By now, I am sure that you have seen Chad Ford's dazzling argument that Kobe is not worth trading for on ESPN.com. I read it, vomited, and then prepared to rip his shit to shreds. I even printed it out and took a high lighter with me into the can, a place where I do some of my best ripping of shit to shreds. But then before sitting down to write it yesterday, I thought to myself, it's late in the day, it was on ESPN.com's NBA home page all afternoon (ESPN Insider free preview -- fitting on so many levels), I bet you somebody already took Mr. Ford to task. And I was right (20 Second Timeout).
They did a great job of disputing and otherwise commenting on Chad Ford's 4 Pillars of Kobe's Unworthiness. It was definitely a more thorough rogering than what I would have come up with. I just have a few things to add.
+ Ford's first point is that Kobe has logged too many minutes in the NBA and that this large amount of "mileage" deters potential trade partners. Ford even ends this segment with "No one knows whether all that mileage -- all those minutes -- will shorten Bryant's career. But it's understandable if a team is reluctant to find out how Kobe's knees survive his next 10,000 minutes on the hardwood."
To me, Ford discounts his own point with that last bit. He's right; No one knows how all Kobe's mileage will affect his future play. No one knows because there are so many other factors that will play a part in determining a player's longevity such as genetics, physical conditioning, style of play, and just plain old luck. And his point is further weakened because, as 20 Second TO points out, the teams that are trying to get him don't care so much about the next 10,000 minutes. They care primarily about this season. They want to win NOW. And it's inexcusable that Ford overlooks this (or more likely, purposely ignores this). The whole reason why Kobe wanted to be traded in the first place is that he knows he's nearing the end of his prime and he wants to win now. Not be the cornerstone of some franchise's longterm plan. That was the whole fucking point.
+ Ford's second step in his quest for irrelevance is to point out that Kobe is probably not the "best player in the NBA." He supports his theory citing Kobe's less than best scores in terms of two notable NBA statistical rating systems, Hollinger's PER and 82Games.com's adjusted +/-. He notes that many players, including Dirk Nowitzki, Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, Shaq, TMac, KG, JKidd, and Gilbert Arenas all rate better than Kobe in one way or another with respect to the statistical analysis.
Fair enough. At least he's supporting this part of his argument with facts. But my question is, who gives shit? Are any of those players that he mentioned as being potentially "better than Kobe" on the trade market? Or, does a team get a certain added advantage from having the quoteunquote best player as opposed to say, the second or third best? What's with all this relative analysis? The fact is, Kobe is a great player and with the right pieces around him, can win a championship. Best player or not.
+ Ford's third installment in this masterpiece is his point that Kobe may not be a winner as his reputation professes. While admitting that Kobe has won three titles, it's the way that Kobe approaches the game that Ford asserts is the problem. Basically, Kobe's poor team play and lack of leadership qualities prevents him from truly being a winner. He writes, "Certainly Bryant wants to win. But he wants to win his way, according to many who have followed his career. And when you break it down, that translates to this attitude: I would rather lose my way than win your way."
For one, that is just false. Kobe has proved that he can subjugate his game for the greater good. And the Lakers won three titles. Just because Ford notes this quickly in a "Let's be fair" moment doesn't mean he can later ignore it in his argument and somehow avoid being hypocritical.
Jordan was another guy who wanted to win "in his way." But since Jordan's dominating presence led to 6 titles, his highly questionable teammate and leadership tactics became something of legend; for Kobe, since he has struggled recently, it's evidence that he's a team cancer. It's like the whole winning breeds chemistry thing. When you win, all problems disappear and the ends justifies the means. When you struggle, it becomes a blame game.
+ Ford's fourth point is the "verdict" if you will. I'll let 20 Second TO take this one. They say it all:
4) "Is Kobe worth it?"
Ford's case: Ford finally gets around to noting how difficult it is logistically to make a trade for Bryant due to Bryant's unique contract. A team would have to give up so much to get Bryant that there might not be enough left to make a title run. Ford concludes, "Most GMs prefer to stick with the status quo. Taking risks invites scrutiny from the media and fans, and tends to hasten a GM's dismissal, many feel. Doing nothing is simply safer."
Why Ford's case is not built Ford tough: Actually, this is the one valid point that Ford makes. The real reason that it is difficult to trade for Bryant is the unique contract he has, which Ford finally mentions at the end of his article--this should have been the first point. Bryant has a no-trade clause and a trade kicker; not only can he reject any deal but a team would have to give up so much (in personnel and contracts) to get him that there might not be enough left to make his new team any better than the Lakers are now. That, and not Ford's psychobabble, is the real reason that Bryant has not yet been traded. The reality is that Bryant is worth trading for if his new team can arrange to deal away primarily young players while keeping enough of a core intact for Bryant to lead the team on a title run.
In Chad's defense, hey he has to write something.