Many have already talked about how the Lakers and Celtics have taken two different paths to the Big Show. It’s more than just a West Coast/East Coast thang, or offense versus defense. It’s also about the psychological effects they’ve left on those in their wake. Kobe, the self-proclaimed Black Mamba, has been an unstoppable force since Game 5 in the first round against the Thunder (by the way, I kinda love self-proclaimed nicknames. They should be totally illegal, but I find it so humorous that someone would decide to make up their own nickname that I loooove to ironically call them that. Thus I’m thrilled that Sasha Vujacic’s started getting playing time so I can yell out “The Machiiiiiiine” every time he touches the ball. Of course the true irony is that I’ve now used the Black Mamba tag so much that it no longer seems ironic to me when it comes out of my mouth. …Wait, what am I talking about? Oh yeah, Celts/Lakes.)
When Kobe defeats you, he makes insane shots, leaving you thinking he’s just in another class. The classic exchange between Kobe and Phoenix Suns’ coach Alvin Gentry highlights this: Grant Hill was covering Kobe on the sideline right by Gentry. Hill was all over him, but Kobe hit the shot anyway. Gentry called to Hill, “Good defense.” Kobe playfully tapped Gentry on the back and said, “Not good enough.” When you lose games like that, you can’t feel bad. You did everything you could. You forced your opponent into a crazy hard shot, and somehow he hit ‘em. And not just once, but over and over. If it was a single time, you could feel it was lucky, but since we’ve all seen the Black Mamba do it over and over, we know it’s ‘cuz he’s just that good. As a result, to some extent you can exit the game feeling somewhat okay you lost because you’re convinced that the other team was simply better. You didn’t mess up; Kobe just plays on another level.
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Topics: Alvin Gentry, Black Mamba, Boston Celtics, Derek Fisher, Dwight Howard, Grant Hill, Kendrick Perkins, Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers, Orlando Magic, Paul Pierce, Phoenix Suns, Rajon Rondo, Sasha Vujacic, Steve Nash