Two Topics This Week: Kobe? 81!

If Michael Jordan did it, we'd love it. If Larry Bird did it, we'd love it. Sheesh, if Dennis Rodman scored 81 points in a game, we'd even love that.

Kobe does it; let's call him a ball hog.

Is Kobe showing off? Of course he is. He's paid to. He'd better wow us. He'd better wow his own teammates.

If anyone else can match that score this year, no one would call him selfish, only Kobe.

Kudos to you, Kobe. However you did it, share it with all of us, or no one. That gift is yours.

PETER R. LEONE

Valley Village

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Wow! Eighty-one points. My goodness. And they all scattered to peruse the record books. And deservedly so, Kobe.

I can't wait until they scatter again at the end of the season to see if you'll be the first league scoring champion to play for a team that didn't make the playoffs.

ANDREW SACKS

Fontana

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Kobe. Kobe. Kobe. The three sides of the Lakers' triangle.

RICHARD RAFFALOW

Valley Glen

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I always thought the expression was, "He can do no wrong," but with Kobe, I guess it's, "He can do no right."

I wonder what all these people in L.A. would have to complain about if Kobe had been traded and we had no excitement while watching the Lakers.

As a mother of a young man who made his share of mistakes, I'd rather he look up to someone who faltered, tried to move on and become a better person than to someone who professes to be above all us mere mortals, a "Superman."

JUDY CARL

Redondo Beach

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I am sick and tired of people continually putting down Kobe Bryant. If he doesn't take a lot of shots and the team loses, he gets blamed. If he shoots 35 times and the team loses, he's a ball hog. If he shoots 40 times and the team wins, he isn't making his teammates better. If, somehow, he can shoot less and the team wins ... oh, wait, that hasn't happened this year.

Who is he going to make better? No offense to Lamar or Kwame or Smush or anyone else, but every time Kobe tries to get everyone involved, no one steps up. Remember Sunday? Toronto 63, Lakers 49 at halftime.

JASON DOYLE

Santa Monica

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To the ball-hog theorists, here's a simple, indisputable fact: Every time Kobe scores 81 points in a game, the Lakers win.

STEPHEN NETHERLAIN

Lake Forest

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Kobe's career high, second-highest total in NBA history: 81 points.

Kobe's second-highest total this year: 62 points.

Breaking individual records at the expense of the team concept: Pointless.

MAURICE SANCHEZ

Coto de Caza

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Kobe Bryant -- leading scorer, Lakers, 35.9 ppg; season high, 81 points; team record: 22-19.

Rip Hamilton -- leading scorer, Detroit Pistons, 21.7 ppg; season high, 40 points; team record, 36-5.

Any questions?

RABBI DANIEL BOUSKILA

Los Angeles

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Did you say something, Vince Carter? With all the buzz about Kobe's 81 points, I don't think anybody heard your whining.

Pat Riley, you wish you were that lucky to be able to coach someone who can score 81 points in a game. And for your information, Kobe did not take 70 shots.

Raptors, you played the game with professionalism. Someone with Antoine Walker's attitude should not be playing pro basketball. Clotheslining someone could hardly be called defense.

NAILA CURRIE

Walnut

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Bill Plaschke [Jan. 25] asks if we can separate Kobe Bryant the basketball player from Kobe Bryant the man. Sure we can.

I think Kobe the player is a transcendent talent, able to score at will and usually forced to do so because of an inept supporting cast.

Kobe the man I believe to be unethical, unfaithful and unconscionable, as evidenced by his throwing Shaquille O'Neal under the bus during his interrogation by the Eagle, Colo., police.

Or, as I've been saying for the last two years -- Kobe Bryant: great player, lousy human being.

DAVID H. CROCKER

Long Beach

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Bill Plaschke just doesn't get it. Everyone can appreciate Kobe's talents. They can forgive his actions in Colorado, unless they are saints. The real issue is the fact that fans will never be able to love Kobe as much as Kobe loves Kobe.

GREGG FREEMAN

Simi Valley

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Bill Plaschke thinks 81 is more than 100? For his sake, I hope he doesn't do his own taxes.

CHUCK ROSE

El Monte

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What is all the hullabaloo about Kobe scoring 81 points and averaging 35 points a game? We all knew he was capable of this. Just like we knew he was capable of creating an environment that would drive his championship coach back to Big Sky country, send the all-world center who anchored those championships to another team, and alienate teammates and fans who supported him through thick and thin.

Let's not celebrate the personal statistical achievements of an icon of selfish play and petulant behavior. I'll renew my membership in the Laker Fan Club when Kobe is traded to the Harlem Globetrotters, or he averages 10 assists a game. Until then, I'd rather watch Elton Brand any day of the week.

MONTY HUDSON

Santa Barbara

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The headline in The Times referred to Kobe Bryant's 81-point performance as Jordanesque. I beg to differ.

When did Jordan ever score 81 points? More appropriate might be to call Kobe's performance Chamberlainesque.

ALEEZA SHAYA

Los Angeles

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Just imagine. If only the Boston Strangler had scored 82 points for the Boston Celtics, he might have been given the keys to the city instead.

HOMER ALBA

Glendale

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Congratulations to Kobe Bryant. Not only has he raised the bar in sports, he has thrown it away. Thanks to the precedent he has set, high school and college football teams, when playing a lesser opponent, can now have a 1,000-yard rusher on their team the very first game of the season! And why don't we get rid of that silly 10-run rule in Little League baseball? What in the world does that teach our kids about piling it on anyhow?

Just remember, "It's all about the W." I can almost hear Nike or Reebok adopting that as their new slogan, and I can definitely see the American public swallowing it -- hook, line and sinker.

RICK NEVLIN

Ventura

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On page A17 of the Jan. 24 paper, a headline reads, "Bryant's 81-Point Effort Helps Revive Image." Just when did Kobe's image as a ball hog need reviving?

STEVEN TEITELBAUM

Santa Monica

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Whew! After seeing a big "81" on the sports page headline, I was relieved to see it was a lead story about Kobe's stellar game, and not yet another story concerning Terrell Owens' somehow shoehorning himself into the NFL limelight during the heat of the playoffs.

MARK J. FEATHERSTONE

Windsor Hills

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In light of the negative remarks aimed at Kobe Bryant this week, this quote by Albert Einstein may encourage him:

"Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds."

DAVID WALDOWSKI

Alta Loma

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No one called Vince Young selfish for taking the Rose Bowl into his own hands.

CRAIG P. FAGAN

San Diego

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