Tag:Kobe Bryant
Posted on: October 22, 2010 11:52 pm
Edited on: October 22, 2010 11:53 pm

Pacific Division preview: Who's second best?

Posted by Royce Young

Read Ken Berger's full Pacific Division preview

One Burning Question: Who's the second best player in the Pacific?

I read something interesting by a columnist in Los Angeles earlier in the week. To summarize, basically he said Blake Griffin was the second best player in LA. Not "going to be" or "at some point will be." Nope. Right now, Griffin is one slot behind Kobe Bryant. So if Griffin is the second best player in LA, could he be the second best in the entire division?

(To refresh in case you don't have the depth charts in front of you, Pau Gasol, Ron Artest, Steve Nash, Baron Davis, Stephen Curry, David Lee, Monta Ellis and Tyreke Evans all play in the Pacific.)

I love Blake Griffin. Love everything about him. I'm an Oklahoman, went to the University of Oklahoma when Blake was there and even played little league baseball with his brother Taylor. I'm a total Blake Griffin homer. But second best in LA or the entire Pacific Divison? No. I mean, no. No way.

But the thing is, this is an open question. Griffin isn't in that slot, though I certainly think he'll be able to lay claim to that and probably in the near future, will be able to say he's the top dog in the town. But behind Kobe, figuring out who would be No. 2 isn't easy. Gasol has a great case. So does Steve Nash who has two MVP trophies. Then there's Tyreke Evans who is absolutely ridiculous. In terms of pure, young basketball talent, you're going to find plenty in the Pacific.

Since I'm asking the question, I'll give you my answer: Pau Gasol. But that's an incredibly close call with Evans. In fact, give me 10 minutes and I might change my mind. Nash is great, but not what he once was. Stephen Curry could be that guy, but he's not there yet. Baron Davis certainly looks like it some nights, but on others you wonder if he's even the second best player on his own team.

At the end of the season, this question might have a clearer answer. Heck, it could easily be Blake Griffin. In fact, I feel like the odds are pretty good there because Griffin is an absolutely insane basketball talent. But now? You've got to go with what you know and right now, we now that Pau Gasol is pretty stinking fantastic.
Posted on: October 22, 2010 12:07 pm
Edited on: October 22, 2010 12:35 pm

Friday 5 with KB: Contraction, Horford, Melo

CBSSports.com's Ken Berger discusses contraction , Denver trades, and the upcoming season.
Posted by Matt Moore

Posted by Matt Moore

Each week we'll be bringing you five questions for our own Ken Berger of CBSSports.com about the inside happenings of the league. This week, Ken talks about the contraction issues , Denver's objectives in trade talks, and what he's looking forward to this season. You can email your questions to the Friday 5 With KB at cbssportsnba@gmail.com or hit us up on Twitter at @cbssportsnba .

1. Your report on the CBA discussions sent shockwaves through the blogosphere as you reported the league is considering contraction as an option. But with small-market owners Peter Holt and Glen Taylor as powerful as they are, aren't they two guys that would deeply oppose this concept?

Ken Berger, CBSSports.com: Yes and no. In Taylor's case, I believe he'd oppose it only if his franchise were being eliminated. But business would be better for him if another struggling franchise were axed. In Holt's case, remember that the profitability challenge isn't about market size. It's about revenue. Yes, there are big and small markets, but that's not the point. The point is, there are high-revenue teams (such as the Lakers, who rake in nearly $2 million at the gate per home game) and there are low-revenue teams (such as the Grizzlies and Timberwolves, who make $300,000-$400,000). There are small-market teams that generate at or close to $1 million per home game (Oklahoma City, San Antonio, Utah), and there are teams in large metro areas that struggle (Atlanta, Washington, Philadelphia). What the league has to constantly look at is, are the low-revenue teams doing as well as they possibly can in the markets where they're doing business? If the answer is yes, there are three ways to deal with it: 1) enhance revenue sharing to the point where those teams can compete and profit; 2) relocation; or 3) contraction. No. 3 is clearly a last resort, but you'd have to be the most rose-colored-glasses type in the world not to see that the NBA would benefit immensely from getting rid of two teams. The league as a whole would be more profitable, and the product would be better.

 2. Let's turn to our best-selling show, "As Melo Turns." You reported this week that Denver's exploring a series of one-on-one deals. We have serious questions about how good of a deal this is for Denver, particularly the whole "Anderson 'Flopsy' Varejao" angle. So what positions do you think they're aiming for with these one-offs? Or is it just any upgrade they can get?

