Let’s start with the news of the day, which obviously is Kobe Bryant’s devastating torn Achilles.
Brutal. For Bryant, for the Lakers, for Lakers fans and for basketball fans in general. Instead of slowing down, Bryant inexplicably has had one of his best seasons and for a guy who is probably one of the 10 best ever, that’s saying something. Bryant carried the Lakers in this season of tension, turmoil and the turfing of Mike Brown. He was the reason the team got itself in playoff position. This could be it for Bryant, Isiah Thomas and Memo Okur, among others were never the same after suffering the same injury, but, then again, Bryant is different. Let’s not write him off yet. Few work as hard, few are as dedicated, few care as much about their legacy. He will go out on his own terms and if anybody can get back to 85% of what they were after such an injury, it’s Bryant. #Countonkobe was his hashtag this season, and you can count on Kobe to make a comeback few would be able to. Here’s his Facebook post from 3:30 a.m. Friday night:
“This is such BS! All the training and sacrifice just flew out the window with one step that I’ve done millions of times! The frustration is unbearable. The anger is rage. Why the hell did this happen ?!? Makes no damn sense. Now I’m supposed to come back from this and be the same player Or better at 35?!? How in the world am I supposed to do that??
I have NO CLUE. Do I have the consistent will to overcome this thing? Maybe I should break out the rocking chair and reminisce on the career that was. Maybe this is how my book ends. Maybe Father Time has defeated me…Then again maybe not! It’s 3:30am, my foot feels like dead weight, my head is spinning from the pain meds and I’m wide awake. Forgive my Venting but what’s the purpose of social media if I won’t bring it to you Real No Image?? Feels good to vent, let it out. To feel as if THIS is the WORST thing EVER! Because After ALL the venting, a real perspective sets in. There are far greater issues/challenges in the world then a torn achilles. Stop feeling sorry for yourself, find the silver lining and get to work with the same belief, same drive and same conviction as ever.
One day, the beginning of a new career journey will commence. Today is NOT that day.
“If you see me in a fight with a bear, prey for the bear”. Ive always loved that quote. Thats “mamba mentality” we don’t quit, we don’t cower, we don’t run. We endure and conquer.
I know it’s a long post but I’m Facebook Venting LOL. Maybe now I can actually get some sleep and be excited for surgery tomorrow. First step of a new challenge.
Guess I will be Coach Vino the rest of this season. I have faith in my teammates. They will come thru.
Thank you for all your prayers and support. Much Love Always.
Meanwhile, expect the Jazz to pass the Lakers and get into the playoffs, for one last shot before either Paul Millsap or Al Jefferson go elsewhere next season. The Jazz likely won’t last long against either Oklahoma City or San Antonio. The Lakers are in trouble. Capped out with no picks coming for years, they might have to take drastic measures. How will this impact Dwight Howard’s future? All questions for another day. The focus is on Kobe Bryant, who still probably finishes fourth or fifth in MVP voting (behind LeBron James, Kevin Durant, in some order with Tony Parker, Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony).
As for Raptors-Bulls, the rematch:
You knew the Bulls would come out angry after recent poor play. They did and came out strong, taking it to the Raptors early. You didn’t know Rip Hamilton would snap against a team that has a star player he is particularly tight with, fellow UCONN alum Rudy Gay. Though it wasn’t Gay who caught Hamilton’s forearm shiver – that was DeMar DeRozan – it was Gay who seemed amped after it, making some big plays as the Raptors ended up routing the Bulls. Those beaten-down Bulls are exhausted and frustrated. I’m not sure how much they’ll have in the tank for the playoffs. But with Derrick Rose back next season, they’ll be in the hunt for second or third in the East behind Miami.
With no draft pick slotting to blow, the Raptors aren’t doing the usual infuriating Toronto pro team thing of winning meaningless games and screwing up how sizable the talent coming in via the draft can be (a Raptors and Leafs specialty over the past decade). So these recent wins and better play can be seen as positives. The talent seems to be clicking, Kyle Lowry is finally playing closer to himself again and getting results and Gay has found his groove following a troubling stretch. Sure, his shot has gone completely AWOL, but he’s been far better defensively and is finding his teammates in better spots of late. He still needs to look for his own shot more, despite his struggles, but is doing the best job of being aggressive we’ve seen from him since December.
Gay’s been a bit of a monster in six April games, building on his late March revival. The biggest difference has been a significant improvement in his outside shooting. It’s a small sample size, but he is making nearly half of his threes, nearly twice as efficient from deep as he has been most of the season (now, Gay’s not a 47% outside shooter, but he’s definitely not a 27% shooter either. Consider 34-36% a more accurate representation of his abilities).
Another big effort from Quincy Acy who is making the most of these games. Again, Acy showed he belongs in the NBA and that he can be a piece off of the bench next season. I still expect a power forward to be part of the return for Andrea Bargnani, but if not, at least the Raptors know now that Acy provides some depth behind Amir Johnson. Still, the Raptors will need to sign another big if they can’t trade for one either by moving Bargnani or DeMar DeRozan in the summer.
If the Raptors run the table in the final three games, the win total will be 34, two less than this corner predicted, but they would be 9th in the East, which was my call from the start of the year. What an odd route they would have taken to get there.
Assuming the Raptors win at least one of the remaining three games, it looks like Oklahoma City will be receiving the 9th or 10th pick of the draft, barring a Raptors lottery miracle.