The Lakers won last night’s game and was the better team against the Clippers. They just got the game stolen from them by the refs. I normally don’t like to complain about refs, because it’s just part of the game. But in some games awful officiating is egregious, and last night’s contest between the Lakers and the Clippers was a great example of it. There were a number of awful calls given for Crawford, including the call he got when shooting a three pointer. On the replay, Johnson didn’t even touch him. But I can understand the bad calls by the refs when it comes to Crawford, because ALL of his jumpers look so ugly that it’s hard to imagine he didn’t get hit or something. So in real-time it’s really difficult to make the right call. But the GAME-CHANGING awful no-call when Lin went to the hoop and got hammered by DeAndre Jordan was inexcusable! It looked like an obvious foul in real-time, as well as on replay. Here it is:
These no-calls happen to Lin, in particular, way more than can be explained by the usual human error. Refs are biased against Lin. This definitely happens on a subconscious level, but in this case it may also be happening on a conscious level. I don’t know. But refs just don’t give Lin the benefit of the doubt when he gets hammered. Part of it could be because Lin used to often fall down a lot every time he drives hard to the rim. So maybe they just think this is part of what Lin does and don’t buy the fact that Lin got hammered. What makes the refs’ bias against Lin even more insane is that Lin is one of the best at finishing around the rim, so they SHOULD give Lin the benefit of the doubt, but they don’t. And that’s where some bias may be coming into play.
Anyway, in order to do what I can to hopefully put an end to this nonsense, I sent the following tweet to @NBAOfficial:
I encourage you to compose your own tweet and send it to @NBAOfficial and/or retweet my tweet. If we can get more people to continue to do this, that would be great! If you have composed and sent a tweet to @NBAOfficial (you can also include @NBA), let me know where I can find your tweet in the comments and I will retweet your tweet, like I’ve already done to several tweets I’ve seen. You can find my tweet here.
Anyway, enough about the awful officiating. I hate complaining about refs!
In my previous article, I encouraged Lin and Lakers fans to take a deep breath. I also said that THIS Kobe is different from the Kobe of old. He’s more nurturing and knows that he needs someone else to step up and share leadership roles. He only ball hogged in the two opening games, because he felt like no one was stepping up and felt he had to take it upon himself. Now, even THIS Kobe will still be the Kobe of old on the court in stretches, but at least it won’t be for an entire game and for the majority of the season.
Kobe’s post-game press conference is awesome to watch. It was pretty much all about Jeremy Lin and I don’t think Kobe has ever been this happy after a loss. Kobe mentioned that he, Lin and Boozer texted after the blowout loss to the Suns and discussed strategy.
I didn’t expect much in the Clippers game, but it’s shocking to me that they made such great strides in just 48 hours. They looked like a totally different team and the biggest difference was that the Lakers team appeared to trust Lin and follow his lead. Lin got to run the offense, almost the entire time he was on the floor and Lin was directing traffic and he was even getting screens (still not enough, though).
Of course, the play that everyone is talking about is the one in which Lin waved Bryant off, who was asking for the ball, and then nailed a three with Chris Paul all up in his mug, as the clock was winding down. That gave the Lakers a 3-piont lead and a chance to win the game. Of course, if Lin didn’t make that three, we wouldn’t be talking about it. So thank Lin’s God that he made that three. Because that one play earned a lot of respect from Kobe and Kobe couldn’t stop gushing over it in his post-game.
Kobe wants Lin to believe in himself and if that means waving Kobe off, that’s fine with Kobe. But, of course, you better make damn sure the ball is going in if you wave off Kobe. Haha. Actually, down the road, I’m sure Kobe would be okay if that shot from Lin didn’t go in. But it’s very important that the first few times Lin does it, the shot goes in. So that was a big moment for Lin, because that was a pretty bad shot to take. But that shot shows Kobe and the Lakers something Lin fans already know: that Lin has the clutch genes.
I’m hoping, for the sake of the Lakers, that they take full advantage of Lin’s clutch genes, because Lakers STILL could have overcome biased officiating if they stayed with Lin being the focus down the stretch, instead of going with Kobe isos. Kobe was 1 of 7 or something in the fourth quarter and, in the end, his isos cost the Lakers a chance at an actual victory, not just a moral one. I hope THIS Kobe will realize this, because Byron Scott didn’t seem to mind the shots that Kobe took. Sure, Kobe is probably the best closer in the game, but Lakers need to continue to play team ball down the stretch. In a lot of games, Kobe may be gassed down the stretch, as he appeared to be in last night’s game.
Although that one play in which Lin waved Kobe off and nailed a three is the one everyone is talking about, there was one other play that spoke volumes to me, in the middle of the 3rd quarter. I almost couldn’t believe it when I saw it and was very encouraged.
