The State of the NBA
by Kevin Monroe

I was in pure amazement last week when I found out Kobe Bryant scored 81 points in a basketball game.  It really seemed surreal, almost like a dream.  In my lifetime rarely did a player break 60 points.  Michael Jordan did it a few times in his hey-day and a handful of other players did as well, but 70 or 80 points was just unheard of.  I always heard stories about Wilt Chamberlin’s 100-point game, but since it wasn’t televised it has always seemed like an urban legend.  Besides, Wilt was about 8 feet tall in an era where basketball players were rarely taller than 6 feet 5 or so.  Thinking about Wilt’s 100-point game is almost comical; did he just stand in the lane and continuously drop the ball in the bucket as if he were bobbing for apples?

Kobe’s 81 however, was televised and at 6 feet 7 inches tall, he doesn’t dominate inside as Wilt did. I will preface these comments by saying I am not a Kobe fan, I respect his talent, but his arrogance and character are a bit too much for me to handle.  He actually had to hit jump shots and drive to the paint to dunk the ball or make a tough lay-up.  Kobe shot an astounding 28/46 from the floor, 7-13 from 3pt range and 18-20 from the free throw line.  He also played 41 of the games’ 48 minutes in regulation, and he only had 27 of the 81 points at half time.  I didn’t watch the game, so when I first heard his point total my first response was why?  To me, it didn’t seem like it would ever be necessary in today’s game to score that many points. 

After closely reviewing the stats I see that he was hitting his outside shots, he did a good job of getting to the free throw line, and his team was down 18 points in the second half.  The thing that puzzled me was why did he have to take every shot.  There were 4 other guys on the court with him at all times, yet he took all the shots.  The next leading scorer had 14 points.  It’s sad to think that a player would feel like he has to take almost every shot for his team to win.  So far in this 2005-06 NBA season, there has been 54 times a player has scored 40 or more points in a game and we are not even to the all-star break yet.  Last year that only happened 67 times.

The more they try to make the NBA a team game, by adding zone defenses and changing certain rules, the more players find a way to make it about them.  The one thing I loved about Michael Jordan and the Bulls was that Michael made everyone around him better.  When the Bulls were winning, we just didn’t know Michael and Scottie, we knew Luke Longley, John Paxon, Steve Kerr and B.J. Armstrong.  Average players that played like all-stars because MJ kept them involved.  I see a little of that in LeBron James, but most other stars would rather try and win games all by themselves.  I am not a Pistons fan, but it is a breath of fresh air to watch them play.  Five guys that are playing together and dominating the league.  On his own, none of the five could lead the league in scoring, but together they are 36-5.

Kevin Monroe