Kobe Bryant and the Duality of Basketball

I’m sure by now you’ve heard the story of Kobe’s late-night shoot around after the Lakers lost to the Heat. You couldn’t have possibly missed the tweets, the pictures, videos or the chatter. It even received 24/7 news coverage from ESPN, from Stuart Scott’s endorsement to ticker headliners and all the PR spin they could pack in between. Kobe stole the show last night as his legend rose from the ashes of defeat to drown out the shine of Miami’s feeble flame. This isn’t about the loss or extra practice or how Kobe is as hard on himself as his critics; this was Kobe embracing the opportunity to win the other game of basketball.

Kobe went ballistic to start the Miami game, hitting his first four shots. That was both a gift and a curse. L.A. raced out to an early lead but Kobe had flicked on his mental green light. This game was about to turn into the bar scene from Desperado and Kobe was carrying the leaded guitar case.

Only, he was shooting blanks.

Kobe finished out the game with 24 points on 8 of 21 shooting. He managed to score just six points in the final five minutes on 2 for 6 shooting to “klose” out the game. Every single one of his shots long and difficult threes, most of them coming much too early in the shot clock. A lot of the credit on Kobe’s misses has to be given to Dwyane Wade for his masterful defense, but Kobe was stuck in hero mode and was determined to go down shooting. When he finally did drive, he tried to force the issue, going 1-on-2 against LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. The result? Two turnovers.

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Kevin Love Deserves an MVP Vote

The NBA MVP award goes to the person who supposedly was the most valuable in the National Basketball Association in a given year. It looks like Derrick Rose will probably win the 2011 version of the award, or LeBron James will claim his third in a row. However, there is a player who deserves it more than those two.

While James is playing on a team that has not lived up to its expectations and Rose is surrounded by All-Star talent, there is one player who is breaking records that are over 30 years old, and is quickly becoming an elite power forward in the NBA. The consistency in the numbers and the impact he has on the game cannot be debated. And, in the true definition of the word valuable, take this player off his team and it would be significantly worse. I’m talking about Kevin Love who would receive my vote for NBA MVP.

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Kobe Bryant Changes Conversation from Heat Win to His Late Night Workout

Even in defeat, Kobe Bryant managed to become the story. Instead of talking about the Heat breaking a five-game losing streak with their second win over the two-time defending champion Lakers, the conversation amongst fans has turned into one about Kobe’s legendary work ethic.

In case you missed it, the five-time NBA champion spent well over an hour after his team’s loss Thursday night in the gym working on his shot. While Kobe’s desire to continue practicing and training after a defeat is admirable, there are several aspects to the bizarre exhibition that leave me with questions.

What was Kobe’s motivation for the display? Was he bugged by his 8-21 shooting performance and did he feel the need to improve? Was he trying to show his teammates the proper way to react to a big loss? Or better yet, was he trying to teach the Miami Heat stars how to properly handle a defeat? Was he just taking advantage of not having a flight out of Miami, or was he taking advantage of the national media being in the building? It’s hard to know exactly what drove him to practice after the game, but I imagine it was a combination of all the aforementioned reasons.

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David Stern Quietly Warns Stan Van Gundy to Shut Up

Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy has never been afraid to speak his mind. If he thinks a player took a flop, he lets everyone know about it.  When he takes issue with the way suspensions are handed out in the postseason, Stan rants about that, too.  After hearing his most recent comments, the Commish has decided he’s heard enough of Stan the Man.

When Dwight Howard was suspended on Monday for racking up 16 technical fouls already this season, Van Gundy expressed his displeasure with the league’s failure to protect his big man, saying Howard is fouled excessively. He then took a direct shot at David Stern. “This is the system David Stern and his minions like,” Van Gundy said. “So that’s the system you have. … I certainly can’t have an opinion because David Stern, like a lot of leaders we’ve seen in this world lately, don’t really tolerate other people’s opinion or free speech or anything. So I’m not really allowed to have an opinion. So it’s up to him.”

Obviously you can’t go around saying things like that about your boss, but Stern could have been a bit less pompous with the response he gave on Colin Cowherd’s The Herd on ESPN Radio. “I would render a guess … that we won’t be hearing from him for the rest of the season,” Stern told Cowherd. “When he stops and reads what he said and realizes what he did, he will say no more. I have a feeling that some modicum of self-restraint will cause Stan and the team for which he works to rein in his aberrant behavior.”

In other words: fear me.  Stern is basically bragging that he’s so powerful he doesn’t even need to take action.  Once Van Gundy realizes what he said and the Magic make note of it, he’ll be cowering so badly he won’t dare say it again.  In sum, I see this as one of those cases where both men are a little right and both are a little wrong.  And both are being dicks.

Kobe Bryant Practicing After Loss (Videos)

Lakers star Kobe Bryant reacted to a 94-88 loss in Miami Thursday night in a way only he can. He decided to return onto the floor to practice shooting for over an hour after the game. Oh yeah, and once he was done there he went to the weight room. The reason this was possible is because the Lakers aren’t leaving Miami until the morning whereas they typically would fly out at night.

Here are several videos of what Kobe did after the game courtesy of 790 the Ticket host Jorge Sedano:

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Derrick Rose to Win Four Championships with Chicago Bulls? Reinsdorf Thinks so

LeBron James put the pressure on himself during his Three Kings press conference upon signing with the Miami Heat. In his public comments, he said he planned to win “not one, not two” but seven championships. Midway through the season, the Heat is in a five-game losing streak and being ridiculed for crying after games. Meanwhile, the Chicago Bulls have beaten them all three times they’ve faced each other this season and are now second in the Eastern Conference. They’re led by former top overall pick Derrick Rose who has entrenched himself in the NBA MVP discussion.

The Bulls have size, youth, and speed, and they play tough defense. They may not reach the finals this year, but they’re in the discussion of best teams in the East along with Boston, Miami, and Orlando. If you ask owner Jerry Reinsdorf, he’s expecting much more than just deep playoff runs. According to the Chicago Sun-Times via SB Nation, Reinsdorf said “[The Bulls] have an outstanding coach, an outstanding bunch of players, the team is deep, and if we stay healthy, we have an awfully good chance of winning at least four championships.”

Maybe Jerry’s just hungover from the Michael Jordan era, but to expect four championships from Derrick Rose’s Bulls is far too lofty. We all see how good Chicago is with him at point guard, but there are so many other factors — including the rash of superstar teams — that can stand in Chicago’s way. Only way they can win four titles is if they have a bunch of officials like the ones from the Rutgers-St. John’s game helping them out.

Blake Griffin Poses as Mars Blackmon to Help Jordan Cameron’s Draft Stock

On Tuesday LBS writer Shane showed pictures of Blake Griffin dressed up in a Mars Blackmon type outfit for a recent Nike photoshoot. Well now we have a video that shows what the outfit was all about.

Griffin departed from his typically serious demeanor to joke around in a video where he portrays the character “Mars Blake Man.” In the video, Griffin hypes us his friend Jordan Cameron who is a tight end entering the NFL draft:

Cameron played both basketball and football at Newbury Park High School and actually went to BYU initially to play basketball. He went to a JC after that, then tried to play for USC’s basketball team before ultimately deciding his future lied with USC’s football team.

Cameron only had 16 catches for 126 yards and a touchdown in his career with the Trojans so that’s why he needs all the hype he can get. Oh yeah, and you might also recall Jordan is the brother of Brynn Cameron, the former USC women’s basketball player well known for being the mother of Matt Leinart’s son.