Mamba is back.
Can’t keep that guy down — and can’t keep him off this list anymore with the Lakers now riding a 4-game winning streak.
It was de rigueur just a short time ago to point to the Lakers’ record when Bryant scored 30 or more points (1-11) and see that as a sign that this sinking ship would never be able to be righted. Turns out that bringing Metta World Peace off the bench, having a little pow-wow between Mike D’Antoni and Pau Gasol and being patient with Dwight Howard’s recovery from back surgery can have its benefits.
And if Kobe goes 30-34-30-34 along the way, all Ws, things ain’t all that bad as they might have seemed.
It is human nature, but we are quick to judge in late November and early- to mid-December when nothing really matters except securing one of the top 8 spots in either conference.
Then, you wait and see what happens.
Remember, the brutal Philadelphia 76ers were one of the last 8 teams standing last season, and there was a time when Dwyane Wade and Erik Spoelstra were virtually at war during the Heat-Pacers playoff series last May when Miami was falling behind 2-1 in Indianapolis and LBJ was still carrying a feline fourth-quarter reputation.
That certainly changed in a hurry, didn’t it?
So again, take these rankings and take any other sweeping December comments for what they are worth. We still haven’t seen a minute of PT from Dirk Nowitzki, Amare Stoudemire, Derrick Rose and Andrew Bynum, four players whose presence could dramatically alter the power structure in each conference. We are finally getting our first extended look at Ricky Rubio and Kevin Love together. We just had the long-awaited return of Steve Nash (remember when Lakers said he’d be out one week?), and you get the feeling that the first mega-trade is on the verge of happening, with all eyes now focused on Sacramento and the DeMarcus Cousins situation. (Here are four proposed Cousins trades that make sense for teams desperate for centers).
Anyway, the season is past the quarter-pole and an awesome quintupleheader awaits us on Christmas Day.
Why the NBA decided to keep the Spurs off the slate is beyond me, but I imagine there are some in the NBA office who will forever be of the belief that San Antonio will never draw big TV audiences.
Onto the ranks …