*you can also still vote for the Derrick Rose/Dwight Howard matchup. Voting closes tomorrow at 11 A.M. EST.*
Kobe Bryant may just be the most fascinating NBA superstar of the last 15 years. Most pundits agree that Kobe will go down as the second-greatest shooting guard ever. Looking at the all-time numbers, it’s pretty hard to disagree. A rare few have matched Kobe’s longevity – he’s been widely considered a top-five NBA player for many seasons. He’s got five rings. But for all of Kobe’s greatness, in how many individual season was Kobe the undisputed, this-isn’t-even-an-argument best player in the NBA? Two seasons? Three? So what is the mark of greatness? A few years of unquestioned dominance or multiple years of very, very, very good? I may have my opinion, but I don’t have the answers.
What I do know is that if one-on-one is tailored to Paul Pierce’s repertoire, then the game was designed in Kobe Bryant’s garage driveway. We all know about his elbow jumper, unnerving knack for clutch shots and continuously underrated defensive physicality. But one-on-one is a game of glory and pride. Team wins are wonderful, but nothing motivates Kobe more than individual triumph. Well, maybe flapping his gums about it afterwards and then nailing another dagger for good measure.
We can’t forget about Tyreke. To be completely honest, I hate his game. Is it effective? Absolutely. But there’s something about shoot-first point guards (hopefully he moves over to the two spot with Jimmer on the team) that rubs me the wrong way. Since we’re playing one-on-one, I have to set aside my trepidation and acknowledge that Tyreke Evans is, without question, a beast. He’s tough, scrappy and strong His raw power pushes defenders to the brink of physical exhaustion. In a long, drawn out game to 11, I’m not sure how many guys can handle the beating he would inflict. And that’s not even mentioning his handle or midrange game. When he picks his spot to attack, you’d be hard pressed to find someone able to get in his way.
But Kobe doesn’t just take it to you and bask in the glory. He drops buckets, pounds his chest, drops more buckets and kicks you while you’re down. Some may liken him to an assassin, but he’s really just a demoralizer. He doesn’t just want to beat you; he wants to embarrass your family and steal your lunch money.
So what I’d look for in this game would be simple – can Tyreke wear Kobe down before he fully turns on that well-documented swag? Your guess is as good as mine.
Jay Bilas: “With Kobe’s incredible shot-making ability, I don’t see Tyreke beating him. Kobe Bryant might be the perfect one-on-one player, and his competitiveness and will to win would be a tremendous challenge to match, let alone his considerable skills.”
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