Turns out the people of Denver still haven't forgiven Kobe Bryant, at least not Mark Kiszla.
Bryant scored 30 points last night (despite missing eight minutes due to foul trouble) and led what almost amounted to one of the greatest comebacks in NBA Finals history, yet Kiszla's Denver Post headline indicates that Bryant failed.
That headline turned out to be a prelude to a masked bashing of the greatest player on the planet.
Kiszla couldn't disagree more though, what with his apparent ranking of Bryant as the fourth-most valuable player in the league: "While there were probably more deserving candidates from among New Orleans guard Chris Paul, Boston forward Kevin Garnett and LeBron James of Cleveland, this season's MVP award was given to Bryant, apparently in recognition for finally reaching maturity at age 29."
Give me a break. (Personally my MVP ballot would have read: 1. Kevin Garnett 1-A. Kobe Bryant 3. Chris Paul 4. Tim Duncan 5. LeBron James.) But how can you honestly put Kobe anywhere outside of the top two, or even three players? And questioning his maturity? There's a big difference between being highly-competitive and simply immature (an unfortunate, but not overbearing facet of most competitive people.)
Here's another favorite line of mine: "Bryant did score 30 points in Game 2, but is shooting an unremarkable 41 percent from the field in the series."
Sooo, you're criticizing his field goal percentage "in the series," so far -- a series that is only TWO games long? That's a reach that Inspector Gadget couldn't even make.
And one final dig that made absolutely no sense: "But the league MVP never got a meaningful touch of the basketball again while the Lakers desperately searched for a way to steal a victory during the last precious ticks on the scoreboard clock."
Well no kidding, Mark. You're completely correct, the league MVP should have the ball in his hands at the end of a close game, but you have to blame Sasha Vujacic for shooting a hybrid fadeaway-side-shuffling-off-balance-desperation 3 as Kobe stood open on the right wing.
Did Bryant grimace at his teammate for taking the shot? Of course he did, but not before going in for a rebound looking more possessed than Arnold Schwarzenegger in End of Days.
Bryant scored nine of LA's last 15 points -- all in the final 2:53 -- and had 13 points and five assists in the fourth quarter. If that's not doing his part to help the team win, if that's failure, then LeBron was a failure when he scored 45 points in a game 7 loss to Boston on May 18.
OK, so Kobe's not perfect. But neither is the Pope. It would be nice if the analysis of his performance this postseason was not only objective, but inspired purely by his play on the court, instead of his foreplay in the past.