Kobe Suddenly a Lockdown Defender Again

Seattle Times

Courtesy: Seattle Times

I haven’t watched much of Team USA during their pre-Olympic tune-ups, but the one time I did tune in, I was immediately repulsed by the Kobe Bryant love. The announcers were debating whether “Mamba” or “Dobermann” was the more appropiate nickname for the most overhyped, overrated player on the planet. Apparently, Kobe is playing defense in the Olympics.

“We know defense and rebounding wins championships, whether it’s the Olympics or the NBA,” Bryant said. “So we’re going to put a lot of emphasis on that.”

If I were a Lakers fan, I’d be pissed Kobe didn’t try the “defense” thing in the Finals (And please spare me the “strip” of Paul Pierce in Game 5 – we all know it was a blatant reach-in). Funny thing, I couldn’t find the “Dobermann” as Ray Allen and James Posey were knocking down 3s, nor could I find the “Mamba” as Pierce drained turnaround jumpers or sliced to the hoop.

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18 Responses

  1. Defense how about hitting some open jumpers that’s what I’d be preaching.

  2. Isn’t he the best player on the planet? I thought he’s the best player on the planet. He’s the best player on the planet right.

  3. I don’t think you can really comment on it if you havn’t seen the games. I’ve seen all the pre-Olympic games as well as almost all Laker games last year. He is a different player. On Team USA, he really doesn’t look to score. His main focus is to play defense. The team really needs steals to win, because their halfcourt offense is terrible. When he is really focusing on defense, he is without a question the best defender in the NBA, maybe even in the world. On this Olympic team, he can do that because they don’t need him to score. On the Lakers he has to score, and doesn’t waste his energy on defense. Please, watch some of Team USA’s game before you comment on how someone is playing. Because honestly, he is a completely different player.

  4. BTW I have been wondering why neither Pierce or KG are on the team? No invite or did they just turn it down?

  5. “On the Lakers he has to score, and doesn’t waste his energy on defense.”

    This thinking is why the Lakers won’t win a title with their current roster and why LA fans are morons.

    And since you are criticizing me for questioning Kobe’s play w/o watching the Olympic games, I will clarify it for you….I am not questioning Kobe’s play in the Olympics. I am questioning his play in the Finals….that I watched…and thoroughly enjoyed.

  6. and I seriously disagree with you saying that when Kobe focuses on Defense he is the best defender in the NBA or perhaps the planet?? Honestly?? Kobe fans live in this distorted universe where Kobe can do no wrong, face it, hes a GOOD defender at best and no where near the top of the league, let alone the world. and I have watched ALL of the Team USA games, and still have yet to see him completely shut down anyone of real talent, he is picking on mediocre ball handlers, I’ll be impressed if he can do this against the likes of Spain and Greece.

  7. Well, I have seen three of the USA exhibition games and part of another, and as far as I can tell Bryant still is jacking up shots indiscriminately, he just has to take turns with Lebron and Melo now which means less volume.

    As for his defense he is putting in a better effort with Team USA; he absolutely hounded Jasikevicius of Lithuania who is a completely inferior athlete from a physical standpoint. I imagine he will be the better physical specimen in most matchups so he should be able to play great individual defense.

    As for his effort against the Celtics in the Finals, he wasn’t necessarily playing Posey that much if at all. Pierce is a bad matchup (too big, too strong, too damn good) which every player has. The part I don’t get is why he couldn’t play Ray Allen better; Tex Winter made some excuse about Bryant going for steals and overhelping, but that’s a pretty weak excuse for a first team all-defender if you ask me. Maybe true though as he got caught ball-watching a couple times in one of the USA games I saw.

  8. Oh yeah, as far as I know, KG declined an invitation. Pierce was invited and expressed interest originally three years ago but I believe he opted to wait to have surgery until late in the summer which took him out of it. I think he still had a chance to be on the team last summer but it didn’t happen (could have been because he was coming off his foot injury or USA Basketball was going in another direction–I never got a clear sense of what happened there).

  9. KG turned the olympics down [he hadn’t won a title yet and wanted to be fresh for a regular/post season run]

    Pierce wasn’t invited back because i think some thought of him as an ineffective player back during the world championships a few years back

    …Though the real problem is that they don’t invite enough defenders to play on the team… you load it with “scorers” who sit back and wait for the role players to do the dirty work on defense and you get beaten by true teams.. this team has 2 all defensive team guys and 2 others that received 1 or 2 votes

  10. Kobe is a textbook ‘help’ defender …this guy doesn’t lock down his own man …. he slinks off his man to hassle someone else ….

    aka ..Him dropping off rondo during the finals to clog the lane …Bruce Bowen, Raja Bell, Shane Battier, Gary Payton [was] … are good on ball man to man defenders

    The Kobes …Waydes…Iversons …are the athletics guys who get steals and deflections by floating around and actually leaving their teams more open to back door cuts and open men …all you need are players skilled at passing out of the double team *cough*KG*cough*

  11. Kobe is a mediocre defender at best. He looks good (at times) now because he’s mostly guarding players who couldn’t crack the rotation at St. Joe’s nevermind an NBA team.

