I’m sure most of you witnessed the Thunder dismantle the Lakers on Friday night. In fact, I’m sure most of you nearly lost your lunch trying to watch the increasingly decrepit Lakers lumber up and down the floor while the Thunder ran over, past and around them while L.A. stared hopelessly at the clock waiting for the torture to end. The Thunder may have seemed a tad more motivated than they usually do, which apparently was due to Kobe’s incessant trash talking during the Olympics.
According to Ric Bucher, Bryant was so obnoxious with his smack talking during last summer’s Olympic Games that Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook got to the point where they were legitimately irritated with Bryant’s tongue. After the Lakers acquired Steve Nash and Dwight Howard during the off-season, Bryant was very vocal about the Thunder not going back to the NBA Finals next season.
Why Kevin Durant and Russ Westbrook were, and will be, fired up every time they play Kobe Bryant and the Lakers this season: source says the Black Mamba talked relentless smack during the Olympics that the Thunder stars weren’t going back to the Finals after the Lakers acquired Steve Nash and then added Dwight Howard right before the U.S. played Spain for the gold medal. Kobe also made a point of guarding Westbrook during practices and pumping him up, the theory being that he wanted to incite Russ to bump heads with KD over who the team’s best player is. (If you think that’s too conspiratorial to be real, you don’t know Kobe.) KD, in particular, got tired of hearing him. For what it’s worth: KD and Westbrook’s combined 69 points is the highest single-game total they’ve posted this season.
Now, first of all, I’m not much of a conspiracy theorist. But still, how Kobe does this sound? The trash talking is one thing, and we all know Kobe likes to talk on the court (and off it for that matter), but having some secret, internal plan to turn Russell against Durant during the Olympics?
I can see it now. Kobe sitting alone in his helicopter, thousands of feet above Los Angeles, plotting the demise of the Oklahoma City Thunder.
“Well we can’t seem to beat them on the court, so I shall go undercover as an Olympic hero, a role I’ve played before to much critical acclaim, and break apart their team chemistry through meticulous and irritating defense. Also trash talk.”
As much as I would love to see the Thunder implode on themselves so the Lakers could get to the Finals (although right now it looks like about 14 Western Conference Teams need to implode to give the Lakers a sure-shot at the Finals), the arrogance that comes with Kobe’s mindset of being able to break up the Thunder by turning their two best players against each other is wonderfully fantastic. Kobe is the league’s greatest super-villain, and I never get tired of it.
I just hope Kobe takes the approach that another famous villain took if he’s ever asked about this idea.
“Demand me nothing: what you know, you know: From this time forth I never will speak word.”