Kobe learns from Olajuwon

MyFoxHouston reports that Kobe Bryant worked out for two hours with Hakeem Olajuwon, trying to learn the post and mid-post moves that made “The Dream” such a nightmare on the block.

Olajuwon said Bryant reached out to him for help with his moves in the post.

“He gave me the biggest compliment,” Olajuwon said. “(He said) You are the best (at the) mid-post and post move.

“He wanted me to show my moves to him.”

Olajuwon said his style of play in the paint is really suited for a guy like Bryant.

“In my mind most of my moves for a guy (with) that agility can use it better than the big guy,” Olajuwon said. “Because my moves are not really for the big guy.

“It’s for the guards and small forwards. So he would benefit most on the post because of his agility.

“It was so much fun because how he picks it up. I worked with him for two hours, step by step.”

Kobe is nothing if not smart. He knows he’s getting older and wants to pick his spots when attacking the basket. Michael Jordan developed a devastating post up game in the back half of his career and it’s no surprise that Kobe would want extend his effectiveness in the same way. Look for Bryant to spend more time on the block this season as he incorporates these post moves into his game.

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Bill Simmons chimes in on Kobe

Bill Simmons isn’t too keen on all the talk about how Kobe Bryant went through a metamorphosis this season.

They had the second-best player in the league (Kobe), the second-best center (Pau Gasol), a talented forward with a unique set of skills (Lamar Odom), a breakout swingman (Trevor Ariza), a terrific leader and character guy at point (Derek Fisher), and that’s about it. They caught three breaks from February on — Kevin Garnett’s knee injury killing Boston’s season, Cleveland stupidly opting not to move Wally Szczerbiak’s expiring contract for one more piece, and Yao Ming breaking his foot in Round 2 — and cruised from there. You would not call them great, just very good. I would compare them to the 2003 Spurs, 2005 Spurs or 2006 Heat — the cream of a flawed crop of contenders.

Did they deserve to win the title? Of course. But they didn’t win because Kobe “really wanted this” and “trusted his teammates” and “finally figured it out” and all that revisionist crap.

If you’re playing the “Shut up, Kobe was better this spring!” card, your only real evidence is two signature Kick-Butt Kobe Finals Games (Games 1 and 5). But if you’re selling the “Kobe finally gets it” angle, then why was he gunning for 40 points at the tail end of a Game 1 blowout when he had already taken 30-plus shots? In Game 2, why did he go one-on-four for the winning basket (and miss) and ignore three wide-open teammates? Why did everyone so willingly gloss over the fact that, from the second quarter of Game 3 through overtime of Game 4, he missed 31 of 46 shots and kept shooting, anyway? Or that, near the tail end of Game 5, Kobe was so desperate to drain the clinching dagger that he clanged two 27-footers and allowed Orlando to climb within 12? Or that he didn’t have a single clutch moment in the Finals other than his sweet dish to Gasol during their frantic Game 4 comeback.

The entire piece is worth a read, especially for all of the Kobe apologists and Kobe haters out there. Simmons is quite complimentary towards the end.

I think Bryant altered his game somewhat, but it had as much (or more) to do with a much improved supporting cast as it did with any substantive changes to his mentality as the Lakers’ best player. He still took a number of bad shots, but he passed the ball more. The mentality to take over is still there and he doesn’t have complete trust in his teammates, but I’d say he has an appropriate trust in his teammates.

Simmons focuses on the change between last year and this year and, honestly, I don’t think Kobe changed much in that span. In the instant the Lakers acquired Pau Gasol, Kobe went from unhappy to happy. It was that acquisition that made Kobe believe that the Lakers really had the roster that could go the distance. His outlook was more positive and it (usually) translated to his on-court demeanor.

There’s a lot on the line for Kobe, LeBron, Melo and Dwight Howard


There’s always a lot on the line in the Conference Finals. But this year it seems like there is more at stake for the superstars still standing. Let’s start with…


Kobe Bryant has made it abundantly clear that his #1 priority is to win another title. This focus is not unusual for players that haven’t won a ring, but Kobe has three, so why is he so determined to win a fourth? Simply stated, for the sake of his own legacy, he has to win a title without Shaq.

If he fails, he will be viewed by history as a great player who won a few titles as Shaq’s sidekick. This is not the legacy that Kobe wants to leave. Barring a two- or three-peat, he’s not going to be able to catch Michael Jordan, but if he is able to win a ring this year — and he’s the first to admit that this is his best chance — then he’ll do it as “The Guy” on a championship team. There’s no Shaq wreaking havoc in the middle, just a collection of players deemed too soft (Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom) or too young (Andrew Bynum, Jordan Farmar, Trevor Ariza) that Kobe led to the Promised Land.

And the clock is ticking. Kevin Garnett could come back strong next season, LeBron is getting better by the year, and there are a few up-and-coming teams (Orlando, Houston, Portland, etc.) that are looking to knock Kobe off of his perch.

The time is now. Kobe’s window is closing, and he knows it.

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What’s wrong with the Lakers?

Like most NBA fans (outside the greater Houston area), once the news broke that Yao Ming was going to miss the rest of the playoffs with a foot injury, I wrote off the Rockets. How could they possibly keep pace with one of the top two teams in the league without their best player?

Since the injury, the Rockets have taken two of three from the Lakers, and if Kobe and Co. were truly championship worthy, they would have gone on the road and won Game 4 or Game 6. Laker apologists will probably just say that their team will still win in Game 7 and they’ll go on to win the championship, but really, they shouldn’t be in this position in the first place. Anything can happen in a single game, and sometimes, no matter what you do, it’s just not your night. What if the Rockets collectively catch fire like they did in Game 4? What if Kobe has one of his 5-for-20 days? Or what if Pau Gasol goes down with an injury that knocks him out of the game?

By letting the Rockets get back into the series, the Lakers have no margin for error. That’s the whole point of a seven-game series — it’s designed so that poor luck and bad nights don’t send a true champion home early.

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