The Best of the Best of the Best Vol. VIII
This week, the best of the best becomes literal in the sense that it features one of the craftiest moves from who is arguably the best player in the league (and a damn good argument at that).
For those who have know me for a while, you know that I didn’t become a fan of Kobe Bryant the first day he put on a Lakers uniform, it actually took me a few years to warm up to dude because he was taking minutes away from my boy Eddie Jones. But as his game became more and more fundamentally sound, perfecting the little intricacies that go unnoticed to the untrained eye, but are beautiful when displayed to the knowledgeable fan. It’s those little things: always being square to the basket on his jumper, the knowledge of what the defense is trying to do, taking advantage of opportunities when they arrive and, of course, that impeccable footwork.
For me, these are the things that separate Kobe and LeBron. Kobe is a better basketball player, LeBron is a more dominant basketball player. While you may want to start your franchise with an LBJ, it’s Kobe’s attention to detail and fundamental skill you want to teach the next generation of future hoopers. This post isn’t about which of those two is better than the other, but more about how Kobe’s game is amazing to watch if you want more than just no-look passes and dunks.
For me, I watch his game because I learn from it. By no means am I ever going to ever play another meaningful basketball game again, but I do play regularly, and I do love to win. Unfortunately, my parents only gave me 5’9” of height, and I’m a measly 155 – with a fundamentally flawed jump shot, and I lost my jumping ability when I sprained both of my ankles twice within a month and a half span in high school. If you’re counting at home, that’s zero athletic ability for a black guy. However, I play like a power forward who can handle the ball.
Just the other day, my roommate (who is 5’7”) and I were playing 2-on-2 with one of the guys on my school’s basketball team and a white dude who shot lights out, both guys taller than both of us. Defensively, we were out matched, but on the offensive end, I destroyed them in the post using nothing but good post position and good footwork (the ability to use both hands helps, too). Why am I telling you this? I’m telling you this because fundamentals are more important than anything else in basketball. My roommate and I should have been completely outmatched, blown out all three games in the same way that Kobe’s career scoring average would be three to five points lower if he wasn’t fundamentally sound – which brings me to why he’s this week’s best of the best.
The following move is something we first witnessed when he abused Wilson Chandler for 61 in the Garden last season. His pump-fake, reverse pivot move is probably one of my favorite moves in basketball… ever. When he did it to Chandler, I watched it about 90 times before my boss yelled at me. After he did it to Wesley Matthews, I immediately knew that I had to post it on MTGTM. I watched this clip about 20,854 times on my computer before my final men’s league game and tried it on one of the guys during pre-game shoot around. It bounced off the backboard – the footwork was there though! So if you’re a connoisseur of great basketball, enjoy the following video.