There’s irony that it came on one of the worst shooting nights of his career, but Kobe Bryant set a historic NBA scoring mark on Sunday night.
With a fourth-quarter free throw Kobe became the youngest player in NBA history to reach 28,oo0 points. Kobe is 33 years, 131 days.
Only five other players in NBA history have scored that many points, period. Kobe needed 1,109 games to get there, but four players who reached this milestone in fewer games (Wilt Chamberlain in just 825 games, Michael Jordan in 886, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in 1,008 and Karl Malone in 1,070. (The other member of the 28,000 point club is Shaquille O’Neal.
If you’re thinking can Kobe catch Kareem for the all time lead… not really. Kobe is 10,375 points behind the Captain — it would mean Kobe scoring at the rate he has for the past few years for another five years to do it. That’s asking a lot. More likely, Kobe catches MJ (because you know that Kobe wants to).
Kobe was just 6-of-28 shooting in a loss to the Nuggets Sunday, but even that illustrated how Kobe got to this milestone. Kobe’s greatest asset is a confidence and unmatched belief in himself, which allows him to attack constantly and put up gaudy scoring numbers. It also means on an off night he firmly believes that the next shot will fall and he will shoot himself out of this slump. Like a tragic character in a Greek tragedy, Kobe’s greatest strength can be his greatest weakness.
But when he retires, he will rightfully be remembered as one of the game’s greatest scorers.
It is possible, because you have a job or a life or some such nonsense, that you did not see Shaquille O’Neal’s farewell press conference on Friday.
So, we’re here to help out. We care about you that way.
Shaq was funny and just enjoying the experience, pretty much like he played his career. He admitted he could have gotten more out of his talents, but that was all tied together with his personality. Shaq is not obsessed like Jordan or Kobe, and that made him a perfect counterbalance to them. This is a game, we should have fun with it.
The moment the trade of Kendrick Perkins went through, you knew this is how it would go down — when the Celtics fell out of the playoffs the trade was going to be blamed. Danny Ainge was going to get blamed.
Throw in an early second round exit and you have Ainge getting a lot of heat.
But he still defends the trade.
Ainge went on CSN New England and said the trade of Perkins to Oklahoma City for Jeff Green (other players were involved as well). (Watch the video at the bottom of this post)
“I don’t think that the presence of one player standing in the middle of the paint was going to [help] our offense score more, wasn’t going to prevent LeBron James from shooting step-back 3-point jump shots with Paul Pierce and Jeff Green draped all over him,” Ainge told Comcast SportsNet’s Greg Dickerson in a one-on-one interview.
“I mean, we scored zero points with four or five minutes to go in two games. That was not because of who we had playing center. That had a lot more to do with our best players not being able to score.”
And please don’t tell him the Celtics lost their toughness when they lost Perkins.
“Wait a minute, wait a minute, wait a minute. We lose our toughness because we trade one player?” he said. “What do you think Kevin Garnett feels about that? What do you think Paul Pierce and Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo [feel about that]? Like, we only have one guy that’s a tough player, that brings an element of toughness?”
Ainge is right. Kind of. Having Perkins in house would not have given the Celtics the offense in the paint they lacked against the Heat. Perkins alone could not have swung that series.
But an implied part of the Perkins trade was putting all their eggs in the Shaquille O’Neal basket. And that proved to be the real issue. The Shaq from November might have made a difference in this series, but the fact he never came close and there was no good backup plan can be put on Ainge. Unless you consider Jermaine O’Neal a good backup plan. Sure, nobody expected Shaq to be out that long. But Shaq was supposed to be the Plan B when he was signed and when he became Plan A there came with that big risks.
And remember you may get Shaq back — Shaq has a player option for next season. He can pick it up and return and there is nothing you can do about it. That is on Ainge, too.
Ainge admits the trade didn’t work out. But he is right the trade was not the reason the Celtics lost to the Heat, at least not that alone.