Mighty Is The Head That Wears The Crown , Heavy Also Is The Burden Of Those Who Watch From Afar …… But Then Again Envy And Greed Can Be Such A Bitch !
By tophatal ………
In a recent interview Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant was asked the question whether or not he had any peers within the game today . In a rather acerbic but rather clear answer the player responded …. “no” but went on to suggest that his peers at the time of his entrance into the NBA were Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan . If that was meant to a spite and challenge to the likes of Dwyane Wade , LeBron James , Dirk Nowitzki , Carmelo Anthony , Derrick Rose and Kevin Durant . Then I doubt that the players can question the veracity of the player’s claim in spite of their presence within the NBA .
Slide show for your perusal .
Of the of the aforementioned players only Wade and Nowitzki have won an NBA title while each have added a Finals MVP award to their career resume`s it has to be said that beyond the pickings by way of any additional silverware has been meager for all. Kobe Bryant is a five time NBA champion, a Finals’ MVP as well as a league MVP award to his illustrious career . In recent weeks the player became the fifth all-time leading scorer (28,936 points) in NBA history but that in of-itself is all that Bryant is about . The player has a thirst and younger that has grown as he has matured as a player within the NBA . From being something of a spoiled upstart upon his entrance into the NBA 1995 the player has matriculated his career into something that is bound to see Bryant as a sure-fire certainty for entrance into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in Indiana .
Would I consider Kobe Bryant to be the best player in the NBA today ? Well that’s a question that can’t be easily answered because what’s said to be the objectivity and subjective in terms of giving a succinct answer ? Today within the NBA there are some great players , with astonishing skills but at the same time over the last decade and a half the league has changed so drastically to the extent where the game as we now know it is not anything like the era during Jordan and even Magic Johnson played. However , I would suggest that during that era we had far better and more well-rounded teams than we now have today . One only needs to look at the propensity for offense , lack of defense but what might be even more astounding is the poor coaching that can be witnessed in the NBA today . Is anyone really impressed by the contributions of Mike Brown as the coach of the Lakers at present ? Much more look at the poor showing and lack of accountability in the league’s worst franchise which just happens to be the Charlotte Bobcats . I’m not about to suggest that Paul Silas is doing a bad job but if he were given the chance to get off that island or should I say that sinking ship then I think that Silas would be the first to jump overboard with his life-jacket firmly strapped to his body !
The Charlotte Bobcats are having a pitiful season and suffice to say but even with a truncated season of 66 games the Bobcats are now in danger of surpassing the ignominy of the feat of the “73-74 ” Philadelphia 76ers where that mark of 9-73 still remains the standard for infamy and complete ineptitude within the NBA . And things are not going to get any easier for Silas’ team in the coming months as their schedule winds down .
With LeBron James , his grand entrance into the NBA , with him being courted and simply coddled by broadcast outlets ESPN and TNT . I am not so sure even with his alleged maturity and the growth of his game that he actually realizes what is expected of him . The self-appointed …… “Anointed One” …. ” King James “ has yet to live up to the potential , much less his grandiose statements that he and his cadre of Wade and Chris Bosh would be well on their way to winning multiple championships as teammates . After that rather asinine and infantile statement by the player you could very see that fate would play a part in bring down James right back to earth faster than a plummeting meteorite ! Last season’s NBA Finals simply showed you why and when you simply take an opponent for granted and also become complacent , then things are liable to come back and bite you in the proverbial ass ! That series defeat by the Dallas Mavericks was clearly proof of that fact and told us so much more about LeBron James as a player and his lack of maturity . And while the likes of NBA analysts such as Stephen A Smith , Tim Legler continue to suck on the left ” nut” (testicle) of the player , I might add as if he’s a deity _____ James’ legacy though impressive , as a player , he still has yet to reach the heights to which he believes himself to be fitting . Impressive stats and highlight reels do not a career make and that’s simply what has been on offer from LeBron James at this point of his career .
This season James’ stats are at all an all-time high as though he’s amongst the league’s leading scorers that accolade as amenable as it would appear to be . I have no doubt that James and his teammates would trade it all , in order for the Miami Heat to win their second NBA title and the first with LeBron as a member of this organization ! It was clearly the point of Pat Riley and franchise owner Micky Arison orchestrating the deal that would bring the duo of Bosh and James to the Heat prior to the start of the 2010-11 … season .
Now while the insanity of “Lin-sanity” still takes on a life of its own , with the young point guard Jeremy Lin simply resurrecting the season of the New York Knicks . The team’s two high profiled stars Carmelo Anthony and Amar`e Stoudemire have taken a back-seat to the exploits of the young point guard this season . That being said if the team is to have any hope of being viewed a legitimate contender within the Eastern Conference much less the rest of the NBA , then they will surely have to raise the level of their play beyond the point that it has now reached .
