Monday, January 23, 2006

Kobe's Big Night

I don't often blog about basketball, knowing that much of my readership could really care less. But I have to vent about last night's "show" by Kobe Bryant who scored 81 points against the Raptors.

I was a casual Kobe fan in the early years of his career, intrigued by his lineage and potential. These days I roll my eyes and shake my head, turned off by the out-and-out selfish play. Sure, the great ones elevate their game to new levels. The truly great ones make their teams better.

Steve Nash credited his teammates for his MVP season last year (and he's doing it again in Phoenix). Of course you know if Stevie Nash went off for 81, I'd be ecstatic. Kobe's reputation for being a ball-hogging, prima donna really does colour my perception of him. The most frustrating thing is that he is that good.

Would I be so bitter if Kobe blasted off against another team? Admittedly, no; but I would still be just as disgusted. I couldn't turn off the TV, despite the game getting so bad. It was morbid fascination to see exactly how many points he'd finish with, and wonder how such a well-played Toronto first half could be for naught (winning by 17 points late in the 3rd, only to be blown out by Kobe - losing by 18. Ugh).

In fact, there were better basketball moments to watch yesterday: Ray Allen's buzzer-beating 3 against the Suns; Andre Igoudala's last-second floater; and Detroit holding off Houston.

For me, the appeal of basketball is team play - that even the most insignificant player can contribute to team success. Gauging responses from other players in the league, Ric Bucher reported that someone asked Dirk Nowitzki if he could top 82. "I don't think that would be good from a team standpoint," Nowitzki said. Exactly.

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