Thursday, March 8, 2007

Is Kobe Bryant A Cheap-Shot Artist?

Once more, Kobe Bryant has cost himself the leverage to wag his finger and bemoan the tactics of the Raja Bells and Bruce Bowens in the Western Conference playoffs. No one confuses Bryant's intentions now. He keeps swinging for faces and keeps connecting.

First, it was San Antonio's Manu Ginobili. This time, it was Minnesota's Marko Jaric. For every aspect of basketball that Bryant has perfected, he's failing at the art of concealing the cheap shot. Stu Jackson's office let Kobe off easy with a one-game suspension for popping Jaric on Tuesday night, especially with the memory still so fresh of Bryant's shot upside Ginobili's head in late January. This latest transgression was worth two games, easy. Maybe three.

Somehow, this has become a part of Bryant's arsenal. Another missed jump shot, and another wild, flail on his follow-through at a defender's face. Whatever the story he's spinning this season, there remains a lot of anger, a lot of unrest within the Los Angeles Lakers star, and these are the moments when it manifests. And isn't it curious how he keeps picking victims whom he doesn't fear will fight back?

"I don't think he would've done that to (Minnesota's) Ricky Davis," one Eastern Conference scout said Wednesday. "In part, Kobe probably thought that if anything went down, he'd beat Marko's ass. No question in his mind. With Ricky, he's probably got a little more respect for him as a player, and probably a little more concern. 'I might be able to beat his ass, too, but I'm not necessarily sure it's worth the trouble.'
I agree. This is becoming too much of a coincidence. And with it comes Kobe I wouldn't put it past him to take cheap shots.

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