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Ryan Greyslak
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Sixers Fan

Suns' Zoran Dragic playing without regrets posted by Sixers Fan

With the game already put away and the Pheonix Suns looking at a loss to the Los Angeles Clippers, rookie Zoran Dragic came into the game amounting to a missed 3-pointer and a couple sprints up and back on the Staples Center floor last month.

That is all most people have seen of Suns rookie Zoran Dragic, who has spent nearly the entire season on the inactive list except for that two-minute cameo in mop-up duty against the Clippers.

It’s not necessarily surprising given that he is a rookie. In fact it was expected but perhaps not to Zoran, younger brother of Sun Goran Dragic, who played for ten years as a pro and starting for their national team on the way to the World Cup quarterfinals last summer.

Yet Zoran is keeping a positive attitude about the whole thing, or at least that’s what he’s telling himself and reporters. He says he has no regrets about negotiating a buyout from Spanish club Unicaja Malaga to come to the NBA, even if it means not seeing the floor and being relegated to developing through individual work and rare practices.

"I know it's my rookie year and that's how it is," Zoran said. "I must be patient and practice hard. When I get an opportunity, I need to show what I have.

"I am happy. Everybody basketball player's dream is to come to the NBA but my dream was to come here and stay in the NBA."

Zoran's first two weeks in the NBA were difficult. He came to the U.S. on the weekend before training camp and had to leave the country later to get a work visa. He was having difficulty adjusting to the culture and the league but living with his brother helped smooth the process.

Continue reading "Suns' Zoran Dragic playing without regrets"

Mavericks Fan

Turnovers catch up to Mavs in loss at Phoenix posted by Mavericks Fan

Carelessness with the ball and poor defense Tuesday night cost the Dallas Mavericks any chance they had at dethroning the Phoenix Suns.

Phoenix turned 20 Dallas turnovers into 28 points en route to subduing the Mavs 124-115 before a sellout crowd of 18,055 at US Airways Center.

This is just the second time all season the Mavs have lost more than one game in a row as their record fell to 20-10. Back on Nov. 22 and Nov. 24, the Mavs were upended in consecutive games by Houston (95-92) and Indiana (111-100).

Prior to hopping on a plane for Tuesday’s game, the Mavs lost at home Monday night to the Atlanta Hawks (105-102). And they didn’t fare much better against the streaky Suns, who converted 13 of 33 shots from behind the 3-point arc and always seemed to pull a 3-pointer out of the bag whenever the Mavs thought about inching closer.

 “Just too many [turnovers] early in the game,” coach Rick Carlisle said. ‘We got off to a pretty good start in a quarter-and-a-half, and the turnovers caught up with us.

“And we’re just struggling to defend. We’ve just got to do a better job of it.”

The Mavs battled to within nine with approximately two minutes left. But by then the Suns had put so much separation between themselves and Dallas that this one wasn’t going to end well.

In falling to 5-2 on the second night of a back-to-back, the Mavs are now 0-2 in the Rajon Rondo Era.

All things considered, Dallas actually was negotiating this second leg of a back-to-back pretty smoothly at the beginning. Behind Tyson Chandler and Rondo, the Mavs raced out to a 39-30 lead with 6:05 remaining in the first half.

Continue reading "Turnovers catch up to Mavs in loss at Phoenix"

Suns Fan

2014 Phoenix Suns Preseason Report posted by Suns Fan

Phoenix Suns were supposed to be in their downward spiral in 2013-14 season, but they managed to be the best team amongst teams that did not reach the playoffs. Ryan McDonough, the new general manager, before the starting of the season, gave up veterans, Luis Scola, Jared Dudley, and Macin Gortat, in trade. However, the new inclusions coexisted quite well, and Jeff Hornacek, the rookie coach, freed Bledsoe and Dragic for making plays and pushing the pace. Good comebacks were Gerald Green and Channing Frye, but when Bledsoe was injured, everything seemed bleak. However, Dragic came to the rescue by raising his game considerably. The Suns ended the season with a record of 48-34.

For the 2014-15 season, Ryan McDonough wants to bring back fast-paced offense with a lot of aggression, and build a team that can handle both the floor ends. In the previous draft, Phoenix selected Archie Goodwin and Alex Len, who are athletic and known for their two-way skills. With several picks in the current draft, Phoenix Suns select would be Alec Brown, Bogdan Bogdanovic, Tyler Ennis, and T.J. Warren. Ennis could be an upgrade from Ish Smith, as he is quite fluid, with a great handle. Even though he is not considered fast or athletic, Ennis makes up by this fast direction changes and quick bursts.

However, Phoenix Suns seemed to have passed certain players that could have fitted better into the system, such as Patric Young, K.J. McDaniels, Andreian Payne, and Garry Harris. Secondly, Goran Dragic, who is the best offense, might be more susceptible to injuries this season, as he has not rested at all. The Suns strategy seems to have shifted from two-way highly athletic players to prospects that can bring in skills and depth. The focus seems to be on intensifying and expanding, and the team seems to be satisfied with the existing athleticism.

