Category Archives: Basketball

Rockets (2) vs Mavericks (7) Preview : City Tension

Houston Rockets (56-26) vs. Dallas Mavericks (50-32)

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Dating back to the T-Mac & Yao collapse against Dallas, maybe even before then the Mavs and Rockets have had a huge disdain for each other. The owners dislike each other. The players dislike each other. Simply put, everyone within each organization dislikes the other. Basketball aside these two cities often get in disputes on which city is the best in Texas. This matchup gives us our first series that features two rivals……. Man this is going to be fun.

The Rockets haven’t been healthy for most of the season and made a few in season acquisitions to shake up an injury riddled roster. Houston brought in power-forward Josh Smith and ex-Maverick (championship squad) Corey Brewer. MVP candidate James Harden kept the Rockets afloat while Dwight Howard was out of the lineup due to a few nagging injuries. With Harden playing at an MVP level, Brewer and Smith leading the bench and Dwight Howard back from injury the Rockets are going to be a tough out.

The Mavericks, like the Rockets, also made a few moves. The Mavs traded for point guard Rajon Rondo and signed forward Amare’ Stoudamire mid way through the season. Before the trade the Mavs were arguably the best offensive team in basketball. After the trade however, the Mavs took a step back in all aspects of the game. With that being said the Mavericks finished the season on a minor role going 4-1 in their last five games.

Starters:

PG: J.Terry vs. R.Rondo

SG: J.Harden vs. M.Ellis

SF: T.Ariza vs C.Parsons

PF: D.Montiejunas vs. D.Nowitzki

C: D.Howard vs. T.Chandler

Mark Cuban has already started the war of words. He claimed Houston wasn’t a good team outside of James Harden and they are a very predictable foe….. Back during free agency Rockets GM, Daryl Morey, said that Chandler Parsons wasn’t a max guy and basically dissed him. To rev things up even more the Rockets traded for ex-Mav Jason Terry knowing they had intentions of bringing him back….

During the regular season the Rockets beat the Mavericks 3 out of 4 times. The games were competitive but Harden just seemed to be too much for the Mavs. There shouldn’t be much stock put into that record though knowing the Mavs are a different club in the postseason.

Keys:

Houston

The Rockets are an explosive team that relies on shooting the three and getting to the free throw line. In this specific series they can’t be a run and gun team. They have to defend and dominate the inside. If Dwight can have his way with Chandler and he dominates the glass the Mavs won’t be able to pose much of a threat. (Horrible rebounding squad.) The Mavericks also don’t have a player that can guard Harden one on one. His size alone is another aspect of the game Houston should take advantage of.

Dallas

The Mavericks are a better offensive and defensive team than the Rockets. The main problem they have is being consistent. In order to beat the Rockets the Mavericks need to force someone other than Harden to score. If they can make shots consistently, rebound and defend Harden the Mavericks will win the series. It’s time for playoff Rondo and playoff Rick Carlisle. If Carlisle’s schemes are being run to near perfection and Rondo is right this series will end quickly.

Prediction Mavericks upset the Rockets 4-2. The Mavericks have more experience and in my eyes just might be the better team in general. Houston lives and dies by the three and they have no clear cut 2nd option to be exact. Harden still has to prove himself to be a playoff guy and Dwight has to prove he’s serious about winning. Too much trying to prove and won’t be enough doing. The Mavericks have it.

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Bulls (3) vs Bucks (6) Preview : Defense

Chicago Bulls (50-32) vs. Milwaukee Bucks (41-41)

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The Bulls brought in a whole lot of talent this offseason on the offensive end of the ball. Pau Gasol (low post scorer), Aaron Brooks (scoring point guard), Nikola Mirotic (European star), and rookie Doug McDermott (shooter), all make the Bulls more potent on offense. With all of the new talent as well as the emergence of Jimmy Butler and the defensive prowess of Joakim Noah, Derrick Rose can finally pick and choose his spots without having to forcefully do everything on his own.

Milwaukee has been a bit of a surprise this season. Jason Kidd has coached this team up without having rookie Jabari Parker or center Larry Sanders, two players who were supposed to be vital in this teams growth and success. From top to bottom this team has little to no playoff of experience which usually spells doom.

