Will somebody please tell me if this is 2008 or 2009? After seeing Game 3 of the Lakers' series against the Jazz, I can't tell. Everything is as it was a year ago. I am as upset as I was then, nothing has changed.
The Lakers are supposed to be a far better team this year. They were supposed to have far superior inside presence by having Andrew Bynum back.
Getting Trevor Ariza back from injury was supposed to be a key for them on perimeter defense.
The acquisition of Shannon Brown has given them an outside shooting threat and more depth and strength at the point.
They were supposed to have vastly improved Team D and with an offseason and 82 games under them, this was supposed to be a team for the ages.
Can anybody honestly say right now that this team is all that it is made out to be? You have one of the best ever to play the game as your leader. You were called the favorites for the season even right after your Finals loss to the Celtics, all because of your potential.
I for one, am not seeing that potential come home to roost. After your performance in Game 3, I feel like I am back in May 2008, all those bad memories playing over in my mind.
Sure, one loss is really nothing, and everybody knows the Lakers will manage to pull through eventually. But all this was for last year wasn't it? When you were searching for your soul and getting a feel for the playoffs? What's your excuse now?
I know the MSM will write its usual banal platitudes on Utah's heart and its hyperbolic nonsense of a lower seed being inspired by its home court, but aren't champions supposed to not give the press the chance for any nonsense, by taking care of business?
I, as a fan, want some accountability here. I write this from 7000 miles away, from a little known part of the world. I went to sleep last night with my Bryant jersey on and had dreamy visions of Kobe leading the Lakers to a dominating playoff victory.
I get up at 7:00AM to watch the game and go to work late, in order to catch a memorable fourth quarter effort from my idol. Instead, this is the effort I get from you guys? I got this last year, when I was right there in the US, thank you very much.
What did I make that effort for? Because I thought this was 2009. I thought things had changed.
I thought you'd have gotten rid of your complacency and arrogance. I thought you'd focus on the tougher parts of the game, like defense and rebounding, getting to the basket, and making your free throws in clutch situations. I thought you'd finally become an intense team. I thought Kobe would finally inspire you to some great road performances. I thought you'd win the tough games.
I got my fill of ridiculous jump shot attempts, bone-headedness, and pusillanimity last year you know. If you intend a repeat performance, you could have told me about it, and spared me the effort.
I could simply have waited for Game 5 back in LA. I hope you read this sometime Kobe Jellybean Bryant. I look up to you as a demigod. This was not the effort I was expecting as one.
You are playing a tough and physical team on one of the toughest home courts in the league. You are playing a no nonsense coach who wants his team to get nasty. You just beat them badly twice.
Anyone with half a brain could have told you the Jazz were going to come at you hard. They did this to you last year in the second round.
You are jostling with the Cavaliers for bragging rights as to which is the more dominant team. You are playing an eighth seed that is supposed to be nothing more than a speed bump for you, and this is the effort you bring?
How many times in the game did Bryant, Odom, and Fisher amble the ball up the court? Did it seem to anyone they were playing in a playoff game?
Apart from Vujacic today, I don't think anyone had any sense of urgency. It was almost as if they didn't care. When the entire team lacks intensity and fails to execute, it is a failure of leadership. Bryant and Phil Jackson need to take the blame for that.
Kobe knew his jumper wasn't falling. Why then hoist 24 shots, some of which were plain ridiculous? It's all sweet when they go in, but in the playoffs you play the percentages. The highlight reels are only beside the fact.
If you aren't going to make the effort to get to the rim, how do you expect your teammates to stay disciplined?
And Phil Jackson, it took you 'til the last minute of the game to design plays for Pau Gasol to get open when Kobe got double teamed? Did you see how easy that last minute dunk of Pau's was? Where was stuff like that the entire game? Why were you letting Bryant take such asinine shots?
Pau Gasol, you of course could teach a master's level course in wussiness. On top of that you airball a free throw? And you don't even bother to contest Boozer's attacks on the basket. Are you aware of the word defense?
It doesn't consist solely of blocking layups. You, the second best player on a championship contender, let Carlos Boozer get 22 boards on your watch. I hope you had a sleepless night. It will serve you well for the future.
My grievances are plenty, and they do not end here. I had great visions of Kobe scoring 40 or 50 in a dominating road effort to take a 3-0 series lead.
I thought he would understand the fierce urgency, killing off the Jazz now, bringing that assassin's mentality from the first minute of the game and putting on a show. Instead I get a mediocre effort from a complacent, and contrived team that is still searching for its soul and exists as a sum of its parts.
I'm sure they thought the job was done after they went up by 13 near the end of the third.
Kobe has no excuses for starting the game so poorly and letting the Jazz come back from an eight point deficit in the fourth quarter with him in the floor. He seems to believe the Lakers will always find a way, and he typically leaves it till too late.
I did not see any rallying of the troops on his part. He was strangely subdued in the fourth, just going through the motions. None of it makes any sense to me. It all feels like the summer of 2008 again (Boston coming back from 25 down in Game 4 of the Finals).
Can somebody please ask Kobe and the Lakers what's up?