Continue reading "2014 Phoenix Suns Preseason Report"


Parker has no desire to transfer to other NBA teams posted by nbaball

The starting pointguard of the San Antonio Spurs has categorically denied persistent report that he had the desire to transfer to other National Basketball Association (NBA) teams.
Tony Parker told the media that there is no truth to the report since his heart belongs to the Spurs and he wants to stay with the team for many years to come.
Parker said he had a house in San Antonio and had no intention at the moment to move to other NBA teams other than the Spurs.
He revealed that he has confidence that a suitable agreement will be reached between him and the Spurs so that he will remain with the team for many years to come.
To show his desire to remain with the Spurs, Parker has decided to skip the World's Basketball Championship slated on August 28 to September 12 in Istambul, Turkey.
The superstar pointguard said he decided to forego his chance to play for France in the global basketball event to help the Spurs in the next NBA season by keeping himself from injury.
The 27-year-old pointguard had been a vital factor for the success of the Spurs the past 10 years wherein he won championship with the ball club.
Parker is very significant for the Spurs management since he do not only orchestrate plays but also contribute and offense and defense as well.
The Spurs was earlier defeated by the red-hot Phoenix Suns 4-0 in their best of seven NBA second round playoff match-up.
The French pointguard and the rest of the Spurs roster tried their very best to inflict defeat to the Suns but their effort were futile as the Suns proved hotter in the end.
Continue reading "Parker has no desire to transfer ..."

Micky Deming

posted by Micky Deming

Take a deep breath. Focus with me. This whole Lebron/Celtics thing was a crazy mess. I don’t know what to think of it, you don’t know what to think of it, nobody knows what is going on. It’s times like this where I like to recharge the batteries, shut down the engines and get back to neutral. 2:20 of this video

I understand why this is such a circus. I don’t even need to discuss all of the reasons why there is so much talk about Lebron and the Cavs right now. However, the amount we’re all hearing about him is absolutely absurd. Everyone and their brother is giving a guess on where he’ll play next year. My question is, “Who cares?” Nobody has the answer, these are all just guesses, and I’m sick of hearing about it now, when this same conversation is going to be happening all summer.

Meanwhile, the Conference Finals are about to start and there is plenty to look forward to. Reigning two-time MVP Lebron James won’t be joining the fun in the playoffs, but guess who will: the 2004, 05, 06 and 08 MVPs (Garnett, Nash twice, Kobe). Also the 08 and 09 champs and every team that played in the finals those two years.

Can we please put the Lebron shenanigans behind us for a month and enjoy what’s left of these playoffs? These two Conference Finals are great series, and as NBA fans we should be talking about how Boston took the Magic to 7 games last year without KG. And about Dwight Howard and Steve Nash looking for their first titles. Or the Lakers trying to defend their title – I never thought I’d say Kobe wasn’t getting enough attention from the media, but he’s going for his 5th ring and Phil Jackson his 11th.

Continue reading ""

Ryan Greyslak

The Sacramento Kings are the latest team rumored to be in the hunt for the Phoenix Suns Amare Stoudemire posted by Ryan Greyslak

The latest rumor according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports has the Sacramento Kings discussing a trade with the Phoenix Suns for their All-Star Forward Amare Stoudemire centered on a returning piece of Kevin Martin. The Sacramento Kings would be an interesting trade partner with the Suns and have the ability to offer young talent, draft picks, and ending contracts, all of which the Suns reportedly want back for Stoudemire.


The main piece in this trade involves Stoudemire and The Kings Kevin Martin. There are no other issues discussed regarding this trade but it would probably look something like this…


Phoenix Suns trade:

Amare Stoudemire


Sacramento Kings trade:

Kevin Martin 4 years 9.7 million

Jason Thompson 2 years 2 million

Hilton Armstrong 1 year 2.8 million

Unprotected first round draft pick


Kevin Martin has all-star potential but is consistently injured and because of this has missed many games over the past few seasons. He is a great shooter and could thrive in a situation where a good point guard created open shots for him. However he is not a great defender or rebounder and is still owed a considerable amount of money over the next 4 years. (Kind of like an Amare at the Sg position, can put up points but don't expect much else on a consistent basis) The Suns would really be biting the bullet taking on Martin and would not help their lack of defensive toughness. His contract and injury history is enough to scare most away.

Continue reading "The Sacramento Kings are the latest ..."


