Wednesday, February 4, 2009

A memorable start...

Monday night Kobe Bryant went to work on the MSG floor. With the news of center Andrew Bynum to be out 8-12 weeks with a MCL injury to his right knee Kobe Bryant wasted no time reminding everyone that he will do everything in his power to keep the Lakers on the championship track. Kobe went for 61 points in thirty six minutes of action. He was a perfect 20-20 at the free throw line and dissected the Knicks with a variety of jumpers, leaners and spin moves. While watching the game with the “Pistol” the DVR remote was in full use as Coach kept rewinding to check Kobe’s footwork. On multiple occasions Kobe was able to spin completely around on his left foot, keep his balance, then raise up and release his shot while being contested, just an unreal display of balance and strength.

Kobe's performance Monday night immediately took the Coach back to Michael Jordan’s 55 point game at MSG in March of 2005. Coach was a basketball crazed teenager back then whose Celtics had already entered their dark days of the 90’s so getting excited for Michael Jordan’s first game back at the garden in his #45 get-up was not difficult at all. Mind you the Coach is NOT comparing Kobe or anyone else to Michael Jordan, who did most of his damage on that night against non other than John Starks.

Yet this was a new Jordan that people had no seen much of before. He had yet to regain the explosion that left the game with him following the 1993 finals, so he relied on a variety of fade away jumpers, post moves and of course his high basketball I.Q. on that memorable night in the garden. (Random flashback from the coach: when I shared an apartment with fellow Celtic fan Jayme Goldstein on Madison Ave back in 2005 I would fill the DVR box with NBA’s greatest games which included this Michael Jordan game. In that game it is a play by Scottie Pippen that got the most run on the DVR especially on party nights, as an outlet pass from Corey Blount to Pippen after a Starks miss resulted in Pippen dunking on Charles Smith in one of the best regular season plays and Marv Albert calls no one remembers: “Pippen all the way!!!”)

Though Jordan scored 55 that night it was his game winning pass to Bill Wennington for a two hand dunk off the left block that is most memorable. This is one of the best examples of Michael Jordan turning himself into Obi-Wan Kenobi I have ever seen. Jordan looked as if he was setting up his turnaround jump shot as Patrick Ewing came charging up the lane, which of course is what the great one wanted to happen. ("These are not the droids youa re looking for.") The rest of the Knicks were slow to rotate and Jordan zipped the ball down to Wennington for the finish.

It is interesting watching Kobe at this point in his career as certain plays he makes in the triangle offense whether they be moves to free himself or setting up his teammates remind me of certain Jordan moments. What Kobe has also developed which was evident last season especially after the Pau Gasol trade is trust in his teammates. To watch a player put on a performance like that in New York is something that reminds us of why we watch. The Coach loves big games and big moments and Kobe had that assassin look in his eyes from the get go Monday which made many think he’d have a night like the one he did. Even as a Celtics fan I wanted to see something great on Monday and I got it.
Dream week continues tonight at the Garden, as the King is the building with his Cleveland troops, do you think LeBron will be ready for put on a show? The Coach will be there to find out.

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