Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The Case for Kobe

Although it gets said a lot, It’s not true, strictly speaking, that the purpose of a pro basketball team is to win a championship. We certainly want them to act as if that’s their purpose –– since it’s almost always more fun to watch a successful team play –– but in reality their purpose is to entertain.

In light of this, it’s time to gather support for bringing Kobe to Dallas, for which I have a great rally cry: Make the Regular Season Fun Again.

Last year, the Mavericks were a blast to watch in the regular season. Winning 41 of 45 games can make just about any fan giddy, even while we were all simultaneously terrified of the possible playoff disaster that became reality. This year, there will be none of that. Dallas could win 70, or 80 for that matter, and we’d all still be forced to shrug our shoulders and repeat the mantra: nothing matters till the playoffs.

And while I’m sure the local play-by-play guys will stop harping on it eventually, I live in Massachusetts. That means I only get to see nationally-televized games, where the announcers will talk about it every single time.

That got old last year, and this year it’ll be beaten into the ground with a fury we can hardly imagine.

Not to say we should give up Dirk, even if the Lakers wanted him. Kobe has never proven he can win anything by himself. But alongside another superstar, we might be looking at a different story. So I say, if the Mavericks have a chance to get Kobe and Dirk on the same team, they should give up whatever they have to in order to make it happen. That means package Howard, Harris, and Dampier if you have to. Certainly send Howard and Terry if you get the chance to keep Harris.

Getting Kobe is a great scenario for a fan: personality conflicts would likely disappear, as Kobe would suddenly turn into a great guy, like when Shaq went to Miami or TO came to Dallas. Then there’s the chance of getting to see him score 50 points several times a season, and if he ever finally exploded for 105, he’d do it as a Maverick. (This is like the Rangers getting Nolan Ryan just in time for his 6th and 7th no-hitters, his 5000th strikeout, and his 300th win.)

Can you imagine how much of a relief it will be, when the game is on the line, not to worry that Dirk will miss the big shot and disappoint us once again? Kobe can miss those all season, and at least no one will be saying it’s because he doesn’t have guts. And of course, Kobe has tons of championship experience, and he might genuinely help Dallas’ chances of winning it all some time (or 3 times) in the next few seasons.

But all that’s just gravy. Here’s the real issue: if we don’t trade for Kobe, we’re facing 82 games of the most meaningless basketball any of us can imagine. It’ll be like watching the pre-season out there. And I know we all said the same thing going into last year, but this time it’ll be for real.

Going back to where I started: basketball is supposed to be entertainment. I’m sure there will be exciting individual games, but the real fun of an NBA season comes with arguing with your friends about whether the team has what it takes to win it all, or whether your best player has a shot at MVP. If ever there have been two moot points, they are these two questions for this squad.

So unless the team crumbles early in the season and has to make a big push just to make the playoffs (which would create some drama, at least), there’s no way this group can give us what we’re really looking for. That’s November, December, January, February, March, and April we have to sit through, and I’m not really prepared to do that.

So let’s hear it: Bryant for a Brighter 82.


Ryan B said...

I haven't kept up with the Kobe trade talks and the possiblity of him coming to the Mavericks (or anything having to do with the Mavs or NBA, for that matter) but I seriously doubt that Cuban or Avery would be willing to blow up the team to get him. Not that I don't think it would be worth it, I would love to have Kobe and Dirk on the same team, but I just don't think the front office will do it. I think I've heard Avery talk about how he thinks the team we have is good enough to win. Honestly, I still think we would have won last year too if we didn't have to play Goldern State. But, it would be entertaining for the regular season to have Kobe on the team.

But, I don't worry about it too much. The NFL is more exciting right now to me, with the Cowboys doing so well and a great team like the Patriots around, I am occupied with watching football until the end of January. So, for me, the only two months I have to watch boring basketball is perhaps February and April. March is March Madness, so I can take a break then. Other than that, I will be happy to wait for the playoffs to roll around. So, if no Kobe deal, then I am not too worried.

Justin Burton said...

I don't think you really want Kobe.

He's getting older. I mean, sure, he's only 29 now, but he's an old 29. Consider the fact that he's been in the league since '96, playing significant minutes since '98, played through four long postseasons in five years from 2000-2004, and has been the unbalanced offensive and defensive contributer to his team for the last three seasons, and you've got yourself a guy with not much left in the tank.

Sure, he conditions well and he's driven, but he's got the mileage of a 34-year-old, and he can't outrun time for long.

If he goes this year, he and Dirk won't win a championship. The Spurs and Suns are impressive, well-oiled machines, so the Mavs' gelling period won't put them in contention yet. And beyond this year, I think we start to see Kobe missing 20 games per season from injuries to his overused body.


Of course, I don't really believe any of that. I think he has three or four years of being a top-3 NBA player left in him, and the thought of him winning a championship in a different uniform makes me feel sick. He's the most exciting player from night to night, and I like him being on my team, thanks very much. Hands off.


On the other hand, the Lakers aren't going anywhere. A starting five of Dampier, Odom, Walton, Terry, and Harris is intriguing. It would mean that the team is a little lean and a bit unexciting for a couple of seasons, but in LA, the next great era is always a big-name free agent who wants exposure in a laid back climate away.


I'm confused, but I suppose that's okay when posting on the blog of a guy who's pushing for a more exciting regular season a few months after swearing off the regular season...

Ryan Binkley said...

Good point. If Dallas gives up youth like Harris and Howard for Kobe, they'd better get a championship within the next year or two or otherwise they'll regret it, because Kobe probably is going to have health problems and won't be in his prime.

scoots said...

justin wrote: I'm confused, but I suppose that's okay when posting on the blog of a guy who's pushing for a more exciting regular season a few months after swearing off the regular season...

Hmm, hard to get out of this one. My brother and I got tickets to LeBron playing in Dallas the week after Christmas, so I figure I have to care at least a little bit.

scoots said... says the Lakes want the Bulls to give them Luol Deng, Ben Gordon, Tyrus Thomas and Joakim Noah for Bryant. If you’re gonna lose Kobe, I think that group would make a pretty good consolation, but then the story says that the Bulls aren’t willing to do it, and even if they were, Kobe’s not willing to play for the Bulls if their roster is gutted like that.

Once you adjust that offer to something the Bulls and Kobe would both agree to, it does sound like Terry-Howard-Dampier (or maybe Harris-Howard-Dampier) is at least in the right ball-park. Still, Chris Sheridan thinks Kobe will go to Chicago if anywhere, and it’s hard to shake the feeling he’s right.

I’m not saying it’s the end of the world if we don’t get Kobe. Just one really meaningless regular season.

micah said...

Right now, I say "no" to Kobe. I am just so used to hating him. He seems like a jerk. But if we actually get him. I'll probably start to like him a lot more.

Jeremy said...

' reality their purpose is to entertain."

Wrong. The purpose of a pro basketball team is to make money for its owners. If entertaining basketball were more profitable than winning basketball, every team would play like the Harlem Globetrotters.