There are some great athletes in the NBA. The Miami Heat has LeBron James and Dwayne Wade. The Oklahoma City Thunder has Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. These are great players who are dedicated to winning. The Lakers have Kobe Bryant and . . . Kobe Bryant. He is standing practically alone; against the hordes that are coming for the NBA Championship Trophy. He is in the doorway with a sword in his right hand, and the Trophy in the other.
Opponents are coming after him in wave after wave. He is bone weary, but he is standing tall. All of them are coming, because they know they have to, and they know that he will not yield. Not today. Not ever.
Even as he battles with all of his strength and might, some part of his brain has to realize that this is not his year. His sidekicks are old or uncertain, and their leader is intellectually overwhelmed. Yet, he fights on, because that is who he is, and this is what he does. He absolutely refuses to go willingly into that great night.
The awful reality is that try as he might, Bryant will never win another championship ring. The universe has aligned itself against him, and it is just not possible. Standing in his way are the Heat, Thunder, Spurs, Nuggets, Jazz, Pacers, and possibly even the Knicks. As great and as determined as he is, the task before him is simply too great.
He does have two sidekicks, Metta World Peace and Steve Nash, who will give their all for the cause. The problems here are that World Peace is not always where he thinks he is, and that he may not be young enough to do what is required. Dwight Howard, bless his muscular physique, does not have the mental focus and determination to give Bryant the help that he needs. He may look like Superman, but he plays basketball like Clark Kent.
Bryant will continue to fight hard, because that is who he is and what he does. However, in the end, it won't be enough. Unfortunately, next year does not look any better. So, to the Fans I say, please watch Bryant work and enjoy watching him do what he does. You are not ever likely to see anyone else who is as good.
USC hired Pat Haden. They thought they were getting an Athletic Director, but what they actually got is a great Radio Broadcaster. It seems that every time I turn the radio on, I hear him extolling the academic and athletic accomplishments of some USC athlete. The football program is in distress, the men's and women's basketball teams and the baseball team are absolute disasters. Yet, Haden continues to broadcast, as if there is no tomorrow.
Into the darkness of the mediocrity that USC has become, a light has begun to flicker. It originates with Bob Cantu, who is currently coaching the men's basketball team. Cantu got the job, because after nearly 3 years of utter frustration and broadcasting, Haden roused himself and fired the hapless Kevin O'Neil. The Trojans have a winning record under his leadership, and there is a strong possibility that they may win their last two scheduled games, and give a good account of themselves in the Pac-12 Tournament. The team is playing with renewed confidence, and Cantu behaves and looks like a coach who is ready for the big time.
So, just as things are getting better, we learned that the Broadcaster is discussing the coaching job with former USC head coach, Tim Floyd. While Floyd is a good man who had reasonable success when he was the head coach, he just did not seem to be a good fit for USC. He was usually on the sidelines in his shirtsleeves, with his collar open. You could tell that he was working, and working hard. Cantu, on the other hand is usually impeccably dressed in a business suit. He has a calm demeanor, and he appears to be as cool as a cucumber in a bucket of ice water.
If Haden is not careful, some other college will make Cantu an offer that he cannot refuse. Then, that leaves us with the possibility that he would go to another school, and become Coach of the Century. Stranger things have happened.
Who would have believed that Dennis Rodman would ever go to North Korea? Well, that is what he did. He met the Leader of that country, and the two of them attended a basketball game together. I'm not making this stuff up. During their conversation, he told Rodman that his country does not want to go to war. He also told Rodman to ask President Obama to give him a call. The Administration promptly issued a statement saying that there were proper channels for this kind of communication. I disagree with that approach. I think that the President should be willing to talk to any Leader, who has the potential to become either a friend or a foe. Maybe the two of them could attend a basketball game together.