KB: Denver's top priorities remain as follows: draft picks, young players, and cap relief. In recent weeks, after the four-way fell apart, they've added something to the list: getting rid of Kenyon Martin and/or J.R. Smith in the deal. Executives familiar with their strategy say the Nuggets appear close to abandoning another component of their wish list: a veteran player who is a decent replacement for Anthony. The thought being, if you're getting worse in the short term without Melo, why not go all the way and set yourself up to rebuild the right way? Why not "be Sam Presti," as one exec put it to me. So the long answer to your question is that the Nuggets' approach is in flux on every level, but there are certain things they feel they have to get out of this: draft picks, young players, and cap relief. If they decide to go ahead and move K-Mart and J.R., and give up the notion of trying to patch the hole with, say, Andre Iguodala, they'd be in a position to get more of all three.

 3. This week you saw a big peelback of the number of technicals compared to last week. It seemed like both sides were starting to find that "middle ground" you talked about last week. Do you think this is going to be a non-issue or do you think the union really is going to get involved legally?

For once, I agree with David Stern. Cooler heads will prevail, and the union will realize that this isn't a battle they want to wage. (Better to save their time, lawyers and money for the real fight over the CBA). Stern even budged a little Thursday when he admitted that some officials have overstepped in the enforcement of the new policy, and that they'd have to adjust. So as you and I have said from the beginning, that's what's going to happen. The players will back down a little, the refs will give them a little more leash, there will be marginally more techs doled out early in the season, and then everyone will move on.

 4. Al Horford, Jamal Crawford. Clock's ticking, at least on Horford, and we don't hear anything. What's the lastest on that front?

The Hawks have until June 30 to extend Crawford, so there's no rush there -- despite Jamal's understandable desire to get it done now. But with regard to both Crawford and Horford, Hawks GM Rick Sund has a long history of not doing veteran extensions. This was his approach in Seattle with Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis, and he did the same with Mike Bibby, Marvin Williams, Zaza Pachulia and Joe Johnson in Atlanta. (Note: Johnson was the only one of those players who got a max deal from Sund.) The point is clear: If this has been your philosophy in the past, early or mid-way through collective bargaining agreements, then it will most certainly be your strategy in the last year of a CBA. You can't 100 percent rule out Horford getting an extension by the 31st, but I doubt it. Unless the Hawks are getting a home-team discount, what's the incentive for them to pay Horford now when they don't know what market value will be under the new deal?

 5. Okay, Ken, last Friday 5 before the start of the season. We know you're least looking forward to the LeBron show. But what are you most looking forward to as the season starts Tuesday?

  I'm not least looking forward to LeBron at all. I was least looking forward to "The Decision" and its aftermath. I'm very much looking forward to watching him play alongside Dwyane Wade. It will be compelling theater, everywhere they go. Aside from that, just to mention a few things on my radar: I'm interested in seeing how Kobe Bryant's knee holds up; whether Kevin Durant and the Thunder are ready to take the next step; whether Amar'e Stoudemire will bring the buzz back to Madison Square Garden; whether Dwight Howard is as determined to dominate as he says he is; my first chance to listen to Stan Van Gundy eviscerate someone in a pre-game diatribe; my next chance to hear Howard imitate Van Gundy; the first of a million times this season that Jeff Van Gundy says, "I just don't understand that;" where and when Carmelo gets traded; and LeBron's first game in Cleveland Dec. 2.
Posted on: October 21, 2010 9:53 am
Edited on: October 21, 2010 10:19 am

