Thursday, July 31, 2008

Getting it done without Shaq or anyone else for that matter

Does anyone realize how little sense Shaq's rap was about Kobe not being able to get it done without him because he fell in the finals? Kobe in fact did get done what Shaq couldn't do with less help. Kobe beat the Spurs while Shaq had two dark horse MVP contenders in Steve Nash and Amare on his team and lost to the Spurs. Kobe beat the Spurs, how does Shaq have a right to talk?

I've also heard about Paul Pierce hating on Kobe, as if he has a right to do that. Ridiculous. Without looking too much in the stats of it all, Paul didn't beat Kobe, his team beat Kobe's team, and Paul's team had Ray Allen and KG on it.

I'm sick of this notion of us measuring our stars by whether they can bring home a championship. Teams bring championships, stars don't. The truth is that while we don't like the image of a selfish ballplayer, and we like a guy who does all he can to help, a star can't realistically bring home a championship on his own. We have to stop holding a measuring stick up to our basketball stars based on whether they win, win, win, and win again (4 series gets you a championship). Kobe won, won, won (against the defending champ Spurs), and then lost. I'd call that pretty freaking impressive. I'm tired of the notion of whether this guy or that will be the true franchise savior and bring his team a championship because that guy doesn't exist. No one has ever singlehandedly brought his team a championship, and that's the beautiful thing about this game: It takes a team. So let's celebrate the great individuals and celebrate the great teams, and let's not confuse one for the other.

The best players we've had have managed to take teams to the finals by themselves, AI, LeBron James, and now Kobe. That's pretty hard to get any farther than that. Winning a championship is something that also plain just can't happen no matter how good you are, because it's usually a crowded field.

Anyways, there's something awfully barbaric about throwing two guys into a cage in a zero-sum game where the winner gets temporarily praised (until he or they fail/fails to defend their title) as the greatest thing to ever come along, while the loser usually gets fired. The history books on a yearly basis, to lavish the winner and condone the loser. This is why every coach of the year in the last few years, Byron Scott, Rick Carlisle, Mike D'Antoni, Avery Johnson, Larry Brown, etc. has been fired or run out of town in one way or another, because they can't ever live up to their expectations. If people really had some sense of perspective, they'd realize it's not wise to fire your coach just because of a single losing streak. Here are examples of coaches who shouldn't have gotten fired:
-Rick Carlisle, 2006-2007, Indiana Pacers-The front office made a trade: Stephen Jackson, Saraventus Jukavics and Al Harrington for Ike Diogu, Mike Dunleavy and Troy Murphy and they didn't make the playoffs. Not his fault, it takes time for teams to gel after a trade. By that same logic....
-Avery Johnson, 2007-2008, Dallas-Same deal. The GM, Mark Cuban, made a move that by his own admission would either sink the team or elevate them to a championship, it was a risky front office move, and it's not Avery Johnson's fault. You can't get a team to gel that quickly
-Byron Scott, 2003-2004, New Jersey Nets-He had a losing streak in the middle of the season. Big deal: He had made the finals the last 2 years and the season isn't over until it's over. New Jersey made the playoffs for 6 straights years and in some cases, they didn't make the playoffs until the final game of the season. Granted Frank Williams turned out to be good, Byron Scott turned New Orleans into a championship contender this year, which is a similar situation to.....
-Scott Skiles, who got his team to the conference semis and an impressive sweep of the Miami Heat in the playoffs the previous year. They fired him in December of the season because the team wasn't playing well. Well, they weren't playing any better. Here's what John Paxson, Bulls GM had to say:"I don't have a long-term solution as of today. I'm disappointed in the way we're playing, the way we're competing, the energy or lack thereof that we're playing with on the floor. I know expectations coming into the year were really, really high and we're not even close to those. I honestly believe we're a better team than we've played this year." So basically, the guy didn't have a long-term solution, or in other words he has no clue if what he's doing is a good idea. He just admits to being momentarily unhappy and discusses being plagued by his own expectations. Like Cleveland, the act of firing Flip Saunders ensured the season's fate as officially lost. Chicago wasn't remotely in contention for a playoff spot in a weak year in which newcomers Atlanta and Philadelphia made the playoffs.
-Flip Saunders, 2004-2005, Minnesota Timberwolves-Kevin McHale fired Flip and coached the team himself. The end result wasn't that much better, as the Timberwolves had one of the greatest loss differentials from season-to-season in NBA history.
-Paul Silas, 2004-2005, Had a 12-game losing streak somewhere over the course of the middle of the season and got fired for that. He still had his team above the 500 mark at the time but the reasoning was that earlier they were fighting for the division title and now they were in danger of missing the playoffs. Well, firing Silas didn't help any, they still missed the playoffs anyway and the replacement coach had a worse record
-Brian Hill, 2006-2007 Orlando Magic, He got the Orlando Magic into the playoffs for the first time since 2003, but still got fired because they lost the first round in a sweep. Did we mention every other team from the South got swept that year in the playoffs?
-Rick Carlisle, 2002-2003 Indiana Pacers, Got his team to the conference finals twice in a row and won the division outright. Got upset by New Jersey in the conference finals. So basically, this is a team that didn't live up to seeding. It's like if a #1 seed in the tournament got upset by a #2 seed in the elite eight. Big deal. To be fair, most people felt Carlisle's firing was unfair.

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