The eight game win streak that raised Lin’s profile and that of the Knicks had more to with striking gold and not actually realizing what they had within their midst. Clearly , neither Mike DAntoni or Glen Grunwald knew what they had been unearthed in the Harvard graduate , Jeremy Lin . That being said even with the player’s undeniable success the issues remains concerning the turnovers and the fact this remains and will continue to be the liability in Lin’s armor . And it appears that the coach and his coaching staff have yet to address the issue , be it out of complete ignorance on DAntoni’s part or from the simple fact that the Knicks’ head coach doesn’t feel that out of necessity that part of Jeremy Lin’s game needs to be addressed . Given the fact from a coaching mindset defense has never been high on the agenda for Mike DAntoni at any time during his professional coaching career . It was never the case during his tenure with the Phoenix Suns and it certainly hasn’t changed with his coaching mindset as the head coach of the New York Knicks . Even within the conference the Knicks cannot be considered being one of the better defensive units within the NBA , not by any stretch of the imagination .
Something has to give because with the NBA trade deadline (15th March 2012) now coming into focus , teams will be squarely looking to bolster their roster and making that push towards a playoff berth . To my mind within the Eastern Conference the surprise team of the season has to be the Philadelphia 76 Sixers under the coaching regime of Doug Collins . If he doesn’t win the NBA Coach of the Year Award this season then there’s no credibility at all amongst the NBA writers who cover the sport nationwide . Riding high with a team that simply doesn’t quit , and with the players are buying into what Collins has been selling . It’s now pretty safe to suggest that amongst the teams vying for a divisional title as well as a playoff spot I seriously doubt that even the top-tiered teams within the conference would envy meeting Collins’ players over a five or seven game series’ schedule .
Somehow Lou Williams , Elton Brand , Jrue Holliday , Andre Iguodala along with their teammates are slowly beginning to make believers out of a number fans and patrons around the NBA . I feel that the Sixers are a team on the rise but due to their inexperience but I firmly believe that they’re good , but certainly not good enough to win an NBA title ! Any , and all roads to the title within the conference will have go down the avenues of either having to face the Chicago Bulls or Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals . And the likelihood of that premise arising now seems on-course to be an almost certainty as clearly the two teams are clearly heads and shoulders above the rest of the residents within the conference . Simply look at the respective results of Bulls and Heat and the margins of victory involved ? If that’s not evidence of as to the prowess of these two teams then I simply don’t know what is . And in terms of balance the Chicago Bulls might just have the most balanced starting combination within the NBA .
Now while the hoopla over the Jeremy Lin to an extent seems to be justified I would preface this by saying that while his exploits have been admirable . To my astonishment the print and television media seems to be overlooking the play of Kevin Love of the Minnesota Timberwolves . The player has been the sole reason to see the team play , albeit that Ricky Rubio now seems to finding a rhythm that could well set the tone for this franchise in terms of their long-term future .
At 18-18 the Timberwolves currently sit in fourth place within the Central Division of the Western Conference. Though in all likelihood on appearance out of the playoff picture it would appear that Love and his teammates are intent on using a “scorched earth policy “ of playing their way into the playoffs , either that or simply playing spoiler for the teams chasing that ambition .
What cannot be denied is the very simple fact that at this moment in time Kevin Love has to be considered the best power forward currently playing within the NBA . And that is with due deference and respect to Blake Griffin , LaMarcus Aldridge and Dirk Nowitzki . Love has been putting up astonishing numbers this season and it’s plain to see that with his contract extension and long-term security now set , he can now apply himself to the task at hand and that is to carry this Timberwolves’ franchise on his back . There hasn’t been this much excitement about the Minnesota Timberwolves since Kevin Garnett graced the organization as a player .
So Deron Williams and Chris Paul are thought to be the two best point guards in the league ? Anyone who witnessed Rajon Rondo’s … exploits on Sunday will know that argument can no longer be justified or actually maintained . Of the 8 triple doubles that have been tallied this season Rondo now accounts for five of them . And and in the Boston Celtics defeat of the New York Knicks 115-111 at the TD Bankorth Garden Center in Boston , Massachusetts ____ you clearly saw the reason why the Celtics are currently in the playoff picture within the Eastern Conference. As to the Knicks , well their woes continue for a team that simply is lacking when it actually comes to playing defense ! I don’t believe that there’s anything else left to be said on the matter even those naive Lin fans who may well feel that he’s the savior for the Knicks this season . He , like the rest of his teammates are not willing to add that strategy to become a part of their game then it simply doesn’t bode well for the Knicks or Jeremy Lin for that matter as he seeks to improve his game .
