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Kobe Bryant is, at worst, the second-best player in the NBA. In thirteen seasons, he's won three NBA Championships (yes, they're HIS, too), an MVP award, two scoring titles, been an eleven-time All-Star, and owns all kinds of NBA records. He is universally recognized as the best closer in the game, and is three wins away from another NBA Championship (and first Finals MVP, if they win).

Yet, Kobe Bryant is probably the most hated player in the NBA, and has been for some time.

Since he's come into the league, he's been accused of being aloof, arrogant, vain, self-centered, out for dolo, and every other way that a player can be described as "selfish." People say he shoots too much or that he's not a good teammate; people throw in his face that he's not Michael Jordan. And they're right. Michael took way more shots than Kobe did.

I can't believe that I'm actually writing about the WNBA. But it's also the first time they've ever been newsworthy.

The WNBA's Phoenix Mercury have decided to replace their team name on their jersey in favor of the team's official sponsor, LifeLock. LifeLock paid $1 million for the right to turn some of basketball's least watched players into moving billboards for identity theft protection. WNBA President Donna Orender called this "an innovation." Because it's not like we haven't seen rampant advertising in America before.

Just like that, some are predicting this to be the next trend for American pro sports. I think that's getting a little ahead of ourselves. The fact of the matter is, more people would watch the D-League over the WNBA if it had a TV deal. The NHL has a greater national profile than the WNBA and the NHL are airing their playoffs on Versus. Everyone knows that the WNBA is in financial trouble and has been since it came out, and will probably continue to be until women start dunking on the regular.


Only if I'm bleeding from the top of my head would I seriously say something like that. Dwight Howard is better than Andrew Bynum, and if I ever change that statement, you'll know that something has gone terribly, terribly wrong in either Dwight Howard's career or my mental state.

But when I watch Andrew Bynum play, I see him doing some of the things that I want to see from Dwight Howard. No, not pouting or getting shoved out of the way. I'm talking about post moves. For the first six to eight minutes of every Lakers game, Andrew Bynum is one of the top three centers in the league.

The Lakers throw the ball into Bynum, he sets up and he goes to work. Hookshots, drop steps, up-and-unders; he's a "Dream Shake" away from being Hakeem Olajuwon. He follows shots, he rebounds, he changes the shots of opponents...and then after the first eight minutes are up, he's done for the night. If Lakers' games were only one quarter long, the Lakers would have lost about two games all season and Bynum would have been in MVP contention.

So the Lakers DO have the energy of someone younger than 60 years old.

For most of these playoffs, we have watched the Lakers sleepwalk through games like a team that has already won three or four championships. Luke Walton had me thinking he was actually a spy from the other team, and I wasn't sure Lamar Odom was even alive anymore.

Then, the Denver Nuggets smacked LA clean in the mouth during a 120-101 loss in Game 4. They had to stomach watching J.R. Smith tap-dancing, mean-mugging, and generally being a stereotype as they went down in flames in Denver. Not only that, they let a guy who actually answers to "Birdman" shut them down.

Maybe that was enough to finally wake the Lakers up. Lord knows I was tired of seeing them play like they'd automatically be in the Finals just because it's been prophesied by the Kobe/LeBron commercials. I think for most people, escaping Houston like they did would be enough for a team to realize that it's not gonna be a cakewalk.

If Wilt Chamberlain was considering a comeback to the NBA next season, that would be news. But because people don't generally come back from the dead to play basketball, we have to settle for the Brett Favre soap opera to lead off every SportsCenter. Why are we still talking about this?

I blame Brett Favre for it all, of course. I can't blame ESPN for following Favre around to high schools and doctor's offices, because that's what they do. They're just trying to sniff out a story that might be there, during a slow news period. Let's face it, the NBA players just aren't embarrassing themselves enough to sustain press interest.

It's Brett Favre's fault because all he has to do is stop throwing footballs with kids 30 years younger than he is. All he has to do is stop listening to offers from Mark Wilf, then Mark Clayton and Len Pasquarelli won't have anything to write about. It's not like they need this to keep their jobs. I hear Pasquarelli's on his way out, anyway.

It's also Brett Favre's fault because he already set the precendent by coming back last year after he "retired." Now, every time he tries to retire after this won't be taken seriously at all. Which means, whether he plays this season or not, we'll probably hear "rumblings" about a comeback all through the next two seasons.

