Well, Lakers fans, when it comes to Kobe's finale, I guess we can sum it all up with the words of Toby Keith's hit song: "I ain't as good as I once was, but I'm as good once as I ever was."
Eleanor Roosevelt once said, "Do what you feel in your heart to be right — for you'll be criticized anyway." Kobe's detractors always said he shot too much. But without that constant competitive fire in his heart, there wouldn't be that incredible game Wednesday, and also five fewer banners on Staples Center's wall.
Thank you for always going with your heart, Kobe. Despite another trying season, we still somehow all won in the end.
I was a season-ticket holder from 1982 to 2007. I watched miracles and collapses. I watched Jim Buss torpedo the Lakers for two seasons as he overpaid a former great player. But on Wednesday Kobe almost made me believe it was worth it. I saw greatness. It was wonderful.
The swarm of celebrities and NBA greats that decorated Staples for Kobe's final game weren't the only stars that aligned on the magical night. Had Utah not been eliminated from postseason action earlier in the day, we would have seen them fighting for their playoff lives by double- and triple-teaming Bryant to force the ball out of his hands. The results would have most likely been quite different. Kobe probably would have been held to 50.
It took Byron Scott all season to figure out a winning formula. Kobe plays over 40 minutes, takes 50 shots and makes 60 points.
Like Bill Plaschke, I too have had a love-hate relationship with Kobe for 20 years.
I prefer the "boring" yet masterful art of team basketball, a.k.a. the San Antonio Spurs and the Showtime Lakers. So, I don't really like "shooters." But, if I had to choose one, it would be Kobe Bryant. I will always respect his absolutely dominating physical prowess, his drive, his undying dedication to the Lakers and fans, his refusal to lose, and a work ethic second to none.
So, to that end, I say, goodbye, good luck, and God bless.
I feel sorry for the people at the bar where Kobe went to celebrate after playing his last game because none of them were able to get a shot.
The amount of ink Kobe is getting just because he's retiring from playing a kid's game is sickening. Front page news? Hardly. Did he cure cancer? No. Has he done anything that is of lasting value to anybody outside the realm of sports? No. He's simply a basketball player, nothing more.
Maybe Jim Buss, the presumed village idiot, isn't so stupid after all. The Lakers sold out at home and all over the country with the Kobe farewell tour, merchandise sales are through the roof, and everyone's happy except for the fans. Who are we to judge?
The fact that Kobe leaves the Lakers in a state of shambles isn't much of a surprise. That he doesn't seem to care isn't one either. Kobe's glory was always about himself.
The truth is that when Kobe had a great center and outstanding teammates the Lakers were able to beat some of the weakest final opponents in NBA history — Orlando, New Jersey and Philadelphia with Allen Iverson and ... no one else.
Fifty years of watching basketball and Kobe is the only supposed superstar I've seen repeatedly quit on his team. When they won, it was all him, and when they lost, it was them. Thus, the exodus of too many good players to list (Shaq, Trevor Ariza, and Pau Gasol to name a few). Eventually players around the league figured out that if you wanted your game to tank, go play with Kobe. There was a reason the Lakers couldn't attract superior talent. Goodbye, Kobe. You could have been a real leader this year, but instead you hobbled out and threw up one hopeless shot after another, setting a losing, selfish tone for a young, impressionable team. True to yourself to the egomaniacal end.
Scott R. Denny
Kobe asked there be no public display of gifts at his last game. I guess the $48.5 million he was paid the last two years was enough of a gift, even for Kobe.
On to the Dodgers
Advice for Andrew Friedman: I used to stockpile large quantities of inexpensive food the way you stockpile relief pitchers. But I soon discovered the food didn't taste very good and would often go bad before I ever got to finish it. I learned the hard way to buy less quantity and better quality. Just saying.
The way the Dodgers' Chris Hatcher has pitched recently, I thought for sure he would have named his new baby boy Homer!
Axel W. Kyster
My opening day experience certainly helped me understand Guggenheim's view of the value of their new "product." The festive bunting that once covered Dodger Stadium in a sea of red, white, and blue on opening days was reduced to a few tiny strands here and there in order to avoid covering precious advertising space. The use of demand pricing for ticket sales has rocketed the cost of a top-deck ticket on opening day from six bucks a few years ago to more than 10 times that amount.
But the biggest sign that Guggenheim has lost it when it comes to understanding their fan base was the new ads on the foul poles. In a stadium filled with ordinary Angelenos, many of whom make little more than minimum wage, we were exhorted to "Fly Emirates," which would be great if our family vacation plans took us to Dubai and we could afford $20,000 for a first-class ticket.
Arizona has an outfielder named Socrates Brito. Vin Scully says, "I Kant believe it!"
On the air
On Twitter, I was surprised and offended that the Dodgers posted the caption "Does it get any better than this?" alongside a photo showing Vin Scully with the Dodger legends at opening day. Sure it does. How about allowing the 70% of us that have been blacked out of all Dodger games for the last three years to hear (and see) Vinny's last season?
I don't know who came up with this proverb, but it sure is apt in this case. "When two elephants fight, only the grass gets hurt." Dodgers versus Time Warner Cable hurts only us, the fans.
While it's sad that Vin Scully is retiring, this current group of TV announcers — Joe Davis, Nomar Garciaparra and Orel Hershiser — is excellent. Hershiser is a baseball genius with fascinating insights into all aspects of the game. Dodgers, I beg of you not to put Charley Steiner on TV when Vin retires.
Swann dives in
It's apparent that USC's notion of a nationwide search for its coaches and athletic directors involves little more than a perusal of old yearbooks.
One advantage is that Lynn Swann can probably get down to the field to berate the officials a lot faster than Pat Haden ever could.
Rancho Palos Verdes
Rams' big move
Bill Plaschke claims this town doesn't like paying for future possibilities, only entertaining realities. Ask Lakers fans how entertained they were the last two seasons by a team depleted of talent because it devoted so much money to its biggest star. The Rams are depleting future rosters by trading so many draft choices to obtain a hoped-for star quarterback.
Let's see what the bigger attraction is three seasons from now: the team or the new stadium it plays in.
What's the over/under on the number of years before Bill Plaschke completely contradicts his 100%, rah-rah support of the Rams going all in with the trade for the first overall pick?
Danny Balber Jr.
Many people are accusing Jordan Spieth of being a choker. The man won the Masters last year and came in second this year. I would love to be that kind of a choker, and so would millions of other golfers.
Now that Zack Greinke is with the Diamondbacks, he said he no longer spends his winters in Los Angeles. "The taxes are too high out here," he explained.
I sure hope that the statement was facetious. I'm surprised he didn't complain about the skyrocketing cost of valet parking.
Marina del Rey
April 13, 2016. What a record night for sports!. An NBA team wins its 73rd game! A Laker scores 60 points in his finale after 20 seasons! And Pedro Baez did not give up a home run! Unbelievable!
While some in Los Angeles continue to hyperventilate, please remember that one of the most admired and beloved figures in Los Angeles sports history, despite a body that was betraying him, led his team to the sixth league championship of his career, then called a news conference and quietly announced his retirement. Thanks, Sandy.
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