I woke up today at 7:15 AM primed and ready for Game Six of the 2010 Finals.
I watched Game Five in a sports bar in Chicago and was amazed (and delighted) that everyone in the bar (besides the drunk slurring guy who approached our table, which just proves Lakers fans with few exceptions suck) was rooting for the Celtics.
The first half was so ugly that my buddy Cam (a rare cool Laker Fan) texted me that he never wanted to watch that half of basketball again.
The bar I was in had an annoying habit of switching the sound to top 40 music during every timeout, stop in play, commercial and halftime.
So instead of getting to hear Phil Jackson provide the Celtics with bulletin board material, I got to hear Miley Cyrus.
Then the third quarter started...
And as much as I hate him, Kobe Bryant is one bad MambaF****r.
The shots he hit in that quarter (and against Phoenix in Game Six) were some of the most ridiculous, off-balance, horrible shots I've ever seen.
I've always been able to tell when Kobe gets "that look"—the one that says he's shooting every time down court regardless of who's defending him or how many defenders are there.
He made a turnaround over Ray Allen where it looked like he literally just spun and threw it up. It was as Bill Simmons would say an "I'm Keith Hernandez" moment.
He even converted a ridiculously athletic alley-oop.
In all Kobe tallied 19 points in the quarter, but more importantly he never cut the Celtics lead which is indicative of Kobe's entire Lakers career.
I say Lakers career because I'm convinced Kobe will play in the NBA until he's 40 and be forced out of L.A. However, the Lakers won't be willing to pay him anymore after this contract and he'll end up putting in some years in some backwater city where they let a 38-year-old Kobe take 20 shots a game.
Kobe has never been able to mesh his individual brilliance with team success. You could see it in Game Five as Kobe went on his run
The other Lakers literally stood around and watched him. No one was cutting to the basket, no one was trying to establish post position and no one besides Kobe even scored until he came out of the game.
Unlike Jordan, Magic, Bird, Russell, and even Tim Duncan, Kobe has never been able to keep his teammates in the flow of the game when he takes over, let alone make them better.
When Kobe takes over his teammates sit around and watch as he hits a variety of ridiculous shots from all over the court.
Opponents shake their heads, and opposing coaches have to call timeouts even when they have the lead. This works against teams that are young, inexperienced or small— like the Thunder, Jazz, and Suns.
But when a one-man team (like the Lakers become when Kobe takes over) runs into a veteran champion like the Celtics, even Kobe's individual brilliance can't save them.
I've always found it interesting that Kobe's favorite Laker isn't Magic even though Johnson was relevant and in his prime as Kobe was growing up and watching NBA tapes in Italy.
Instead, Kobe consistently says his favorite Laker is Jerry West.
Now it is true that West traded to get Kobe and was a mentor to him early on, but Jerry West holds another interesting distinction; he is the only player from a losing team to win Finals MVP.
I read an article yesterday suggesting that even if the Celtics win, Kobe should get the MVP because no one on The Cs has played a great game yet.
Something tells me Kobe would be happier becoming the second player from a losing team to win the MVP than he would with this championship.
After all it'd make him just like his idol.
Tonight the Lakers' season could end, and if it does the record should show that the Lakers are more talented and have better players than the Celtics.
They have the best player in a close series, and they're going to lose.
It's not a choke, it's Kobe's legacy.