...The thing I don't understand about Kobe is, he is one of the best players in the league, and probably the best guard, and you're telling me he can't get his shots in the flow of the offense? I guess that's one of the things that really bugs me about him, his either selfish, or entirely too selfless play...if you know what I mean. You know he could have scored more in the first half, but luckily LA didn't really need it. I just think, after watching him for a number of years now that he seems to take the first half off a lot...only to come back and shoot like crazy in the 2nd, to make it look like he's "clutch". Don't get me wrong, that guy can hit a game winner better than most anyone in the league now, but it seems like he intentionally "saves" his scoring for the 4th quarter...and the league, play by play guys, and media just eat that up...
Again, Brian's right on target here. Kobe's often been accused of sabotaging games early on (ever since high school), to try leave room for him to swoop in and pull out a miraculous win with his clutch play down the stretch of the game. People have made a big stink (rightfully so) about that Sacto game near the end of the regular season, as well as this last game, where Kobe doesn't shoot in the first half. Well, those have not been isolated incidents at all. He's done the exact same thing at least 5 or 6 other times this season - to the T. The only difference being that those weren't in such hyped up nationally televised games. He also loves to go nuts after his court visits, to show folks that his "infidelity issue"
isn't affecting him at the office, so ya' better watch out tomorrow night...
There's still no doubt in my mind that he's the most clutch player in the league when it comes to hitting game winning shots, or buzzer beating shots (at the quarter, half, etc.). He does it with great frequency throughout the year. But as Brian pointed out, these clutch game winning shots wouldn't be necessary (and therefore as amazing) if Kobe wasn't dorking around earlier in the game to get them in that situation.
The kid's got more talent, passion, and will than anyone in the game. Just give him Kevin Garnett's heart and 110% constant effort and he'd be right up there with Jordan as the best ever.
Of course, Shaq's got many of his own issues, which are often not as clearly evident as Kobe's. But his effort is FAR from 100% on a routine basis - especially when it comes to defense. That's partially to do with the fact that he doesn't keep himself in very good shape a lot of the time, and consequently is often injured, recovering, slow, fat, less than 100%, whatever...
He also relies on his size instead of fundamental basketball skills for a lot of things, most noticably rebounding. He rarely actually boxes his man out. He just assumes he's big enough to keep his guy from sneaking around him to steal a rebound, which is exactly what often happens. He's been rebounding and blocking shots much better in the playoffs than he was in the regular season - almost double his regular stats in both areas. Shows you what he thinks of the regular season, just like much of our team.
As for Shaq's offensive fouls, or lack thereof - I look at it pretty much as a wash. Whereas some of you think he fouls every time he makes an offensive move, a vast majority of people think he gets fouled
, and fouled hard
almost everytime he touches the ball, and usually by multiple opposing players, no less. At his advantageous size, he pretty much has to get fouled if any opposing (smaller) player expects to have any chance at stopping him. But yeah, some of his post moves definitely look like offensive fouls sometimes too. So he gets it, and he gives it. Neither of which are called nearly enough to be considered correct. So it's just a wash in my book.
And I'll agree with the sentiment about how the style of play in the NBA has detrimentally changed over the years, which is why I said I'd watch the 80's Showtime Lakers any day of the week over our current team. Hell, to be honest, I sometimes enjoy watching Sacto and Dallas play, since they're two of the only teams that still maintain much of an 80's style offense, and some great passing skills. I agree that the slide started most notably with Detroit's "Bad Boys" of the late 80's/early 90's, though I certainly detected a hint of it with the mid/late 80's Celtics too. They banged, pushed, pulled, cheap-shotted, etc. quite a lot as well, but were much more polished offensively though, so their antics weren't quite as noticeable or memorable. (sorry Bug)
Face it, the NBA just ain't what it used to be, nor will it ever be again...
What bugs me worse is the smug bastards that cheer for the Lakers who basically say "Yep, that's the way it is, we rule everyone else deal with it"
Well, it's the truth. With the most talented player in the NBA, the most dominant player in the NBA, and two HOF role players (who really don't do jack $h!t most of the time, but it sounds good), we are/should be considered the best. If I wasn't a Laker fan, I'd still say the same thing. Basically, nobody beats the Lakers, except the Lakers.