Mr. Wade, feel free to take Kobe’s words at ‘face value’ if you’d like. As an individual that has literally watched every single game of his professional basketball career, I can tell when Kobe is being guarded and selective with his words. In fact, he learned the ability of coming up with the perfect retort from the ‘master’ himself, Phil Jackson. Jackson routinely dropped one-liners and digs towards opposing coaches/players with such regularity that it became difficult to decipher the true meaning behind each quote.
Max Kellerman of 710AM ESPNLA often references Kobe’s claim of LeBron being today’s “Oscar Robertson” as a perfect example of Kobe’s cold-hearted subliminal assault. For those unaware, Robertson was a player that put up unprecedented statistical numbers ( Robertson career stats), but was only able to win one NBA title. In fact, although Robertson was still a contributing member on that 1971 Bucks Championship team, Lew Alcindor (officially changed to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar the day after winning the title, May 1, 1971) was the dominant force on the team.
Now, take another look at Kobe’s eyes and smile as he’s speaking in the clip. Consider that ‘pause’ and eventual response when the reporter asks if his relationship with Wade is positive due to he and Wade sharing the same “killer instinct“.
“Well, he’s a…nicer guy than I am, to be honest with you [sly smile]…”
Translation: Yeah, he’s good, but don’t put him in the same category as me. Which, if anyone has been paying attention over the last 16 years of basketball, is stone cold accurate. Love him, or hate him…Kobe is going to remain the same. He’s a calculated, cold-blooded player that, as Michael Smith of ESPN recently said on Around the Horn:
“Wants to score 50 on his (own) mom”
The rest of the panel laughed, but no one disputed it, because it’s about as certain as the sun rising tomorrow, that it’s true. With plenty of speculation about how much Kobe will try to score, I would much prefer to see a game similar to the one he most recently played against the Minnesota Timberwolves (31 points, eight assists, seven rebounds). While I definitely want the entertainment value that will come from one-on-one battles with Wade, I would prefer that Bryant pick his spots to ‘dance with Wade’ and feed Bynum/Pau against Miami’s small front-line.
Will it all be about the personal battle vs. Wade, or will the Lakers bring a balanced attack and full-team effort against the Miami Heat? While it is easy to point towards Kobe’s eventual culpability in this matter, it will actually go a long way towards determining how viable a contender this Lakers team is, simply by the effort/energy his teammates can generate against the most dominant team in the Eastern Conference. Sunday afternoon (12:30 Pacific) will undoubtedly be quite the show.