Tuesday, July 1, 2008
While sifting through the World Wide Web earlier, I came across some YouTubage making more comparisons between Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant, which you aren't supposed to do because it's considered blasphemy and sacrilege in 49 states (trust me, I know). In Truehoop's Tuesday Bullets, Henry linked to an article some Lakers fan wrote reflecting on his team's great season, and at the end of it he gave a link to a YouTube clip he put together called "Kobe Bryant vs. Zone Defense," designed to "detail the superior defenses that Bryant and other superstars have to go up against in the modern era of basketball." It also included a quote from Mamba himself, opining for the rules of MJ's reign, when teams weren't allowed to zone up.
Related videos led me to the dispiciable Bruce Blitz's propaganda channel, bruceblitzconfession. He is anti-Kobe and pro-Jordan, to the core. There are athletes I don't like, but none I despise, at least not enough to lead a crusade against them, like Bruce has against Kobe, a man he seems to have a personal problem with. Bruce police's the text responses people make to his videos, because he wants to make sure no one is able to expose him and his B.S. Anyways, his video was called "Michael Jordan 1993 NBA Finals vs. Kobe Bryant 2008 NBA Finals," a response to mustseebbtv's "Michael Jordan vs Real Defenses," which displayed the traps, double/triple teams, and physical defenses MJ had to overcome during his era. Do you see what's going on here? It's a battle between Jordan Truthers and Kobe Defenders. KB42PAH (the Lakers fan) reps Kobe and mustseebbtv is with Jordan, and by making a video that attempts to demonstrate that their guy played in a superior defensive period, they are implicitly making the case that the defenses the other guy played against were inferior. Kobe v. MJ lies beneath the surface of virtually any mention of Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan. And Bruce is obsessed with proving that Kobe is no Jordan.
I went to Bruce's channel to post a comment. In the description of his evidence-less video, he writes that Boston didn't use a zone to thwart Kobe, but rather, played man-to-man with rotating help, or the same defense Jordan played against. I typed that I did think Boston played some box-and-one zone against Kobe, and that besides, even if they're not in zone the absence of illegal defense makes it easier to bring help. Pre-2004-05, you were forced to be within an arms length of your man at all times; these days you are allowed to play further off of your assignment, strengthening help defense and putting restriction on one-on-one play. Remember, that's why the league put the new rules in in the first place, because they felt that there was too many offenses built around isolations and individual play, and not enough ball movement and team play. Someone like Kobesmith Black Mambazo (shout out to Dr. LIC), a venemous man who can strike with 99% accuracy at maximum speed, in rapid succession, only needs a split second opening, a smidgeon of room, do his damage. With the old rules in place, it's very likely that Boston's team defense, spectacular as it was, would have been, as Avon Barksdale once said, a little slow, a little late, in disturbing Kobe. And they definitely wouldn't have been able to force the ball out of his hands 35 feet from the basket.
My comment is "pending approval"...but I'm pretty sure it will never see the light of day, just like my comment on another video he posted. It featured Sam Cassell, in a guest spot with the boys on the TNT set. If my memory serves me, Kobe had just finished scoring 45 points against the Suns in Game 3 of a 2007 first round series, and Chuck asked Sam to repeat what he was saying in the green room. "He ain't Michael Jordan," Sam said, "but he the closest thing we got." Charles echoed that sentiment. Of course, Bruce manipilated the video so that you only heard the first half of that quote. What kind of a person does something like that? You can at least be honest, right? Seriously.
Listen, I'm done with the MJ-Kobe thing. I still believe that Kobe's game is more polished and expansive, but as Jayceon Taylor might put it, MJ was 100. He came through all of the time. Kobe only comes through most of the time. That's the difference. The only question that matters is who would you rather have on your team, and, no disrespect meant to Kobe at all, I'd rather have Jordan. Period.
But while Jordan played in a much more physical era in which hand-checking was allowed and it was OK to mug people on their way to the basket, Kobe has to play against smarter defenses, and never has it been easier to focus all of your defensive efforts on a single offensive player. Jordan supporters conveniently ignore that latter fact when they make their arguments.
Oh, and just one more thing: Last month, Bill Simmons wrote of Kobe having a "kryptonite flaw," bigger defenders with long reaches backed by smart teammates who remain aware of his every movement. He also said that Michael didn't have a "kryptonite flaw," and that "Jordan did whatever he wanted during a much more physical era, and when he faced a great defensive team - like the '89 and '90 Pistons or '93 Knicks - nobody ever shackeled him or knocked him into a scoring funk."
Well, here go MJ's numbers from the 1993 Eastern Conference Finals against New York: 32.2 points, 6.2 rebounds, 7.0 assists, and 2.5 steals, but only 40.0 percent from the field (Kobe shot 40.5 percent in the Finals against Boston). He shot a combined 62-of-155 in the six games - that's 25.8 shots a game (Kobe averaged 21.8 shots per in L.A.'s six-game clash with the Celtics). In Game 4 he exploded for 54 on Labor Day, in one of his most famous performances. He had 29 points (and 10 rebounds and 14 assists) on 11-24 shooting in Game 5 (the Charles Smith Game). But other than that? He shot 10-27 in Game 1, 12-32 in Game 2, 3-18 in Game 3, and 8-24 in Game 6. Nobody remembers this because the Bulls won the series, but it happened. It did. You can look it up.