Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Kobe Chronicles, Continued

Pug On a Rug, 2007
Have enough of the Kobe Bryant Soap Opera yet? It's a lot less guilt free than watching an actual train wreck.

Kobe, you may recall, woke up one morning during the week that LeBron James was stealing Kobe's All-NBA crown and realized his NBA ring collection was likely going to stall at three.

Instead of crying into his bowl of Wheaties, Kobe embarked on a long, strange day of schizophrenia, giving a different take on The State of Kobe with every new interview over a 24-hour period. First he wants the Logo to return, then he wants to be traded and then, he’s a Laker for life. A couple of weeks later, he travels to Spain to have a sit down with Lakers owner Jerry Buss because he doesn’t think the organization is clear on his demand to be traded. As if all that flip-flopping came out of somebody else’s mouth.

Well, as it goes with the world of sports and celebrity when the Franchise complains, the brain trust says “how high can we jump for your kingly self.” What they’re really saying is if we didn’t spend a freaking 100 million bills on your ass and give you a God-damned no trade clause, you’d be playing basketball in Memphis right now.

The latest rumors features Minnesota nice guy Kevin Garnet, a.k.a. KG and The Kid, a.k.a. one of the league’s classiest guys, coming to Staples Center to run with the self-labeled Black Mamba, or as we like to call him here at S.O.L., The Black Hole.

According to the very reliable Chad Ford of espn.com, the sticking point of the three- or four-team deal with would include the Celtics, Pacers, Lakers and Wolves and players like Jermaine O’Neal, Andrew Bynum and Lamar Odom, is whether the Celtics will give up Al Jefferson to Minnesota. Right now, it’s a deal killer for the Celtics, in part because they have their own superstar to appease in the disgruntled Paul Pierce (get someone to run with me or I’m gone). Just an aside here, but has there been any trio of players from a Championship dynasty that have sucked so badly at being team general managers than Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Danny Ainge? I don’t think so.

If The Kid ends up in L.A., it will be good for his pocketbook in that after spending his entire career in the Midwest, he will finally get that big city exposure he so richly deserves. But pairing him up with Kobe would be like a cosmic joke on Garnett, who has never complained and has endured years of playing for a team being run by a revolving door of officials with heads up their asses; been victimized by the league’s most selfish players who happened to be also be his teammates (hello Starbury and Sam I Am) and along the way lost his best friend to a drunk driver.

If there is a basketball God, Kevin Garnett will end up in Phoenix to play with Steve Nash. It looks very unlikely at this point, but summer’s here and hope springs eternal.

I'm not sure what I make of reports that Kobe still wants out even if they get Garnett. But I do have a couple of theories. (You didn’t think I was going to remain mum on that).

One, as someone suggested to me recently, is that the Phil and Kobe Honeymoon show is over, that Phil once again believes what he said about Kobe in his book two years ago (he’s uncoachable). And Kobe believes that Phil has the upper hand with management, especially since he's literally sleeping with the bosses daughter.

Second, as I’ve already talked about in previous posts here, Kobe remains convinced that there isn't a realistic deal the Lakers could make right now that would make them good enough to compete for a title against the great teams in the West (Spurs and Suns) and the comers (Dallas, Utah, Houston, perhaps Denver and soon-to-be-vastly improved Sonics and Blazers). If the Clippers play to their potential (that’s coin-flip territory right there) and Golden State finally gets its shit together for, I don’t know, a full freaking season, then even a lineup that includes KG and Kobe would still be fighting an uphill battle to even make one of the eight Western playoff spots.

I believe that Kobe is a big-picture guy where his own legacy is concerned. I think he’s always comparing himself to the next guy, always keeping score. You want to see this in a competitive athlete, as long as it’s not pathological.

He saw how Michael Jordan sometimes had to be acerbic in his rise to greatness and I think he thinks that his current petulance is just him being like Mike. "I just want to win," he's been saying for the last few weeks. "I want to go somewhere where I'm not a scapegoat." This is like that guy who gets a toupee and it looks like a toupee but he thinks it’s the shit, even though everybody’s laughing at him. You can’t be a scapegoat, if you’re actually guilty as charged.

I mean who is he kidding? This is the guy who either chased Shaq out of town, or (if you want to give him the benefit of the doubt) didn’t give a shit that the Shaq was going, because it meant he would finally be the man. And now that he is the man, he's jumping ship like a rat with a life preserver on a boat in dry dock. (Probably overdid the metaphor here, but you guys get my drift).

From Kobe’s point of view, even bad behavior can be excused if it’s in the service of winning. It follows then that no matter what anybody thinks of his actions now, nothing will make them forget about Pouting Kobe like a few more rings. And right now, in his selfishly cloistered mind, the quickest route to an NBA title awaits him in the East. The ends justifying the means I suppose.

Meanwhile about that Draft Lottery, word is that the Trailblazers are now leaning toward Kevin Durant over Greg Oden. There’s rumors that Oden may be susceptible for future health problems regarding his recently broken wrist and a disk in his back. I don’t believe the stories. I think it’s just Portland’s way to justify not doing what everyone says is a no brainer – which is taking Oden with the number one pick. I’m of the school of they can't miss either way, and I know this will sound crazy, but I think Durant is a better fit for the Blazers. They already have a really good post player in Zach Randolph. Even if he is a bit of a flake and a knucklehead, he’s gonna give you that 20-10 a night and with a wing man like Durant, the Blazers will be dangerous. Mark my words. After watching Durant play, I think he will be one of those rare unstoppable scorers in this league from Day One, a LeBron, Kobe, Michael, K.G., kind of guy.

Mets Mojo

I hope I don't jinx my boys but the Mets have begun to rebound nicely from their June Swoon (losing 14 of the first 18 games they played this month). The ugliness was tempered somewhat by the fact that their nearest competitor in the division at the time of the slump was Atlanta and the Braves suffered a similar downturn. However, as the Mets have won four straight, including a sweep of the Oakland A's at Shea this weekend, the Braves just halted a four-game losing streak (in which they scored like one run in 50 innings). So despite playing like shit, the Mets continue to the lead the NL East going into the All-Star break.

Here's hoping the good karma keeps on coming. Go Mets.

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