The sporting world lost a true icon last weekend. On Sunday morning, January 26, Kobe Bryant, with 8 other companions, including his daughter Gianna, perished in a helicopter accident in Calabasas, California. The world was in shock. I myself couldn’t believe the news upon waking up Monday morning. I had to check the authenticity of the news, part of me wishing it were a horrible hoax. But it wasn’t.
The world knows Kobe’s accomplishments so I won’t list them down anymore. We also know that at 41, he could, and definitely would have, influenced the younger generation of players as a personal trainer or coach. All the possibilities have gone but one thing is for certain, his legacy will last throughout history. May you rest in peace, Black Mamba.
The Bucks’ Year?
We are past the midway point of the 2019-2020 National Basketball Association (NBA) regular season and not surprisingly, a beast in the East is lording it over the standings.
Donning a 41-6 Win-Loss record as of this writing, the Milwaukee Bucks’ win percentage of 87% will give them a 71-11 record by end of the season barring any major injury or a horrendous losing streak.
That 71 win pace will rank 3rd all-time in regular-season wins behind the Golden State Warriors (73-9 in 2015-16) and the mighty Chicago Bulls (72-10 in 1995-1996) which also won the NBA championship that year.
Around a solid MVP like performance from All-Star Giannis Antetokounmpo, the Bucks are in a zone this year. Length continues to be a staple in the composition of their team with a starting line up of Eric Bledsoe, Khris Middleton 6’8, Brook Lopez 7’0, Giannis 6’11, and Ersan Ilyasova 6’9. That makes Bledsoe the smallest player at 6’1in the starting line up. Wes Matthews can come off the bench to spare Bledsoe and Middleton some quality minutes while Brook’s twin brother Robin can spell minutes in the Center and power forward positions.
The Bucks are a tall shooting, a defensive unit that can match up with the best of them in the league today. If we follow the pace of the Eastern and Western Conference leaders, we are talking about a Bucks vs the Los Angeles Lakers showdown for the championship in June and I bet that Milwaukee won’t be pushovers in the Finals. They have bruisers in Antetokounmpo and the Lopez twins.
Bledsoe, Matthews, Middleton, and Ilyasova are hungry and grizzled veterans too. Now the question is how can they match up against the megastar tandem of Lebron James and Anthony Davis?
Are Khris Middleton and Robin Lopez up to the task of limiting LBJ and AD? I think that with the Bucks’ length, the Lakers would have to match height with height so expect a combination of Javale McGee, Davis, Dwight Howard sharing spot minutes together. Expect Damarcus Cousins, once fully healed, to help down low too.
If this is prediction holds true later this year, it will be a breath of fresh air, a lease of life for small market teams. Toronto has shown that a small market team can win them all as they outlasted the Golden State Warriors last season.
The Bucks can bring glory to the State of a Wisconsin and it’s up to head coach Mike Budenholzer to make sure their system doesn’t break or his players do not fall into the trap of complacency. If there’s any motivation to win it all, a championship can increase their chances of renewing the Greek Freak and keep him in Milwaukee.
(The writer is a senior leader in the Business Process Outsourcing industry managing Philippine countryside operations)