Starters:

PG: D.Rose vs. M.Carter-Williams

SG: J.Butler vs. K.Middleton

SF: M.Dunleavy vs. G.Antetokounmpo

PF: P.Gasol vs. E.Ilyasova

C: J.Noah vs. Z.Pachulia

Both teams have top 10 defenses and offense that can be lackluster for long stretches. With these two teams being division rivals and right up the road from each other expect a nice old fashioned, physical, defensive oriented series. The Bulls have defensive ace Thibs as head coach while the Bucks have the length and speed to disrupt the passing lanes. Very intriguing right?

The Bulls won the season series 3-1 with all but one game being fairly close. Neither team scored 100 points in any of those games.

Keys:

Chicago Bulls

The Bulls have entirely too much talent to let this series get away from them. As long as they control the ball and force turnovers instead of coughing up the rock themselves the Bulls should win this series fairly easily.

Milwaukee Bucks

To make this series interesting the Bucks have to get into the head of D.Rose and force him to over think and force things. If they can contain the paint and force turnovers the Bucks could potentially scare Chicago… Jason Kidd is going to need to coach the series of his life to be completely honest.

Prediction Bulls Sweep the Bucks 4-0. The Bulls have the advantage defensively, offensively, experience wise and coaching wise. I really see this as a tuneup series to prepare for a 2nd round bout with the Cavaliers…

2015 NBA playoffs: Celtics vs Cavs

  

This is what we’ve all been dying to see, The Cleveland Cavaliers play a playoff game! There are so many intriguing storylines heading into these playoffs but none are more interesting than the Cavs big 3 starting their first championship journey together. Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love will be making their very first playoff appearances and the world is wondering how they will handle it. Lebron James has a very tall task ahead of him in this postseason by having to inspire and elevate his teammates to another level. 

  

Their opponents however are to be respected, as the young and hungry Boston Celtics look ready to relish in their first playoff experience as a team. Celtics head coach Brad Stevens has done a phenomenal job, getting 100% effort out of his players on a nightly basis. With young studs Isaiah Thomas, Evan Turner, and Avery Bradley the Celtics will make things difficult on the Cavs at times.

In terms of matchups Cleveland dominates almost all except the reserves. I expect the Cavs to run all over the Celtics for the majority of the series, and a few will be close, but the rest…blowouts. However, I do see Boston winning a game at home with help from their rabid fans. Other than that I see pure dominantion on Cleveland’s part.

Prediction: Cavs in 5 

Warriors (1) vs. Pelicans (8) Preview : Something to Prove

Golden State Warriors (67-15) vs. New Orleans Pelicans (45-37)

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Ever since he was drafted Steph Curry has been proving doubters wrong. His first couple of seasons in the league were filled with ankle injuries, thus sparking the ”what if he was healthy,” line. We’re seeing right now what the answer to that quote would be as Curry is tearing the league up. He’s already in the debate for best shooter ever and he’s arguably the best point guard in basketball. This season alone has seen Curry put the Warriors in elite category. They’re arguably the best team on both ends of the court and only seem to be getting better in each game.

In just his third year being a pro Anthony Davis has already led a team to the playoffs. Playing in a small market Davis hasn’t really gotten the recognition he deserves in regards to him being deemed an elite player. He’s in the conversation for MVP as well as Defensive Player of The Year.

Starters:

PG: S.Curry vs. J.Holiday

SG: K.Thompson vs. E.Gordon

SF: H.Barnes vs. T.Evans

PF: D.Green vs. A.Davis

C: A.Bogut vs. O.Asik

Both teams have been a surprise this season. No expected the Warriors to make the huge leap they did going from Mark Jackson to Steve Kerr as coach. Not too many outside of the city of New Orleans saw Anthony Davis leading a Pelicans team to nearly 50wins and a playoff berth with Monty Williams as head coach.

The Warriors won the season series 3-1 winning the games played at home by an average margin of 21.5 points. When playing in New Orleans the Warriors won a game by six points (OT was needed) and lost by three points in the other game.

Keys:

Golden State

The Warriors have to continue playing the way they have been. Thompson and Curry should be able to light up the Pelicans back court and stifle Anthony Davis down low (Bogut must remain healthy). G’State also has arguably the best bench in basketball having guys like Igudola, David Lee, Barbosa and Shaun Livingston coming in and maintaining/expanding leads of their own. This team is ultra deep and they should be able to use that to their advantage.

