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Phoenix Suns Experience the 'Kobe Effect' in Crushing Game Five Defeat

Samuel Bell JrSenior Analyst IMay 28, 2010

LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 27:  Ron Artest #37 and Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers celebrate Artest's game winning shot against the Phoenix Suns in the fourth quarter of Game Five of the Western Conference Finals during the 2010 NBA Playoffs at Staples Center on May 27, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. 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 Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

"Great players win scoring titles. Great teams win championships."

A fellow named LeBron James once gloated that he could, "win the scoring title every year if he wanted to." His follow-up to that comment was, "It doesn't matter."

Really?

James and his 2009-10 Cleveland Cavalier squad lost to the Boston Celtics..wait, were obliterated by the Celtics in the second round of the playoffs.

It appeared that the concept of "team" was nonexistent, and James lead the series in scoring but didn't even come within a sniff of winning the series.

The wily veteran Kobe Bryant most of this season took a backseat to James and Kevin Durant, staying below the radar waiting for the right time to show.

Now that the playoffs are nearing an end, who is the star scoring threat still shooting in front of a legion of fans for all of the marbles?

Yep, that ol' Kobe Bryant.

Weathering the storm that has crowned James as the best individual player in the league, a title held by Bryant for the last decade, Kobe has shown why he is not quite ready to release his grip.

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There's a glaring difference between James and Bryant, and it starts with T and ends with M, as in "most titles."

LeBron has himself, Kobe has a team.

The Los Angeles Lakers have been participants in the last two NBA Finals series, winning one. The Cavs were there once, and swept by Timmy and the Spurs.

After Ron Artest's heroics in Game Five of the Western Conference Finals between the Lakers and Phoenix Suns, Kobe may make that three appearances in a row.

Kobe has done nothing but will himself and his team to give every ounce of their ability and heart to the task at hand, with the fight of a lion but the eloquence of a dancer.

No matter what faces him and his team, the Lakers find a way to run a stake through the chests of the opponent and rise above the adversity.

Game Five was no different, and on a night in which Bryant did it all with 30 points, 11 rebounds, nine assists, and four blocks, the night ended on someone else's account.

Artest made a bank-shot off of a Bryant miss as time expired to send the upstart Suns home with a 3-2 deficit.

It may appear that Artest is the hero, but the real hero is Bryant.

Why?

It's called the "Kobe Effect," and there's no other player that has it to such a high degree. Dwyane Wade is closest, but he doesn't have the team. Neither does James.

Here is an analysis using this theory of the final 3.5 seconds of the game.


Three and a half seconds left—Jason Richardson banks in three-point shot to tie the score at 101. Lakers call timeout.

Suns and their fans are jubilant. They have a chance against the Lakers in their gym. Staples is silent and completely stunned. Momentum has swung.

At this point, Phoenix had outscored the Lakers by eight in the fourth to put themselves in position for this win, and all they needed to do was hold off L.A for 4 more seconds.

That's it.

Unfortunately, a guy wearing No. 24 plays for them, and everyone knew where the ball was going.

Bryant has already made a myriad of game-winning shots this season, and Suns fans remember that indelible image of Kobe making that game-winner in the playoffs four years ago.

As the Lakers leave the huddle, all eyes are square on Bryant. Suns players line-up knowing that Bryant will have the ball in his hands. The play begins.


Two seconds to go—Bryant has the ball in his hands turning to fire a jump shot

As Bryant comes around the left side of the court and gets the inbound pass, the Kobe Effect is in full swing.

Defensively, the Suns have Steve Nash, who was guarding the inbound put a hand in Bryant's face as he elevates for the jump shot.

Nash guarding Bryant in a game-winning situation? We saw how that has worked in the past. 

Just as Kobe smells blood and elevates for an easy look over the smaller Nash, Grant Hill elevates with Bryant to affect the shot and it ends up an air-ball.

If you pause video on the shot, the Suns look like the fans in the stands. They all have stopped to apparently admire Bryant's form as he releases the shot.

What should have been a rebound and preparation for overtime for the Suns turned out as a prime case for the Kobe Effect.

Artest, who had been 1-8 to that point, was running across the lane as the shot flew hopelessly through the air.

Jason Richardson, the one responsible for Artest was caught with his tail between his legs watching Bryant's shot attempt instead of keeping his assignment.

The hero was about to become the goat.


Less than two seconds to go—Artest crushes Suns fans everywhere

Artest catches the Kobe miss almost like a Peyton Manning-to-Reggie Wayne like pass, and immediately turns to the basket from about five feet.

Richardson looks frantic like he just woken up from a concussed blackout, and tries to save face by throwing himself in the air in Artest's direction.

Not enough.

As the ball slowly went towards the backboard, Suns fans in that millisecond thought about all of the mishaps their team has faced in the last decade. It always comes up.

Always.

Suns fans undoubtedly knew this was going to happen. Maybe they thought this time would be different.

Nonetheless, this isn't an article about the Suns disappointments. It's about the killer instinct of Bryant, and the Suns being its latest victim.

The shot rattles in off of the backboard, and pandemonium ensues.

A guy who shot less than 20 percent from the field for the game had just sunk the Suns.

For the second time this postseason, a team had lost due to the Kobe Effect. As the team engulfed Artest in exuberance, the Lakers had dodged a .357 Magnum slug and they knew it.

The Kobe Effect. Another basketball phenomenon best personified by the best player of all-time right before KB24.

Just subtract one number.

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