The NBA torch has officially been passed
Kobe’s last game was this past week, and it marked the passing of a torch. The final week of NBA basketball has traditionally been one of those weeks where most teams have solidified their playoff berths and are starting to rest players for the long run to a championship. This year was a bit different. Several teams have been pursuing regular season goals that has upped the energy for the final week tremendously. The Golden State Warriors who have been above and beyond the best team in the NBA all season have been pursuing the 72-10 regular season record held by the 95-96 Michael Jordan led Chicago Bulls. After losing 2 random home games just a week and a half ago, they had to win the final 4 games to break the record and 3 of 4 to tie. They took on the Spurs in their record tying game, who were also playing to make history. The Spurs were undefeated at home up until their lost to the Warriors this past weekend. The Spurs tied one of the great Boston Celtics teams with the best home record in league history at 39-1.
Last night was not just about team records. Stephan Curry, perennial MVP of this season was chasing 400 3 point shots made which is a record he already owns but he has destroyed this season. A Warriors team that has made more than 1000 3 pointers as a unit. It has been a remarkable season and for them to go out with big win at home to take the coveted record of 73-9 is all but fitting. In doing so, the Warriors prepare to finish the job in the playoffs and take home the franchises 3rd NBA championship and back to back. I am someone who thinks they have no real choice but to repeat as championships to solidify their legendary status as a team. They have been the mark of consistency all season long and I look forward to watch Curry, Thompson and Green lead the way through the playoffs. They have been the most entertaining team since the Miami Heat Big Three a few years ago.
Kobe leaves like only the Mamba can
Kobe “Bean” Bryant played his last game as a professional last night as well. He took his lack luster Lakers team up against the playoff hungry Utah Jazz in front of a sold out crowd, with all eyes on him and he did not disappoint. He put up every shot he could and all of sudden he started to look like vintage “Mamba” knocking down 3-point bucket after 3-point bucket. The game was pretty entertaining with the Jazz playing for a birth in the playoffs. The Jazz led most of the way even having a 11-point lead with a little over 9 minutes to go in the game. Kobe proceeds to take over the game and do what he has done for 20 years now and that is kill his opponent. He ended the night with 60 points shooting 22-45 from the field. Not only did he score 20 points in the last 9 minutes he propelled the Lakers over the Jazz 101-96 knocking the Jazz out of the playoffs, making room for the Houston Rockets to sneak in and take the 8th seed.
What did the final night of Kobe reveal about the NBA?
Last night was a culmination of one of the most entertaining seasons in NBA history. The parody across the league has grown to the most competitive level it has been in a long time. The Eastern conference has bounced back to be the better conference after so many seasons lamenting behind the competitive west with teams who were barely having above .500 records but still making the playoffs. This year the tables have turned, the Western conference has the only below .500 team in the playoffs, the Houston Rockets, who have been disappointing to say the least. Now that being said, Kobe’s performance last night gave the Rockets a wonderful opportunity to forget about their struggling season, and an opportunity to avenge their Conference championship defeat from last season. They take on the Golden State Warriors who have their sites on another championship, so James Harden will have to do his best Kobe impersonation if he wants to get his team to the 2nd round, or even keeping them from being swept would be an accomplishment. I don’t think they have a chance but I have been wrong many times before, anything is possible in this game. Kobe single-handedly saved Harden and Howard from a long summer of scrutiny. Not to say it still won’t exist after this first round match-up but it will be postponed to see if they have the ability to pull it together when the games really count. Harden has been playing at the top of his game as of late but Dwight Howard has seemingly disappeared so this could be the opportunity for the big man to reclaim his throne as best center in the NBA. (Although, highly unlikely) I will be doing my Playoff preview later this week. How did you enjoy Kobe’s final game? Do you think the Golden State Warriors of today would defeat the 95-96 Chicago Bulls? Leave a comment and let me know.