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46 & 2 May 7, 2006

Posted by benj in NBA.
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After getting suckered into putting my NBA entries on another page, I have come to the conclusion that they still belong to this page! Haha. Why did listen to that suggestion again? Hehe.

Following the tradition I'm trying to work with here, this is my second entry with a Tool-related title. In case you haven't figured it out yet, 46 and 2 is 48 – i.e. the total number of minutes in professional league regulation game. Nifty, eh?

Even before this series started, there has already been considerable talk regarding Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash. Along with LeBron James and Dirk Nowitzki, the two guards were among the favorites to win this year's Most Valuable Player Award. Their styles couldn't be any more different.

Steve Nash, once a third-stringer in a Phoenix Suns as a back-up to Jason Kidd in the late 90s made his mark last year by leading a running and gunning Phoenix team to the best record in the league. He turned the franchise around and complimented the monster game of Amare Stoudemire. He is a tireless playmaker who runs the pick-and-roll and drive-and-draw plays the entire time he's on the court. He weaves his through the defense to attract enough defensive attention before dishing off to teammates for easy shots. Aside from being an effective assistman, Nash is also among the deadliest shooters in the game – actually, he is the best free throw in the league.

Writing the corollary to Steve Nash's approach to basketball is Kobe Bryant. In his second year away from the shadow of long-time teammate Shaquille O'Neal, The Mamba has unleashed his offensive venom against opponents by torching them for more than 35 points a night. Whether you agree with the strategy or not, it did work for the Lakers – they made the playoffs after all. For good measure, Bryant also registered the second highest point totals in NBA history (81) against the Toronto Raptors.

For the entire season, the debate on who was more deserving to win the game's most prestigious individual accolade. At the center of it all (at least as far as mainstream sports writers go) was Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash. In a truly surprising turn, the first round was to feature the matchup between the Suns and the Lakers. The Suns still entered the series as the much favored team. Despite missing the services of two big men – Amare Stoudemire and Kurt Thomas (the only legit power forwards in their roster) — the Suns were still a force to be reckoned with Steve Nash spearheading their free-willing run-and-gun offense.

After Game 1, it was apparent that Kobe and co. knew what they had to do to beat the Phoenix Suns team that won 54 games in the regular season. Instead of letting Kobe dominate the ball and take the scoring load unto himself, the Lakers capitalized on the Suns' lack of an interior presence by pounding the ball in the middle through Kwame Brown and Lamar Odom. Though it didn't result into a win, the Lakers' ability to keep the game close was enough proof that they could win a game in the series.

And win they did, after losing Game 1, the Lakers won three straight by limiting the NBA's number one offensive to less than 98 points. This was capped by Kobe Bryant's last-second shot that came on the heels on controversial calls and non-calls that went against the Suns' way. With a 3-1 lead and three chances to pull out an upset, the backlash against Steve Nash's pre-leaked MVP triumph starting crawling out of the woodwork. They said Nash couldn't be MVP because his team couldn't even make it out of the first round. And then, the unpredictable tide in this series shifted once more.

Facing elimination and risking throwing away yet another Cinderella season, Steve Nash masterfully lead his vastly depleted lineup into winning the series in seven games. He scored when he needed to, but the most important thing that he did was to get Boris Diaw, Tim Thomas  and Leandro Barbosa in the general scheme of things. With the way Diaw and Barbosa played the last games of the series, it would be easy to mistake them for being All-Stars if it were your first time to watch an NBA game.

Like a true leader, led his team to three consecutive wins to advance to the next round and silence the pro-Kobe naysayers. Who can make an argument for Bryant now?

Bryant, already a veteran of ten seasons and three championships seemed to have just given up on the season when he refused to shoot in the second half. After scoring 23 points in the first half, The-Player-Soon-To-Wear-24 scored just that – 24 — by the end of the game. In his last game wearing number eight on his jersey, Bryant chose to shoot only three shots in the second half, seemingly unwilling to even try to get back into the game. It was a deplorable act. Here, we have one of the game's best players ever who allows his team to clobbered (and this is still and understatement) in an elimination game. He didn't even choke in this game. He just didn't care enough to try.

Echoing the rest of the sports community, yes, this game should silence all the Kobe-MJ comparisons because clearly, from a leadership perspective, Kobe is nowhere near where Michael Jordan set the bar. Shame on him.

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Comments»

1. Jhed - May 7, 2006

Ahoy!

I stumbled upon your blog thru the peyups site. Particularly in the AI 5 thread. (Just to let you know, I’m a certified Yaminion! :D)

I’m not into NBA that much, all I know is LeBron James is a great player and he has a shoe named after him. Oh, and Dennis Rodman’s father lives in the Philippines. Does that count? (Actually, I just knew this recently when DR came here to play.)

By the way, nice blog. Very interesting to read. 🙂

2. lateralus - May 7, 2006

hey, thanks, man. 🙂

I tried posting in your comment log, but haloscan was down. ill link you up.

3. Coach Pop - May 8, 2006

haha.. i watched the game last night.. kobe was very fun to watch.. para syang bata na nagtatampo kasi natatalo ng malaki yung team nya.. oh well.. there is the MVP of the lakers.. what a quitter.. akala nila nag-change na si kobe into a better and a more mature person.. di pala.. he still showed his true colors.. haha.. buti nga..

4. lateralus - May 8, 2006

diba may jersey ka ni kobe dati? hehehe kaw ah.

yeah, waht kobe did was inexcusable. i have more respect for chris webber than kobe. Webber chokes while trying to win – Kobe doesnt even bother to try. Sheeeesh.


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