Kobe Bryant has now missed three straight games due to his sprained ankle. Each game was decisive Lakers victory, complete with ball and player movement that have been all too rare this season. The Lakers have looked as good as they have all season.
For some, that is proof that LeBron James should be MVP.
The theory is that if a team is without its star player, and still plays well, then said player must not be very important to his team. So, if the Lakers are 3-0 without Kobe, is he that valuable to his team?
That’s some horrifically flawed logic. Teams often over perform without their stars (Bill Simmons called it the “Ewing Theory” for when the Knicks played over their head without the great center). Last year’s Rockets team played the eventual-champion Lakers tough without center Yao Ming. Where the Rockets a better team without the best center on the planet (when healthy)? No. Not even close. No, but they were scrappy and had some matchups that worked for them.
This happens all the time in sport, it proves nothing about the worth of the player. You can make a good case for LeBron as MVP without denigrating Kobe. Bryant’s fans could do the same thing. But for some reason this debate always devolves into insults and why one isn’t as good as the other.
Two different players. Two different games. It is possible to appreciate them both, to exalt them both. And to say one should be MVP without that being a slight to the other.
From the moment it became clear Carmelo Anthony was going to join the Rockets — which was a long time before he actually signed the contract on Monday — the questions started:
Would he accept a reduced role with the Rockets? Maybe come off the bench? Be Olympic ‘Melo and blend in with the team?
Coach Mike D’Antoni said he spoke with Anthony and said the player is open to coming off the bench, but he’s not sure what ‘Melo’s role will be. When ambushed by TMZ trying to walk to his car, Anthony said basically the same thing.
“Let’s just let it play out, though. I don’t even know what’s going on. I just signed, let it start first.”
Anthony coming off the bench, being the fulcrum of the offense when James Harden and Chris Paul are on the bench makes some sense (CP3 and Harden are better and more efficient shot creators than Anthony at this point). It’s a chance for Anthony to get his touches and help the other two rest. However, the idea of Anthony starting the first and third quarters and getting heavy touches then but sitting more later is not out of the question.
At the end of close games, D’Antoni is more likely to lean on James Ennis — a long, switchable defender who can shoot threes in the Trevor Ariza mold — than Anthony. It will be just a better fit. Will Anthony roll with that? Will it cause problems in the locker room?
Let’s just let it play out.
Remember when the NBA cracked down on hazing?
It was 2013, and the Miami Dolphins were in the midst of a bullying scandal. The NBA wanted to avoid similar problems.
But enforcement of the NBA’s guidelines was clearly fleeting, a temporary overreaction to the Dolphins’ issues.
By the very next season Andre Drummond and the Pistons were hazing rookie Spencer Dinwiddie.
Kristian Winfield of SB Nation:
Thankfully, Dinwiddie appears to take this in good fun. Context matters, and if the team welcomed him overall, this could be just a harmless prank.
And Dinwiddie has gotten revenge – flourishing with the Nets, including hitting a game-winner at Detroit last season.
LeBron James sent Magic Johnson an ardent happy-birthday tweet last year. Then, LeBron eventually provided the best gift imaginable – signing with Johnson’s Lakers.
I think Johnson is having a good 59th birthday today. But I can’t say for certain – because the video he posted is pixelated and has distorted audio:
That prompted Lonzo Ball to tweet:
That’d be a pretty nice gift. But I don’t think it’ll endear Ball over LeBron.
There’s reportedly friction between Jimmy Butler and his Timberwolves teammates, Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns.
It’s not hard to see why. Butler pulled himself up from the bottom and has developed an understanding of how he got here. He has shown little patience for those who don’t match his work ethic and competitiveness. The younger Wiggins and Towns are former No. 1 picks who seem too content at times.
Anyway, Butler posted this photo to Instagram:
Butler appears to be talking – almost certainly in jest – about his trainer (Chris Johnson), agent (Bernie Lee) and chef (Christian Bowman). After all, those three are behind him in the picture.
A commenter brought up Wiggins and Towns, saying Butler should lead those two, and Butler shot back:
This has gotten spun into evidence of strife in Minnesota. I don’t see it. That strikes me as a retort to the commenter, not a shot at Wiggins and Towns.
Besides, if you’re looking for evidence of the Timberwolves’ internal problems, there’s more than enough elsewhere.