12.16 The Cooler

The Mask of Jordan

By 12.16.09
Kobe Bryant (photo. Chris Sembrot)

Kobe Bryant (photo. Chris Sembrot)

Whether there’s any truth to it or not, Kobe Bryant has always been accused of trying to be Michael Jordan. When he chose #24, they said he was literally trying to one-up The G.O.A.T. When he plays hurt or sick, they say he’s trying to re-create the Flu Game. When he hits a game-winner, they say he swagger-jacks MJ’s celebrations. When he bares his bottom teeth, they say he’s trying to copyright his own signature “face,” since Mike already had the tongue-out thing. Last night in Chicago, Kobe didn’t have to try to be Jordan in the house that MJ built; you just couldn’t help but see the similarities. Dropping 42 points on the Bulls (25 by halftime), Kobe wasn’t perfect — he turned the ball over eight times and took some ill-advised shots in the fourth quarter — but he was good enough to remind everybody who the game’s standard-bearer is right now … Despite getting ripped by Kobe, the Bulls were actually ahead after three quarters. With Kobe on the bench to start the fourth, Shannon Brown sparked the decisive run, hitting a go-ahead three and then dunking on Brad Miller on a fast break. By the time Kobe and Pau Gasol re-entered the game with seven minutes left, the Lakers were up by seven and just needed their All-Stars to shut the door. Kobe obliged with about 40 seconds left, when he got that “There’s No Way I’m Passing” look in his eye and took John Salmons to the high post. Giving Salmons a series fakes and spins and feints, Kobe finally got free for a short left-hand jumper that was the dagger … One time Kobe tried to muscle his way through a double-team and stepped out of bounds. Arguing with the ref about it, Kobe slapped him on the ass. If that’s Joakim Noah or Taj Gibson or basically anyone who’s not a superstar laying his hand on a ref, no question he gets a technical, right? … T-Mac is back, but if you made a lengthy bathroom run last night you might have missed it. The Rockets finally activated McGrady for last night’s win over the Pistons, and Rick Adelman stuck to his word that it would be a short cameo. T-Mac checked in with 7:44 remaining in the first quarter and played until the buzzer, and that was it for him. The Houston crowd gave him a huge ovation when he came in, and exploded when he hit his only shot of the night, a three-pointer. McGrady (3 pts, 3 rebs) looks like he’s at a good weight and showed some explosiveness in one drive where he got fouled, but he was clearly suffering from not having played in a long time … Hit-and-miss night for Clyde Drexler. We love the nickname he gave Jason Maxiell: “Muscle Beach.” But on the other hand, Clyde kept saying Austin Daye was ex-NBA player Darren Daye‘s brother, when he’s actually his son … We’re not saying there aren’t attractive girls in Houston, but when the local broadcast goes for the “honey shot” in the crowd and one of the girls is a facade of makeup and hair and the other is plain ol’ ugly, that’s not a good look … D-Wade had 19 points and seven assists as the Heat 20-pieced the Raptors, while Michael Beasley went for 28 points. You knew it wasn’t Toronto’s night in the second quarter, when Marco Belinelli made a beautiful backdoor cut and got a pass right in stride, but missed a reverse layup, and then Amir Johnson‘s follow dunk popped out of the basket and dropped back in, but was waved off because Amir hung on the rim … And you knew it was Miami’s night a little later when Dorell Wright drove the lane and threw up something that was either the ugliest shot ever or the greatest pass ever, a swooping reverse-windmill thing that went off the backboard and Beasley tapped in like that was the plan all along … Other stat lines from Tuesday: LeBron had 23 points, six boards and seven dimes in Cleveland’s shocking upset win over the Nets; Steve Nash had 25 points and 13 assists, and Amar’e Stoudemire had 28 points and 14 boards as the Suns beat their former owners, the Spurs; Tim Duncan put up 34 points and 14 rebounds in the loss; Brandon Roy and LaMarcus Aldridge scored 25 apiece to beat the Kings; and Gerald Wallace posted 21 points, eight boards, five assists and four steals in Charlotte’s win over the Knicks … Question for the group: If House of Pain had known “Jump Around” would someday be played in every basketball arena in the world, would they still include the “smacking a ho” and “ain’t going out like no punk bitch” lines in the song? … We’re out like Muscle Beach …


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