Was Dwight Howard wrong for calling out his coach after the Orlando Magic's Game 5 loss to Boston? We can debate that forever and in truth, he probably was. After all, it's not like he did anything to step up to stop the bleeding during that fourth quarter collapse. Plus, calling out people is the press isn't for everyone, because he's not Phil Jackson.

But I do believe that this is a step in the right direction in the evolution of Dwight Howard. It wasn't that long ago that he planned on converting all of his teammates.

Dwight Howard has always been accused of being too nice. He's always joking, smiling, and laughing; enjoying himself. What's wrong with this guy? He's out there, having fun playing basketball, when he needs to get serious about this kid's game that he's paid millions to play. He should have never let Nate Robinson jump over him to win the slam dunk contest. He should have put his boot heel on Robinson's throat to assure that he won this exhibition that will do as much for his career as it did for Harold Miner's. The kid's just got no killer instinct, no competitive drive. He's just having too much fun.

That nameless kid in Orlando wasn't the only one hurt during Glen Davis' celebration Sunday night in Orlando. Dwight Howard's and Rashard Lewis's feelings were hurt by all of the celebrating and joy on their court because none of it was theirs.

Lost in the controversy surrounding Glen Davis' flying shoulderblock on a kid standing courtside in Orlando is Dwight Howard's and Rashard Lewis's distaste for post-game celebrations. Dwight Howard was shown with his face all frowned up and calling for a technical, while Rashard Lewis said the following:

"It most definitely adds fuel to the fire," Lewis said. "We don't like that type of stuff. You have to be professional about the game of basketball. We're a professional team and we expect them to be the same way.

"Those guys were jumping up and down, waving their hands at us, saying bye, but it's not over yet; it's just 2-2," Lewis added. "We could have done the same thing when we won on their court, but we're more professional than that. They still have to win ballgames. The series ain't over yet."

I remember back in the days of playing ball at the playground and we had that rule in one-on-one where if one guy got up 7-0 over another guy to start a game, the game was over. We called it the "7-0 Skunk." I'm sure everyone is familiar with this rule, and if not, I don't know where you played ball.

The point of the rule was to clear the court for the next guy, because what's the point in watching a guy fail to come back from an 0-7 deficit? Everyone watching knew he wasn't going to back a 10-7 run. If a guy gets up like that on you, the point is made. He's killing you. So let's get to the next game. Do we really need to sit here and watch you keep losing?

It's a rule that the NBA could stand to adopt to help speed things along sometimes. Clear Cleveland's court to make room for the Celtics or Magic.

As I type this, the Cavs and the Hawks are playing Game 4 of their semi-final playoff series. The Cavs are on fire right now, while the Hawks are simply outclassed. The Cavs have won all seven of their playoff games by double digits and are playing on another level than the Hawks. It's not the Hawks' fault, because there isn't much they could have done to stop the beating that they're catching right now.

And I thought I took the Bulls' loss hard.

Next time you take your favorite team's loss to heart and someone close to you is complaining about how big of a baby you're being over a game played by "guys whose only connection to you is your choice of wardrobe (Thanks for your support, Mom)," show them this story and they will see that you're really not that bad in comparison to some of our international sports brethren.

Seuleiman Alphonso Omondi, a 29 year old man from Kenya, hung himself after his favorite soccer club, Arsenal, of the Champions League, lost 1-4 to the rival Manchester United.

Omondi also almost got into a fight with a guy in the bar where he watched the game after the guy said that Arsenal was going to be able to comeback from a two goal deficit early in the game. While fighting the rivals' fans is pretty normal in America, hanging one's self when the team loses is taking the dedication a little bit too far. If that became common practice over here, the Raiders and Bengals would have shut down already because all of their fans were dead.

Since Alex Rodriguez has been out, all I ever hear from the New York Yankees is how much they need for Alex Rodriguez to come back. How they'll be so much better when he comes back.

The Yankees' total payroll is $201,449,189 and they can't win. What, is he carrying your steroid stash? Can't you make it work without him?

Sure, A-Rod is the Yankees best player. I get that. But if the Yankees are paying the rest of them as much as they are, shouldn't they be able to manage? This isn't basketball or football, where the best player draws double-teams or something like that. At the end of the day, you're standing up there alone, swinging a bat. It's not like A-Rod helps swing or provides moral support or anything. And weren't a lot of these guys "the best player" somewhere else before they played with Rodriguez?

April 2012

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About this Archive

This page is a archive of recent entries in the Tony Majestic category.

Tom Brady is the previous category.

Tony Williams is the next category.

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