New Orleans

The Pelicans are nice young feisty team that possesses a ton of talent. (A coaching change could bring out the best in Holiday, Evans and potentially Gordon.) They can run the floor and they have floor spacers in Ryan Anderson & Quincy Pondexter who come off the bench. To have a chance against Golden State the Pelicans have control the tempo of the game and they have to make things rough on Stephen Curry. If Davis can dominate down low and Holiday contains Curry to an extent the Pelicans have a shot. Tyreke Evans also has to be productive as well.

Prediction Warriors beat the Pelicans 4-2. G’State will win a couple of games by a large margin, but with that being said I’m expecting Anthony Davis to have a Curry like coming out party (few years back against Denver) and dominate one to two games. Tyreke Evans will also be essential in the Pelicans claiming a 2nd victory in this series. The talent gap isn’t too far apart when describing the starting lineups. It’s the bench that’ll kill N.O.

Who’s The Best Prospect?

With the NCAA Tournament coming to an end, many players have taken this time to either help or hurt their draft stock. The following players should be the top picks in this upcoming draft, and here’s why.

Jahlil Okafor (C)-

Okafor is the best player in college basketball in terms of skill level. He has it all: big, strong, good footwork, and good vision. As a product of Duke, he’s expected to already have a good knowledge of the game. Okafor has the best low post game out of all the players on this list. Throughout the tournament he’s commanded double teams and has been one of the keys to Duke’s success. There is no doubt that he should be the #1 pick in this upcoming draft.

 

Karl-Anthony Towns (C)-

Towns is simply a beast. He’s big, great at shot blocking, and can run the floor. One thing I’ve noticed is that he keeps a calm demeanour on the court. On offense, he’s a lot less nimble than Okafor. Towns prefers to just bully his defender, which works in college, but may not work as well in the pros. Other than that, Towns is obviously the second best player in the draft.

 

D’Angelo Russell (G)-

Russell is much different than many of the players in his class. He’s one guard that possesses great fundamentals. This man is a pure scorer. He shoots many shots off the dribble, and still manages to shoot 45% from the field. He is also a great passer, and Ohio State prefers to use him in pick and roll situations. I believe Russell has the ability to make the biggest impact to whatever team he goes to because of his versatility. He’s 6’5 with a great jump shot, and great passing. A perfect fit for a team needing good guards.

 

Emmanuel Mudiay (PG)-

Mudiay preferred to play overseas rather than go to SMU and play college ball. Therefore, many are unsure of how good the competition was in China compared to the domestic athletes. Based on footage and scouting reports, he’s very athletic and a great open court player, but struggles with the half court game. However, he can draw fouls easily and get to the rim at will. His size is a great asset at 6’5 and will be much bigger than other guards. Mudiay is a wildcard, and a gamble at this high of a pick, but the payoff could be huge.

 

Justise Winslow (SF)- Winslow has came up and been playing well throughout the final stretch of the season. Although Okafor is the big name for Duke, Winslow has been a closer and performing just as well. He will take the opposing teams best player right out of the game, and if he can develop that jump shot, then he’ll be a huge asset to whichever team he goes to.

 

Willie Cauley-Stein (C)-

Stein is a full 7’2 with long arms, and a slender frame. He’s a great defender, and possibly the most versatile defender in this upcoming draft. He’s one of the reasons Kentucky switched on all picks because of his ability to play good defense on guards. He has quick feet, and long arms to keep in passing lanes. His problem comes on offense with much of his points coming on alley-oops, or putbacks. Think of him as a younger Tyson Chandler and a solid pickup for any team.

 

Stanley Johnson (SF)-

Johnson is a physical monster. At 6’8 and 243 lbs, he’s only slightly lighter than LeBron James. He’s very strong and fast, and is a nightmare to stop in the fast break. He has the ability to either drive straight into the defenders chest, or simply go around them. His downfall will be his jump shooting. His shot is awful and he’ll really need to develop it to become a better player. Johnson is a sleeper pick, and will need to put in a lot of work in the offseason to help whichever team he goes to.