Hawks soaring high on new NBA season posted by nbahawks

The Atlanta Hawks is creating a lot of buzz in the new season of the National Basketball Association.Despite their less stellar lineup, the Hawks is on top of the leader-board in the young season of the premier professional basketball league in the planet. The Hawks is currently sporting an impressive 11-2 record after they defeated the Houston Rockets 105-103 Friday night.High flying Hawks power forward Josh Smith played hero for the top team in the NBA by scoring on a put back from a miss by Hawks top point guard Mike Bibby with 0.7 seconds remaining. Marvin Williams, the starting small forward of the Hawks top scored for the team with 29 points to help defeat the Rockets, one of the top teams in the NBA Western Conference.The recent victory of the Hawks is remarkable since the Rockets are on the verge of defeating the team and hand them their third loss but the impressive play of Smith saved the youth laden ball club to escaped with a victory. Prior to his game winning shot, Smith stayed mostly from the bench due to foul trouble but he was able to returned in the waning moments of the game and lead his team to victory.The strong and impressive plays of the Hawks is getting huge praise from basketball fans and experts. During the off-season, the Hawks is not among the top contenders for the NBA crown this season due to their less star studded roster. However, despite the lack of big named players in its lineup, the Hawks still showed class and impressive talent to defeat 11 teams so far.Aside from the strong plays of its veteran players Smith, Bibby and Joe Johnson, the Hawks also get huge contribution from newly acquired NBA veteran Jamal Crawford who contribute in both offence and defence for the team. Aside from the Hawks, the run and gun Phoenix Suns is also playing good this NBA season. NBA superstars point-guard Steve Nash and power forward Amare Stoudamire are playing well to lead the Suns to an impressive record in the NBA.Fans of Hawks team can buy the tickets to watch the NBA game live.

Continue reading "Hawks soaring high on new NBA season"

Scott Shepherd

Great TNT Double-Header Tonight posted by Scott Shepherd

The NBA league pass is awesome, but nothing beats a good TNT double-header.

Tonight, we get a great TNT double-header.

The night starts off with Cleveland at Miami. I’ve written this before, but LeBron vs. Wade is the best head-to-head matchup to watch in the NBA right now. These guys always bring out the best in each other.

In 19 career games against each other, LeBron is averaging 28.6 points per game, 5.6 rebounds, 7.7 assists and 1.2 steals. Wade is averaging 27.2 points per game, 5.4 rebounds, 6.8 assists, and 2.4 steals.

In seven of the last nine meetings, at least one of the two has dropped for at least 30. Twice in that span has each player scored 40 in the same game.

With Miami having only one loss so far this season, and Cleveland coming off a big win against the Magic, I would expect nothing less than a shootout tonight. I expect both superstars put their respective teams of their back and play out what, hopefully, is a very entertaining game to watch.

In the late game, the Suns make their way to the Staples Center to play the Lakers. It’s a battle for first place, and hopefully it reignites what was not too long ago a pretty intense little rivalry.

I couldn’t be happier that the Suns are 8-1 and have the best record in the league. Make no mistake, I hate the Suns. With a capitol “H”.

I hate Steve Nash; I hate the :07 seconds or less offense; I hate their owner; I hate their uniforms: I hate their mascot.

But I love the fact that after this hot start I keep reading things like, “The Suns are back!!”

Continue reading "Great TNT Double-Header Tonight"

Chase Hughes

How Can the Washington Wizards Improve to Contender Status? posted by Chase Hughes

Last night I was listening to an interview with former NBA head coach P.J. Carlesimo on 106.7 The Fan.  He was commenting on the opening days of the NBA regular season, specifically about the Eastern Conference and his thoughts on who were the better teams.  Not surprisingly he named the top three teams as the “factors,” those being Cleveland, Boston, and Orlando.  He said that there are not any teams even close to those three but on the outside looking in is the Washington Wizards.  The Wizards were the only team he mentioned as the fourth best team and he said this about three times.  These comments got me thinking about what the Wizards need to do this regular season to take the next step and breach that label, in what areas can they improve to develop into the fourth Eastern Conference power? 
First of all, this piece is not in discussion of anything to do with the playoffs, I am not assuming that the Wizards are clearly the fourth best team or that they will even make the playoffs at all.  What I am saying is that the Wiz are in that second tier bunch that follows the top three, which in my opinion also includes the Toronto Raptors, Atlanta Hawks, and the Philadelphia 76’ers (3rd tier: MIA, CHI, NJ, DET).  Carlesimo added that this is the way the East is presently, that come December we could be talking about another team that has emerged or perhaps a top team will regress and make way for one that is on the brink.  We know that this is Gilbert Arenas’ team but what pieces need to fall into place for Washington to make that jump?  I offer several possibilities, some more plausible than others for how the Wizards can materialize into a contender:

Continue reading "How Can the Washington Wizards Improve ..."

Ryan Greyslak

The Phoenix Suns are NOT the worst defensive team in the NBA posted by Ryan Greyslak

The Phoenix Suns are not the worst defensive team in the NBA.

In a recent article released by Dime Magazine they claimed the Suns were the worst defensive team in the NBA.

