Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Kobe Bryant Score 61 Against the NY Knicks: What's Everyone So Excited About?

Let me break the news because it’s huge and hot of the presses—Kobe Bryant scored 61 points last night. He set a new Madison Square Garden record by dropping a Roger Maris on the New York Knickerbockers. Loose the doves and let the angels sing for the basketball messiah is upon us!

**crickets chirping**

I don’t get it. I’ve seen a flurry of articles heralding the Next Coming just because Kobe went off. Just because he did it in Madison Square Garden. This is a guy who’s scored 81 points before. He’s dropped another 60+ in three quarters.

What’s the big deal about Kobe scoring 61 on the Knicks in a full game? I understand it was in MSG, so what? Does the building play defense? Is the crowd allowed to throw projectiles at opposing players? To block shots at the hoop?

Aren’t the Knicks terrible? Aren’t they selling off assets for spare/broken/expiring parts in preparation for the Great Free Agent Sales Event of 2010?

Isn’t their coach (Mike D’Antoni) notorious for a system that runs and guns without body armor, cover, or even pants? Don’t they try to score you into submission with defensive abandon? Am I missing something?

D’Antoni’s Phoenix Suns never played any defense and they had much better players than this version of the Knicks. Furthermore, Bryant could probably score 61 any night of the week, even against good defensive squads. He may very well drop 70 on the Boston Celtics if he’s feeling his oats—now THAT would be something to get excited about.

Ooooh, he grabbed yet another one of Michael Jordan’s records (single-game scoring total in MSG).

Again, so what?

First, Jordan was playing a far superior Knick team that was known for its defense—hardly Big Apples to Big Apples. Second, and more importantly, someone will grab that record away from Kobe and it won’t make that cager any better than Bryant just as this game doesn’t mean Kobe’s any closer to His Airness. Records are made to be broken and stats are pretty, but often lack substance—neither is why the great players compete.

I don’t think the Lakers earned an extra win on the evening.

Do you honestly believe LeBron James couldn’t put up 61 against the Knicks? What about Carmelo Anthony? Dwayne Wade? Any of the other uber-scorers?

Who’s gonna stop them? David Lee? Ronaldo Balkman (is he even still on the team)? Nate Robinson? The best defender I can think of is Cuttino Mobley and that’s taking into consideration the fact that he’s not playing. Even more significant is the fact that one player can’t stop those guys (nor Kobe) and that means the team must defend.

Except we established that D’Antoni’s teams don’t D up; he doesn’t even expect them to apparently.

Let me tap the breaks a little because it sounds like I’m dismissing him—Kobe Bryant is amazing.

I don’t particularly like the guy especially because he dominates for a team hailing from Los Angeles and I’m a Northern Cali guy. BUT he is slowly winning me over—I can never resist truly great players, flaws and all.

And Kobe is certainly a great player, one of the all-time best and getting better.

I actually expected the Lakers to grab the National Basketball Association Championship this year due largely to Bryant. Having seen LeBron make another leap and then Andrew Bynum go down yet again (didn’t know they made guys that big out of wicker), I’m no longer so sure.

That doesn’t change my stance on Kobe Bryant, though.

I still think he’ll put up a year the likes of which we’ve never seen. For instance, I think lots of guys could drop 61 in Madison Square Garden if that was the goal. I don’t think for a second that a lot of guys could do it in the same, efficiently-effortless way.

That is part of what makes Kobe special.

And special he definitely is.

So special, in fact, that there is no reason to get so excited about scoring 61 points against a bad team that plays no defense.

Even one from New York.