In response to a post I made last week about equating Peitrus’ decision to wear Kobe’s shoes to the French surrendering, I think it’s only fair that he be acknowledged for his “Actually, screw that ‘surrender’ talk” performance as his 18 points and 3 steals helped the Orlando Magic stay within reach of the Los Angeles Lakers. On the offensive end, Pietrus was smooth and efficient, going 7-11 from the field. Take away his three three-point misses and Orlando’s version of the Kobe stopper was almost perfect from the inside the arc, going 7-8.
Oh, and he had the dunk (Goaltending?) of the night as well — one that was big enough to be acknowledged by his coach in the post-game press conference.
I’ve been critical of Kobe Bryant in the past, but I’m also a “credit where credit is due” person and simply put, Kobe Bryant was nothing shy of brilliant in Game 1 against the Orlando Magic. His full offensive repertoire was on display as he dazzled the Staples Center crowd with a bevvy of turnaround jump shots and an all-around sense of “I can’t be stopped” oozing out. Bryant got off to a normal start in the first quarter, but as the Magic were riding high on the return of Jameer Nelson in the second quarter to the tune of a five point lead, Kobe returned and dropped 12 second quarter points on 6-9 shooting.
The Lakers followed his lead to a 10-point halftime lead. Unfortunately for Orlando, Kobe’s third quarter started much like the second one ended with Kobe again scoring in double digits. By then, the route was on. Bryant finished the game two assists and rebounds shy of triple-double as his most-dominant performance carried the Lakers to 1-0 lead.
I think I have a bone to pick with Orlando Magic guard Mickael Pietrus. Yesterday, word got around that the man who will be guarding Kobe Bryant would be switching shoes from Kobe’s Zoom IVs to a pair of Air Jordans — rightfully so considering the match up. Now, it appears as if Pietrus is having trouble sticking to his decision as it’s being reported Pietrus will indeed be wearing Kobe’s shoes when the NBA Finals tip off tonight. Is this an example of the French surrendering again or did Nike offer him some incentive to wear Kobe’s Zooms? Something like, “Imagine this Mickael. You shutting Kobe down while wearing his shoes. You’ll be the talk of the town, Frenchie, and if you win, we might just make a Pietrus edition.”
France jokes aside, I will be a little miffed if Pietrus does decides to wear Kobe’s brand, if, for nothing else, because I made that kick-ass graphic yesterday.
With the NBA Finals still one day away from starting, apparently the time off has given the players time to take care of some loose ends. For Kobe, it’s getting some Shaq stuff of his chest and for the Magic’s Mickael Pietrus, it’s getting some Kobe stuff off of his feet. Because the Lakers are the Magic’s opponent, and because Pietrus will be guarding Kobe when he’s in the game, the Magic sharpshooter will be wearing different shoes. Normally, Pietrus wears Kobe’s Nikes, the Zoom Kobe IV. Not for the Finals, however. Instead, Pietrus will be wearing a pair of Air Jordans; which is perfectly understandable, considering his defensive assignment.
Think about it this way: Would Michael Jordan — provided he didn’t single-handedly build Nike — wear a pair of Patrick Ewing’s adidas when playing the Knicks? Um, no. Pietrus’ gamesmanship didn’t stop there, however. When asked how he plans on defending Bryant, he offered this suggestion:
“The only thing I can do is try to minimize his touches in the fourth quarter,” Pietrus said, according to the Sentinel. “He’s a tremendous player and those guys you can not stop them. So maybe I can say, ‘Hey, stop, Kobe! Yo! Stop!’ Maybe that’s the only way I can stop him. ‘Stop for a minute!’”