Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol will be playing on different teams during the London Olympics.
Since basketball was first included as an Olympic Games event at Berlin, in 1936, the United States has been very much the dominant force. They won every gold medal up to 1972, when the Soviet Union finally beat them in Munich.
However, since then, it has been mostly a case of ‘normal service resumed’, with just two instances of bronze (Seoul 1988 and Athens 2004) tarnishing the otherwise brilliant glow emitted from the gold cabinet.
None of this comes as a surprise, when you consider that the NBA is the strongest basketball association in the world. Indeed, in the 1990’s, the USA were able to call on the services of none other than the legendary Michael Jordan, to help secure their rightful place at the top of the tree.
They can be beaten, as Argentina proved at Athens 2004, but there was no chance of a repeat shock, four years ago, when LA Lakers player, Kobe Bryant, led the USA to gold in Beijing. He is now in his thirties though, and that will give hope to the other 11 teams in the competition, notably, Spain, who have become a real force in world basketball of late. They have their own talisman in Pau Gasol. Read the rest of this entry →
The dismal performance by the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2011 NBA playoffs was a surprise to everyone.
Even when the two-time defending NBA Champion Los Angeles Lakers lost the first two games of their Western Conference playoff series at home to the perennial underachieving Dallas Mavericks, most of the NBA “experts” still expected Phil Jackson, Kobe Bryant and the Lakers to eventually flip a switch and return to their dominating ways.
That prediction was officially proved wrong on Sunday afternoon as the Mavericks whipped the Lakers 122-86 to complete an improbable four-game sweep of the former champions.
While history and past success are as celebrated in the NBA as in any other major professional sport, there comes a time when banners and history are no longer enough.
Though still a very talented team with a Hall of Fame coach and all-time great superstar, the Lakers are starting to show signs of age and the difficulty of staying motivated at the highest level.
There was a lot of talk this season about how they could just “flip the switch” when it was time to play their best, but the reality is that in a league where the difference in overall team talent is rather minimal, it isn’t all that easy to just suddenly jump from average to awesome.
The question now facing the Lakers is whether they can rebound next year with the same cast of characters or if it will take a significant overhaul for the Lakers to return to prominence.
Of the top 10 players on the roster, only 25-year-old reserve Shannon Brown and 23-year-old starting center Andrew Bynum are under the age of 30. Read the rest of this entry →
Kobe Bryant was a first team All-NBA selection seven times in the decade and led the Lakers to NBA titles to start and end the decade.
As we near the end of 2009 and thus the end of the first decade of the 21st Century, Sports Then and Now is looking at some of the athletes and moments that shaped the decade.
When the decade started many were wondering how the NBA could overcome the retirement of Michael Jordan. Of course Jordan did come back for two seasons during the decade as a member of the Washington Wizards, but he really was more of a footnote in the decade rather than a main player.
The decade belonged to two powerhouse teams, the Los Angeles Lakers and San Antonio Spurs. There were other teams with good runs, but those two squads were consistently contending for NBA titles.
Some are still looking for the next Michael Jordan, but while it is doubtful there will never be another MJ, as the NBA heads into the new decade it has a plethora of talented young stars poised to lead the league into the future.
Who is the Best NBA Player of the Decade?
Kobe Bryant (46%, 32 Votes)
Tim Duncan (20%, 14 Votes)
LeBron James (11%, 8 Votes)
Shaquille O'Neal (9%, 6 Votes)
Dwyane Wade (4%, 3 Votes)
Kevin Garnett (4%, 3 Votes)
Steve Nash (3%, 2 Votes)
Allen Iverson (1%, 1 Votes)
Jason Kidd (1%, 1 Votes)
Tony Parker (1%, 0 Votes)
Total Voters: 70
Below is a look at our picks for the top 10 NBA players over the past decade: