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Kobe Bryant to Win MVP? Deserves it

Mike Bresnahan at the LA Times says sources told him Kobe Bryant will be presented with the MVP trophy next week in Los Angeles, answering one of the most popular questions of the year. I’m sure some praise of Kobe is about the last thing you ever expected out of me, but I am even-handed enough to recognize reality. First off, I’m not buying the argument that Kobe “deserves” to finally win one after being shut out all these years. If another player is more valuable, than he should win the award. It shouldn’t be a lifetime achievement award. Take Chris Paul for instance: between points and assists, Paul accounts for the most points of any individual in the league, and he led a moribund Hornets team to the second seed in the Conference. I could make an excellent case for CP3 as MVP and it wouldn’t be wrong if he won it. But Kobe Bryant nearly matched Paul’s production, yet Kobe I believe did it with an inferior supporting cast (until Pau came along).

If you were reading LBS waaaay back in the day, you might remember in February of 2007 when I incorrectly predicted the Hornets would surge into the playoffs. I made that prediction anticipating a healthy Hornets team, when they actually went back to being injured. The bottom line is that I recognized a long time ago New Orleans was a very talented team that was only slowed by injuries. That reality became clear this year. But the Lakers have a collection of what I deem to be garbage-type players like Luke Walton, Kwame Brown, Jordan Farmar, and Vlad Radmonivic. Before the ridiculous Pau trade, I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw the Lakers winning games against playoff teams like Phoenix, Utah, Houston, Denver, and New Orleans, some of which even came on the road. Obviously Andrew Bynum had developed into a powerful big man, Lamar Odom was a quality option since he was healthy, and the addition of Derek Fisher was crucial, but still, the team they were trotting out there pre-Gasol didn’t strike me as any too good.

Maybe I’ve erred because I’ve underestimated the Lakers as a whole, primarily their bench. But I think Kobe deserves the MVP because he had the Lakers as one of the top teams in the Western Conference even before they acquired Pau, and to me, that was quite impressive. And once they did acquire Pau, they surged to the top of the standings as they rightfully should have, proving they maximized their talents which is no easy feat. Sure Kobe has flaws in his game and he is an incredibly unlikable, phony, childish, and sickening person, but he is an excellent player and he deserved to win the MVP award this year.

Kobe Not Willing to Take Pay Cut to Keep Lakers Together?

Not long ago I was raving about Gilbert Arenas volunteering to take a pay cut to keep the current Wizards together. How much more clear can you make it that you prioritize winning over money than by volunteering to take a pay cut? That’s truly putting your money where your mouth is, or something like that. Anyway, I heard about some comments Kobe made regarding this very subject on KLAC recently. Here’s what he was asked and here was his response:

Hartman: [Mychal Thompson] said that you would accept less money in order to ensure that you keep all the pieces in place so all these great young players can stay with the team. Is that going to be a consideration when you do get a new deal, that everyone stays aboard so this team can stay together?

Kobe: That’s Mitch [Kupchak]‘s responsibility to make sure the team stays together. For me, what I have to do is show up as a player and play the game. One thing that I learned throughout the season is that Mitch might make a million bad decisions, but then he made two great ones this season. Honestly I just lay off of him, he’s done a tremendous job with this team.

So when the pressure was put on him, Kobe quickly deflected and put everything on Mitch Kupchak. Hmm, Kobe passing the buck to Mitch? Why does that sound so familiar? I thought it was quite interesting that Kobe had the opportunity to say he’s willing to take a pay cut to keep this team together but he wouldn’t volunteer publicly to do so. Then again this is the same guy who couldn’t get along with Shaq forcing the Lakers to break up what could have been one of the NBA’s great dynasties. Why would we expect him to volunteer to sacrifice a paycheck to win?

Gregg Popovich Rips Pau Gasol Trade

It was only a matter of time before someone said what everyone was thinking — the Lakers ripped the Grizzlies off. They acquired a premium player like Pau Gasol, who pretty much single-handedly got the Grizzlies into the playoffs a few times, for the likes of nearly nothing. Kwame Brown, Javaris Critenton, Pau’s brother Marc, and a pair of first-round picks isn’t exactly a king’s ransom. About the only thing there worth any value would be the draft picks, but you figure the Lakers are getting Pau so those picks will probably be late first-round, like 25th or so. So when you think about it, what did the Lakers give up? Not a whole lot. And that’s what makes Spurs coach Gregg Popovich so peeved:

“What they did in Memphis is beyond comprehension,” said Popovich. “There should be a trade committee that can scratch all trades that make no sense. I just wish I had been on a trade committee that oversees NBA trades. I’d like to elect myself to that committee. I would have voted no to the L.A. trade.”

I wonder what he has to say about the Shaq trade huh? Guess Pop feels a bit threatened — as well he should. The Spurs might be the defending champions, but now the Lakers provide some serious competition. I’ll still give the nod to San Antonio, but the gap has certainly closed. The playoffs are going to be quite exciting, to say the least.