 

Frank Kaminsky (C)-

Kaminsky has been elevating his draft stock as of late through his great play in the late rounds of the tournament. He’s a threat on offense due to his great outside shooting ability. Teams can get creative and set plays where he’ll set a pick, then come off of another pick for a open jumper. Much like Wisconsin does now. Kaminsky is also a decent defender, preferring to be physical with opposing big men. If teams use him much like Pau Gasol and Dirk, then he’ll be a great pickup.

 

Mario Hezonja (G/F)-

At 6’8, Hezonja has the size to be a tough matchup for many guards. Especially the smaller guards out West. He has great range, and simply rises up above defenders to hit tough shots. He’ll need to work on his shot selection to be successful in the NBA. He’s referred to as a ball hog, and if that’s the case, then NBA coaches can get him out of that mentality. Playing in Europe, Hezonja hasn’t gone up against the athleticism that he’ll play in the NBA; defense will be a problem for him. Teams in need of a shooter or scorer should make this pick if he’s still on the board.

 

Kristaps Porzingis (PF)-

Porzingis is yet another 7’0 international player with a smooth jumpshot. These types of players are hard to assess due to the level of competition they play overseas. However, it is known that he’ll have a strong offensive game. He’s frail for his size, so his opponents can simply get physical with him and throw him off.

 

This upcoming draft is loaded with young talent that’s yet to truly be displayed. Leave your thoughts below.

 

Tyler Carter

Twitter: @AyeMrCarter24

@Fortonsportsinc

Jahlil Okafor or Willie Cauley-Stein? Who Goes First?

With March Madness upon us, some serious talent will be displayed in the upcoming tournament. Among the powerhouses of Duke, Kentucky, Virginia, and Villanova, there are two players that will most likely be the top players in this upcoming NBA draft. Those two are 6’10 Jahlil Okafor, and 7’0 Willie Cauley-Stein.

In my opinion, Willie Cauley-Stein since had the opportunity to play with a loaded Kentucky team, so we really don’t know truly how good he is by himself. So far this season, he’s averaged 8.8 ppg, 6.4 rpg, and 1.6 bpg. However, my personal favorite, Karl-Anthony Towns shares the court with him, so those numbers aren’t reflective of his skill. Stein is a great defender, and possibly the best in this upcoming draft. He’s a full 7-footer that’s a great shot blocker. He rarely gets into foul trouble and is a very flexible defender. He’s usually the front man on Kentucky press defenses and causes difficulty in the passing lanes. He has no difficulty switching on pick and rolls, and has quick enough feet to stay in front of some guards. However, Stein’s problems come on offense.

He’s great at running the floor and catching lobs on the pick and roll or fast breaks, but he’s not a threat on the low post. He’ll need to work on his low post game, and also his midrange jumper. He’s gone 10/31 on jumpers outside the paint. The NBA’s big men have greatly been improving their jump shooting in the last few years, and it’s something that teams look for. I’d compare him to a more dedicated Dwight Howard. Expect Stein to go to a team in need of a defensive stopper and rebounder. Most likely the Knicks or Magic..

Jahlil Okafor is the most polished player coming into this draft. He’s not as athletic or as good of a defender, but he’s a much better offensive player. Playing under Coach K, he’ll definitely have a great basketball IQ and will come out pro ready. He’s great at passing out of double teams to shooters, and will punish his defender if he’s in 1 on 1 (as evidenced vs. North Carolina). He averages 17.8 ppg, 9.4 rpg, and 1.4 bpg. The offense flows through him and he determines Duke’s success or failure. His footwork is great for a freshman, and Coach K has said that he should be the #1 pick in this coming draft.

Okafor’s biggest downfall will most likely be his lack of athleticism. He has problems chasing down loose balls, and unlike Stein, can’t switch on pick and rolls. He’s also not really a rim protector considering how little lift he has. His jumpshot is better than Stein’s, but not by much. I’d still take Okafor over Stein considering how great his low post game is. His NBA comparison is more of an Al Jefferson type. His best fit would be the Lakers or Timberwolves.

Tyler Carter
Twitter: @AyeMrCarter24
@Fortonsportsinc

Are the Bulls Done?

As you all may know, Derrick Rose has recently torn his meniscus in his right knee for the second time. The first coming back in November of 2013 which knocked him out for the entire season.

