Thank you, Stu Jackson, for giving some juice to these last weeks of the terminal regular season. Rather than being on Bottom-Feeder Watch (waiting to see which mediocre teams qualify for the No. 8 seeds), we got history.
Kobe Bryant placed himself in rare Air Friday night by becoming only the second NBA player to scorer at least 50 points in four straight games. The only other player to do it was Wilt Chamberlain, who scored fiddy, well, almost every night. But four straight games? Michael Jordan never did it. Larry Bird never did it. Jerry West never did it. Nobody ‘cept Wilt and Kobe.
After Bryant dropped 50 on the double-teaming Hornets on Friday, Laker coach Phil Jackson confirmed my thinking, saying Bryant has been motivated, at least in part, by Jackson, the league’s Chief Spanker. Bryant received two one-game suspensions for flinging “unnatural” elbows while shooting, and was later issued a post-game flagrant foul for another play.
Jackson said the actions amounted to a “witch hunt” by the league and was expectedly fined.
Now, Kobe is taking it out on opponents.
And you gotta love it.
The most amazing stats during the streak aren’t Kobe’s scoring totals. Check this out. In the four games, he’s shooting .543 from the field; .545 from three-point range; and .934 from the free-throw line. Critics who say Bryant is just gunning, chew on those numbers.
Bryant will probably finish third in the MVP balloting this season, behind Dirk Nowitzki and Steve Nash. And that’s the right order.
But know this: Kobe Bryant is the NBA’s BAP – Best All-Around Player. And with three championships on his CV (a fact almost never mentioned any more in Kobe debates), he deserves to be considered among the pantheon of Greatest Players Ever. No more debate.
Thanks, Stu, for clearing that up.