  12. exactly!!! why else was Kobe [best defender on the planet/ Hand of God] guarding rajon rondo ??? me thinks Ray or Paul would be more deserving of his immense talent. no?

  13. Well the Kobe guarding Rondo thing made some sense…since the Lakers were betting on Rondo not making shots, Kobe wouldn’t have to spend a lot of energy on D, he just had to throw his hands into Rondo’s dribble and they hoped Rondo would get messed up. Of course, the Lakers didn’t bank on the rest of the Celtics beating them to a pulp.

    As for Kobe’s defense, he’s not a BAD defender, he CAN be a pretty good straight up defender, but he seems to put his willpower into scoring. If he could focus his play into defense he’d be a better player overall, but that would mean a change to his overall psyche and I don’t know if that’s possible with Kobe.

  14. To be fair, Kobe isn’t allowed to focus his energy on defense with the Lakers. He can’t afford to get in foul trouble either.

    Another aspect that deserves noting is the difference in officiating from the NBA to International Basketball. Kobe is allowed to be much more physical with the FIBA rules, which makes him a better defender.

    But you’re right, he didn’t lock down Pierce or Allen.

  15. If the NBA allowed more physical play, Kobe would get mauled every night because Kobe is SOFT. Even with today’s pussy rules, Kobe gets abused when he goes up against more physical guys like LeBron, Pierce, Carmelo and even smaller guys like Arenas and Wade when healthy.

  16. Look, I am not arguing that he played good defense in the finals. I am not saying he plays good defense in the NBA. Personally I think he needs to put more effort into the defensive end during NBA games. What I am saying is that the defense he is playing on Team USA is outstanding. Yes I am a Laker fan. Yes, I like Kobe. However, I think Im a much more realistic Laker fan than most. Im not the one who is going to say the Celtics suck, I am still trying to figure out why neither Pierce or KG are on this team. I’ll give credit where it is due. And obviously most Celtic fans won’t realize Kobe is playing amazing D on Team USA. Just like most Laker fans won’t see that KG deserved the defensive player of the year, or that the Celtics are still legitimate contenders. Please, don’t say Laker fans live in a universe where Kobe can do no wrong, when you guys are living in a universe where he can do no right. Recognize good play when you see it. Kobe is playing great D for Team USA. He did not play good D in the finals or most of the entire season for that matter.

  17. KG did turn down the invitation, and Pierce wasn’t invited this time (although he would have refused too).

    Putting my anti-Kobe bias aside for a moment… its hard for the primary offensive threat on the team to be its best defender. Michael Jordan is the only one who did it well.

    I think Paul Pierce is the best evidence of that. We saw this year how good a defender he could be… but he could only focus on that when he had other guys taking the scoring burden off of him. Kobe’s defense went away when Shaq did.

    I think the problem a lot of us have is that mainstream media doesn’t seem to recognize this. They still consider Kobe as a premier lock-down type of guy… and he’s not anymore. But the more we’re fed that…. the more we go the other way.

    So yeah, Kobe’s playing great D in the Olympics because (a) the rules allow him to be more physical (b) he doesn’t have to be the main threat, so he can expend more energy on D and (c) the individual players aren’t quite as good as the NBA guys he’s defending. They’re good…. and they’re better than they were…. but international teams aren’t dominated by individuals. They’re teams. It’s a different game.

    So Kobe the international player, surrounded by LeBron and other megastars, is going to be a much better defender than Kobe the Laker.

  18. That’s all I am trying to say. As a player on Team USA, he is a great defender. But without the great plays surrounding him, he can’t use the kind of energy on D he uses on Team USA on the Lakers. Especially without Shaq, he never really focuses on D and I’m not going to say he isn’t a great defender anymore (because I think he could be if he wasn’t asked to score as much), but definately doesn’t play the kind of defense he used to. So his defense on the Lakers isn’t terrible, but it definately isn’t good or anywhere near what it is on Team USA.

    I will say one more thing. His defense will seem a lot better next season and will be blown out of proportion by the media. With Bynum back (hopefully healthy), everyone’s defense will appear better. Bynum is a great help defender, so just be prepared for Kobe’s “transformation” this summer to get blown out of proportion.

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