Previously, the Bulls have managed to compete decently in the Eastern Conference, but there’s no denial that without Rose, this is a different team.
With that being said, I still believe this Bulls team is much better than the teams of 2013 and 2014. With the emergence of Jimmy Butler as the go to guy and the addition of Pau Gasol, the Bulls were set to make a title run with Rose back.

However, injuries are really starting to take their toll. Taj Gibson suffered an ankle injury, Pau Gasol has been out with an illness, and Rose had the meniscus tear.

Gibson and Gasol will be back before the playoffs, so the Bulls title hopes all fall on Derrick Rose’s return. He has 4-6 weeks to prepare mentally because he has no choice but to come back strong. He’s already angered the city of Chicago with his comments on preserving his body for his future, but now it’s time to ball.

Aaron Brooks has been playing well for the last few games, but he isn’t capable of leading them into a deep playoff run.
Chicago has just moved into the second seed of the Eastern Conference, so everything will be ready for his return.

Heck, the first game the Bulls play six weeks from now are the Philadelphia 76ers. The perfect game for Rose to get back into game shape with.

For the first time, there’s some urgency for Rose to return now that Coach Thibodeau’s job is on the line if there’s no deep playoff run. Initially, the Bulls were my choice to make it to the Finals, but with the combination of Cleveland’s excellent play as of late combined with Chicago’s injuries, I may have to change my prediction.

For possibly the third year in a row, only time will tell whether these Chicago Bulls can finally make it back to the NBA Finals.

 

Tyler Carter
Twitter: @AyeMrCarter
@Fortonsportsinc

Eastern Conference Power Struggle

As we enter the final stretch of the 2015 regular season, things are really starting to heat up in the NBA. Especially the Eastern Conference.

1.Atlanta (43-12)
2.Toronto (37-18)
3.Chicago (35-21)
4.Cleveland (34-22)
5.Washington (33-22)
6.Milwaukee (31-23)
7.Miami (23-31)
8.Charlotte (22-31), (Brooklyn, 22-31)

 

The Atlanta Hawks are really sitting pretty at the top of the conference with a 5 game lead over the second seed. They look as though they will hold on to that spot for the remainder of the season unless they suffer an epic collapse.

It’s the 2 through 5 seeds, where it is really getting tight. Any slippage between those teams could result in losing home court advantage throughout the first round.

The Cleveland Cavaliers as of late have been playing terrific basketball winning their last 15 of 17 games. Everyone on the Cavs roster is healthy and their new pieces are taking the team to another level.

The Chicago Bulls and the Washington Wizards, meanwhile, have been very up and down lately. After beating the Cavaliers before the All Star break, the Bulls looked like they were primed to get back to their regular form, but that wasn’t the case as they lost their first game back to a feisty Detroit Piston team. The Wizards as well suffered a loss in their first game back, when the red hot Cavs trounced them by 38 points on their home floor.

At the Bottom of the conference we have the injury riddled Miami Heat and the mediocre Charlotte Hornets.

The Heat can’t seem to catch a break as they unfortunately have lost their best player, Chris Bosh for the rest of the season due to blood clots in his lungs. Despite a wonderful trade where they acquired PG Goran Dragic from the Suns, they will not be making any noise in the playoffs without CB.

The Hornets are tied with Brookyln, and have picked up their play recently and could very well move up into that 7th spot. Brooklyn hasn’t gotten any better since the all star break, so expect Charlotte to break the tie, but there is nothing about them that says they can make someone sweat in the first round.

In conclusion the Hawks may finish with the best record, but the Cavaliers look like the best team in the conference right now. You can expect a drastic change in these standings in the next 2 months, that’s for sure.

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Is Going Pro Worth It?

     Disclaimer: This article is written as food for thought, and not meant to shoot down anyone’s dreams. However, please keep an open mind when reading.

Athletes across the country work hard in perfecting their sport of choice, and many are forced to partake in sports because it’s their only chance of getting out of the tough lives they live. However, some athletes play sports to follow a false dream of making it big and making “tons of money.” I’ll break down these true statistics, so that a reader could possibly change their mind and do something different where there’s a near 100% chance of succeeding.

