Monday, June 8, 2009

Kobe Isn't That Important

I'm starting to hear way too much about Kobe Bryant. I didn't think I would have a problem with it - after all, who didn't see Kobe Fest 2009 coming when LeBron was eliminated? But I wanted me some #24. I wanted to see him make his mark. But he isn't solely responsible for the Lakers' title hopes.

Unless he goes for 81 points again, he is just another player on the court, albeit the best one. But whether or not he wants to win it more than anyone else won't bring home a trophy. Neither will the fact that he is seemingly more nasty and serious in this series then he ever has been before. The Lakers are just a better team, and the better team wins seven game series.

If Courtney Lee makes that alley-oop at the end of Game 2, then what? Is Kobe's extreme focus now a problem? Does his want for a title now hinder his team? Of course not, and it works the other way. The Lakers won because Orlando blew chances, bottom line. But it was close because, for the most part, the Magic played their game. The Game 1 blowout had more to do with Orlando not making any shots than the demeanor of L.A.'s shooting guard.

Truth is, Bryant's importance to the Lakers is crunch time, and we haven't seen it yet because we haven't needed it. We got a glimpse at the end of regulation in Game 2, but it didn't matter. And that's the point. He scored 8 of the Lakers' last 10 points, but it still went into overtime. The reason is that the game has ten players, not one, and the Magic five did their part as well. And the scary part for L.A. is that when Kobe was trying to end the game by himself, J.J. Redick, Rashard Lewis and Hedo Turkoglu were matching him. And don't we always side with the "team"?

It was a mix of good defense and Pau Gasol that won that game, not the will of Kobe Bryant. And that's fine, that's the way it usually works out. But stop talking to me about how Kobe is on a mission. So are a dozen other guys playing this game, and they matter more collectively than one man, despite how good he may be.


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