Kobe Bryant vs. Derrick Rose: A Forecast of an NBA Final Showdown?

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Kobe Bryant vs. Derrick Rose: A Forecast of an NBA Final Showdown?

On Christmas day, I was transfixed by a perfect picture of basketball contrasts: Derrick Rose against Kobe Bryant—the sweet and the surly.

At my in-laws' place I had already been watching a parallel rivalry-in-the-making for a couple of days before the Bulls and Lakers faced off in their holiday showdown.

My parents-in-law have a black cat named Lucifer whose sinister hisses pierce their otherwise calm abode. They mercifully call him “Luke,” as if to de-claw his name from its connotative malice.  They were also forced to literally de-claw the cat after he spilt blood from one too many veterinarians.

My sister-in-law brought her own kitten, Agent Nibbles, to the house during their brief Christmas foray. The military title belies the cat's passive nature.      

Luke clearly has the more dominant personality, his feline jaws frequently agape. Agent Nibbles is more inclined to cuddles than cat fights, but she has been forced to show Luke who is boss—namely the one with claws still firmly intact.

Kobe Bryant snarls a lot, but he is without the full mobile use of his right shooting wrist.  With determination and grit Kobe Bryant is pushing through the pain, even when he has to use that vulnerable wrist on awkward landings from quintessential late-game Kobe fadeaways. Kobe wills himself through the pain.

Indeed, in the opener against the Bulls, Kobe was all will and little grace. His jumpers lacked arch, but he slung them like slingshots with such precision that he kept his seemingly outmatched team not only in the game, but on the verge of victory.

 

He walked with an angry gait that befit his agitating circumstances.  He is picking up the pieces of both a personal and athletic divorce.  I don’t know all the tawdry details of the first but it is clear that he did not see the second one coming.

The Lakers ended up having to ship off Lamar Odom without getting much of anything in return.  That split did not sit well with Kobe.

Still, Kobe’s unheralded supporting cast matched his grit, even if they could not ultimately outwit the Bulls.

Derrick Rose rose for a series of three-point jumpers that were so form-perfect and flawlessly executed, it was as if he was worried that the game would ultimately come down to style points. 

His final drive and mini-hook floater was ironically reminiscent of Magic against the Celtics.

Growing up, I was enthralled by the Celtics and Lakers' rivalry, a contest written in personal shorthand by Magic and Bird.

Of all the Christmas games, the Lakers Bulls matchup, pitting the tough-talking Kobe against the soft-spoken Rose, looked like the most tantalizing forecast of this year’s NBA championship, even if it is not the most likely.

We can be assured of one thing, once Kobe’s wrist is healed, the claws will be out.

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