Kobe Bryant's Last Stand?

Frances White@WestEndGirl62Analyst IIMay 22, 2009

LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 21:  Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers looks on during the fourth quarter against the Denver Nuggets in Game Two of the Western Conference Finals during the 2009 NBA Playoffs at Staples Center on May 21, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. The Nuggets defeated the Lakers 106-103. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

The Lakers were busy gaining a double-digit advantage in the first quarter, so I turned the game off.

I was very surprised when I tuned into the fourth quarter, and found the blowout in the making had turned into a bona-fide game. 

Like in Game One, the refs allowed Kobe and Melo to play ball like it was 1989.

Elbows were flying they were battling for position on the boards and Melo proved up to the task.

In the final minutes of the game we were all waiting for Kobe to go in stealth mode.  To bring out his alter-ego, "Mamba". 

It never happened.  He either didn't have the energy or Denver's defense was that good.  I choose to pick the latter.

Kobe Bryant is tired.  No matter how much the media hypes his much-vaunted workouts, he is running on fumes.

The Rockets' defense in the semis punished his body particularly his legs.  They forced him into jump shots, and his free-throw attempts suffered. 

Denver's supposed defensive stopper Dahntay Jones should be merely a nuisance for Kobe.  Jones was in serious foul trouble and wasn't even in the game at that point. Yet he couldn't seem to free himself up enough for the final possession.

In Kobe's postgame interview, his face was etched with all of his thirteen years in the league.  It looked like he was finally owning up to the fact that he couldn't be like Mike.  He didn't have it in him to make his teammates go through a wall for him. 

For all of his supposed leadership skills, he shows open disgust for his teammates when they miss shots or blow defensive assignments. 

Doc Rivers shared a story of how when Rondo first came to the Celtics that he would show disgust every time his teammates would not catch his passes.  They did not like playing with him because of it.  The kid took it to heart and learned how to encourage his teammates.  They now will run for him.

It maybe that Kobe is impatient, it maybe that he has crossed the border of supreme confidence and disdain for those who don't have a hyper-competitive drive like him. Either way, he has lost the confidence of the other players. 

The Kobe hype machine may be hitting the shoals.   

We keep looking for the depth of Kobe the player when we get nothing but glitz and glamour.  And we all know everything that shines gets dull soon or later.

He probably won't admit it—it is the mark of a very prideful guy, a person who believes he is the ultimate basketball player.

As he went through the motions of running the final play Kobe's defeatist body language in Game Two showed he didn't believe in his teammates. 

It wasn't suppposed to be like this. They learned from the way the Celtics dismantled them last year—didn't they?


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