Watching Tmac almost break into tears after his 6th first round failure really hurt me. I mean, as a Kobe fan, it's only natural that I'm a big Tmac fan also. I can remember back to his first playoff experience alongside Vince in Toronto when a young Mac outshined his superstar cousin while losing to the Knicks. While Vince began writing the first pages of Memoirs of the Nutless, Tmac showed signs of the killer that would eventually avg. 32 over a full season and carry an Orlando squad manned with Pat Ewing, Horace Grant, and Darrell Armstrong into the the playoffs.
Watching Mac repeatedly bang his head against the first round wall seems eerily familiar though. Didn't I see this happen to Magic, Bird, MJ, Isiah.....nah, no I didn't. Those guys learned their lessons in whole different arena. Now I'm not one of those guys who talks about how much college builds character or all that BS, but I do believe it helps to build winners. The college game is the first time guys get to match their team game against other quality teams. Sure high school ball was big shit for most of us, but how much of a challenge did it pose for Tmac? Lebron? Kg? Think about this, no matter how nice you swear you were in high school, how would you have matched up against Mac? Exactly, he woulda been doing NBA Live shit on any one of us. Then he turned around and actually hit the NBA. That's like going from high school science class to NASA.
I look at the big 3 guys from the '04 draft and it really proves the point. Lebron came from straight from the lil leagues and struggled like hell for 3 years just to get into the playoffs in the weak ass east. Melo spent one year schooling the Drew Gooden's and Nick Collison's of the college where he learned 2 big things: 1)How to match up against equally talented teams, and 2)How to be leader for your team. Coincidentally, Melo has made the playoffs in the ultra tough West every year. Then you come to Dwayne Wade. Who didn't start off as a walking hype machine. Wade spent 4 years at tiny Marquette learning how to be the man and picking up the ultimate skill of being able to elevate the players around him. Wade has made the playoffs each year. Understand, that first season was sans Shaq and he still made it to the 2nd round. As a matter of fact, this is the first year of his career that Wade didn't make it at least to the 2nd round.
"So what about Kobe?" you ask. And even though I'm the #1 fan, I'll be objective here. Kobe came in to the league alongside Shaq, so that makes up for a lot. In Kobe's first 3 years the Lakers flamed in the 2nd round while my guy avg 11.7 per. Over the next 3 years my man avg 25.2 and the Lakeshow took 3 straight trophies. During the same two terms Shaq's splits were 28.3 and 29.9. So obviously Kobe was the difference maker. But Kobe didn't go to school? True. Kobe was just lucky enough to join a franchise where he would be mentored on a day to day basis by Magic and the Logo. No other franchise can offer that education.
J.Oneal, drafted the same year as Kobe, went to a Trailblazer squad stacked with Scot Pip, Sheed, Sabonis and bunch of other quality support players. Coincidentally, he got an A+ education in how to talk big game. His Pacers teams are yearly underachievers, always making the playoffs but never living up to the hype. The difference between Jermaine and Kobe is the same as the difference between Magic and the Logo vs. Pip and Sheed.
The education these high school cats are missing out has nothing to do with books and essays. It's about leadership and domination. Think I'm bullshittin? Stephen Jackson. Drafted by San Antonio, the best franchise in the game right now, he learned from Pop, Duncan, and that whole squad of 3-time champions, look what he's doing with GS. Leadership and Domination. Sorry Mac. Time to go back to school.