Let’s start with the most popular sport in the United States, football. As of 2014, there were 1,122,000 high school football players across the country. During the 2014 season, there were 90,136 NCAA football players across all divisions (D1, D2, D3, JuCo, etc.). Using these numbers, you can hypothesize that 8% of high school football players go on to play in college. We can be lenient with these numbers considering that many athletes play for fun, but given all adjustments, the percentage never reaches above 10%. For these college players to go pro, those chances dip to 1%. Yes 1%. So by using basic statistics, the chances of going all the way from high school to the NFL is .08%, or 8 out of 1000 players. Pretty low odds considering so many high schoolers have these outlandish dreams of going pro. However, the worst has yet to come. As hard as it may believe, but this isn’t even the hardest sport to make it big in.

Next, we’ll break down the statistics for the internationally growing sport of basketball. With 541,000 estimated high school basketball players and only 32,190 college basketball players, 6% of players continue their career to that second level. However, here’s the difference between football and basketball. There’s an ever-growing number of international players coming to the United States and taking places on many teams. There aren’t any exact numbers for the amount of players, but it should still be understood that the competition is growing; which is a good thing for the sport. Now, to get to the NBA it’s near impossible. With only 439 total NBA players, the percent chances of getting to the NBA from college is 1.3%. But one key fact is that most of those roster spots are taken. There’s an average of 5 spots per team, so there’s truly 150 spots. This takes the percent of going from college to the NBA down to .4%. Once again, using statistics the chance of going from high school to the NBA is .02%. To make that easier to grasp, only 2 out of 1000 players will have a CHANCE of making it. There are some other underlying issues hurting athletes as a whole.

To be honest, too many athletes put all their fruit into one basket. So many players get the great opportunity of getting to college to play the sport they love, but neglect their future. A whopping 51% of college athletes major in General Studies. Which in the real world equates to nothing. So, if a player doesn’t make it pro, then what are they supposed to do? Well the answer is simple. Nothing. There’s nothing they can do because their time in college was wasted going after the pros, rather than getting a good major and preparing for the future. Here’s an idea. Many of these athletes have great personalities, are fun to be around and enjoy sports, so why not major in journalism. As proven by the late Stuart Scott, players and fans alike love when sports journalists have a little “swagger” which makes the typical interview entertaining. I personally am tired of seeing the same old personalities on many sport broadcasts (especially ESPN and FOX), so why not get some more relatable faces on the air and help some young kids out. Just an idea.

 

Kobe Bryant: Facing A Reality

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THE INTRO

When I first started watching basketball, Michael Jordan was no longer that guy. Gary Payton was washed up. Karl Malone was ring chasing. John Stockton was taking up space. Charles Barkley and Hakeem Olajuwon were gone. Scottie Pippen and Reggie Miller were shells of themselves. Patrick Ewing was no where to be found, and Clyde Drexler was out. The league itself was vastly different.

When my interest in the NBA peaked, Allen Iverson was dominant. Tracy McGrady and his cousin Vince Carter were stellar. Shaq and Kobe were a hell of a tandem. Kevin Garnett was elite. Dirk and Steve Nash were coming into their own. Paul Pierce and Ray Allen were making noise in the East. And Tim Duncan was just extremely boring. (I know I left off guys like David Robinson and Jason Kidd off but y’all get the point.)

Out of all of those guys though, there was no one I liked more than Kobe Bean Bryant.

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MY STORY

When it came to Kobe there wasn’t anything you could tell me.

You couldn’t diss his game, talk about his personality, or belittle him in any way without me being ready to argue.

In my family and amongst my small group of friends, everyone has had atleast that one specific guy they watched faithfully and would go to war for.

My father’s guy was Magic; my uncle’s guy was Jordan; my mom’s guy was Isiah Thomas; my great grandfather’s guy was a tie between Larry Bird and Julius Irving.

They followed their guys faithfully, like I’m doing now and tried to tell me it’s not going to be a happy ending. I didn’t really believe them until that foresight became a reality.

Personally I thought they were full of s#!% and didn’t know what the hell they were talking about; until I sat down and thought about each player.

MJ’s downfall was him coming back and playing at age 40 for the Washington Wizards. Larry Bird’s career couldn’t continue because his back was out of sorts. Isiah’s career ended after he tore his Achilles. Magic on the other hand retired due to the HIV/AIDS situation. He later came back and wasn’t the same guy.

My guy is in the same boat at this point in time.

