Kobe Bryant

The Absolutely Dreadful NBA Playoffs

How injuries and egos ruined basketball's postseason

How injuries and egos ruined the basketball season.

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The new Bryant is as meta as ever—more a concept than a human being.

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Professional basketball’s labor negotiations have so far moved through three stages: Very public grandstanding, mean-spirited negotiations, and a series of far-flung ultimatums. We are now in the post-negotiations phase—a phase that David Stern, Comissioner of the NBA, has referred to as “nuclear”—in which each of the three parties involved has gone its own way. The NBA—for labor purposes, the team owners and Stern—have yanked their best worst offer and replaced it with one that would undo decades of uneasy cooperation.

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The sad thing about Tracy Morgan’s insights into homosexuality last week during a stand-up act—among which was that homosexuality is wrong because “God don’t make no mistakes”—is that they are part of a sad pattern. Wise people like to point to the racism lying always “just underneath” our thin American skins. Well, an equally wise observation is that a certain especially acrid brand of homophobia lies “just underneath” in too many of America’s black men. Too often, when things get a little ugly, or a little funny, or a little uncensored, out it comes.

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Yesterday I asserted that you never see ads featuring Lebron James going to the park and dunking on a bunch of kids. But a reader points out that you do see ads like this with Kobe Bryant: I guess what makes this ad work is that you never see the other team, so you don't have to feel bad for a bunch of little kids who showed up hoping to win a kiddie league championship and wound up getting destroyed by a 6'7 NBA All-Star ringer.

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[This is a guest post by Isaac Chotiner] The NBA season came to a particularly satisfying conclusion last night with the Lakers' 83-79 win over an aging Celtics squad. What could be better than seeing a Boston sports team lose, while simultaneously witnessing a completely pathetic effort from Kobe Bryant, the most unlikeable NBA star of the decade? For only the third time in 25 years, the series went seven games, and it was nice to be reminded of how exciting Game 7's are for viewers, even those who don't have a huge rooting interest in the contest.

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There are all sorts of wonderful little tidbits in the WaPo's story today about the time a North Korean teenager named "Pak Un"--who's believed to be none other than the Brilliant Comrade, Kim Jung Un--spent at a Swiss boarding school back in the late '90s. But this has to be my favorite: At his spacious apartment on Kirchstrasse, said one friend who visited, Pak Un had a room filled with American basketball paraphernalia. He proudly showed off photographs of himself standing with Toni Kukoc of the Chicago Bulls and Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers.

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Bill Simmons has the definitive piece on the 2009 NBA champs, and the team's enigmatic superstar, Kobe Bryant. Simmons is the most entertaining and insightful NBA analyst around, but lately his stuff has been unconvincing or contradictory. Still, this latest opus is a masterful summation of the Lakers' season.

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Empty Garden

On the basketball courts of New York City, there may be no truer measure of a player's stature than his nickname. If a player is considered good, then his moniker will be something straightforward: "Pee Wee" if he is short; "Lefty" if he shoots with that hand. But if a player is viewed as great, then his talent can actually inspire poetry. He will be called "Half-Man Half-Amazing" for his superhuman dunks or "Skip to My Lou" for the way he hopscotches down the court as he dribbles past hapless opponents.

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