Shootaround 10.21.10: Dunk more, win more

Posted by Royce Young
  • A Harvard Sports Analysis shows the more you dunk, the more you win: “Given that dunking does appear to correlate with winning, what can we take this to mean? The thing to avoid is seeing dunking and winning as a causal relationship (i.e. dunking more means you will win more). Instead, we should view high dunk totals as a representation of a good team (i.e. good teams will produce more dunks). These conclusions support the notion that “Dunks are Awesome!” but also that, despite the complaints of the old guard, dunks have become a fundamental. As if NBA fans needed another reason to fear the upcoming season, the only team that will enter the 2010/2011 season with three players in the top 20 for dunks are, you guessed it, the Miami Heat.”
  • Gus Johnson has been fired from the MSG Network which breaks my heart. He's absolutely one of the very, very best out there. The NY Post with details: “Gus Johnson, the shouts-a-lot, play-by-play radio voice of the Knicks since the 1997-98 season — and a frequent fill- in for Mike Breen on MSG Network’s Knicks’ telecasts — is out at the Garden. Over the last two seasons, Johnson, 43, had annoyed MSG Network shot-callers by missing many games to work outside TV gigs, including CBS’ college basketball and Showtime boxing. Johnson’s primary replacement is expected to be Mike Crispino, an MSG TV and radio multi-tasker since 1992. Johnson, in 1997, replaced Mike Breen, who moved to MSG TV.”
  • Doug Collins is doing better: "He's feeling better," associate head coach Michael Curry told The Philadelphia Inquirer . "Tests, as he sees them right now, were good. So we're expecting him bright and early Friday morning. [He will] start going over some tapes, getting ready for the start of the season."
  • Howard Beck of The New York Times: "This is the Knicks’ new reality. For two years, they operated under the shadow of LeBron James. Now they are dealing with the specter of Carmelo Anthony. A shaky preseason has only made a trade look more urgent. The speculation will end only when Anthony is finally traded, wherever the destination may be."
  • Lee Jenkins' feature on the Thunder is truly fantastic: "When the team moved from Seattle to Oklahoma City, general manager Sam Presti wanted all his players to tour the memorial before their first open practice. Now every new player is taken to the memorial, usually in the weeks leading up to training camp, and sometimes more than once. When guard Royal Ivey came to Oklahoma City for his free-agent visit this summer, he asked Presti about the crowd at the Ford Center, how such a small market generates the most noise in the NBA. The fans have become a source of curiosity around the league, for painting their chests like frat boys, standing for long stretches and commencing a 20-minute ovation for the team three seconds after the season-ending loss to the Lakers. Presti ushered Ivey to the memorial. "It took my breath away," Ivey says. "After that I called my agent. I wanted to be a part of this."
Posted on: October 18, 2010 2:01 pm
Edited on: August 14, 2011 7:52 pm

Forget MJ, Kobe Bryant is a top 5 guard

Michael Jordan says Kobe Bryant is a top 10 guard of all time. He should have said top five.
Posted by Ben Golliver

In a recent interview with USA Today , Michael Jordan, the greatest player in the history of basketball, was asked how Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant stacks up to the greatest who have ever played the game.
It's so hard to say. I think he is always going to be within the conversations of some of the greatest players who've played by the time he is finished. Where does he rank among those, if you are talking about positions? If you are talking about guards, I would say he has got to be in the Top 10.

Marc Spears of Yahoo! Sports caught up with Bryant for his reaction to Jordan's comment.
“It’s an accurate statement,” Bryant said. “I’m definitely one of the top 10 guards. It could mean two, it could mean one, it could mean four or five. I’m definitely one of the top thousand. Look, I know how he feels about me. “There have been a lot of great guards to play the game. For me to sit here and say, ‘He should have said top five,’ that’s disrespectful to the other guards that I’ve watched.”

In this case, I'm happy to be "disrespectful" to Jordan on Bryant's behalf: Michael Jordan should have said Kobe Bryant is a top five guard. Period.   In his 2009 The Book Of Basketball , Bill Simmons set out to rank the best players in the game, in part, to help settle questions like this one. Simmons ranked Bryant as the No. 15 player overall, and the only pure guards ranked ahead of Bryant were Jordan (No. 1 overall), Magic Johnson (No. 4 overall), Jerry West (No. 8 overall) and Oscar Robertson (No. 9 overall).  You can quibble over West/Robertson, but the rest, including Bryant, seem right to me. Since the book's release last fall, Bryant won another title with the Lakers, so his standing has only improved. Bryant refused to rank himself when given the opportunity by Spears, and this was a wise move, because current players will always be at a sentimental disadvantage when compared to retired players. Magic Johnson brings back memories, Oscar Robertson evokes tales, and Kobe Bryant still makes plays. That process of continually adding to his resume works against him whenever we try to assess his standing against stationary targets. Given that he is battling legends, the standard for Bryant to overtake guys like Robertson and West will be exceedingly high and probably not attainable until he retires, and his statistics and ring total go final.  Jordan and Johnson may wind up completely unassailable, regardless of how Bryant's career plays out, such is the magnitude of their cultural power.   Whether Bryant ever cracks that top two isn't today's discussion. Today, it's more important to realize that it's far more difficult to exclude Bryant from the top five guards of all time than it is to include him.  Who would you rather have? Bob Cousy? Isiah Thomas? John Stockton? Rick Barry? Cousy - with his titles, leadership and revolutionary back court play - makes the strongest sentimental case, but he doesn't pass the smell test. You don't think Kobe Bryant in his prime would wipe the parquet with Cousy in his prime if given the chance? On both ends Bryant's athleticism and length would be overpowering. As for the rest, they didn't win as often or in as dominating a fashingon as Bryant has. Jordan's comment shows an appreciation for the game's other great guards and, perhaps, a self-protective impulse. Surely it's easier for Jordan to remain king eternally if his strongest current challenger is given more ground to make up. It was a savvy play by Jordan and Bryant's response showed equal thoughtfulness.  Bryant knows historical rankings can't be campaigned for, they are given out collectively once they've been deemed "earned".  He also knows he's well on his way.
Posted on: October 18, 2010 12:27 pm