A few years back I was in denial. I’ll own up to it. I had just witnessed the Lakers lose in five games to a hungry OKC team (2012) that featured the likes of Kevin Durant, James Harden and Russell Westbrook. In response, I looked for excuses to help Kobe out.

The thing is, there weren’t any.

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THE OBVIOUS

In that specific series, Westbrook was tearing him apart, Harden was giving him buckets, and Durant was giving him fits with his length making it hard for him to score. As a matter of fact, James Harden was playing him tough defensively as well. The whole series in general wasn’t pretty. Kobe couldn’t get to his spots, he couldn’t contain anyone and he was a step slow.

That series against OKC ended a four series stretch of Kobe struggling. Against Dallas in 2011, he struggled against Shawn Marion and others from that championship team; losing 4-0. The series prior to that, he struggled against Chris Paul and his no help Hornets; winning 4-2, and in the series against Denver prior to the OKC matchup, Kobe struggled against the fast paced Nuggets. That series went the distance 4-3 and was more about Andrew Bynum.

That series against OKC ended his Postseason career.

At that point in time, the writing on the wall was very clear to everyone else outside of me, Kobe was in his decline.

That offseason he participated in the Olympics where he was out of place and out of sorts. It was as clear as day that he didn’t belong on the court with a few of those guys. It was so obvious to the point where Coach K was reluctant to play him in certain stretches.

Even with the putrid performances in the Olympics, I still believed. Especially when the Lakers landed Dwight Howard and Steve Nash that same offseason.

When the those trades first surfaced, I was as hype as anyone. I thought Kobe would be rejuvenated and eager to play (as he always is) and I started stating a lot of other things that you generally say when a player has lost it.

But again, I was over hyped and I continued to look past the new Kobe’s obvious deficiencies in skill.

REALITY SETS IN

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During that season I wrote an article (Are You Talking About Kobe Bryant) talking about how Kobe was better than ever and stating that he was beating Father Time. From a numbers perspective I was right, but from a physical standpoint he wasn’t getting the same looks or shots that I was accustomed to seeing.

After working hard, all season long, to get the Lakers into the playoffs; Kobe’s Achilles popped days before the postseason.

I couldn’t help but shed a tear when ESPN aired his injury statement. I knew his best chance at getting ring number 6 was gone. And I also knew he was never going to be the same again.

When Kobe said he was going to comeback better and defy the odds I regained a slimmer of hope. I thought that because he was determined and hungry along with the fact that he loves to prove people wrong, then he would come back elite.

I was wrong…..

In the 2013-2014 season, after playing in 6 games Kobe broke a bone in his knee. All I could do was throw my hands up and accept it for what it was….Father Times never loses and Kobe is no longer Kobe.

He was just K.Bryant from that point on. The guy who played in six games and averaged a measly  14pts, 6ast and 4reb… No longer special.

I, as I’m sure many Lakers fans did, sulked over that demoralizing season. The Lakers were bad. Kobe was gone. What do you do now..

The NBA as a whole became unfun for me. I truly wasn’t ready to face the truth and I also didn’t have anyone else to cheer or root for. I was just uninterested.

After the season concluded and free agency along with the draft went by, I finally got over my depression. I had heard that Kobe was looking better, more fit, slimmer, and healthier.

I sat and pondered about Kobe and his recent years some more and decided I’d give it one more go. He had just turned 36 and basically had a year off.

With 36 being a fairly decent age and him having a year off for rest and to get healthy; I felt he would regain his old form…. Dumb I know.

A month or so before the season started, ESPN produced their yearly NBA Players Rankings. At first glance I was furious at how wrong they did Kobe by placing him at #40 on the list.

Guys who hadn’t accomplished anything thus far in their careers (Love, Wall, Kyrie etc) were ahead of him and I didn’t understand the reasoning until the season actually started…

This year Kobe was officially washed up. He would chuck up shot after shot. Committ turnover after turnover. And he would also get beat off the dribble damn near every defensive stance….

I mean he still had the same “I’m gonna come at you” mindset as he always did, but his ability just wasn’t anywhere close to prime Kobe.

After a series of minor injuries and players, as well as pundits, speaking out about his current style of play; Kobe became more of a facilitator.

