The Incomparable K.
5.16 The Cooler

All Eyez on Kobe

By 05.16.09
Kobe Bryant (photo. Chris Sembrot)

Kobe Bryant (photo. Chris Sembrot)

No NBA games yesterday or today, as it’s all about prepping for Sunday’s pair of Game 7’s: Rockets at Lakers (3:30 p.m. EST, ABC) and Magic at Celtics (8 p.m. EST, TNT) … We’ll be previewing the Eastern Conference showdown in tomorrow’ Smack, so for now let’s look at the West. What should you be checking for in this all-or-nothing battle? Aaron Brooks has been the X-factor throughout the series; when the Lakers have contained him, they’ve won. When they haven’t, they’ve lost. It’s no secret by now that Derek Fisher can’t guard Brooks, but what he can do is post him up on the other end and perhaps sap some of his energy, making it easier for Jordan Farmar and/or Shannon Brown to keep up with Brooks … As the Rockets’ only legit big man, Luis Scola will have to win the battle against Pau Gasol again, and it would help if Ron Artest didn’t pick Sunday to slap up one of his 6-for-22 Captain Jack Sparrow games. Some hot shooting by Shane Battier would also be huge for Houston, as well as solid play by their energy guys like Carl Landry and Kyle Lowry … Gasol needs a big game for the Lakers. It would also help if Andrew Bynum showed up, and if Fisher and Trevor Ariza hit their open jumpers … But of course this one will be all about Kobe. You could say that this is the most important game of his post-Shaq career. Last year was the first time he’d been the undisputed leader of a championship-caliber team, but the series loss to the Celtics at least made sense. This time, from the beginning of the season, everybody was picking L.A. to cruise to the championship, and losing to the Rockets in the second round while they don’t have their two best players would be an epic fail. It’s not like Kobe has to drop 40 points; he simply has to win. If he does that, and L.A. takes care of business against Denver and whoever comes out of the East, no one will remember Kobe’s team being pushed to the brink in Round Two. But the hardest part for Kobe is that through all of this, he’s gonna have Artest and Battier on his ass like white on rice … And if you can’t get enough of Kobe on Sunday, today is the premier of Kobe Doin’ Work, the Spike Lee documentary where he basically follows Kobe’s every move for one gameday. It’s showing on ESPN at 8 p.m. EST … Wayman Tisdale passed away yesterday at age 44, another major loss for the basketball community right on the heels of Chuck Daly‘s passing. Tisdale played 12 years in the League with the Pacers, Kings and Suns and averaged 15 points per for his career, but he truly a BEAST in college. Three-time Big Eight P.O.Y. at Oklahoma, three-time All-American, gold medalist with the ’84 Olympic team, 25 points and 10 boards a night, he was basically Blake Griffin before Blake was even born. (Griffin actually asked Tisdale if he could wear his #23 at Oklahoma, and Tisdale granted him permission.) Just last month, Tisdale — who’d been dealing with cancer that caused part of his leg to be amputated — was chosen for the College Basketball Hall of Fame and was honored during a late-season OKC Thunder game. He was of course also known for his skills as a musician; he recorded eight solo albums as a jazz bass guitarist … Some front-office notes: While the Wolves appear close to hiring Tom Penn (from the Blazers) as their GM, reports are that Kevin McHale will be given the option to decide whether or not he’s coming back as head coach. And in Philly, after Tony DiLeo moved back to his job upstairs, the team interviewed Eddie Jordan for the coaching job … After considering Michigan, Nebraska and some other schools, turns out Greg Paulus is going to play football at Syracuse. Enrolling in grad school, Paulus has one season of eligibility, and has a decent shot at winning the starting quarterback job. If you weren’t aware, ‘Cuse stinks at football. Their new coach has already moved last year’s QB down to 2nd on the depth chart behind a freshman who’s never thrown a D-1 pass, and another former starting QB has been moved to tight end … Dime’s Austin Burton was in Newport Beach, Calif., this week for the launch of Nike’s Trainer 1, which you can see here. While there, AB got a few minutes for a 1-on-1 with Brandon Roy, who talks about his postseason debut, his summer workout, and what it was like being guarded by Artest and Battier for six straight games … We’re out like Syracuse football …


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