Of Kobe and LeBron and other wonderful stuff
All right, half of it’s set and my travel to start the final has now come down to Los Angeles or Cleveland and that’s nice to know. (It is, after all, all about me).
I must say I was quite disappointed in the effort the Nuggets put forward last night, it sure looked like they sure didn’t play with any sense of desperation in the biggest game of the season and it turned what could have been a great one into a dud.
But what’s done is done, I guess; and we do have a pretty good one to look forward to tonight. And, because I work too hard and don’t have much of a life, we’ll be here to chat about it starting about 8:30 if anyone else is around on a Saturday night.
‘Til then? The lawn needs mowing, the big Fun Fair’s on at the school and I’ve got some work to do.
About last night
How good was that?
Kobe goes for 35 and 10 – and wasn’t it really a “quiet” 35? – and proved that in the biggest of games, he’s pretty much the best.
And I think the performance underscores the heart of the debate that’s raging right now, the one about Bryant and that fellow from Cleveland, the Kobe vs. LeBron discussion.
To be, Bryant is understated and LeBron is brash.
Bryant makes those sublime bounce passes off his penetration, LeBron sees a double, elevates and throws a bullet across court to a shooter in the corner.
LeBron’s got that football-like mentality, get a head of steam, get in the lane, finish come hell or high water; Bryant seems much more in control.
Bryant might be the most fundamentally sound mid-range jump shooter of this or any other era, he looks twisted and elevates on the move but his shoulders are square at release and he’s not leaning one way or the other; LeBron’s jumper is, at best, inconsistent.
Bryant strikes me as more cerebral but I’m not around either of them enough to really know. We think we know James with his LeBrons commercials and various appearances, I don’t think we know Bryant at all and I think that’s just fine with him.
LeBron’s got that whole “rosin in the air” thing before the game; Bryant seems pretty steely-eyed and not at all interested in interaction with opponents until he’s dissected them on the court.
I wrote this note to myself after the game (it’s something I do when I have a point to make, it’s silly but sometimes I forget things). It said: With Bryant, there’s not a lot of “hey, look at me” but there’s an awful lot of “wow, look at that.”
There is a subtle difference.
Look, there is no doubt they are the two most talented players in the game today and it’s a joy to watch either of them.
But, to me, I’ rather watch the understated one than the other.
So, what’s Denver do?
Pretty good season for the Nuggets, no? A stroke-of-genius trade gets them the on-court leader they so desperately needed (even if Chauncey wasn’t nearly as assertive offensively last night as he should have been); they get to the conference final for the first time in a quarter century and they have the bulk of the team under contract for next season.
So, it was a good year, right?
I’d have to say so, even though the disappointment will rage for a couple of days.
But the question is: What’s next?
They have to deal with free agents Chris Andersen and Dahntay Jones – both useful pieces but, frankly, only at the right cost because you can find guys like them without much trouble (Andersen is unique with his emotional style but you wonder if he can do it over an 82-game season with a lot of nights of drudgery). Anthony Carter’s the other free agent and I guess he’d be useful on a minimum salary deal.
The Nuggets have a very short “window” in my opinion – Billups isn’t getting any younger, neither is Kenyon Martin – so maybe they try to make one bold move this summer to stay among the Western Conference’s elite.
The West is going to be better next year, the Nuggets have to find a way to get better as well.
Here’s how Ben wrapped up the season and game in the paper out there.
For the Lakers?
Four days off before their next game. The final doesn’t start until Thursday and for a team that’s played 13 games – tough, physical games – in about two weeks, rest is a huge help.
In fact, it’s led to one bold prediction already. Check it out here.
Now, to the mail for one left over from an in-game query the other night.
Q: Hi Doug is there a defined roll for each assistant coach? As always, thanks
Steph R, Glencoe
A: There hasn’t been but maybe there should have been and I fully expect there will be when Jay gets around to telling us who’s on his staff.
What I expect will happen is that Jay will handle most of the offensive planning and duties, aided chiefly by one of his assistants – I imagine that’ll be Alex English if he comes back – and I am certain from talking to people near the team that Marc Iavaroni will be responsible for the defence. He did it in Phoenix – I know, the Suns were awful defensively but I think they were better that some people give them credit for, their defensive abilities were masked by the hurry-up offence they ran – and given a different set of players he should be okay.
The one big difference is going to be in game prep, which is pretty important through the course of the regular season. Under Sam, the assistants split opponents, each guy would be responsible for a certain number of opposing teams and would do the scouting report, make suggestions to the head coach on what would work best. It was a bit convoluted – the assistant would get the info from the advance scouts or by watching video, he’d give it to the head coach who’d then make the final preparations on what he thought would work best.
Now, I think you’ll see Micah Nori – who is one of the best prepared advance scouts-assistant coaches out there – work directly with Jay for every team, cutting out one step in the process.
None of this is cast in stone, of course, but from talking to people around the organization, I’ve got a pretty good idea that’s how it’s going to work out.
As for skills development: You’ll see Alex work with the wings as he has been (or his replacement will), Jay will work with the guards and Marc will work with the bigs. Toss in Eric Hughes as a teaching coach and, hopefully, Alvin Williams in the same role (primarily with the guards) and that’s how I expect it to shake out.
Wow! Stop the presses!
Amare Stoudemire said yesterday that he thinks he’s better than Chris Bosh!
Wake me when he says, “no, I suck, Chris is a way better player.”
Seriously, this is treated – according to the e-mails and comments I got – as significant?
I don’t get it.
Personally, I’d rather have Bosh on my team, he’s much more versatile on offence; neither is going to win defensive player of the year and Bosh hasn’t had two significant knee surgeries and isn’t returning from a serious eye injury. But that’s just me.
And for the fact Stoudemire says he thinks better than Bosh?
Yawn. Snore. Wake me when he says something important.
So, those commercials on TV, where they digitize the players, background, fans, refs, etc. and fade them in and out? Perhaps my favourite NBA ads ever and this might be the best of the bunch.
And since I have no idea how they can make stuff like that happen, here’s a story that tells you how.