I am not about to suggest that Kobe Bryant doesn’t have it within him to win a sixth NBA tile and ring . His hunger and yearning to match the championship tally of his idol Michael Jordan , remains . Initially in the early part of his career Bryant modeled so much his game after the NBA great but the divergence in the paths taken as to championships won , have been well chronicled . Jordan in conjunction with Scottie Pippen and a cast that was essentially made up of role players that won 6 NBA titles during an a nine-year stretch . The one common bond that the two players share , is that both were coached to those championships by Phil Jackson , whose own resume` as the NBA’s greatest and most successful coach cannot be questioned .
In my honest opinion if it’s highlight reels that you want then watch LeBron James but if you’re looking to see a player lead by example and someone who know how and what it takes to win then simply watch Kobe Bryant at his very best . Both players have their supporters and detractors but at the end of the day stats alone are not the only things by which you can adjudge a player’s greatness it also becomes about a matter of heart , leadership and that burning desire to win . Bryant and James clearly want to be viewed as this generation’s and era’s best player . But at this moment in time I’d have to say that Kobe Bryant has the edge over his younger rival , albeit that their careers are at different stages. Both have had their fair share of controversy with the press and public alike . And as we know the image of the NBA is now simply about the players rather than the teams that they actually just happen to play for . David Stern and the NBA hierarchy simply wouldn’t want it any other way at this juncture and that is in spite of the ongoing financial difficulties that so many of the franchises around the league currently face .
Picture gallery for your perusal .
What thoughts if any do you have concerning the salient points raised within this piece ? Simply leave a comment as you would deem fit and thanks as always for the continued support as it is greatly appreciated . Thanks !
Picture and slide show details below .
(1) LOS ANGELES, CA – MARCH 4: Kobe Bryant (24) of the Los Angeles Lakers goes for a jump shot during the game between the Miami Heat and the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center on March 4, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images
(2) Dwyane Wade (3) of the Miami Heat drives around Kobe Bryant (24) of the Los Angeles Lakers during the game between the Miami Heat and the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center on March 4, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images …….
(3) Los Angeles Lakers forward Metta World Peace , bottom, dunks past Miami Heat forward LeBron James during the first half of their NBA basketball game, Sunday, March 4, 2012, in Los Angeles. The Lakers won 93-83 . AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill ….
(4) Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant, left, adjusts his protective mask as he talks to Miami Heat forward LeBron James (6) during the first half of their NBA basketball game, Sunday, March 4, 2012, in Los Angeles. The Lakers won 93-83 . AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill … …..
(5) Deron Williams (8) of the New Jersey Nets shoots a lay-up against the Charlotte Bobcats during the game at the Time Warner Cable Arena on March 4, 2012 in Charlotte, North Carolina. Photo by Kent Smith/NBAE via Getty Images …
(6) New Jersey Nets’ Deron Williams (8), center, shoots between Charlotte Bobcats’ Kemba Walker (1) and Boris Diaw (32) during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Sunday, March, 4, 2012, in Charlotte, N.C. Williams scored a franchise-record 57 points as the Nets won 104-101 . AP Photo/Rick Havner …
(7) Rajon Rondo (9) of the Boston Celtics directs his teammates in the second half against the New York Knicks on March 4, 2012 at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. The Boston Celtics defeated the New York Knicks 115-111 in overtime. Photo by Elsa Amendola/Getty Images … …..
(8) Paul Pierce (34) of the Boston Celtics drives around Jeremy Lin(17) of the New York Knicks on March 4, 2012 at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. The Boston Celtics defeated the New York Knicks 115-111 in overtime. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images …….
(9) Boston Celtics’ Rajon Rondo (9) shoots in front of New York Knicks’ Landry Fields (2) in the second quarter of an NBA basketball game in Boston, Sunday, March 4, 2012. Rondo had a triple-double as Boston won 115-111 in overtime. AP Photo/Michael Dwyer ….
(10) Minnesota Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman , left, talks with forward Kevin Love during the second half of their NBA basketball game against the Portland Trail Blazers in Portland, Ore., Saturday, March 3, 2012. Love scored 42 points as Minnesota beat Portland 122-110 . AP Photo/Don Ryan ….
(11) Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Love, right, goes to the basket against Portland Trail Blazers forward LaMarcus Aldridge during the second half of their NBA game in Portland, Ore., Saturday, March 3, 2012. Love scored 42 points as they beat the Blazers 122-110. AP Photo/Don Ryan … …..
Bob Marley & Peter Tosh ……………… “Concrete Jungle ”