The prevailing theme of the 2018 NBA playoffs is that LeBron James carried a sorry Cleveland Cavaliers squad as far as he could, right up until J.R. Smith unwittingly dribbled out the clock on his heroic Game 1 performance and the Golden State Warriors’ overwhelming talent advantage kicked into gear.
Kobe Bryant, who last week lumped himself into the LeBron James vs. Michael Jordan debate, doesn’t see it that way, or at least that’s what he told The New York Times’ Benjamin Hoffman on Wednesday:
“It seems like he has some good talent to me. He’s got (Kyle) Korver who’s a great shooter, J.R. Smith who has always been a solid player — we focus on his one mistake and that tends to overshadow all the things he’s done to help them win a championship before — you’ve got Kevin Love, who was an All-Star and an Olympian; Rodney Hood, who was a 17-point scorer in the Western Conference; you’ve got Tristan (Thompson) who is back to playing like he played a few years ago. He’s got some workable pieces there. I don’t understand how, in order to talk about how great LeBron is we need to [expletive] on everybody else. That’s not O.K. Those guys have talent. I don’t buy this whole thing that he’s playing with a bunch of garbage.”
Wait, aren’t the Cavaliers not that good?
If I were being a contrarian, I might respond to Kobe with something like this:
He’s got Korver who’s 37 years old, J.R. Smith who is having the worst season of his career — we focus on his one mistake and that tends to overshadow all the things he’s done to cost them games before — you’ve got Kevin Love, who was an All-Star and an Olympian; Rodney Hood, who was benched in the Eastern Conference; you’ve got Tristan who is back to playing like he cares about basketball again.
We don’t have to call them “a bunch of garbage,” but c’mon, Kobe. Even the Cavs are conceding that they’re depleted. “We’d be up 3-0 if Kyrie was still here,” one veteran Cavalier told The Athletic’s Jason Lloyd after LeBron posted another triple-double in a 110-102 Game 3 loss. “I have no doubt. Do you?”
Kobe was the king of bashing his teammates
It is interesting that Kobe is taking these reasoned stands now that he’s in retirement, isn’t it?
After all, Kobe is the same guy who yelled of his Los Angeles Lakers teammates to then-GM Mitch Kupchak during a 2014 practice, “I’m supposed to practice and get better. These motherf***ers ain’t doing s*** for me.” He’s the same guy who called ex-teammate Smush Parker “the worst” and added:
“I almost won an MVP with Smush Parker and Kwame Brown on my team,” Bryant said in 2012. “I was shooting 45 times a game. What was I supposed to do? Pass it to Chris Mihm or Kwame Brown?”
Now, isn’t that talking about how great you are by [expletive]-ing on everybody else?
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