Heat Stroke: Beat LA already question mark?

Posted by Royce Young

The new Miami Heat tend to get ahead of themselves a bit. When they introduced the new members of the team, they threw a championship sized party. And immediately, the team didn't start talking about winning a championship. They started talking about winning championships, plural.

And it appears that kind of braggadocious mentality has sort of rubbed off on their fanbase. Example the first, via Ira Winderman: They are chanting "Beat L-A!" at open scrimmages. Um, too soon?

No doubt there's already been a little sniping back and forth between the two evident top dogs in the league. Kobe Bryant briefly talked about the Heat, mentioning is first thought besides "How the expletive did that happen?" was, "I've got to get my knee healthy." Ron Artest left LeBron off his top two players list. Artest also talked about how losing weight will help him defend Kevin Durant, but he worries about defending LeBron in a seven-game series.

So both teams are kind of getting ahead of themselves a bit. But "Beat LA?" at an open scrimmage in October? Yeah, that's sort of skipping the forward, the introduction, the plot and the climax of a book and reading the last chapter.

Granted, this is one open practice. And fans like to have fun and chant things. I don't blame them. But what if this persists into the regular season? What if when the Heat are blowing out the Raptors in December, Heat fans start up with it? Couldn't that give some extra fodder to teams like the Magic, Celtics and Bulls, all teams that feel they're a hurdle for the Heat to jump?

Thinking NBA Finals in October isn't a big deal. It's every team's goal. Right down to the Clippers, the Nets and the Wizards. Everyone wants to hoist the trophy. But talking about it, chanting about it and being downright brash about it in October, before your team has even played a game? If the Heat and their fans want to be the NBA's villains, they're off to a nice start.
Posted on: October 18, 2010 11:10 am

Rose: "Why can't I be MVP of the league?"

Posted by Royce Young

When the GMs voted in their annual survey, most were a little shocked that one player wasn't on top. LeBron James, the two-time reigning MVP, only got a fraction of the vote. Kevin Durant led the way with Kobe Bryant, James and then Dwight Howard trailing behind.

But one player that feels a little slighted to not be mentioned is Derrick Rose. As he told Tim Povtak of FanHouse, "Why can't I be MVP of the league?"

It's a good question, really. Why can't Rose win the award? His Bulls are lined up to have a successful season, he's entering his third year and has been extremely good in his first two years and by all accounts, he's better than before. He's going to be the Bulls focus and he'll have plenty of attention of on him all year. It kind of adds up.

But at the same time, Rose hasn't even begun to touch what he's capable of. Watching him in the open floor is almost a revelation. He's not just fast, he's smooth fast. No player moves the way he does. It just looks good. Rose is flashy, but he has substance. When he's got the jumper going and he's creating aggressively, look out. Problem is, it doesn't always happen. But that's something that shouldn't surprise anyone from a guy that's played two seasons and is 21 years old.

(Quick timeout: How beautiful is that little jump-stop runner Rose has developed? I'm talking about the one where he dribbles down the floor acting like he's looking for someone to pass to, heads to the right side of the lane, plants quickly and in a blink, shotputs the ball at the rim. It's gorgeous. And pretty much unstoppable.)

Rose's biggest challenge is translating his quiet demeanor into strong vocal leadership on the court. But that comes with comfort. He's gaining in confidence. For example, this MVP comment. I don't think Rose would have said something like this two years ago. Not because he didn't believe it, but because he wasn't as sure of himself. He wasn't exactly sure how to express himself. And now he's getting there. Which is all part of the process.

