Monthly Archives: April 2016

Monday Morning Coffee

April 18th, 2016

Never could I have imagined that Kobe Bryant’s legacy would actually improve before playing the last game of his career against the Utah Jazz.  No Hall of Famer has ever scored more than 29 points in their final career game.  Kobe obliterated that by scoring 60, and reminding us of the glory days for Laker fans, one last time.  Only Kobe could steal the show from the Golden State Warriors, on a night where they broke the single season record for wins.  It was beautiful sight to see, and gave you chills.  For those that hate him, it was just one last reminder, that your criticism drove Kobe to all his success, which is why he embraced it when it was over.  Leave it to the LA Times though to give you a tribute section to Kobe in yesterday’s paper, only to throw in a few articles that don’t actually show either Kobe or his wife, Vanessa, in the post positive light.  The sad part is that now that he’s gone, you’ll really see how much you miss him.  It was a fun ride while it lasted, but it was twenty great years.  It’s going to be really weird when we continue to crumple pieces of paper and throw them into the trash while yelling “Kobe!” and our kids are trying to figure out what the hell we are talking about.

Oh I guess we have to talk about the Clippers now. LA took care of the Blazers last night in game 1 of their 1st round playoff series.  For some reason Damian Lillard struggles against CP3, but always seems to play well against Steph Curry.  Last night was another case of Paul getting the best of him. There will probably be a game in this series where Lillard and backcourt mate CJ McCollum go off and steal a game, but that night wasn’t last night.  The Clipps have too much fire power, and this shouldn’t take any longer than 5 games.  LA better hope that they can build some better rhythm between CP3 and Blake during that time, if they want any fighting chance against the Warriors in round 2.

What a joke the first round series of the NBA playoffs have been so far.  I feel like I’m watching a bunch of #16 seeds take on a bunch of #1 seeds in the NCAA Tournament.  The Houston Rockets were probably considering boarding a plane and heading back to Houston before the 2nd half started in game 1 against the Warriors.  The Mavericks got blown out by the Thunder.  It was 21-7 after the first quarter.  It’s like football season never ended.  I guess Reggie Jackson thinks that just because he played with Russell Westbrook that he is Russell Westbrook.  I’ve got the Cavs in 4, Raptors in 6, Celtics in 7, Miami in 6, Warriors and Spurs in 3, Clipps and Thunder in 5.

Let’s talk puck.  Sorry Kings fans, but it’s over.  LA is in serious trouble against the Sharks.  I’m sure some of you are clinging to the false hope of 2014, but this is not the same Kings team, nor the same  San Jose team.  Darryl Sutter can’t come up with a line combination that can consistently generate offense.  Anze Kopitar has disappeared like Houdini, and no defenseman outside of Drew Doughty and Jake Muzzin can be trusted with a cup of coffee.  Marian Gaborik might have been the Kings best player in game 2, and he hasn’t played in 9 weeks!  The Sharks may be downplaying it, but they are determined to make up for their embarrassment in 2014.  Sharks Coach Peter Deboer also wants revenge for the Kings beating his Devils team in the finals in 2012.   The Sharks are beating the Kings at their own game.  They are more physical, manhandling LA in front of their own net, and getting the better of the special teams play.  The Shark jokes were fun while they lasted, but the Kings are going to be done playing hockey this season on Wednesday night at the Shark Tank.  That’s the parity of the NHL.

Speaking of trouble, the Ducks are down 0-2 as well to Nashville, after dropping the first two of the series at home.  Don’t you just love the NHL Playoffs? There’s really no such thing as an upset.  The Ducks have been more frustrated than Tim Tebow’s girlfriend, as Pekka Rinne has been solid in goal for Nashville.  Their defense has been tough, and they’ve gotten the timely scoring they need at even strength.  Corey Perry was nowhere to be found last night either.  It’s tough to win a playoff series when your best players don’t show up, which is exactly how the Kings feel right now.  The worst part about this for Anaheim is that they have some demons of past playoffs they are trying to overcome, so going down 0-2 has to shake their confidence.  Don’t count the Ducks out yet, but the way things are going, they’ll be done playing this week, and Bruce Boudreau might be looking for a job shortly after that.

Let’s go to the NFL, where the Rams stole the headlines from Kobe on Thursday, by acquiring the #1 pick in the draft.  Yes, I realize that the Redskins and their fans are laughing their asses off after this trade, and that the Rams won’t have another 1st round pick for the next 30 years or so.  However, I’m actually a fan of this trade.  You can’t win in the NFL without a quarterback, and that QB isn’t Case Keenum.  Jeff Fisher and Les Snead know that.  The reason the Rams were able to make this trade was also because they made the RGIII trade, and were able to build their team to the point they have now.  However, that team is consistently a 7-9 or 8-8 team.  That’s not good enough.  Sounds like Carson Wentz is the better long term player with more upside than Jared Goff. The Rams have the time to develop Wentz, since they don’t move into their new stadium until 2019.  I hate the notion however, that this trade was made because it’s a star driven town.  That’s a poor way to run a franchise if that’s the sole reason it was made.  As a result, Jeff Fisher’s phone has been blowing up since the trade was announced…..

