King Kobe Knights Knicks

By Jerald LeVon Hoover
Updated: February 5, 2009

NEW YORK — It was a night of epic ecstasy — like the famous Double Nickel game — for all of the die-hard Michael Jordan fanatics that still long for his greatness.

For all of those that are looking for the ‘next one’ in LeBron James need to look a little further West. The reigning MVP Kobe Bryant came to Madison Square Garden and put up a record setting 61 points on the New York Knicks.

Lakers coach Phil Jackson had flashbacks of his Chicago Bull days as coach as he witnessed along with the capacity crowd of almost 20,000 a performance that even had the Garden faithful chanting, “MVP, MVP, MVP” in the direction of Bryant. “I’ve been around both, coached them both and I could close my eyes and pick one and wouldn’t be upset with either choice.”

The entire basketball world knows that these Knicks aren’t exactly known for their stellar defense under new coach Mike D’Antoni, but to allow one man to disrupt not only their team but their home crowd was very telling. So much so, it appeared that the Knick players themselves had ‘deer in headlights’ look.

When a team is psyched out that and without a knock out drag out and bonafide star on the floor to lead, there’s nothing a coach can do to help. There’s only so many time-outs a coach can call during the game to gather his troops.

Kobe did virtually whatever he wanted to do and whenever he wanted to. Laker teammate Lamar Odom said, “he looked like he (Kobe) had this dazed look on his face.”

Second year Knick forward Wilson Chandler took the brunt of some of the highlight reel material, but he’s a young player and talented and in a lot of ways wise beyond his years so he’ll be okay.

But this no doubt was a learning experience to the max. Kobe who grew close to Coach D’Antoni as they won the Gold for the Olympic team as player and coach knows his offensive scheme and took advantage whenever and however he could.

Now the bad part would become worse.

Wednesday night, King James scored 52 points and the Cleveland Cavaliers defeated the Knicks 107-102. Up next are the reigning world champion Boston Celtics come into town featuring Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen.

The good part is under the Knicks’ new system and a better team environment (chemistry) home court isn’t just a pit stop for most teams as they have had some impressive wins of late with a recently snapped a five-game winning streak.

The Garden in times past was like a healing ground for opposing teams. If they needed a much desired ‘win’ just come to MSG. But, there have been some home clunkers also as they’ve lost to the Minnesota Timberwolves at a time when the T-wolves were on a 12-game losing streak.

That lost along with an away loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder could’ve put this season into a tailspin had the Knicks been fragile. That’s no longer the case as the mettle of this team is pretty strong with guys like Quentin Richardson and Al Harrington and Malik Rose in the locker-room.

And as devastating as Kobe was, the Knicks only lost by nine points, 126-117.

Moral victories mean zilch in the win lost column but sometimes they can serve as a ray of hope as team strive to rebuild from the bottom up. These Knicks may just make the playoffs this year.

If not, there’s always 2010 to look forward to for reinforcement.