It is not a fair assumption to call the Suns out as the worst defensive team in the NBA next season. They never have been known for their defensive ability as a team but have been slowly putting pieces in place that will play defense. Some of the Suns younger players might actually become strong defenders in the league over the next couple of years.

There have always been the open holes defensively on the Suns roster. One of the biggest is Steve Nash, he gets substantially worse defensively each year and every point guard in the league gets giddy at the thought of going head to head with him. He can’t stop anybody off the dribble but has always been good at getting where he needs to be on the court to take the charge. Jason Richardson should be traded so Leandro Barbosa can start. He has never been a good defender and doesn’t really show the drive to become any better. Grant Hill is not getting any younger and Channing Frye has never showed the potential to be a strong defender. Even with some of these players on their roster it is not enough for them to already be considered the worst defensive team in the NBA. 

They have several young players and a few wild cards on the team this year that could put forth a strong defensive effort for the team this year.

Goran Dragic looked great in euro league play this summer. He is a quick physical defender that just needs to continue to build more confidence. Nash will need a lot of rest to stay healthy this season and Dragic could benefit greatly from that if he can step up. There is a strong chance that you will see a great improvement in Dragic this season.

Continue reading "The Phoenix Suns are NOT the worst ..."

Phoenix Suns News

View All Phoenix Suns News

Phoenix mayor wants shared arena for Suns, Coyotes (Yahoo Sports)

Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton is pushing for a downtown arena shared by the NHL's Arizona Coyotes and NBA's Phoenix Suns. Stanton advocated the shared arena during his state of the city address on Tuesday, adding that funding for it would come from Maricopa County's existing sports facilities fund and not new taxes. The Suns have played at what is now called Talking Stick Arena since 1992, but have expressed desire to play in a new facility. [read full article]

From Yahoo Sports

Suns remove 'interim' tag, retain Earl Watson as coach (Yahoo Sports)

[read full article]

From Yahoo Sports

Suns remove 'interim'tag, retain Earl Watson as coach

PHOENIX (AP) The Phoenix Suns are retaining Earl Watson as head coach for next season. [read full article]

From FOX Sports Digital

After awful season, Suns may well retain Watson as coach

PHOENIX (AP) For the sixth season in a row, the Phoenix Suns did not make the playoffs. [read full article]

From FOX Sports Digital

The Mamba in flight: A Kobe Bryant Dunk History retrospective (Ball Don't Lie)