That role suited him more since he wasn’t capable of dominating the game from a physical stand point. By using his IQ and unique passing ability he was able to prolong his season and delay the inevitable injury that was soon to come…

On Thursday, January 22nd, Kobe’s season was over. He had torn his rotators cuff in a game against the Pelicans the day before…

Three straight seasons…. Three straight season ending injuries…

TODAY

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As much as I hate to say it…. Kobe is done…

He can no longer stay healthy. He can no longer dominate games for long stretches. He can’t keep up with anyone defensively..He’s no longer that guy.. And the old guy won’t ever be returning.

Kobe’s mileage finally caught up with him: All of the long seasons that resulted in Finals apperances.. All of the playoff runs that resulted in 3rd and 2nd round exits…The hardwork he put in trying to comeback from injury… Playing in the Olympics. Everything.

ESPN was accurate when they declared that 39 players were better than Kobe. I was just too blind to see it.

Now opening my eyes I see how Rose, Bledsoe, Wall, CP3, Westbrook, Lawson, Rondo, Curry, Kyrie, Lillard, Dragic, Lowry, Parker, Beal, Ellis, Butler, Klay, Harden, DeRozan, Wade, LeBron, Durant, George, Leonard, Melo, Dirk, Love, Randolph, Griffin, Bosh, Aldridge, Davis, P.Gasol, M.Gasol, Dwight, Cousins, Noah and a few more are all better players at this point…

Now that the word is in and we know Kobe is out for nine months, we have to ask ourselves: Was that his final game?

He’s under contract for one last year after this season.. The Lakers are tanking and no one seems interested in joining a rebuilding project. I mean why should he return? He’s the 3rd leading scorer in NBA history. A 5x-NBA Champ, an MVP and is universally (peers wise) regarded as the ”Best Player” of his generation and has been deemed as the second best shooting guard to ever play the game… There is nothing left for him to prove at this point that will have any significance on where he places in NBA history.

REFLECTING BACK 

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Kobe’s demeanor and personality wasn’t liked by many.

People didn’t like the arrogance and cockiness that was coming from a sidekick (to Shaq) who wanted to be like Jordan. They would often ridicule his ambitions and aspirations as he was nothing more than a lesser version of the original. And they would also belittle his game by saying he was a ball hog and that he couldn’t pass.

It was just too soon for someone to come in and be the heir to ”His Airness”.

People often cite Kobe for piggy backing onto the likes of Shaq. They’d state that Kobe wasn’t doing anything and Shaq would do all of the work; when in reality Kobe would be the one to close games and facilitating making sure everyone was contributing. Those minor details will forever be overlooked because of how Shaq dominated the Finals’ boxscores.

By tying in the attitude factors, Kobe’s quote on quote ”Piggy Backing” on Shaq, the fallout between him and Shaq, and Phil Jackson’s quote on stating how he was ”uncoachable”, you can see why people hated Kobe so much. Throw in the rape charges and loss of endorsements and you’ll begin to see why Kobe’s fan base is a bit lackluster.

Unlike Bird, Magic, LeBron, Durant, Jordan and Doc.J, Kobe’s fan base is much smaller. Allen Iverson’s fan base may be greater because of his impact on to the whole NBA landscape.

Kobe is the NBA’s version of Tom Brady, both great players, but disliked because of their personality and accomplishments.

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ACCOLADES 

Even though his career may not fully be over, (it needs to be) he accomplished everything he should have. (Outside of two more MVPs and a few more scoring titles)

2x Olypic Gold medals

25x 50pt games

5x 60pt games

Slam Dunk Champion

MVP

2x Finals MVP

2x Scoring Champ

5x NBA Champion

9x First Team All Defense

3x Second Team All Defense

11x All-NBA First Team

2x All-NBA 2nd Team

2x All-NBA Third Team

17x Allstar Selections

4x NBA All-star Game MVP

All Rook 2nd Team

2nd Most Points in a game (81pts)

3rd All-Time Points Leader

2x Best NBA Player ESPY Award

Numerous Lakers Records

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CONCLUSION

Coming back shouldn’t be an option. He’s done enough to make a claim as a Top 10 player of all-time. The only thing he should do is accept the reality for what it is…..His time is done. Y’all have accepted it, I’ve accepted it and now he needs to accept it.

No one beats Father Time

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Ryan Fort

Twitter: RyanDFort, Fortonsports Inc