Ron Harper has perspective. He was on the Bulls during their heyday for three titles. He was on the Lakers for the first two titles of the Kobe/Shaq era. Through it all he was like a coach on the floor.
And he told FanHouse Jordan remains the best, but don’t think the gap is very wide.
“I tell people that they are two great, great players, and Michael remains the best of all time, but Kobe now is right there next to him. He’s standing right next to him. He’s the closest thing we’ve ever had to Jordan. There is no one else even in the ballpark,” Harper told FanHouse Tuesday from his home in New Jersey. “Kobe is hands down the best player in the game today.”
“Michael still gets the edge because of when he played, and who he played against, but don’t take anything away from Kobe,” Harper said. “Michael played when the rules allowed all the grabbing, holding and bumping that isn’t allowed now on the perimeter. He also played against [Clyde] Drexler, [Joe] Dumars and guys like that every night. But after saying that, Kobe still would have been a star in that time.”
Harper goes on to make an interesting note about team play — the Bulls had it, the Lakers have it now. That is not just the triangle and Phil Jackson, it is a management buying into the system, it is players being willing to accept roles to win.
Look at the teams in the finals this year — the Lakers and Celtics played more like a unit than any others. They had continuity of players and system. Management went and got players to fit the system, and once in the culture players outside it bend to its will. You see the same thing in Phoenix right now. Orlando has a system. It’s not a coincidence they are the four left standing at the end.
This is not a slap at modern players — there were plenty of teams and guys out for themselves in the 70s, 80s and beyond. The point is that teams win.
Of course, it really helps when Kobe or MJ are on those teams.
NEW YORK (AP) — A lawyer representing a professional basketball player arrested outside a New York City nightclub has told a jury his client was targeted because he’s black.
Attorney Alex Spiro said Tuesday in Manhattan Criminal Court that a white police officer saw a black man in a hoodie when he confronted the Atlanta Hawks’ Thabo Sefolosha on April 8.
Sefolosha was arrested while leaving a Manhattan nightclub following a stabbing. He subsequently suffered a season-ending leg fracture after a confrontation with police.
A prosecutor said in opening statements that Sefolosha called an officer who repeatedly told him and others to leave a “midget.”
Sefolosha pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor obstructing government administration, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest charges. The Swiss citizen declined a plea deal from prosecutors.
DeMar DeRozan has a $10,050,000 player option for 2016-17. Given the rapidly escalating salary cap, it’s a practical certainty DeRozan will opt out and get a major raise.
But he says he doesn’t want to talk about it.
DeRozan, via Eric Koreen of the National Post:
“I hate that, honestly,” DeRozan said in a one-on-one interview. “I never speak about it. With me, I’ve always been that one player: I’ve been loyal. I’ve been every single thing you can think of here. I think people don’t understand how much pride I take in playing (in Toronto). A lot of times when I do get asked that, it kind of frustrates me.
“Everyday I wake up, I take pride in being the longest Raptor here. People bring up third or whatever in franchise scoring — there is so much stuff like that.”
This sounds awfully similar to LaMarcus Aldridge, who stated his desire last year to become the great Trail Blazer ever and then signed with the Spurs this summer.
Things change, and the impracticality of an extension ensures DeRozan will hit free agency. I believe he’s devoted to the Raptors right now, but his loyalty might change in the next nine months – especially once he sees contract offers from other suitors.
Toronto’s interest in DeRozan might fluctuate, too. He’s a nice player, but the Raptors haven’t won a playoff series with him despite winning the division the last two years. Depending how this season goes, Masai Ujiri might want to rework the roster significantly next summer, and letting DeRozan walk could create major cap space.
I believe DeRozan wants to return to the Raptors, and I believe they want to keep him. But so much can change between now and when both sides must make that call.