In each of the last two offseasons, we here at Ball Don't Lie have whiled away some late-summer moments by turning our attention to the past, recalling some of the most scintillating slams of yesteryear, the most thunderous throwdowns ever to sear themselves into our memories. We call this Dunk History . Today, on the occasion of his impending retirement after 20 years with the Los Angeles Lakers, Dan Devine presents a special installment celebrating the NBA dunking life of one Kobe Bean Bryant. [ Follow Dunks Don't Lie on Tumblr:  The best slams from all of basketball] There's been a tendency, in the latter days of his career, to label most every good thing Kobe Bryant does as "vintage." A "vintage" deep 3 . A "vintage" fadeaway . "Vintage" footwork . A "vintage" start to his final game in Philly that (in his mind, at least) raised the specter of  "an 81 situation." Perhaps this is to be expected. For one thing, the list of amazing moves Kobe pulled off during his first 17 seasons, before the Achilles tear that marked the beginning of the end (or maybe just the end ), is so long and rich that anything cool he does now immediately triggers memories of, and comparisons to, everything cool that came before. For another, he tried to nickname himself "Vino," and if we weren't going to go along with that — and we certainy weren't — then I suppose there are worse compromises than leaning hard on "vintage." Still, I've found myself a bit bugged by one category of classification: the "vintage" Kobe dunk. Yes, Kobe got Clint Capela . Yes, Kobe alley-ooped on the Kings . Yes, Kobe put one down on the break against the Celtics . Yes, any dunking done by a 37-year-old who survived a ruptured Achilles, a broken left knee and a torn right rotator cuff deserves praise. Even so, calling these "vintage" Kobe dunks damns with faint praise the ones he used to unleash. Kobe bombed on dudes. Kobe soared, and savaged, and sneered. Kobe climbed mountains because they were there, reduced them to rubble because he could, and kicked whatever rocks remaining on his way to the next monument. Vintage Kobe dunks — no scare-quotes needed — were breathtaking and dope. Let's watch some. *** • Oct. 22, 1997 : Kobe vs. Ben Wallace • Dec. 25, 1999 : Kobe vs. Jaren Jackson • Dec. 5, 2000 : Kobe vs. the Philadelphia 76ers • June 5, 2002 : Kobe vs. Todd MacCulloch • Feb. 6, 2003 : Kobe vs. Latrell Sprewell and all who would claim ownership of Madison Square Garden • Feb. 18, 2003 : Kobe vs. Yao Ming • April 15, 2003 : Kobe vs. Vincent Yarbrough • April 29, 2003 : Kobe vs. Kevin Garnett and the Minnesota Timberwolves • Nov. 12, 2004 : Kobe vs. Dwight Howard • Dec. 16, 2004 : Kobe vs. Doug Christie • April 26, 2006 : Kobe vs. Steve Nash • April 11, 2008 : Kobe vs. the New Orleans Hornets • April 26, 2011 : Kobe vs. Emeka Okafor and Carl Landry • Feb. 5, 2013 : Kobe vs. Gerald Wallace and Kris Humphries • March 3, 2013 : Kobe vs. Josh Smith • Feb. 8, 1997 : Kobe vs. the Slam Dunk Contest *** Oct. 22, 1997: Kobe vs. Ben Wallace After a rookie year that showed the tantalizing talent that led Jerry West to move heaven, earth and Vlade Divac to snare him, but ended with four painful air balls that suggested an 18-year-old wasn't quite prepared for the big moments, Bryant was determined to prove he was ready for prime time. You can't really do that in preseason, but you can drop a tight teaser trailer, which is exactly what Kobe did by shaking Jimmy Oliver with a right-to-left crossover, taking flight from the dotted line, putting his right knee into the chest of the nearest help defender — who just so happened to be a future four-time Defensive Player of the Year — and Dhalsiming his right arm rimward. We were all Ben Wallace, wondering what the hell had just hit us. We were all the Lakers' bench, wondering if this teenager had really just Lister Blistered a dude in  preseason . We were all Chick Hearn, letting out an involuntary "wooo!" and wondering just how high this sophomore might rise next time. (For more on Kobe clocking Big Ben, I heartily recommend  Marcus Vanderberg's 2014 Dunk History post .) Dec. 25, 1999: Kobe vs. Jaren Jackson Kobe missed the first 15 games of the 1999-2000 season recovering from a broken right hand, suffered while fighting for a rebound during a preseason game against the Wizards . (Somewhere, a distant relative of Ben Wallace just whistled a few bars of "Instant Karma!" ) Under newly hired head coach Phil Jackson and behind behemoth center Shaquille O'Neal, the Lakers had managed an 11-4 start in Kobe's absence, but hit a new gear after his return, winning 11 of 12 heading into their marquee Christmas Day matchup with a San Antonio Spurs team that swept L.A. in the '99 Western semis en route to its first NBA championship. The Lakers had the NBA's record, 3 1/2 games better than the Spurs, and they wanted to send a message. They did. It read as follows: "Shaq's on a mission, Kobe's back, his hand works again, he's murder on the break, so watch your freaking head." It was a pretty detailed message. The dunk gave the Lakers a seven-point lead they wouldn't give up. They'd go on to win that game, and 44 more, on their way to the first title of a new Laker dynasty. Dec. 5, 2000: Kobe vs. the Philadelphia 76ers Lose Allen Iverson on the backcut off the right block, jump from the right side of the basket underneath the hoop to corral a lob that wound up to the left of the square, turn your body in mid-air to box out a late-rotating Tyrone Hill, catch the ball in your right hand and a forearm in your lower back, finish through the contact, come down calmly and flex on 'em. It's a near-perfect encapsulation of the athleticism, strength, artistry, elegance and snarl that so defined young Kobe. That night, after Bryant hung 36 on Philly in an 11-point win , Los Angeles Times columnist T.J. Simers called it "maybe the most spectacular