For years, I found the NBA about as thrilling as a county tax digest.
Pro basketball was a tiresome ritual with its 82-game schedule, generic franchises and an overall lack of passion.
Problem was, I wasn’t watching the best player in the game “doin’ work.”
I stumbled upon a Lakers-Rockets playoff game a few weeks ago, and I’m glad I put down the television remote.
Kobe Bryant scored 40 on Houston like he was taking out the trash.
In other words: a typical Kobe night, one of many I’d missed in my long-standing boycott of the NBA. I’ll start paying closer attention to greatness in my own time (I’ve only missed two Laker games since Byrant torched the Rockets).
No news flash here, but Bryant is amazing at what he does. That’s kind of like saying Tiger Woods hits a pretty good tee shot.
Bryant’s pull-up jumper is deadly, and his ability to shoot with a defender’s hand right in his eye socket is uncanny.
But Bryant also finds the open teammate. He plays defense. And he’s the coolest customer on the planet, especially in the clutch.
His fourth quarter exploits have earned him the reputation as, “the best closer in the game.”
Even noted New York Knick fan Spike Lee respects Kobe (Lee directed a documentary over Bryant called, Kobe: Doin’ Work, in which 30 cameras follow Bryant during a game).
Perhaps the best reason to like Kobe: he’s 30.
For all us guys in that age bracket, it helps to see him dominate the 20-somethings.
So Bryant has my full attention as he shoots for his fourth NBA title.
I’m not alone in my new-found interest in the NBA, either. The postseason television ratings are way up.
So thanks, Kobe.
It’s June, and you’ve given us a reason to watch basketball.
Once covered one of Dwight Howard’s high school games
Every time I saw Orlando’s Dwight Howard dunk on the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Finals, I flashed back to a high school game of Howard’s that I had the fortune of covering.
Back in 2004, I served as sports editor for one of our sister papers, The Commerce News.
Commerce faced Howard and Southwest Atlanta Christian (SACA) in round one of the Class A state tournament.
Southwest was loaded, boasting Howard, the no. 1 pick-to-be in the NBA draft, and another future NBA player, Jarvis Crittenton.
Commerce was just happy to be there. SACA probably wondered why it had to be there.
Understandably, the game was over by pre-game warm-ups. The Tigers lost by 45, and Howard played just two and a half quarters.
A few days later, someone asked me how well Howard shot the ball.
“I don’t know,” I responded. “He dunked eight times.”
Ben Munro is a reporter for The Madison County Journal.