The weather outside is frightful…
Luckily, there’s been no shortage of heat around the league this week. And we’re not just talking about fans in Miami (get some rest LeBron). Terrible seasonal puns aside, what did we really learn from the quarter-way mark in the NBA?
Here’s a quick roundup of this week’s biggest winners and losers:
It might be Andre Drummond who usually earns the most plaudits in the Motor City, but this week belonged solely to the man who players in number 1.
For quite some time now, Reggie Jackson has been one of the most underrated guards in the league. Which is what happens when you spend your formative years as Russell Westbrook’s understudy.
However, after leaving Oklahoma City behind, Reggie has gone from strength to strength – and this week it showed, in a big way.
Not only did he lead his team to a 4-0 record over the last seven days, and solidly back into contention for a playoff spot in the rapidly-improving Eastern Conference, but he did it by averaging 27 points and almost 9 assists per game.
In fact, the fifth-year guard scored more than 20 points in each contest over the course of the week. OK, so it was only against the freefalling Rockets, Suns, Bucks and Lakers, but still impressive numbers for a player whose star still seems to be on the rise.
And did we mention that his 34 point, 16 assist outing in the 127-122 overtime win vs. Phoenix was the first Piston 30-plus points and 15-plus assists in a single game for over 27 years?
Your move Mr. Drummond…
Honourable mentions: LeBron James, Jeff Green, we hear there’s a kid out in California that’s pretty good?
OK, so perhaps a little controversial, but stay with us on this one…
We could have quite easily picked a faltering franchise (we’re looking at you, Phoenix), or underperforming player (John ‘hitting-the’ Wall, etc. – see, we had material and everything), to critique this week. But it’s the Mamba who made us particularly sad.
Kobe will no doubt go down as one of the greatest players ever to play the game. Unfortunately, instead of going out on top, and challenging for honours on his swansong, his final year has been reduced to little more than a farewell tour.
Kobe is the fallen idol. Kobe is the aging, out-of-shape rock star, who fans buy tickets to see one final time – only to complain the whole way home about how much they sucked.
Essentially, Kobe is Mötley Crüe. And nobody wants to be Mötley Crüe.
Granted, we may be being a little harsh. After all, the warm receptions he’s received in his hometown of Philadelphia and, more recently, Detroit, were extremely heartfelt and emotional moments. But this is only the beginning of the bowing-down to the man they call Black Mamba.
The tributes will get longer. The applause will grow. And Kobe’s polite smile will gradually start to fade, as he stays transfixed on a scoreboard announcing another double-digit loss.
For a man who has won everything the game has had to offer, this extended eulogising of his career must be a particularly bitter pill to swallow.
Honourable mentions: Phoenix Suns, Sacramento Kings, Cleveland Cavaliers.