play he has ever made." I'm with you, Brian Shaw. June 5, 2002: Kobe vs. Todd MacCulloch It's Game 1 of the 2002 NBA Finals, and the Lakers — winners of two straight NBA championships, now vying for a three-peat amid plenty of now-infamous in-house acrimony among Shaq, Kobe and Phil after barely surviving a seven-game slugfest with the rival Sacramento Kings — are pretty comfortably batting around the Eastern Conference champion New Jersey Nets like a tabby does a catnip-stuffed toy mouse. After L.A. builds a 23-point first-half lead and reaches cruising altitude, the Nets start causing some turbulence, with a pair of Keith Van Horn triples cutting the deficit to 10 points at 54-44. NBC color commentator Bill Walton says Van Horn is "starting to take matters into his own hands." On the very next play, Bryant does that atop the melon of the 7-foot fightin' pride of Winnipeg, Manitoba, offering a terse rejoinder suggesting that, no, this is what taking matters into your own hands looks like. "Oh my gosh ," Walton says. It was Shaq who carried the day, dominating the Nets' overmatched centers to the tune of 36 points (20 coming after halftime) and 16 rebounds to stake the Lakers to a 1-0 lead. But it was Kobe's crushing of MacCulloch that lived on in the collective memory, even inspiring an NBA Finals ad 11 years later: MacCulloch finished with 10 points and eight rebounds in that loss. There's a highlight video lauding his positive contributions. In nearly three years, it has received 719 views. The lesson, as always: history is written by the winners, especially those who do dope stuff on the road to victory. Feb. 6, 2003: Kobe vs. Latrell Sprewell and all who would claim ownership of Madison Square Garden Now, this is the vintage footwork. Pushed off the right block, back to the basket from two steps inside the arc, turn into the pressure to face up. Pump, jab-step right to create space, beat Spree — who, many moons ago, made an All-Defensive Team — to the baseline. Just like that, it's over. On one hand, you're screaming for Allan Houston or Charlie Ward or somebody, anybody , to help. On the other, can you blame them for wanting to just watch this up-and-under windmill happen? I mean, how often do you get to be on the horizon as the sun sets? Other favorite things about this include: • Kevin Harlan blessing the blow-by reverse with the "WITH NO REGARD FOR HUMAN LIFE" tag; • Literal giggling as completely appropriate and factually accurate color commentary; • That this was the beginning of Kobe's nine-game streak of 40-plus-point nights, still the longest such run since Michael Jordan in 1986 ; • That 46 points in 41 minutes isn't even close to the most murderous performance that Kobe would turn in at the World's Most Famous Arena. Feb. 18, 2003: Kobe vs. Yao Ming Less than two weeks after detonating at MSG, Kobe remained red hot and rampaging, putting up points in bunches to prove beyond all doubt that he was at the peak of his offensive powers. That's not to say that he didn't have help from his friends — Rick Fox deserved an assist for that screen on James Posey, who got precious little help from Cuttino Mobley — but if you're looking for a metaphor for the ways in which Winter 2003 Kobe stood astride the basketball world like a conquering Colossus, you could do worse than watching him dunk straight through and on top of a 7-foot-6 international phenomenon (who, by the way, more than held his own in this one, putting up 24 points, 14 rebounds, three assists and a block in 40 minutes before fouling out in a seven-point overtime loss ). More than a decade later — thanks in large part to years and years of marketing and promotional visits, the many commercials , the exhibition explosions , the reality shows and charitable giving , and everything else — Kobe remains one of the most beloved athletes in China, the kind of megawatt superstar who inspires snow portraits , multiple sculptures and heaving sobs . As noted by's Thomas Neumann , though, some of China's love of Kobe stems from the fact that when the nation turned its collective attention to the NBA to focus on Yao's voyage to Houston, Kobe had become the game's most lethal and exciting offensive player — a fact visited with extreme prejudice upon the top of Yao's head that February night. April 15, 2003: Kobe vs. Vincent Yarbrough I'm generally skeptical about "Could Athlete from Sport X Have Played Sport Y?" hypotheticals, but this is the one that makes me think the idea of Kobe playing soccer — as discussed this week by my FC Yahoo colleague Ryan Bailey — might've made sense. The instinctive search for open space that has him sprinting off a made free throw, the first touch that sees him catch Robert Horry's long ball over his head and immediately ready a behind-the-back dribble, the footwork to make that right-to-left change of direction on a dime, the fluidity that allows him to both instantly get off the floor as soon as his left foot hits the charge circle and turn 180 degrees to avoid Yarbrough's attempted swipe, the stylish finish, the collection of really hard things completed in a split-second in a fashion that looks nearly effortless ... all of it feels like something a world-class striker would pull off. No wonder that's the spot our man Eric Freeman picked for Kobe in his NBA-players-as-U.S.