December 21, 2005

Bent, Front And Back Glass Got Tint, Trying To Get Our Hands On Some Dollars And Cents

For about the last week, I've been listening to nothing but Ice Cube. Yeah yeah, I know. This ain't a live journal, you could give a shit about the music that's currently spinning at home, and they never named a whiskey after England.

Mood: Sleepy
Listening to: Gangster Rap!
"Every Rose Has It's Thorn"

Yeah, well, fuck that then. But no, Ice Cube. He has had quite the expansive career, and his albums are so diverse. Not from album to album, but from song to song. The album Death Certificate is the most perfectly eclectic groupings of songs from an NWA member. Bird in the Hand (oh my god, the beat!), My Summer Vacation, No Vaseline (best. dis. song. ever.), True To The Game, Wrong Nigga Ta Fuck Wit, and the aforementioned Steady Mobbin. The chorus of that song - sampled from a Parliament song, of course - goes...

Have you ever seen such a sight in your life?

And that's how to describe the left coast this morning.

62 like motherfucking JFK, son! In 3 quarters! Somebody back up the goofy wagon, and we'll ALL get on board.

That was one of those games that you really do just have to sit back and enjoy. You can't say anything bad or good about it, you just marvel. You open in the morning, and you stare bleary-eyed at the headline "Kobe's 62 Will Have To Do" (by the way, great headline guys! Was "Kobe Scores 62, How About You? Lakers Win By A Few, Over The Mavs Owned By Cu----- ban" the second choice?). I guess it's to be expected, but I still have a hard time with this Kobe thing.

And the reason is that he cost me money one time.

On Sunday, April 11th 2004, the Lakers played the Sackramento Kings in Cowbell Fun Arena. They were coming off a win against Memphis in which Kobe scored 33. After that game, Kobe was criticized in the LA Media and by Phil Jackson (for shock!) for taking too many shots and not deferring to Shaq enough. He was 9-23 on that night, but the criticism was part of a long-building season of selfishness.

So Kobe decided he was going to pout, and basically threw the next game.

In Sackramento, against a team that is thoroughly the Lakers' bitch, Kobe took 13 shots. He took ONE shot in the first half. Potsy and I watched this game in utter horror. We bet the Lakers, of course. It was surreal. Picture one of the best players in the NBA playing in such a way as he is expending energy, doing well defensively, but just flat-out avoiding doing the best thing he can. Like watching Roger Clemens throw nothing but curveballs. Or Mike Tyson try to wear out an opponent with jabs. Or Kevin Garnett shooting 3 pointers. It was amazing. Everyone in attendance knew it too. Check the quote:

After finishing with eight points on 3-of-13 shooting, Bryant insisted he wasn't avoiding shots -- even though that seemed obvious to everybody else at Arco Arena. His lone first-half shot was a missed 3-pointer when the shot clock was winding down midway through the second quarter.He did another strange thing afterward: He praised the Kings' defense, which has been among the NBA's worst this season.

WHAT?!?!?!? Here's more:

"They doubled me every time I touched the ball," said Bryant, who scored at least 34 points in each of his last five games against Sacramento. "So I just moved the ball, waiting for the game to kind of open up. I've done that before when teams have doubled me."

They did a great job. They played very well. (Kings coach Rick) Adelman had an excellent game plan for them. If we see them again, we'll figure out what to do to counterattack them."

Bryant's reticence might have been a response to coach Phil Jackson's recent criticism of the superstar's game. Jackson said the Lakers frequently suffer when Bryant concentrates solely on driving and scoring. Jackson wasn't making any guesses, refusing to take reporters' questions after the game.

It's unbelievable. He gets criticized for scoring (which is another matter entirely - Phil loves needling his players with shit like that), so he pretends that the defense was superb against him and flat out lies to the media. You must remember the Sackramento Kings from two years ago. They were the softest team outside of Dallas in the NBA (it's not much better now, but those old days... wow). I mean, Vlade "I Never Met A Flop I Didn't Like" Divac was their center. And he smoked cigarettes.

Why does any of this matter right now? Well, Kobe is such an enigma. What the hell is he? Who is this man? He is capable of scoring 62 points in three quarters, but not capable of making anyone on his team better. He plays excellent defense, is one of the best athletes in America, and yet has such a fucked up brain that he nicknamed himself the black mamba AND STARTED WEARING BLACK TIGHTS DURING BASKETBALL GAMES. He can score 62, and the next night, he may very well score 13 points, because he didn't like being called out by his coach. He's one of the hardest workers on the court, and yet completely unreachable off of it.

At least with Jordan, you knew his flaws. He was ultra-competitive, which led to his gambling and marital problems. But that was the reason behind everything. If he punched a teammate in practice, if he lost at a game of pool and smashed a trophy case, if he berated blackjack dealers and ran up ridiculous tabs in high stakes rooms, it was because he hated to lose. Kobe doesn't hate to lose. Otherwise he would have never tanked that Kings game. If he hated to lose, he would try his hardest all the time to do whatever it took to win the game. Watch those Laker games this season and tell me you think Kobe is doing everything he can FOR HIS TEAM to get the win. He's not. It's simple.

Phil Jackson once told a story about Kobe's high school days. He said that he heard a rumor that when Kobe was balling at Lower Merion (Bulldogs, have some kid!), he would intentionally tank for the first three quarters of the game, let his team go into a 20 point hole, just so he could bring them back at the end of the game to get the comeback win. I don't know if that's true, it might be something Phil made up or just bad information. The point is that you could absolutely see Kobe doing that, couldn't you?

Shit, I don't have to imagine it. I sat in front of the TV and watched 22 dollars get passed away. 1 shot in the first half. And because of some talk.

So, Lakers fans, you know what you're getting with this guy. But that's the problem. You DON'T really know. You're getting the most talented athlete in the NBA, one of the best scorers in the history of the game. But do you know the kind of effort you're getting night to night? Or, should I say, do you know where the effort is going to be directed night to night?

Because if the past is any indication, we ain't seen shit yet.

"Comin up short of the green guys,
And I might start slangin bean pies..."

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