Sporadic Lakers thoughts

1 02 2010

Another Lakers win sweetened by KG's disgust. (Photo by Jim Rogash / Getty Images)

Consider the following sentence before reading this post: I’m about to shove the Lakers down your throat, so if you’re a Celtics fan or just really hate the Lakers for some odd reason, then go away. Now. Please.

My first thought after Kobe hit his latest game-winning shot — a turnaround from the free throw lane with 7.3 seconds to go to put the Lakers up 90-89 — was how much I’m gonna miss him once his career is finished. I’m not an outwardly emotional person, but I can say with confidence that I will cry the day he retires. I think most Lakers fans feel that way. There are very few athletes who give fans of that team a certain air of security during a game, as Kobe does for us Lakers fans. Among the current players in the major sports, I’d say Peyton, Brady, Mariano and LeBron are the only other players who leave their fans confident that a game will end in their favor. Of course, Mariano doesn’t play an entire game and position players obviously have a difficult time single-handedly winning a baseball game. Don’t ask about hockey, although Crosby could be included in that group.

Back to Kobe. What made today’s win especially sweet is that I listened to Bill Simmons’ newest podcast with J.A. Adande in which Simmons — ever the Celtics fan — claimed he’d rather have Bird or Jordan take a game-winning shot over Kobe. Once Adande chose Kobe as his last-second, go-to guy, Simmons casually noted that 82games.com had shot down Kobe’s perceived clutch ability with a damning Game Winning Shot Opportunity equation. (The category is defined as 24 seconds or less in a game, team with the ball is either tied or down 1 or 2 points.) For a guy who proclaims himself as the V.P. of Common Sense and has staked his reputation as a sports writer who forms opinions based off his “feel” of a game, I thought it rather convenient for him to bypass the “No kidding, I want Kobe with the game on the line” argument and stick to the stats.

Adande stuck to his guns and a quick look through the Lakers’ schedule this year shows why. Here’s a run-through of his game-winning moments:

  • Hit two FTs with 18 seconds to extend lead to 3 points in 3-point win 11/3 vs. Thunder.
  • Hit buzzer-beating 3 for a 1-point win 12/4 vs. Heat.
  • Hit buzzer-beating 2 for a 1-point win 12/16 vs. Bucks.
  • Hit back-to-back 3’s in 2OT for a 6-point lead with 2:37 left in 9-point win 12/26 vs. Kings.
  • Hit buzzer-beating 3 for a 1-point win 1/1 vs. Kings.
  • Hit jumper with 7.3 seconds left for a 1-point win 1/31 vs. Celtics.

For full disclosure, Kobe did miss a last-second jumper Jan. 24 vs. the Raptors. So sue him. He’s made three buzzer-beaters and hit another game-winner Sunday, which makes him 4-for-5 on last-second or near last-second shots that determined a game’s outcome. Hopefully he’ll save a few for June.

More random thoughts

I love how Ron Artest, toward the end today’s game, got tripped up at the free throw line and ended up in the stands behind the basket. …

Andrew Bynum had 19 points and 11 rebounds during the type of game that should make Lakers fans hope he isn’t traded for Chris Bosh. I love Bosh’s game but Bynum has a bigger body, will eventually have a better post game offensively and he’s a true shot blocking presence. I want to see him grow up in the purple and gold. …

Tomorrow in Memphis, Phil Jackson can become the Lakers’ all-time wins leader with a win and Kobe can become the Lakers’ all-time scoring leader if he scores at least 29 points. The man Kobe would pass on the scoring list — Jerry West — worked as a general manager for the Grizzlies, the only NBA team aside from the Lakers that he’s ever known. Now that’s creepy. …

It’s fitting that Kobe will become the Lakers’ all-time leading scorer within six months of Derek Jeter becoming the Yankees’ all-time hits leader. Think of all the similarities in their careers. Both are the most recent legends on teams with extended lists of Hall of Famers. Both were rookies in 1996 and immediately joined a playoff-contending team. Both won copious amounts of championships early in their careers only to lose two championships in the long journey it took to win their next in 2009. Just as Yanks fans will honor Jeter one day in Legends Park, Lakers fans will eventually get to see Kobe’s jersey hang with West, Elgin, Kareem, Magic and all the other greats to sport the Lakers purple and gold.

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