-men's-national-teamers thought experiment during the 2014 World Cup. I'm not done revisiting this, so let's watch a years-later TNT segment on the play in which Marv Albert lauds Yarbrough's attempts to avoid posterization: April 29, 2003: Kobe vs. Kevin Garnett and the Minnesota Timberwolves Stylistically, very similar to the baseline bomb Kobe dropped at MSG; contextually, though, a world away. After stealing home-court advantage from theWolves, who finished the regular season one game better than the defending champs, the Lakers gave it back in L.A. and returned to Minnesota with the series knotted 2-2. Whichever team seized control of Game 5 would have a leg up in the rest of the series, and the Lakers controlled the action from nearly the opening tip. They took a 10-point lead into halftime before pouring it on in the third quarter behind — guess who? — No. 8, who scored 16 of his game-high 32 points in the third, none louder than the two that came after taking advantage of a scrambling switch, blowing by KG's closeout, going airborne and finishing with a flourish around and over rotating 7-footer Rasho Nesterovic. Harlan's call was pitch-perfect — after watching Bryant work the baseline at the Garden two months prior, he knew what to expect when Kobe took off, and you absolutely could hear the Minnesota faithful, in unison, wince and "ooooooooh" as he dropped the hammer. That's what Kobe Bryant did: he screamed past you, danced around you, erupted on top of you, and left you unsure what you could do to stop it from happening again. The Wolves would never get closer than 14 points the rest of the way. The Lakers would win Games 5 and 6 by a combined 46 points. Nov. 12, 2004: Kobe vs. Dwight Howard Six games into Dwight's career, Kobe got his first shot at the No. 1 overall pick in the 2004 draft, a fellow preps-to-pros phenom purported to be the NBA's next great big man. He took that shot — I mean, it is Kobe — and man oh man, did he not miss. To be fair, Howard didn't have a whole lot of help here. DeShawn Stevenson didn't exactly sacrifice himself trying to get over the top of Lamar Odom's brush screen, and it looked like, in the instant Pat Garrity stepped up to contain the play, he remembered in a flash that he was Pat Garrity trying to stop Kobe Bryant. And Dwight did pull down 15 rebounds in a game that the Magic, for what it's worth, wound up winning . But sometimes when you win, you really lose, which is word to Rosie Perez , and in this case, while Dwight won the game, Kobe won the war. The still shot of Kobe posterizing Dwight is absolutely iconic, and seven years , nine years , 11 years later, Dwight had to answer questions about getting got. (Dwight, as you might expect, does not like these questions.) Fairly or unfairly, everything that came later — all the well - covered discord of their lone season as teammates , and their subsequent resumption of unpleasantries — gets refracted through the prism of Kobe going straight through Howard's chest the first time he laid eyes on him ... even if, as Dwight has repeatedly emphasized over the years, he never did it again. "I baptized him," Bryant later  said of his '04 greeting. "I turned him into a Defensive Player of the Year." Dec. 16, 2004: Kobe vs. Doug Christie During all those battles the Lakers had with the Sacramento Kings, Doug Christie played Kobe about as tough as anybody — well, anybody not named Tony Allen, according to the Mamba himself — but at the end of the day, "tough" only matters so much with a rocker step like that and a burst that quick. Also, shouts to Kobe for figuring out a way to dramatically improve on the monsters he dropped on the Knicks and Wolves. Two hands: very fundamentally sound. Also, speaking of sound: if I was Doug Christie, the ka-chunk of the rim rattling would probably give me at least two nightmares every year, even nearly a dozen years later. April 26, 2006: Kobe vs. Steve Nash Two seasons removed from the messy end of the Shaq-Kobe era and one season after the Rudy Tomjanovich/Frank Hamblen interregnum between Zen Master stints, Kobe (and Lamar, who never gets enough credit) carried the likes of Smush Parker, Kwame Brown, Chris Mihm and Brian Cook to 45 wins and the No. 7 seed. Bryant averaged 41 minutes per game, led the NBA in scoring at 35.4 points per game, had the league's third-highest Player Efficiency Rating ... and had to watch Nash hoist his second straight Most Valuable Player trophy, his reward for an absurdly efficient turn as the brilliant playmaking engine of the feel-good Phoenix Suns. Reasonable people can argue over whether Kobe should've taken Nash's place atop the MVP ballot. (Or, for that matter, the places of LeBron James or Dirk Nowitzki, both of whom also finished higher than Kobe.) But in Game 2 of the first-round playoff matchup between their teams, Bryant exacted a pretty perfect measure of revenge. Nash tried to do the "right" thing: racing to take a charge after a loose-ball scramble, sacrificing himself to force a turnover. Kobe tried to do the coolest thing: absolutely steamrolling him to tomahawk it with his right hand. In that moment, divergent definitions of "value" were rendered meaningless. In that moment, Kobe won. April 11, 2008: Kobe vs. the New Orleans Hornets After two hard years featuring first-round exits at the hands of the Suns, Kobe and the Lakers once again returned to the upper echelon of the NBA late in the 2007-08 season, thanks in part to the trade deadline acquisition of star Memphis Grizzlies big man Pau Gasol. By the final week of the season, L.A. found itself in a nip-and-tuck race with a handful of excellent teams for the top spot in the Western Conference ... including the upstart Hornets, led by third-year point guard Chris Paul, the NBA's leader in assists and steals, who had just made his first All-Star team and was giving Bryant a run for his money in the race for that elusive MVP trophy. This super-sick, 'Nique-style double-pump reverse dunk off an offensive rebound didn't really seal the Lakers' win — it put them up by 15, but a late NOLA run made L.A. sweat out a 107-104 final — and it probably didn't seal Kobe's first and only Podoloff. But it damn sure didn't hurt, either. April 26, 2011: Kobe vs. Emeka Okafor and Carl Landry By age 32, with all the minutes he'd rolled up over his first 14-plus NBA seasons, Bryant's flights had become far less frequent. He tended to work more from the post and