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The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

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This is going to sound like some serious gushing, but I don’t know even how to describe the experience of watching Kobe Bryant single-handedly dissect an entire NBA team.

Lakers games make me positively giddy. I turn into a giggling schoolgirl at an *NSYNC concert. The only things I’m missing are a Kobe lunch box and some glittery purple and gold nail polish.

Like you, I’m tired of the Kobe-Michael comparisons, but I just don’t know how else to put Bryant in perspective.

Forget the stats for a second (that is, if you can get “81” out of your mind). Only one other guy with no relation to my favorite teams ever made me giggle before, and I would work my paper route for 10 weeks to wear the same shoes as him. I won’t be buying Kobe’s space-age kicks any time soon, but Bryant’s on-court exploits are every bit as captivating as MJ’s were.

Steve Kerr was agonizing last Thursday night, making at least 30 Jordan-related comments while Kobe embarrassed the Kings’ defense throughout regulation (before Odom & Co. blew a huge lead and Kobe finally missed a couple of times in OT). But can you blame Kerr, No. 23’s ex-teammate, for his lack of imagination? Who else in sports is similar to Kobe Bryant these days?

Picture Barry Bonds at the plate-for 42 minutes a night.

Imagine Roger Federer rallying with Andy Roddick and Lleyton Hewitt-at the same time.

Or think of Tiger Woods on the 18th tee-reverse pivoting and dipping his shoulders into a 240-pound behemoth before diving backward and unleashing a 334-yard drive down the center of the fairway.

I mean, if Michael Redd, Bobby Simmons and T.J. Ford combined for 81 points, it would make for a notable statistic. And not one of those guys is facing constant double teams.

Wilt Chamberlain scored the bulk of his famed 100 on uncontested two-footers, sinking 28 of 32 free throws despite being the Shaq of his generation at the charity stripe. Wilt’s whole team scored 169-and barely won the game.

The league has evolved a lot since then and the NBA now arguably contains the bulk of our nation’s best athletes. Not only are there plenty of 7-footers to stymie the would-be Wilts, but there are even enough freakishly athletic 6-foot-6-inch guards to effectively manage most MJ mimics.

Yet Kobe breaks through. It might not be Hollywood material-considering Bryant’s checkered off-court past-but as my friend Nick said the other day, “He’s the best thing on TV.”

The Raptors were literally trying to deny Kobe Bryant the opportunity to shoot from anywhere on Sunday night. Nobody else in the NBA gets that type of attention-teams can live with certain shots from LeBron James and Dwayne Wade, but anytime Kobe touches the ball it’s a mismatch.

And that’s why he’s like Jordan. Killing the world’s best, Kobe reminds us all of some time in our childhood when we were just flat-out more advanced than everybody else at something. Maybe it was even something like acting or chess for you. You were probably moved into a higher age group to even things out, eventually. Bryant needs to find another species with which to play.

Ever since his brash public announcement that he was going pro straight out of high school, however, Bryant has been hated by a whole generation of fans. Many of them were offended by the haughty young man’s early resemblance to the greatest ever.

Already a loner, Bryant now heard every mistake he ever made scrutinized through rose-and-black-colored glasses. Like all egomaniacs, Bryant began to believe in divine destiny as a guiding force. Like few egomaniacs, Bryant fulfilled his personal prophecy.

Michael Jordan shot three percent better from the field when he scored 37.0 per game in 1986-87, but so did the rest of the NBA. After Sunday’s outburst, Kobe is scoring 35.9 per game, and it’s safe to say he’s heating up (45.5 ppg over his last 10 games).

And for those who point to the sterling shooting percentages of future greats James (.493) and Wade (.482), consider:

Kobe gets triple-covered.

Kobe takes at least two absurd shots at buzzer every single game.

Kobe handles the ball much more and has to create his own shot (although he has a better assist/turnover ratio than James or Wade).

And above all, Kobe doesn’t have any other options. Plus, gasp, according to’s NASA-style player efficiency ratings, Bryant’s teammates are actually much, much better when he’s in the game, contrary to what Bryant’s doubters have always said.

Like Jordan (agh, again!), Kobe has also figured out a new way to play after losing some of his athletic ability with age. He penetrates less. He can’t assert himself as much defensively. Instead, Bryant has developed an arsenal of moves that allow him to create his shot at will.

And as long as he can get those shots, even against defenses designed exclusively to stop him, who’s to tell Kobe he should stop shooting?

Just let me know when he’s firing them up, so I can watch.

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