Friday, April 28, 2006

Will the real Bean please stand up?

Kobe has us baffled. The man really is an enigma. If you figure him out, let us know. Does he want to win, or does he want to put up numbers?

Kobe, at least to us, seems hell bent on winning - but winning his way. And there is a difference.

He was at least 50% at fault for breaking up The Shaq-Kobe Dynasty (and probably more than that). If he truly wanted to win, it seems to us, he would have swallowed whatever pride he had and kept the big man around. But that's all over and done with now, and not really worth debating who's at fault, because no one will ever really know - just something to keep in the back of your mind.

After missing the playoffs last year, Kobe absolutely destroyed himself this season trying to get his team into the playoffs. He shot and shot - it was borderline comical, borderline insane, borderline genius. His motives were questioned as not entirely pure - does he really want to win, or does he just want gaudy numbers? The 81-point explosion seemed to convince most that numbers were really what mattered to him, but what few people recall about the game is that the Lakers were trailing before KB8 took over and dropped a double nickel in the second half. Kobe was bashed by anyone outside of L.A. - us included - for shooting too much, for not caring about his teammates, for shooting too much, for putting himself before the team, and for shooting too much. But you know what? He got the Lakers in the playoffs. And with only one other good player on his team, in the West, that's a hell of an accomplishment.

Now come the playoffs, against one of the worst defenses in the NBA. Who wasn't expecting a few 50-point games, maybe even a 60-pointer out of Kobe? Once again, the Mamba does the opposite. He's shooting five less times per game, and averaging 10 less points per game - but the Lakers stole home court from the second-seeded Suns. Say whatever you want about Kobe, but it really has been a masterful performance so far. He's gotten his teammates involved - especially his bigs: Kwame Brown?!?! He's been taking advantage of double teams, finding cutting teammates and trusting them to make open shots. But when its needed, he has asserted himself. The Lakers are so much tougher to defend now because Kobe has options. And they are heading back to the Staples Center with homecourt.

So should he be criticized for this? Well, no; it's working. Our only question: why they hell didn't Bean do this all year long? Why, on the biggest stage imaginable, change tactics? Now, it seems, we're Kobe bashing. "Hey, he's finally doing what you and everyone else said he should, and its working - now lay off." Not so, this is Kobe praising at its highest. Even Kobe's most ardent apologists have to be asking themselves, Why? Did anyone - anyone - expect this? The results, yea, maybe...but how he got the Lakers homecourt advantage? No one thought that would happen.

So what is it Bean? You wanna play the team game, or you want to dominate the ball? Both are fun as hell to watch, and frankly, either way is fine with us. Just let us know, so we can bash you one way or the other, alright?

Oh, and while you're answering our questions, what's the deal with the number change? Yea, you picked 8 for a stupid reason, but something is telling us you have a good one for switching to 24. But if it has anything to do with Nike or shoes or jersey sales, that's it, Bean. You're kinda starting to grow on us, but if you pull a sunt like that, well...that's just unforgiveable.

Oh, and just for fun (by the way, when he hangs on the rim, second coolest thing so far in the playoffs, behind Bron Bron throwing the chalk in the air):

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