December 7, 2012
Amidst an unordinary season in Los Angeles involving a coaching change and the Lakers first 0-3 start since 1978, Kobe Bryant still found his way on a billboard. This time it was a career milestone. Ironically, the 13th pick in the 1996 NBA Draft came into the night needing 13 points to reach it. On Wednesday night against the New Orleans Hornets, Bryant scored 29 points and led the Lakers to a 103-87 victory.
But it wasn’t the performance that led to the win that was of note, it was the basket he made with 1:15 left in the 2nd quarter. Just another signature slashing drive to the basket with an incredible finish gave Bryant 30,000 points for his career. This is what the 30,000 point plateau means for Kobe Bryant:
1. Youngest player in NBA history to reach 30,000 points.
2. 5th player in NBA history to score 30,000 points.
3. The Hall-of-Fame is all but assured considering the 4 others in this club were all inducted: “Cap” Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, “the Mailman” Karl Malone, Michael “Air” Jordan, and Wilt “the Stilt” Chamberlain
4. 5,640 of his points so far have come in the NBA Playoffs, which already puts him at 3rd all-time.
5. The only one in the 30,000-point club to not play college basketball
Although Kobe needed more games to reach the 30,000 mark, I don’t think it’s wise to hold that against him. What is going to happen when somebody like Lebron James hits the 30,000-point club? Are we going to downplay his achievement? The answer is no. Kobe at 34 has played an incredible 16 NBA seasons. By only his fifth NBA season he was dropping 28.5 points per game. I would say he adjusted pretty well.
Even after a knee surgery, Bryant still looks ageless. There will come a time when it is no longer easy to score. That time is a far cry from the present for the man they call “The Black Mamba”.
May 24, 2012
The Kings squeaked into the playoffs and look to become the first ever No. 8 seed to win the holy grail of hockey. While the Kings have been led in the playoffs by goaltender Jonathan Quick and captain Dustin Brown, it was Anze Kopitar who got them to this point.
Quick has been sensational this playoff season, posting a 1.54 goals against average with a .946 save percentage and Brown has posted 16 points, but it has been Kopitar who deserves most of the credit. The 24-year-old center from Slovenia is now in his sixth NHL season and is the most underrated player in hockey.
He’s scored 25-plus goals in five consecutive seasons and led his team with 76 points this season. It’s safe to say that his numbers would have been higher had his teammates played up to their potential this year as the Kings have just begun to click.
The Kings were expected to contend for the Cup in 2011-12 after they made some bold moves last offseason, bringing in Mike Richards from the Philadelphia Flyers in exchange for a couple of highly talented players in Wayne Simmonds and Brayden Schenn. Well, things didn’t go as planned as the Kings found it merely impossible to put the puck in the net during stretches of the season.
Things were going so poorly for Kings that they were forced to fire head coach Terry Murray on December 12 and replaced him with Darryl Sutter. While the Kings responded well to the change, it still didn’t quite spark the offense to their liking and they traded young stud defenseman Jack Johnson for scorer Jeff Carter at the trade deadline.
Even after all the moves the Kings made this season, it was Kopitar’s consistency that kept the Kings afloat. He now has 15 points in the playoffs and always seems to light the lamp when his team needs it most.
Despite all the obstacles that Kopitar and the Kings have faced this season, all’s well that ends well as the Kings have reached the ultimate destination.
With the Eastern Conference still up for grabs between the New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils, the NHL will be in the spotlight in the coming weeks. The man who will shine most on center stage is Kopitar himself.