Coming from someone who has probably watched more film and made more videos on Kobe Bryant than anyone else on the planet, it’s even hard for me to imagine the guy can become a better player. Yet so far in this young NBA season, Kobe has proved his most loyal fans and followers wrong, again. It’s no question his unparalleled commitment with the game of basketball makes him the caliber of a player that he is. His eagerness to learn more footwork from Hakeem, one of the best foot-work big men in NBA history, in the off-season is really starting to shine in Kobe’s game.
Something fans always talk about is how Kobe, getting older in age, should go to the post more often. This is simply an argument of the past; the time has come. This season Kobe has focused more on post-play, much like Jordan did in the past in his later years, and Kobe is absolutely dominating. Last night was the best example in the game vs. Memphis. Not only did Kobe focus on the post-play, he did it within the flow of the offense as Ron Artest pointed out despite not having Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol in the lineup:
“Tonight was the best because we wasn’t forcing the ball to him, and he (Kobe) worked for the ball. He didn’t just demand it and hog the ball, (if) we went away, we went away, but he continued to work for the ball…and it was totally (in) the offense. You know, sometimes he gotta do what he gotta do, he gotta be the greatest sometimes, but tonight was great because he was able to get it within the team concept… it was great.”
It’s no coincidence Kobe Bryant and the Lakers are acclimating Ron Artest more comfortably to the triangle, either. You can say all you want about Ron Artest, but his commitment to the Lakers and basketball has shadowed that of Bryant. The world can easily criticize Artest, but the fans of Los Angeles know that when it all comes together, this team will be very difficult to beat in any 7 game series. Ron is doing an absolutely fantastic job of shutting down the opposition defensively, which in result takes the burden off of Kobe; allowing him to further do damage offensively. It’s a beautiful thing to watch. The haters will hate on Ron, but the truth is, he is allowing Kobe to operate at a dangerous level offensively through Ron’s commitment to the defensive end for 48 minutes on the league’s best.
Speaking of the league’s “best,” last night Kobe became the youngest player to reach the 24,000 career point plateau. Something which shouldn’t surprise us but is always special to us fans. Even better, he passed up Allen Iverson on the all-time scoring list as well; something all us Lakers fans love to see. And while a lot of the milestones and accomplishments Kobe Bryant reaches doesn’t surprise us, he is bound to surpass Jerry West on the all-time scoring list as well. Jerry West – enough said.
14. ........JERRY WEST ................ 25192 15. ........PATRICK EWING ............. 24815 16. ........KOBE BRYANT ............... 24027 17. ........ALLEN IVERSON ............. 24020
One aspect the fans wanted to see was for Kobe to do more work in the post. As Jordan got up in age, he used his IQ and made post-play his strength. And if Jordan made the post-play his strongest aspect of his game, Kobe is making it his playground. What I love most is how he gaining post-position every time down the floor without the ball; pure dominance. Last night vs. Memphis, he not only went 19-30 from the floor, he shot 63% from the post field without attempting a single three-point attempt. This resulted in Kobe’s 3rd straight 40+ point performance, 99th of his career. There is no doubt in my mind, when rested and prepared, Kobe Bryant is still the best player in the game.
Despite his current 34.5ppg average, the Lakers are without Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum. This means he won’t have to sustain these kind of numbers, but again, he’s moved his game into the post. He will have his highs and lows. He should and will pace himself for the post-season. Suffice to say, he scares me with his improved game and I’m a Lakers fan; poor league. His footwork is a simply a basketball dance of pure beauty; artwork if you will.
Even Olajuwon says these moves will benefit Bryant moreso than the bigs:
In my mind most of my moves for a guy (with) that agility can use it better than the big guy,” Olajuwon said. “Because my moves are not really for the big guy. It’s for the guards and small forwards. So he would benefit most on the post because of his agility.
I’m going to even claim that Kobe has the greatest post-game of all time for a perimeter player, yes, even better than Jordan. Kobe’s footwork is also up there with Hakeem as the best of all time and the league is his dance floor. Kobe has prepared himself to win as many rings as possible, learning as much as he can to improve himself and his team. All hail Kobe Bryant; he is simply taking over the league, once again, one step at a time.