perimeter while Gasol and Andrew Bynum manned the interior, and more often operated below the rim when he did venture inside. But sometimes, the calculation has to change; sometimes, the only way forward is through. Eight years after taking flight against the Wolves, the Lakers once again faced a pivotal Game 5 against a tough opponent. Again, Kobe went straight into the teeth of the defense, not once, but twice, knifing through the paint and into the face of the Hornets' bigs — first premier shot-blocker Emeka Okafor, to get the Lakers within two points late in the first half, and then bruising Carl Landry, to cap a third-quarter surge that gave L.A. its largest lead of the game. The Lakers would win Games 5 and 6 by a combined 34 points to advance to the conference semis, where they would run smack into the Dirk Nowitzki-led buzzsaw that was the Dallas Mavericks. After a four-game sweep , Phil Jackson stepped down, and nothing in L.A. was really the same after that; these were the last great dunks of Kobe's final years of postseason relevance. Feb. 5, 2013: Kobe vs. Gerald Wallace and Kris Humphries So, so, so much had gone wrong for the 2012-13 Lakers. A team damn near everybody tabbed as the favorites to win the NBA championship after the blockbuster deals that imported Howard and Nash to work alongside Bryant, Gasol and Metta World Peace had short-circuited instantaneously, losing four of its first five games in disappointing fashion to earn  Mike Brown his pink slip . Hiring Mike D'Antoni didn't seem to make much of a difference for a team alternating surges and skids amid injuries and ill-tempered interactions. The Lakers needed something to feel unreservedly good about. For a second in Brooklyn, Kobe delivered. "Whatever else had lapsed in his basketball life – the years, the knees, the busted-up shoulder and failing foot of the Lakers' crumbling 7-footers – Bryant had come to elevate over everything, elevate over everyone on Tuesday night," our Adrian Wojnarowski wrote . How long Kobe could continue elevating at age 34 remained to be seen, but two things were evident after his christening of Barclays Center: he could still do it, and the Lakers still needed him to. March 3, 2013: Kobe vs. Josh Smith Despite remaining under .500 at the All-Star break, Bryant guaranteed the Lakers would make the playoffs , and then set about the task of carrying them there. At times, that meant taking over games late; at times, that meant going up against bigger, stronger, more athletic defenders, like the Atlanta Hawks' Smith, and just deciding that they weren't going to stop him, even if that required the kind of explosion that, frankly, people really weren't totally sure Kobe could still muster. From Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times : He hadn't elevated like this since ... 2009? 2007? Earlier? "Vino," he said, smiling, letting the better-with-age metaphor hang for a moment. "Honestly, I can't really explain it. Once I turned the corner on [Smith], it was just a matter of if the help was going to get there in time to take a charge." There was no help. Only an excited murmur in the arena that lasted several minutes after the initial roar of elation. So, again, what gives? "I don't know. You guys tell me," Bryant said, gently chiding reporters. "I was in my coffin a few years ago. I've got plenty in the tank, but if y'all want to feel free to criticize and say I don't, go right ahead." Bryant might have had plenty in the tank at that point, but he'd played 39 minutes to beat Atlanta , beginning a stretch in which he'd log at least 38 in 16 of the Lakers' next 21 games, top the 40-minute mark 10 times, and average more than 45 minutes a game over a two-week span heading into the final week of the season. He was productive as hell, and the Lakers needed every bit of it, but the cost was immeasurable. Six weeks later, his leg gave out, and we'd never see him dunk like that again. But let's not end there. Let's go back to the beginning. Feb. 8, 1997: Kobe vs. the Slam Dunk Contest No, the '97 Dunk Contest isn't remembered all that fondly by competition connoisseurs, especially in the age of  LaVine vs. Gordon . But rewatching the final-round dunk that won Kobe the title — a not-quite-there-but-still-pretty-cool approximation of Isaiah Rider's "East Bay Funk Dunk" — you can see the future spreading out before Kobe. You can the shape of things to come. The calm, almost matter-of-fact approach from the left wing. The stylish arc of the ball as he brings it from under his right leg up over his head, and the extra snap his wiry frame puts into slingshotting it through the rim. The pause for dramatic effect after landing; the Bruce Lee light flex. The ease which he bathes in the adulation of the crowd. The proto-jaw-jut as he walks back toward his competitors. As many have noted, Kobe has long sought to cultivate an identity as the game's most maniacal, focused and diligent worker. All that rigorous study and craft-honing mattered a great deal to the legend he became ... and yet, so much of what brought about fans' connections to Bryant — the pursuit of spotlight and victory, the athleticism, talent and drive that would fuel his search, the penchant for showmanship, the willingness to play the villain — was already there in that first trip to All-Star Weekend. I don't doubt that devoting countless hours to mastering the minutiae of the game helped Kobe stay on top as long as he did. It didn't make him a star, though. He already was one when we met him. More NBA coverage: - - - - - - - Dan Devine is an editor for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YourManDevine Stay connected with Ball Don't Lie on Twitter @YahooBDL , "Like" BDL on Facebook and follow Dunks Don't Lie on Tumblr for year-round NBA talk, jokes and more. [read full article]

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