NBA fans will have quite a dilemma on their hands Wednesday night, as they must decide whether to watch the Warriors go for history against Memphis or watch the final game of Kobe Bryant’s career.
Win No. 73 or Kob’e final bow? What’s a fan to do?
For Ken Berger, it’s no contest.
“Well, from a coverage standpoint, from a reporting standpoint, it’s a no-brainer. I do Kobe 100 times out of 100,” the CBS Sports NBA insider said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “I have a history of covering him for a long time. I still remember covering his first All-Star weekend in ’97 when it was he and Allen Iverson kind of taking the league by storm as rookies. The backdrop there was the 50 greatest players being unveiled and you had these two young kids – one out of high school and one with a lot of controversy coming with him out of Georgetown – and a lot of concern at that time about what was going to happen to the NBA with these kids taking over. Twenty years later, it turned out pretty good. Not to take anything away from the Warriors and what they’re accomplishing, but just from the standpoint of storytelling from my viewpoint, I just think Kobe is a better story to write.”
Bryant, 37, is averaging 16.9 points, 3.7 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game this season. He has scored 34+ points in two of his last six games, including 35 points in a 130-110 loss in Houston on Sunday.
The Warriors, meanwhile, are chasing basketball immortality. They haven’t let up in their pursuit of 73 wins, and after beating San Antonio twice in four days, they sure aren’t letting up now.
Golden State fans have to be excited, but they also have to wonder if the energy exerted in the chase for 73 will come back to haunt the Warriors in the postseason.
“It probably wont,” Berger said. “To be honest, I thought the game that they would lose would have been Sunday in San Antonio, and had they done that, they would have fallen short of the record. They would have tied the Bulls, but then Steve Kerr would have had the ability to say, ‘Look, guys, let’s pack it in now. You guys need your rest for the playoffs,’ and he could have gotten them about a week’s rest before their first game in the first round. So it wouldn’t have been the worst outcome in the world, in my opinion, if they had lost that game. Kerr (would have) gotten to rest his troops and then they’re nice and fresh. They’re not an old team. He wouldn’t be playing people if they were physically unable to, so it’s not like he’s taking crazy risks. He sat (Andrew) Bogut for spells here, he sat (Andre) Iguodala – both of them dealing with injuries.
“In the end, I don’t think it’ll matter much – except from the standpoint of mental energy,” Berger continued. “They’ve basically been playing a best-of-82 playoff series all year. I mean, once it became apparent that they were going to start 24-0 and this was going to be a possibility, that pressure is on every night. They didn’t get to kind of sleep-walk through any of the regular season like you normally do.”