In a nutshell, a 52 year old man with late stage metastasized skin cancer was treated with cloned immune cells taken from his own body (immunotherapy)...2 years later he is cancer free and is considered to have made a full recovery...amazing stuff. Science can and will help change the fortunes of mankind if we only are smart enough to not cloud good Science with rhetoric and partisan politics (just stepped off my soapbox.)
Kobe Bryant has long been an enigma. To be so gifted at such a young age, and to have such an understanding of the game and it's history is nothing short of remarkable. What is even more remarkable is the transformation he had over the years...going from clean cut, well spoken (he knows Italian for goodness sakes!), articulate superstar to getting a tattoo, screaming in slam about what rap he listens to and dropping MF every other sentence, fighting rape allegations, displaying an infallible cockiness and running another superstar out of LA (allegedly). Even with all the interviews (he really tried to sound like Mike) the moves, the fade away jump shot, and the nike commercials, it never seemed quite genuine. There was always a little hint (in my mind anyway) that he was trying to put out this facade, that everything was planned. But I have come to realize after stepping back and looking at Kobe Bean Bryant that he is now in no mans land, a no win situation, and has been there for some time. He is officially the Hilary Clinton of the NBA, well loved by a certain contingency of fans and completely detested by all the others. From the mistakes and arrogance displayed as a rookie, to him changing his number to 24 (come on!) to all the drama he has brought to the NBA and LA, he has placed himself in the unique position that no matter what he does or even how many more rings or accolades he achieves, a sizable group of fans and NBA watchers will still write him off. Whether he likes it or not, the standard for his position and game is Michael Jordan, and nothing he can say or do will keep people from comparing the two. These finals have made a lot of Kobe supporters as the greatest ever change their tune. No less then previous Kobe supporter John Hollinger had this to say about Kobe after Game 4: "We just wet the bed," said Kobe Bryant, who should never again be compared to Michael Jordan unless his play undergoes a seismic shift."
What I find sad about his career and public perception is that the league and the mantle to be the greatest was handed to him on a silver platter when he first entered the league in 1996. Jordan was fading into his second retirement just as the Kobe train was starting. The league was HIS. If Kobe Bryant had kept his head down, worked hard, played hard, and had been a team player in LA, what would we think of him now? Envision a career for him that had him playing his way into the rotation, contributing in the triangle with Shaq and winning those rings, while being the little brother and getting along decently with his teammates and coach. Picture him playing smart against the Piston's traps in 2004 and picture him being a team player and not pouting in that game 7 vs. the Suns. In all truthfulness, we might have seen Shaq gracefully become #2 as he got older, and Kobe might have 4 or 5 rings now. The way that team was set up in 2000-2003? With a positive mindset and a Lebron attitude instead of Kobe attitude? He wouldn't have half the friction he has now from the public. If he had been himself instead of reciting come fly with me? He could have moved units for Nike, had endorsements, and been sitting pretty as the undisputed and revered king of the league and worthy successor to Jordan. Imagine a humble hardworking Kobe Bryant and your thoughts become the same as mine: what a waste. It may seem like an odd thing to say considering he is still a Hall Of Famer and 3 time world champion, but all of his accomplishments today pale in comparison of what they could have been if he had played his cards right.
There have been so many scandals in sports over the last few years that it's hard to even care anymore.
Steroids. HGH. Arrests. DWI's. "Tanking." And ever-so-recently, taping practices.
In the midst of one of the greatest NBA seasons of the past two decades, most fans had almost completely forgotten that only a year ago a disgraced referee had been convicted of the unthinkable--having connections with guys who compromise the integrity of the game.
The NBA pays its whistle blowers to maintain the highest level of integrity. They are paid to stay out of the news, avoid controversy with players and fans, and ultimately maintain the credibility of the sport. The BIGGEST no-no for an NBA ref is to gamble or associate with gamblers.
If there is any reason to believe that a ref has interests in a game going one way or another, it makes it a wasted spectacle--the WWE, but without writers (hey, if you're gonna stage sports, at least get some good story lines going!)
Now Tim Donaghy, the former NBA whistle blower, has become a whistleblower in what is-- if true-- the most devastating scandal in NBA history.
Donaghy alleges that NBA refs deliberately manufactured calls in the 2002 playoffs (snatching the series from the Kings and handing a game 7 to the Lakers) and deliberately targeted a specific player in 2005 to send him to the bench in foul trouble (Yao Ming, ultimately leading to the Mavericks ousting the Rockets in 7).
NBA conspiracy theorists have long held the view that the NBA takes care of its pet franchises and star players, particularly when it comes to receiving calls in the games. The Lakers/Kings series was long held as a big example of this action.
Now when conspiracy theories are voiced, they will have a little more validity, thanks to 2002.
In the 2005 first-round series between the Mavericks and Rockets, the calls against Yao Ming were apparently so bad it was visible to Rockets fans...not to mention the fact that Coach Jeff Van Gundy received a tip that the refs were targeting Yao to help lessen the 2-0 deficit the Mavericks were in. He was fined $100,000 for voicing information that was PASSED to him, and he dropped the issue.
Now every time fans see their team getting the short end of the calls, or a coach speaks out about the impact of the refs on a playoff game, Donaghy's words will open the possibility of a scandal, the chance that later on a whistle blower will be caught for taking down their team.
Ironically, as a Mavericks fan (well...much more in 2005 than now...), I watched tonight's report with my friend Alex, who is a die-hard Rockets fan. As much as it has to suck for him, having to wonder what could've been for his team in a series that was possibly tainted by the refs, I feel more distraught over the insurmountable doubt that is placed over every dramatic call and play in this great Celtics-Lakers Finals.
Is there a potential whistleblower among the whistle blowers in Game 3?
Well it's here. The Finals matchup we all wished, hoped, and some deep down KNEW was going to happen. Lakers-Celtics. Boston-LA. Yellow-Green. Kobe-Gasol vs. KG,Truth, and Jesus. I don't know what to expect from this series, but I hope it is both something epic and memorable. I'm not a huge fan of either team, but I wouldn't mind seeing Kevin Garnett get one ring, no one in my opinion has worked harder without winning one in the NBA. Here's also hoping that ESPN/ABC's coverage of this series will be reminiscent of the quality and caliber of the broadcasts NBC used to put on, after all, these games and intros/commentary will be the fond memories of the kids who are 8 or 9 now, just like it was for me back in '91 watching the intro of the Finals on NBC between the Lakers and Bulls.