Monday, February 12, 2007

Best of the Best Part 2: Basketball Edition [David Stefanini]

For part two of the Best of the Best, I am going to cover the sport I follow the most-basketball. In basketball I think the most important quality an athlete can have is the ability to take over a game when it matters the most. That was Michael Jordan's best quality and it is a quality shared by these five men:
1 - Kobe Bryant - Let me throw out a scenario for ya; there are 10 seconds left on the clock and you're down by 1 with the ball. If you could have any player in the league to take the potential winning jump shot who would it be? If you have any knowledge of the game of basketball you would not hesitate to say, Kobe Bryant. Kobe is the best clutch player in the league since some guy named Mike and he is also the most dominating offense player in the league since that guy name Mike. Last year he was the most dominant scorer and the best offensive weapon; this year he has learnt to be a leader and a teammate first and let his scoring take care of itself. We all know about his great offensive talents, but he is #1 for another reason, his defense. Unlike LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, Kobe is a defensive stopper late in the game. Kobe has no problem going 1-1 against the opposing team's best player and that is what makes him the best.
2 - Kevin Garnett - It is a shame KG has to play for a franchise who does not surround him with the talent he needs to go far in the playoffs. Year after year he is a dominating low-post player, who can also go outside and hit jumpers. To go along with his well-above-average offensive game, year after year KG is in the top five for rebounding. To go along with his well-above-average rebounding skills is his brilliant passing ability in the low-post. In other words KG is well-above-average in every category and deserves to be on a team who has a chance to win the Finals. If KG had a team around him he would have a few rings by now.
3 - Dwyane Wade - Wade established himself as a superior talent during last year's run to the title. Wade showed the world he can carry a team on his shoulders night in and night out and give his team a chance to win every game. He is almost impossible to stop 1-1 because of his great ball-handling skills. Nicknamed "The Flash" by his teammate Shaquille O'Neal, The Flash has shown he is going to be one of the brightest stars the league has to offer for a very long time to come.
4 - LeBron James - I know most people would expect to see LeBron in the top 2, however the fact is his defense and free-throw shooting put him behind Garnett and Wade. LeBron is undoubtedly the most talented player in the league, and he is only 21 years old. He posted a triple double in his first ever playoff game and brought his team (single-handily) to within one win of the Eastern Conference Championship Series. However, late in the game I do not see him take over like I see Wade and Kobe do. LeBron's free-throw shooting is killing him right now. When he gets into a lane, opposing players know to foul him hard and make him earn it. Once LeBron fixes that problem, as his defensive skills improve, LeBron will be the best. At the current pace he is on that may be in a year or two.
5 - Steve Nash - Steve Nash is the reigning two-time MVP and is looking like a strong pick to win his third in a row. Although I do not agree with him winning the award last season, he is unquestionably a worthy pick. No one in the league can take over a game without scoring a single point like Nash. He puts the ball in perfect position every time for his teammates to score. It's like a quarterback who hits his receivers in stride and allows them to run for a touchdown; only Nash does this almost every pass. Do not let his passing game fool you however; Nash is a true scorer as well. There have been times this season when Nash has needed to keep the ball and score for his team and Nash has come through almost every time. Nash's only flaw is his defense; with his age I doubt he will become a defensive stopper in the years to come, but to deny this string of three years he is putting together as three of the best years any point guard has ever played would be plain stupidity.
Check back tomorrow night to see my post about the Best of the Best- Hockey edition.

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