Kobe Bryant dominates coverage of Game 1 of NBA Finals
Maybe there’s a West Coast bias after all.
If you’re a Boston Celtics fan, is your head exploding?
Besides watching your team be dominated by the Lakers on Thursday — the defending NBA champions won, 102-89, in Game 1 of the NBA Finals — you also got the added bonus of watching the Kobe Bryant show.
After Bryant made a second-quarter layup, ABC/ESPN analyst Mark Jackson yelped, “Bryant, this is just too easy.”
His fellow analyst Jeff Van Gundy made up his mind early what this game was about.
Referring to the 2008 championship series, won by Boston over Los Angeles, Van Gundy said, “That’s a huge difference from 2008. Kobe Bryant already got to the basket two times. I don’t think he got to the basket two times in the whole series [in 2008] uncontested.”
The halftime show?
ESPN reporter Jackie MacMullan sat next to Bryant in a theater-like room while Bryant broke down film of former great players such as Oscar Robinson, Elgin Baylor and Jerry West.
And there was the Van Gundy vignette about Bryant once quizzing him about why Michael Jordan scored more points in the 1993 playoffs against New York than in 1992. “Kobe was about 14 years old … this guy is an incredible student of the game,” Van Gundy said.
But what’s an analyst to do? Kobe couldn’t be ignored by the humans or the cameras.
Maybe the two best close-ups of the game were of Bryant chest-bumping Ron Artest in the fourth quarter after Artest blocked a shot that led to an outlet pass to a streaking Pau Gasol that ended in a slam dunk and of actor/comedian Chris Rock in a high-roller seat next to the Lakers’ bench trying to get Bryant’s attention. Bryant never turned his head.
And not an ounce of recognition that fellow comedian David Spade was sitting right next to Rock looking as if he were trying to get Rock’s attention. He was as successful as Rock.
Other highlights of the (broadcast) night
*Jackson had a melodic turn of phrase in the fourth quarter, referring to Bryant’s (of course) suggestion that the Lakers’ 2008 beating by Boston was the “blueprint” for the 2009 Lakers championship:
“Trials and tribulations are your transportation to where you want to get to,” Jackson said in utter seriousness.
“I doubted your Scrabble ability,” Van Gundy said. “With that sentence right there, I believe you have the chance to stay in the game.”
Play-by-play man Mike Breen giggled.
*Van Gundy’s declarations that the NBA should not carry over technical fouls from series to series. Players can be suspended after seven technical fouls in the playoffs. Van Gundy says each series should be a separate entity. He’s right.
And the championship series format that goes from 2-2-1-1-1 to 2-3-2. “I just think 2-3-2, it’s just a better series. I think the drama, going city-to-city, not spending one week in Boston, I just like it better.” He’s right again.
*While sideline reporter Doris Burke was interviewing (who else) Bryant after the game, Artest sat alone on his Lakers chair listening. When Bryant finished he gave Artest a big hug. More than his words, that camera shot spoke of what Bryant had told Burke. Other than winning this series? “Nothing else matters at this point,” Bryant said.
Missing Ernie Johnson
TNT’s Johnson is the consummate studio show host, self-effacing and accepting of his job, which is to help make Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith stand out. ESPN’s Stuart Scott is the opposite. He wants to be the star.
Putting Stan Verrett, Jalen Rose and Byron Scott on an outdoor set outside Staples Center for an ESPN SportsCenter live broadcast. Fans screaming anti-Boston chants takes away from the analysis.
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