The Jesus-Kobe Rivalry

[Blogger's Note: I am re-posting this due to increased relevance]

All this talk of a Celtics-Lakers Final is now being sprinkled with hints of a lingering Kobe-Jesus rivalry. After reading the below article from December 2004, it occurred to me that Lamar Odom's Soprano-like hit job at Staples may have been premeditated.

I'm sure it was also an expression of Laker frustration in getting crushed by the Celtics twice in less than two months. But I'm starting to believe that Kobe had his goons target Ray-Ray.

The origins of the rivalry apparently stemmed from an answer Ray Allen gave to a reporter who asked his opinion about the wisdom of trading Shaquille O'Neal to Miami. Ray predicted that in two years Kobe would go crying to Mitch and Jerry with demands for help or threats to jump ship.

Now I see how Ray got his nickname.

He can predict the future.

Sonics rout Lakers in Bryant - Allen showdown
Allen has last laugh in feud with Kobe
Lakers Still Can't Make a Statement
December 2004

The great Laker experiment, such as it is, can't seem to beat the elite, the latest bit of reality coming on a sluggish night in the Northwest.

Kobe Bryant put his feud with Karl Malone behind him just in time to revisit one with Ray Allen . After the two traded barbs in October, Bryant outscored Allen in their first meeting of the season. But in what is becoming all too commonplace this year, the Lakers couldn't compete down the stretch. Rashard Lewis bested everyone with 37 points to lead the 18-4 Seattle SuperSonics past the Los Angeles Lakers 108-93.

"Too much focus was on Ray Allen tonight and I got a lot of open shots and I took advantage,'' Lewis said. "Even though it was Ray and Kobe , I felt like Kobe was talking to us as a team. We're a team and we're going to back each other up.''

Bryant said before the game he was done commenting on his relationship with Malone. Bryant had accused Malone of making a pass at his wife during a game Nov. 23.

Bryant's feud with Allen, meantime, was set up when Allen, asked his opinion about Bryant last October, essentially called Bryant a selfish malcontent.

It escalated two weeks later when Bryant confronted Allen and told him, "I'll see you again," and told the media, "don't even put me in the same breath as Ray Allen."

"Ray is what you would call a three-dimensional player," Lewis said. "He can kill you with his shot, kill you with his passing, and kill you with his mind. He doesn't have to just score and score and score."

Since arriving in Seattle in a trade last year, Allen has played his most memorable games against the Lakers. In his Sonics debut on Feb. 23, 2003, Allen scored 26 points, grabbed a career-high tying 13 rebounds and doled out nine assists in a 106-101 win.

In a Jan. 2, 2004 game, in which Gary Payton returned to KeyArena for the first time in an opposing uniform, Allen stole the show with 35 points to top Bryant's 32 in a 111-109 Sonics victory.

After the Shaquille O'Neal was traded to Miami, Allen was asked about whether Kobe Bryant could lead the Lakers back to the Finals:

He feels like he needs to show the league, that he is better without Shaq, that he can win without Shaq. That he can still average 30 points and he can still carry the load on this team. The point production is not so much what people will look at, because (Tracy) McGrady did it in Orlando and Allen (Iverson) did it in Philly. But can you win championships? Can he make everybody better? He has the talent. But is his attitude going to sometimes allow him to take the backseat and let Lamar Odom shine and let Caron Butler have his nights and bring those big guys along? If Kobe thinks he needs 2-1/2 good players to be a legitimate playoff contender or win a championship in about a year or two he will be calling out to (Lakers owner) Jerry Buss that we need some help in here, or trade me. We'll all be saying we told you so when he says that.


FLCeltsFan said...

Great stuff!! Ray Allen is a very smart guy and he nailed it on the head with that one. I literally get sick every time I hear Kobe talk about how his teammates are like brothers. These are the same guys that he was throwing under the bus this summer as he was demanding a trade and saying he wanted to play anywhere but there. It will be interesting to see whether Ray guards Kobe and vice versa or if Kobe is matched up with Pierce more. I wasn't aware of this rivalry between the two when Odom took out Ray in that game but now, I think you may be right.

Lex said...

I am pretty excited.

The match-ups will be very intriguing.

If Kobe guards rondo, the Fisher match-up will be the Celtics to exploit, whomever Fisher ends up defending...

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