss to Boston in Game 5 of the playoffs Tuesday night. Upset he only got 10 shots in the game and only two in the fourth quarter, Howard had this to say:

“I don’t think you are going to win a lot of games when your post player only gets 10 shots. It’s tough to get yourself going and get a lot of shots without a lot of touches. We have to do a better job with that. The coaches have to recognize what’s working on the floor. Stick to it. Even if it’s half your starters on the floor. Not just the guys you have put the most trust in. You have to have trust in everybody,” Howard said.

“We moved the ball, we ran, got easy shots, and our coach has to recognize when he was a certain group out there and they are getting the job done and we have to leave those guys on the floor. We are going to make mistakes, but I think you have to go with what works.

I bet half of this is out of anger that the team blew another big second half lead especially after they blew Game 4 at home. The other half I’m guessing stems from Dwight questioning actual tactical moves. If they go on to lose this series, which judging by these comments seems like a certainty, I would expect to see a new coach in Orlando next season.

Is Yao Ming Too Big to Ever Be Great?

You know, with Yao Ming being out for the next 8-12 weeks because of a fracture in his foot, I got to thinking (yes, cue up the Worm talking to Grandma clip): will Yao’s injuries, due to his size, prevent him from being great? It’s arguable that Yao’s skills and development could get him up there as one of the better centers of all-time. Currently he’s likely the second best big man in the game to Dwight Howard. While not exceptional, Yao’s a good scorer, rebounder, and shot-blocker. He is however an excellent shooter for his size and a very good passer. The paradox here is that Yao’s size helps him dominate opponents but could also keep him from achieving great heights with his team.

Each of Yao’s past four seasons have been marred by injuries — all to the legs and mostly involving his feet. Despite playing in all but two games his first three seasons, Yao went three straight years without playing more than 57 games in a season and wound up getting knocked out of the playoffs with a foot fracture this year. He has your typical knee issues that would bother any big man, but the big debilitating injury that stands out the most to me is the constant foot problems. The constant broken bones in his feet is the product of one thing — size. He puts abnormal pressure on his feet and his body is asked to do a lot for someone who’s 7’6″.

It’s a shame that Yao has developed his game and become such a good team player but that his foot injuries may keep him from ever realizing his potential. Furthermore, in this league, you’re measured by your success in the postseason. If Yao can never make it through a year, how’s he ever supposed to lead his team to a title? I don’t think Yao will ever get the recognition because of his postseason failures, injury-related or not. Instead, Yao should be measured by what his body allows because he’s making the most of what he has.