You know it’s a big night in the NBA, when one of its all-time greatest performers is set to play in his final game ever, and it is not the clear-cut top story of the evening.
Yes, Kobe Bean Bryant will lace up his Nikes for the very last time in an NBA game tonight in Los Angeles, and most of the hype today surrounds the Golden State Warriors chase for 73 wins and the all-time best regular season record ever. So, I figured I might weigh in on both subjects for this week’s blog entry.
Kobe Bryant – He and I go way back, and he does not even know it. My first encounter with Kobe Bryant was in the summer of 1995 at Fairleigh Dickinson University in Teaneck, New Jersey. At the time I was working for a newsletter called Big East Briefs, and my job was to interview high school basketball prospects. Well, the Adidas ABCD Camp was going on at FDU, and Bryant was the star attraction. In the main gym, there were four courts that were sectioned off and four games going on simultaneously. My trusted companion and fellow intrepid reporter (my amazing father), and I were given a checklist of which players to track down and at which court their team was playing. Following a brief pit stop in the men’s room, I opened the door to get back to work and literally walked right into Kobe, who had just finished destroying his peers in his latest game. So much for my brush with fame. From what I had seen of his play over those three days, it was apparent he had star qualities. But I also remember him being cocky, confident, and downright arrogant, which left me less than enamored of the kid. But, as it turns out, my Kobe beef (his uber confidence and single mindedness about winning at all costs), is was ultimately drove him to a sure fire hall of fame career. It is also why his resume stacks him somewhere (in my opinion) in the top 15 players to ever bounce a ball. While I never rooted for him, I always respected him. Farewell Black Mamba.
Golden State Warriors – Unfortunately, the fact that the reigning NBA champions play on the West Coast, it has severely limited the times I have seen them play this season. Their amazing year began with 24 straight wins, and so I started paying more attention. It also didn’t hurt that every time I put on a sport’s show the lead highlights had Steph Curry chomping on his mouth guard, and throwing in 3-point shots from just inside half-court. One look at their overall record splits as of this writing (38-2 at home, and 34-7 away), and it is hard to believe they running these ridiculous totals up against the greatest players in the world. Night in and night out, the Warriors are just flat out beating all comers. They do their damage a little differently than the great Michael Jordan led Bulls team (1995/96) did in its magical record setting season. Golden State scores a ton of its points from downtown, as Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green are all very good 3-point marksman. Do I think the Memphis Grizzlies will somehow rise to the occasion Wednesday night and deny the Warriors their 73rd victory? In a word, NO! So, congratulations to Golden State and we look forward to seeing you in the playoffs.
And that is My 2 Sense for this week.