One of the original “Kobe Stoppers” has officially packed it in and admitted defeat to the Mamba this week. Bruce “Im not a dirty player” Bowen officially retired from the NBA on Thursday, leaving a legacy of great defense and lost battles to a certain #24. In all fairness to the Cal State Fullerton alum, there is no doubt that his bouts with some of the NBA’s most talented offensive stars will linger on in the memories of fans for years to come. When asked about the reaction that players such as Kobe Bryant might have to his retirement, Bowen lauged and said:
“I’m sure a lot of people are happy.”
I am actually pretty sure Kobe could care less Bruce. At 38 years old I am certain that Kobe, LeBron and D-Wade have become far less worried about the aged Spurs defensive abilities, and more concerned with that old guy smell he was beginning to give off. Another defender leaves the league still never proving that he could actually stop Kobe on a regular basis. As another one bites the dust, we at Lakers Nation decided to recap the history of the “Kobe Stopper”, and where some former “stoppers” are now.
Ruben Patterson: The original “Kobe Stopper”, the man who nick named himself with the infamous term during his days with the Portland Trail Blazers. Patterson used the nick name in an attempt to get into Bryants head on numerous media appearances and in game situations. A war of words eventually broke out between the two, with Patterson describing how it begun:
“It all started my rookie year,” said Patterson of his manic obsession with Bryant. “Ever since training camp and practice, he’s been arrogant. I just try to play physical with him. I can tell he was (frustrated). You know Kobe, he talks a lot.”
“If we bumped into each other in a gym and we played one-on-one, I will demolish him,” he said. “But playing five-on-five, obviously it’s a different mind state.”
However, with situations like THIS, it is clear that even 5 on 5, Bryant still could not be stopped. No one has heard from Ruben in awhile, likely because he is currently playing in Lebanon for ‘Champville’. Sounds like a perfect place for a guy who never was one. Merely another fallen “Kobe Stopper” of the past.
Eric Snow- Kobe rarely acknowledges other players who have had success guarding him during the era of “Kobe Stoppers”. However, in the case of Eric Snow, Bryant frequently described him as one of the best defenders he has played against.
“Eric Snow has always done a great job. Aaron McKie, too,” Bryant said Wednesday night. “Bruce Bowen because of his length, Portland has a cast of players who do a great job, but I would say Eric Snow.”
Snow, unlike many of the other “Stoppers” was given far less spotlight for taking on the task, frequently being overshadowed by a much larger superstar alongside him. Snow did however reach three NBA finals, with the Sonics, Cavaliers, and Sixers. There is no denying that his defensive presence and leadership on both teams contributed to their success, despite what level of personal attention he was given by the media or fans. Regardless, Snow, like the others, could never actually stop Bryant, especially in the 2001 NBA finals.
Eric Snow retired as one of the first failed “Kobe Stoppers”, and has since made a cameo appearance on the Real Housewives of Atlanta. When all else fails, might as well do reality TV.
Shane Battier- One of the most respected defensive players in the league today, Battier is frequently in the discussion for defensive player of the year honors. Battier has shown as recently as the 2009 Playoffs that if anyone should be considered for the title of “Kobe Stopper”, it may have to be him. Fanhouse details his Game 1 tactics for forcing Bryant into a poor game, while helping carry the Rockets to a major upset. Shane Battier deserves to be given credit where due, for being likely one of the closest actual “Stoppers” in the bunch.
The proof, however is in the pudding, and Kobe’s playoff record vs. Battier, along with ankle busters such as THIS, prove once again that a very low degree of “stopping” actually occurred.
Raja Bell – Easily the most hated of the “Stoppers” among Lakers Nation. Raja Bell is less known for stopping Bryant as he is for the famous clothesline he leveled on Kobe during Game 3 of the 2006 playoffs vs. the Suns. This single act disqualifies Bell from taking any type of credit as a real “Kobe Stopper”. The ultimate frustration show by Bell in a blow out game vs. the Lakers is evidence enough that he was never able to fully guard Bryant.
That did not stop Bell from waging another war of words with Bryant during the 2006 season, saying in an ESPN interview:
“My problem with Kobe isn’t that he doesn’t respect me,” Bell said. “I felt he was disrespecting me, and that he didn’t care that he was doing it. I don’t need respect, but you’re not going to disrespect me.”
Following the article, Kobe did just that…Raja Who? . Many members of Lakers Nation were not feeling the love for Bell following the clothesline either, as Bell describes in an ESPN.com interview:
“There were probably 35 Lakers fans yelling at the screen and they were all unaware that I was there,” Bell recounted. “Then the guy behind me says, ‘I wonder where Raja’s at? He thinks he can take Kobe? We should go over there and kick his ass.'”
When reviewing the “Kobe Stopping” resume, Lakers Nation would be remiss if we did not mention who was guarding Kobe during this memorable moment. Bell. Raja was since traded from the Suns, and is doing very little stopping of anything for the Charlotte Bobcats.
In other NBA News this week:
Ricky Rubio decides that a losing season with Rambis, along with less money is ‘too risky’, stays in Spain till 2012 according to ESPN. This week the Timberwolves received some bad news (as if they needed more of that), their young PG Ricky Rubio will not be joining them for at least 2 more years. Chris Sheridan of ESPN.com outlines the very complicated buy out with FC Barcelona, his reluctance to join the Wolves for anything less than his full amount, and a time line for how Rubio’s move to the NBA may eventually work.
Dirk’s psychotic ex-fiance will not aid in producing the next 7 foot German basketball superstar. Cuban not disappointed, still likely thought of drafting him down the road. ESPN is now reporting that lawyers for Dirk Nowitzki have confirmed that the pregnancy test given to his former fiance and now inmate #39012 came back negative. Can you say dodged a bullet? Dirk’s laywer had this to say:
“As we suspected from the start, we did not believe that she was pregnant and now that has been confirmed.”
Mark Cuban, owner of the Mavericks likely thought of the future franchise potential for such a child, yet expressed support for Dirk after hearing the news:
“Good news on Dirk’s ex,” Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said via his Twitter feed Thursday afternoon. “No surprise. Can’t wait [for] training camp.”
David re-signs a 1 year deal with the New York Knicks, pipe dream of Lebron to NY begins to cloud judgement. The Knicks have made the first of many likely foolish moves to protect cap space going into next years free agent bonanza. Highly respected and talented forward David Lee will be re-signed to only a 1-year deal, as GM Donnie Walsh maintains his needs for cap space next summer. The Knicks would not and could not disappoint fans of their demise for much longer, missing out on locking in David Lee for the long term may seem like a good idea now, yet if LeBron passes and so does Lee next summer…watch out.
ESPN experts see the Western Conference forecast as sunny with a high probability of Purple and Gold. According to a panel of ESPN.com ‘experts’, the Los Angeles Lakers are likely to defend at least their Western Conference Championship next season, receiving 41 out of 53 votes. While I am sure Lakers Nation appreciates the sentiment, this is by no means the goal for anyone in LA. In the end, I think most would still agree…