Thursday, May 08, 2008

Our Team, Our time, Our MVP!

Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

I'm happy for Kobe. I'm happy that he won the MVP because he deserved it. But more than that, I'm happy with the way he's handled the situation. The way he's constantly thanked his teammates. The way he's genuinely been nervous at his press conference and at the MVP ceremony. The way he thanked the fans. The way he promised he'd be a Laker for years to come. The sincere excitement he has for playing the game and for the moment.

I'm happy for the leader he has become. I'm happy that he picks up the check for his teammates. That he believes in them. That he actually enjoys their company. That he feels comfortable in their company. And that they feel comfortable in his. I'm happy that he calls them his brothers. I'm happy that he shared the moment with his family. I'm happy that they let the fans share in the moment also. And that Kobe gave them that chance by leading the Lakers past the first round.

I'm happy that the Lakers are back in the spotlight and that Kobe has matured into not just a great player but a good person. I'm happy that we get to watch him play in a Lakers uniform. And I hope he wears it forever.

"It was an emotional night for all of us," Kobe said. "It was special. I haven't seen Staples that electric. I had goose bumps running (onto the court before the game)...because of how the crowd jumped into it."

Don't blame D'Antoni

It's funny that I'm making the transition from Kobe to Mike D'Antoni. After all, Kobe wore No. 8 because that was D'Antoni's number in Italy where Kobe revered D'Antoni as a player.

At the beginning of the season, it was D'Antoni who was being revered as a terrific coach who brought the up tempo style back into the NBA and turned the Suns into a perennial contender. Kobe was putting his foot in his mouth, the Lakers were in disarray, the fans were turning on their star, and the Suns were hopeful that this was their year.

Oh, how the tables have turned!

Kobe's leading the championship contenders and D'Antoni looks like he's on his way out. It strikes me as odd how D'Antoni is being told not to let the door hit him on his way out.

A man who took a Phoenix team to at least 54 wins in the past four seasons. A man who changed the culture of Suns basketball and brought excitement into an arena that was lacking everything but empty seats.

And now all of a sudden, because the Suns couldn't win the championship, he's to blame?

Not Robert Sarver who refused to sign Joe Johnson in order to save a couple of bucks. Who traded all of his draft picks for cash. Who refused to help his coach by adding any contributors. D'Antoni did a great job in Phoenix and will do the same with the Bulls or whatever team is lucky enough to hire him. I'd bet my house, if I owned one that the Bulls will make the playoffs with D'Antoni at the helm.

You think Steve Nash wins back to back MVPs without D'Antoni? As Stephen A. would say...PLEASE!!

You think Shawn Marion would be the all star that he became without D'Antoni? Watch how he fizzles in Miami next year without constantly being fed for layups and dunks in transition. So D'Antoni wasn't a great defensive coach. Perhaps he had a point guard who didn't play a lick of defense and zero post players except Kurt Thomas who were capable of guarding anyone. D'Antoni was forced to play Boris Diaw at center at one point.

Aside from Greg Poppovich, Phil Jackson, Larry Brown, and maybe Byron Scott, I'd take D'Antoni to be my coach. Just as fast as Suns fans fell in love with him and his style they buried him as fast as they jump on and off the bandwagon. That joke of a fan base apparently blames him for an owner's mistakes and players' shortcomings. D'Antoni did all he could and fell just short. The least he deserves is a job well done.

I respect Steve Kerr but why are there rumors that he'll step in to be a coach? He hasn't coached an AAU team much less an NBA team. What make people think he's gonna be a good coach? The same goes for Mark Jackson. Why do people assume these men will be good coaches because they were smart basketball players and were good announcers? Isaiah Thomas had the same qualities and looked how that's turned out.

I don't understand the NBA sometimes when it comes to coaching changes. Everyone wants a quick fix. Bad coaches simply change teams and good coaches are routinely kicked out despite winning consistently. I guess it wasn't enough for the Suns. I have a feeling they're gonna regret it.

Green more important than black or white

For once Stephen A. Smith isn't dragging white people through the dirt. He says the NBA's flock of Europeans isn't about black and white, it's about green.

I agree. For one thing, many of these Europeans aren't white to begin with. Tony Parker, Johan Petro, Mikael Pietrus. Thabo Sefolosha, Ronny Turiaf, Luol Deng, just to name a few.

The other aspect of this is as SAS puts it: "The perception is that this is happening to appease white patrons exhausted by the behavior of 20-year-old millionaires gone bad—whose culture, and pigmentation, is different from their own."

For me, like I would hope most basketball fans, it's not about the color of the skin, it's about the attitude. It's about the culture. I can relate better to Tim Duncan than Chris Anderson, to Derek Fisher than Jason Williams. Fans want to see players who are appreciative of the gifts they've been handed. Eighty percent white audiences wouldn't pack arenas to see 80 percent black teams if they cared about the color of anything but the jersey.

1 comment:

Justin Adler said...

Your thoughts on D'Antoni are dead on . The Suns fanbase is one of the worst fanbases in basketball. You can only blame the refs and your coach for so long, people need to realize the Spurs are just a much better team than Phoenix.