Thursday, April 18, 2013

The End of a Legend

 Bryant surrounded by teammates (Left to Right) Blake, Nash, World Peace, Howard

    There are some basketball players that will be talked about long after their careers are said and done. For instance, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, and Michael Jordan are still household names years after their retirement. This sort of recognition is only reserved for the greatest of the greats: those that were arguably the best of their generation. Their are plenty of Basketball Hall-of-Famers that people my age (18) have never even heard of. Only the chosen few are able to transcend time and and reach the Mount Rushmore of basketball. These players have a reservoir of grit, determination, and skill that the average NBA player could never dream of having. Ladies and Gentlemen, meet: Kobe Bean Bryant.

     As the son of a professional basketball player, Kobe spent much of his childhood moving around Europe as his father found new teams to play on. Through this, Kobe learned a couple things: each of the romance languages, and the fact that he never wanted to have to move his family around in that sort of way. He would hold on to both of those lessons throughout his life, and each would prove valuable in its own unique way.

     The Charlotte Hornets selected Kobe Bryant with the 13th pick of the 1996 NBA Draft, however, a deal was in place to trade him to the Lakers before the draft ever ended. In retrospect, that was not exactly the right decision. In 17 years with the Los Angeles Lakers, Kobe Bryant has won 5 NBA Championships and scored more points than Wilt Chamberlain. He has been to 15 NBA All-Star Games and won a league MVP. He has won 2 gold medals and been selected to 10 All-NBA 1st teams, all while playing for 1 team. He has been through 10 head choaches, been to 7 NBA Finals, and is the franchise all-time leader in points scored. Not only did Kobe do everything he could for the NBA, he gave his life to the Lakers.

     Kobe gave his soul to his team ever since he entered the facility, but last week they took his body. A ruptured Achilles tendon is scheduled to sideline him between 6 and 9 months. At this age, a comeback from this injury can only diminish his legacy in the eyes of those that do not remember him leading the Lakers on their path to greatness. So I say farewell to the "Black Mamba", Killer of so many NBA teams over the past 17 years.

All that, and I didn't even include his two greatest accomplishments.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

The Master of his Domain

     Tiger Woods wearing a Master's Champion Green Jacket
     Tiger Woods will try once again this weekend to win his 5th Master's Tournament and 15th Major Championship overall. He is the hottest player on the Tour, and after winning 3 Professional Golf Association events so early in the season, he is the odds on favorite to win again. The problem is, in recent years Tiger woods has folded in pressure situations, something he was never known to do before the situation in '09. So, in essence, the question is: which Tiger should we expect to see this weekend?

     Sports pundits like John Feinstein have drilled into our brains that Tiger Woods will never be the golfer that he was in the early and mid 2000s. However, what is that supposed to mean exactly? Tiger is still his same old self: He has regained his rightful throne as the number one golfer in the world, he is winning golf tournaments left and right, and he is even involved in another alleged sex scandal. The only thing that has changed is that he has not won a major since the 2008 US Open where he played through a double stress fracture in his left leg and a torn ACL, to defeat Rocco Mediate in an 18 hole playoff. Despite that, most still agree that it is only a matter of time before he wins another major.

So, what is the real difference in Tiger? Confidence. Pride. Swagger. However it is you want to word it, he is lacking the "Wow" factor that he has displayed in so many tough situations. The past few years, Tiger has played very conservative, which did not compliment his consistently poor putting. Augusta is a long course, the only way for him to come out with a win this weekend is to take out his best clubs and swing for the green. Laying Up does nobody a favor but his competition, a lesson the novice golfer, such as myself, learns by playing Wii Sports.

Words of advice: Come strong, or stay at home.