In his first two years though, Rose was teamed with somewhat of a lackluster roster. He had Ben Gordon on his wing his rookie year and he's had Joakim Noah inside. He's had the often injured Luol Deng on the wing, but really at no point did Rose have a go-to scorer to rely on. He's kind of been forced to be the go-to scorer but always creative and distribute. Now, with Carlos Boozer on the interior and a couple weapons to kick to on the outside, Rose might be capable of scratching his statistical ceiling.

Could a 20-10 season be in the cards for Rose? Probably not, but with some of the defensive focus pulled off him, he could potentially score in the upper 20s while also handing out six, seven or eight assists a game. For instance, look at the damage Rose did last April against the Cavaliers in the playoffs: 26.4 ppg, 7.2 apg, 3.2 rpg, plus excellent percentages. That type of year is certainly something Rose has in him. Maybe not now, but eventually for sure.

 And if the Bulls are in contention, is that enough to at least put Rose in the MVP discussion? I'd think so. Hard to ignore numbers like that.
Posted on: October 15, 2010 12:44 pm
Edited on: October 15, 2010 12:53 pm

Ron Artest gives us his two best players

Posted by Royce Young

Don't ask Ron Artest to count to five. Or even three. Because he can't. Well, at least he can't when he's naming the best players in the NBA and he may or may not be trying to slight LeBron James on purpose.

Since Artest is known as one of the league's most talented bulldog defenders, he's a good source to go to in terms of finding out who the best players in the game are. Whoever he has the most trouble defending, that means they're probably pretty good.

So Dave McMenamin of ESPN Los Angeles
asked Artest what he thought the biggest offseason signing was and Artest didn't go where you thought he would. He picked Kevin Durant signing an extension with Oklahoma City, as opposed to the taker of talents to South Beach. As to why? "He's the second best player in the NBA," Artest said.

Well do elaborate, Ron.

"Kobe's got five rings, six game winners [last season], 23-straight points in [Game 5 of the Finals] off mostly jump shots," Artest said. "[He's] the biggest shot maker, big shot maker. So, that said, Durant's the second best player in the NBA."

What you did there, I see it. Durant's two, because Kobe's one. Of course that begged the question: Where's LeBron?

"I only count to two," Artest said. "I've been out of school 15 years, so I only count to two."

Only Artest. Somehow, despite some pretty horrible moments for him over the years, his transformation from bad guy into an endearing player is almost complete. But the story here is the subtle smack talk Artest just gave LeBron and the Heat. The two teams will meet Christmas Day and Artest will be guarding LeBron. I'm sure LeBron took mental notes on Artest's statement so you can be sure James will play like he has something to prove.

And that might be Artest's point. He's trying to get into LeBron's head early and talk him into playing one-on-one instead of playing his game. It's a very Phil Jackson-ish move. I guess Artest has been reading Jackson's books after all. He can't count, but I guess he can still read.
Posted on: October 14, 2010 5:42 pm
Edited on: October 14, 2010 7:35 pm

Heat Stroke: Kobe's initial reaction

 Posted by Royce Young

Via Mike Bresnahan of the L.A. Times on Twitter, Kobe Bryant said today that he really doesn't like talk about LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade's new adventure in Miami.

But he did share his initial reaction upon hearing LeBron and Bosh would join Wade.

"How did Pat Riley pull that [expletive] off?"

How did Pat Riley pull that expletive off indeed, Kobe. It's something a lot of people thought initially post "Decision." In fact, I think a lot of people are wondering it still now. But in reality, it probably had very little to do with Pat Riley and whole lot more with the three main players involved. I'm sure if the three of them were dying to play together in Minnesota, David Kahn would make it happen. Well, that's probably stretching it, but you get my point.

Kobe shared another thought about the Miami Triad, saying simply, "I've got to get my knee healthy." If I understand Kobe here - and I think that I do - he's implying that his team, the Lakers, might meet LeBron and Bosh's new team, the Heat, at some future time. The NBA Finals perhaps?

Though not to cause a panic that that might not happen, but Kobe may not exactly have that knee healthy. He's previously said it was at about 60 percent and he's kind of sort of playing like it. So far in preseason, Kobe is shooting just 14.3 percent from the floor. That's 4-28 from the field and he's 0-10 from 3. So if he intends on seeing LeBron and Friends at a later date, he needs to work on that knee a little more.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com