Fisher's phone

I feel like the only requirement to be the USC AD is to have played football at the University.  The Trojans surprised quite a few people by hiring Lynn Swan as their new AD.  This feels very similar to the Mike Garrett hire.  No specific experience that would make him qualified to run a major NCAA athletic program.  One thing he does have is a membership to Augusta National, so I’m sure some of the powers that be at USC will be taking advantage of a few rounds of golf there.  Heck, OJ has to be telling himself that if he didn’t end up in the slammer or on trial, he would have easily been on USC’s short list for the AD position by now.  I’m most curious to see how much slack he gives Clay Helton, since he did not hire him.  Speaking of Helton, I’m surprised he didn’t proclaim Max Browne his starting quarterback after the spring scrimmage.  I still think there’s no way he’s going to lose the job, and that he’s probably just making Browne work for everything.  I’ve never really been a fan of these spring scrimmages, because it’s just more wear and tear on these guys bodies, but at least the Trojans scaled down the scrimmage, unlike a lot of other schools.

Just how bad is the Dodgers bullpen? It’s bad enough that closer Kenley Jansen is already being asked to come in during the 8th inning for extended appearances.  When will the Dodger front office learn? Jansen can’t make up for a terrible middle relief group.  The same way that Clayton Kershaw can’t make up for a crummy pitching staff.  Scott Kazmir proved once again this weekend that you wouldn’t even trust him to tell you what he wanted on his pizza.  What a waste of $48 million.  At least the Dodgers finally managed take a series from the Giants, who seem to be just dripping with championship pedigree.  I like Dave Roberts, but the front office hasn’t done him any favors.

Finally, a brutal weekend for the Halos.  They were swept by the lowly Minnesota Twins, who hadn’t won a game yet this season.  The Angels bullpen just couldn’t get it done.  It was one close loss after another.  This was supposed to be a softer part of the Halos schedule, but it’s turning into more of a mine field.  After the three straight losses in the Twin Cities, the Angels now go to Chicago to play the upstart Chi Sox, who have won 8 of their first 12.  We’re also still waiting for Albert Pujols and Mike Trout to find their offensive groove.  Wake me up when someone decides to take control of the AL West.


Saying Goodbye

Kobe says goodbye

April 13th, 2016

We’ve all done it.  You go to a party, and you say goodbye.  Except after you say goodbye, you take your conversations all the way to the door and you say goodbye again. Only to continue your conversation on a walk to the car and you say goodbye once more.  Finally, you get the car, roll down your window, continue the conversation a little more, but then you realize, it’s time to drive down the road and really say goodbye.  This has been the Kobe Bryant farewell tour.  It’s been a long goodbye, but rightfully earned.  Tonight at Staples Center, Kobe will give that final goodbye against the Utah Jazz.  Are you ready? I know I’m ready for it to end.  Kobe is definitely ready for it to end as well.

It’s not a sad moment.  It’s a celebration, and one that is so big, I felt that it would have truly been minimized by slamming it into my usual Monday Morning Coffee column.  If anything, the farewell tour has been therapeutic, because it’s helped distract you a little from the fact that the Lakers stink.  The only thing sad about it is the fact that when it’s over, you will have to face the reality that the Lake Show has some serious work to do.  More than anything though, the lengthy farewell tour has really put into perspective just why Kobe Bryant is so special.

Yesterday, Karl Malone appeared with Dr J on SportCenter to talk about his memories of Kobe.  The same Malone that was irritated when Kobe called him off when he tried to set a pick for him in the 1998 All Star Game.  The same Karl Malone that had beef with Kobe when the Mamba claimed he was hitting on his wife in 2005.  After all that, Malone explained that despite playing 19 years in Utah,  Kobe was somebody that he wished he could have played with longer than the one season he did.  He had deep respect for the fact that after every game, Kobe was feverishly studying what he did wrong, even in the games he played exceptionally well.  Malone even called Kobe a friend.  That’s how much respect Kobe commands.

That’s exactly what the Kobe farewell tour is all about.  Kobe has plenty of die hard supporters.  He also has plenty of haters.  The last few months have given even those haters the chance to show him respect for everything he’s done, and how he’s approached the game.  NBA fans all over the country are flocking to arenas like Geese, chanting his name, just to get one last glimpse of his greatness.  They also want to show him respect because he commands it with his approach, if nothing else.  You may not agree with that approach, but that dedication to greatness deserves the celebration.

When great talent meets great work ethic, you get Kobe Bryant.  My favorite thing about The Black Mamba is his accountability.  For twenty years, he has accepted the responsibilities that go with being an NBA superstar for the most successful franchise in the modern era.  That has meant dedicating himself to improving as a player, a leader, and a man since he came into the league as a teenager.  That also has meant playing through injuries with regularity, because Kobe appreciates the fan that works hard and pays big money for a ticket to see him play once a year.  You can’t ask for anything more if you are a Laker fan, since most of them have the expectation of winning championships.

I don’t know about you, but not only do I watch sports because it’s a therapeutic escape from reality, but I also watch in hopes of witnessing those unbelievable moments of history and greatness.  Whether it was his 81 point game, five championships, his streak of 9 straight 40+ point games, his streak of 4 straight 50+ point games, or numerous shots that made you drop your jaw because of the degree of difficulty, Kobe gave us countless moments of greatness.

For many Laker fans in Southern California, Kobe feels like part of their family.  For the last twenty years, he has been the Los Angeles Lakers.  He’s had ups and downs like your kids do, but it’s all just part of the journey.  However, more than anything, Kobe is an inspiration to us all.  He not only knew that he wanted to be an NBA player, but he set out to be one of the greatest of all time, and he accomplished that.  That drive and dedication to greatness is something that everyone should admire, and take with them in whatever endeavors they pursue.  So after twenty years, thank you Kobe, for being an inspiration to us all.  It’s been a long goodbye, but it’s been well worth it.