June 18, 2008

NOT TO TAKE ANYTHING AWAY FROM THE C'S...:

Celtics beat Lakers to win NBA championships (The Associated Press, June 18, 2008)

With Russell and Havlicek sitting courtside, and Red surely lighting up a victory cigar somewhere, these Boston Celtics returned to glory like the great teams before them.

Dominant in every way.

On a new parquet floor below aging championship banners hung in the rafters two decades back, the Celtics won their 17th NBA title and a first one — at last — for Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen — their Big Three for a new generation.

After 22 long years, the NBA has gone green.

Lifted by ear-splitting chants of "Beat L.A." early and cries of "Seven-teen" in the closing seconds by their adoring crowd, the Celtics concluded a shocking rebound of a season with a stunning 131-92 blowout over the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 6 on Tuesday night.


...but it is entirely appropriate that Kobe's team quit.

MORE:
Old Man Joy (Joe Posnanski, 6/17/08)

And then I started hearing people actually comparing Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan.

I should say up front that I honestly do not know how many people were making this comparison … maybe it was only Mark Jackson on TV and a few annoying people trying to cause a stir — sort of the way sports magazines of my youth like Inside Sports and Sport used to try to get reader reaction by having these ridiculous headlines on their covers like, “Why Wayne Gretzky is not the best player in hockey” or “Why the Seattle Mariners are going to win it all” or whatever. So I don’t know if this Kobe vs. Michael thing is real or just something to talk about or a strawman to knock down. I really don’t know.

I do know this: Just the thought that anyone was arguing this made me surprisingly angry.

Now, first, let me say that Kobe Bryant is an excellent basketball player who has led the NBA in scoring twice, who annually makes the All-Defensive team, who was a huge part of the three-peat Lakers and who was the clear leader on this Lakers team that reached the NBA Finals. He’s a terrific player, and I’m sure his stats are pretty similar to Michael’s …

Kobe Bryant: 25.0 points, 5.2 rebounds, 4.6 assists, 1.5 steals, 0.6 blocks, 2.9 turnovers, 45.3% FG pct.
Michael Jordan: 30.1 points, 6.2 rebounds, 5.3 assists, 2.3 steals, 0.8 blocks, 2.7 turnovers, 49.7 FG pct.

OK, never mind, his number are not really similar at all. But Kobe still has some great years left, and he’s excellent and …

No, I can’t keep this going. It’s happened. Here is my first old man sports moment. This whole thing just ticks me off. Comparing Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan is like … er … it’s just plain … Kobe Bryant? To Michael Jordan? What? … I mean, that’s like saying that … um … I mean Kobe Bryant is like … are you CRAZY?“

Yep, that’s me sputtering. I cannot even begin a viable argument because it’s like arguing why chocolate cake tastes better than roofing insulation. It’s like arguing that Abraham Lincoln was a more significant American than John Candy. It’s like arguing that Casablanca is a better movie than the Bay City Rollers album Once Upon A Star … It’s like … Kobe? Compared to Michael? Are you serious? … it’s like here it is again, to even ARGUE the point is so frustrating, so infuriating, because you have to begin with an unfair premise, that being that there IS AN ARGUMENT to be made, and there is not.*

*I used to have an old newspaper editor who weaned me off the word ”arguably“ because, he said, ”Everything is arguable.“ He’s wrong about that. Kobe vs. Michael is not arguable.

Yes, this is the first time I feel really EMOTIONAL about an athlete of my childhood. I really do mean no offense to Kobe — OK, maybe a little offense, I don’t like him much, and I am partial to others like Tim Duncan, and I’d rather have Chris Paul or LeBron — but I appreciate that he’s a great player, one of the best of his time. But comparing him to Michael? What? I can’t help it … that infuriates me.

And the funny thing is that I wasn’t even THAT BIG a Jordan fan. It’s something else, something harder to describe, it’s an old man thought, I guess. Kobe is a great player. But Michael was the best player. He was one of the very, very few who you didn’t have to like … he towered over everything. And to compare those two, I guess, feels a little bit like saying my time doesn’t count, that my athletes were not as great, that there’s something more special about today than there was about when I was young and alive and brilliantly aware. Maybe that doesn’t make much sense. It’s emotional, I guess.

In any case, I was thinking about this again while watching the NBA Finals end on Tuesday in ignominy and disgrace for Kobe Bryant and the Lakers. I mean, seriously, the Lakers lost by THIRTY NINE POINTS. I won’t lie: That gave me some old man joy. The Lakers seemed to think they were playing a preseason game in Dubuque. They didn’t just get outclassed, they played like they didn’t care. Kobe was laughably bad. He was 7 for 22 from the field, he had one assist, four turnovers — you got the sense he only brought a carry-on bag with him to Boston.

And the argument is over.

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 18, 2008 7:04 AM

I actually felt sorry for Kobe watching that. I don't think I've ever seen defense like that; he must have felt like he was playing 1 on 3. Once the Lakers' three-point shooters went cold in the second quarter it was over.

Posted by: Mike Earl at June 18, 2008 9:32 AM

Kobe is not as good as MJ.

That being said, those stats are a lot closer than Joe makes them out to be.

Kobe Bryant: 25.0 points, 5.2 rebounds, 4.6 assists, 1.5 steals, 0.6 blocks, 2.9 turnovers, 45.3% FG pct.
Michael Jordan: 30.1 points, 6.2 rebounds, 5.3 assists, 2.3 steals, 0.8 blocks, 2.7 turnovers, 49.7 FG pct.

The only meaningful one is the PPG all the others are either the same or the result of Jordan's playing style changing to more of a post up game in his later years....

Jordan seperates himself from Kobe (and everyone else) with the intangibles... He's Kobe plus leadership and better defese...

Finally, I think Kobe will raise his PPG and defense over the next few years. If he learns ot lead, he could match MJ.

Posted by: Benny at June 18, 2008 5:05 PM
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