Tayshaun Prince Calls Out Kobe Bryant the Ballhog

Thursday night in Detroit, Kobe Bryant had a triple-double. If you asked him though, he probably wouldn’t have been proud of it. Kobe had 39 points, 10 boards, and get this — 11 turnovers. Nice. I’m guessing he had so many turnovers because nobody else on his team touched the ball. That’s something Tayshaun Prince noticed (while Prince wasn’t busy scoring 22 points and making the game-winning three pointer). After shooting the Pistons to a win, Prince joined WDFN’s post game radio show and had this to say about the final play of the game for the Lakers that Lamar Odom airballed:

Kobe pretty much took all of the shots in the second half so when another guy has to make a play late in the game it’s kind of tough for him because he hasn’t had the ball in a while.

True, the Lakers wouldn’t have been in the game that closely if Kobe hadn’t carried him in the second half, but he has to realize his teammates need to be more involved. Wasn’t that the thing about MJ? For all the great clutch shots he made, didn’t he also have just as vital a part setting up his teammates like Steve Kerr? Either that or Kobe has to do a better job getting open in order to take those potential game-winners. Anyway, getting back to it, great words from Tayshaun — and completely true, too.

Lakers Still Ripping Off LA Fans

By now you’ve probably come to know, if you didn’t already, that EVERYTHING in LA is more expensive. It’s not surprise off of course, that it cost more for a family of four to attend a Laker game than any other team in the NBA, according to Team Marketing Reports. But going to a Clippers game, though it’s in LA, doesn’t measure up anywhere nearly as high as attending a Laker game. Simple answer: attending a Laker game is a status symbol amongst the Hollywood crowd posing as Faker fans.

See, there is a downside of liking a trendy team — they become too popular and it ruins things for the actual fans. The fact that it costs the typical family of four around $500Â to attend a game is ridiculous. Once prices hit a level like that, it turns me away. Bottom line is the Lakers are a .500 team with an outside shot at the playoffs yet they’re still charging like they’re aiming for a three-peat. If fans want to see a difference, then they have to decide they won’t show up to games and support the outrageous costs. Either that, or jump on the Clipper bandwagon where the prices are at least semi-reasonable and the product is comparable. Honestly, nearly $500 for a family of four to attend a game and have a decent time? That’s absurd.

Faker Fans Are Too Fickle With Kobe

I couldn’t think of a more appropriate tune for a primadonna, attention whore like Kobe to receive upon being introduced in his first game of the season — boos. And loud ones at that. The man has played with fan emotions all summer long, and has in essence ripped our their hearts, leaving them no hope for the season. Not that I have sympathy for Faker fans, but they shouldn’t be at the mercy of a whimsical super star like Bryant.

But why, if you’re going express your collective displeasure with Kobe by booing him, do you change your tune only minutes later, once the man starts raining in points like he’s on the cover of NBA Jam? Why would you so capriciously change from boos to cheers, and worse yet, chants of MVP once he starts to play well? Get your story straight, Faker fans. Do you want him gone, or not? If you can’t even get your thoughts and feelings straight, then why should you expect your superstar and savior to do so?

(Photo courtesy Matt Sayles/AP)

Kobe Wants to Win, Wants Out of LA

He made it about as official as it can get — writing on his website Sunday. In a post titled “The Truth: A New Road Ahead,” Kobe explains that he and the Lakers have a different vision, resulting in Kobe’s wish to play elsewhere.

But, the ONE THING I will never sacrifice when it comes to basketball is WINNING. That is plain and simply what it’s all about. It’s in my DNA. It’s what pushes me to work as hard as I do. It’s my daily passion and pursuit.

The more I thought about the future, the more I became convinced that the Lakers and me just have two different visions for the future. The Lakers are pursuing a longer-term plan that is different from what Dr. Buss shared with me at the time I re-signed as a free agent. I have seen that plan unfold for the last three years and watched great trade opportunities come and go, and have seen free agents passed on. That has led to the Lakers not winning a playoff series. All of that was frustrating in itself, but then, this week to have someone “inside” the Laker organization try to blame me in the media for us not being a contender right now — that is what brought me to my current position today.

I can respect a player who wants to win, and a player who wants to win now. I can also believe that Kobe was somewhat duped by Buss (the Lakers would’ve dealt with insufferable backlash if they had let Kobe go). But I still maintain that Kobe ruined a good situation. He is responsible for the Lakers’ rebuilding movement. There is one other issue with Kobe that truly irritates me.

How does Kobe get off distancing himself from the recent failures of the Lakers? Kobe wrote:

That has led to the Lakers not winning a playoff series.

Kobe is the leader of the team, the franchise player. The one who takes the most shots and scores the most points. Yet he disgustingly assumes no responsibility for the team’s performance over the last couple years.

What does he think he is, an innocent bystander here? If I’m writing the story, it’s proper for me to say what Kobe wrote. But it’s not a third party writing it — it’s a first person account of someone who directly impacted the Lakers performance. And to not include himself in the failure further proves my point that the guy is just not a leader. How does he come off not taking any responsibility for those recent failures? What a loser.