A couple of quick hoopservations as we move past the 1/4 benchmark of the season:
1. Kobe Bryant has had an incredible, and quite unique, career. He was the second star on a team that won 3 championships, and, since Shaq left, has also been the top dog on multiple championship teams. How many guys can say that they were the second-best guy on multiple championship teams, and then stepped up to be the top guy on multiple championship teams? I guess Magic did (he won as part of “Kareem’s team,” and, by the last of his championships, the Lakers were undoubtedly “his team”). Nobody else jumps to mind.
In order to rank Kobe amongst the all-time greats, one first has to decide whether they consider it more impressive to (i) make that transition, or (ii) be the top dog for an entire career.
2. Chicago’s team is very WatchaBull. (Sorry, I had to.) And very good. I’m not saying they’ll win the title, or even the East, but that team is constructed the way I’ve been talking about constructing a team. Their best player is a superstar, their second best player is one of the best “second” players in the league, and Joakim Noah might
have more hair than anyone else in the United States be the best “third” player in the league. Plus, they generally fill traditional basketball roles. Boozer and Noah roam the paint on offense, and, on defense, they protect the rim and own the glass. Korver is one of the best spot-up shooters around, and is able to take advantage when defenses sag to guard his teammates. The big question is whether Rose is enough like a traditional point guard to pull it all together.
3. The Mavericks have won 12 of their last 13 games. Should we care? I dunno. Seems to me like the the Mavs go on this kind of streak every season, and inevitably fizzle somewhere along the way. Dirk is filthy good, and I hear that they’re playing some D for a change, but I’m not seeing a reason to think this Dallas team is the one that breaks through. They’re like the Chargers of the NBA. Consider me a doubter until they get it done.
4. The Clippers are now losing very close games, as opposed to losing big, as they are used to doing. You know what they say about moral victories: There’s no such thing as moral victories… unless you’re the Clippers. Joking aside, I stand by my prediction that those guys will be a threat when Kaman comes back. I just hope they’re not so far out of it by then that he doesn’t make a difference.