In the middle of the 3rd quarter, Lin passed the ball to Kobe. Lin was sort of in the elbow area behind the three-point line and Kobe was posting up. Kobe drove to above the free throw line and looked like he was going to try to score, but then ended up passing it back out to Lin and Lin nailed an open three. In my previous article, I mentioned that you’re not going to see Kobe pass to Lin much, even though Kobe likes Lin. The reason is because Kobe thinks his job is either to score or make plays for others–especially the bigs–since he thinks Lin can make plays for himself. But this is misguided on Kobe’s part, because I think there are so many opportunities where it would be so beneficial for the Lakers if he would just pass the ball right back to Lin and catch the defense off guard. Lin is usually wide open when he gives the ball up. So when you give the ball right back to Lin, Lin can usually nail a wide open three or he can catch his man off guard and drive to the hoop. This play is there for the Lakers on so many possessions. I’m hoping that Lin is very vocal to his teammates about this, but I’m not very optimistic that he will be about this, because it’ll sound too much like he’s being a ball hog. So I’m just hoping that Kobe sees it. But, since that play didn’t get any attention, I’m also not very optimistic about this.
Now, back to Kobe and his awesome post-game interview that was pretty much all about Jeremy Lin. One very astute observation that Kobe made about last night’s game was that they weren’t playing out of their minds. They were just playing good basketball. In other words, it is something that they can repeat, given their personnel. It wasn’t like they had a magical night in which they were all playing above their capabilities. It was more about the fact that they figured out how to play with one another and, as long as they continue to build on it, they can do it again. It’s sustainable. This is what I really appreciate about Kobe and it’s why I’ve become more and more of a fan of Kobe’s. He’s very insightful. His interviews are often very enjoyable for me to watch, because I’m hearing someone who has great insight and wisdom in general. And these are things I really appreciate.
I think Kobe sees that Lin is also very insightful and I think that’s one of the reasons Kobe really enjoys sharing his knowledge of the game with Lin. In Kobe’s post-game, a reporter asked Kobe about that play in which Lin waved him off and nailed a three. They asked him what that play tells him about Lin and Kobe’s first reaction was to say: “That he’s good at listening.”
I think what amazed Kobe the most about Lin last night was that Lin was able to digest everything that Kobe told him in 48 hours and implement it. That’s one of the reasons Kobe was so ecstatic at his post-game, despite losing the game. I don’t think Kobe has ever had a teammate who is able to do that. To take in what he says and then implement it so quickly. I think that is what really impressed Kobe about Lin.
Kobe also went on to say a lot of things that a lot of Lin fans have always wanted to tell Lin (and wouldn’t dare imagine, in our wildest dreams, that a teammate would actually be telling Lin). I’ve taken some of these quotes below from an excelelnt ESPN LA article, entitled “Lakers empower Lin, and he responds”:
- “[This] is exactly what [Jeremy Lin] should do. Is be the point guard. Orchestrate things and get us into sets and get us flowing, get us moving, being aggressive. This is the blueprint for him and how to continue to play.”
- “You have to be able to assert yourself, especially on a team that I’m playing on — especially on a team I’m playing on. Because I don’t want chumps, I don’t want pushovers, and if you’re a chump and a pushover, I will run over you.”
- “It’s important for him to have that toughness and to say, ‘I believe in myself. I can step up, I can make these plays, I can perform.’ I think that is very, very important.”
- On Lin waving him off, a reporter asked if that’s the first time Kobe saw that in a game: “Honestly, the teams that I’ve played on [and won with] we used to have that all the time. Fish used to wave me off all the time, Lamar, etc. But, Jeremy, probably. Probably. I don’t know if he’s done that in New York. I don’t know if players that he’s played with have told him to do that. You gotta put your mark down, man!” (pounds fist on table). “At some point, you’ve got to piss on the fire hydrant.”
As a Lin fan, it’s awesome to see that Lin finally has someone who empowers him, rather than being threatened by him. The fact that it’s Kobe makes this all the more awesome! This is all that Lin fans ever ask for is for his teammates and coaches to believe in him and treat him fairly. That’s all Lin fans ever want! And it looks like Lin is at a place where he’s finally getting the type of treatment he deserves.
The Lakers underwent a dramatic change last night, but that doesn’t mean smooth sailing from here on out. I’m sure they’ll still have stretches where they played like they did in their first two games. And it is very likely that they’ll have that type of game again tonight. In fact, I’d be shocked if they didn’t get blown out by the Warriors tonight. So it’s important to continue to be patient and give them a little time to figure things out.
I really do agree with Kobe when he said that what they did last night was sustainable. But it will still take time to solidify that identity, as they continue to trust Lin to be a leader. Speaking of which, I’m not sure if you all noticed it, but in Lin’s post-game interview, Lin actually referred to himself as a “leader”. I don’t think Lin has ever owned up to that title publicly in his NBA career, even though he is a very effective leader. So it appears Kobe is starting to positively influence Lin’s psyche. I hope Lin continues to build on this. Once again, Lin emphasizes how important it is for him to be empowered: “I’m like every other human, I’m going to be more comfortable and do more when I feel empowered. I definitely take all of the responsibility for my performance in the last two games. That’s inexcusable for me to be the leader of this team and the point guard of this team to play the way I did.”
There’s going to be a lot of pressure on Lin now to be a leader. This is Lin’s dream come true, I’m sure, but it’s also a lot to take in, after being disempowered so egregiously by McHale, Harden and Morey in Houston, as well as Melo and Woodson in New York (funny that Woodson is currently the assistant coach for the Clippers and had a front row seat to witness a little “Linsanity”). We’ll see how Lin handles all of this. But right now, Lin fans are FINALLY getting what we want and that is sort of a miracle.