Guys fans love to hate
Nearly one week into the playoffs, you'd struggle to label even one series competitive. Presumably that could change over the weekend, if Dallas or Denver or Houston or New Orleans can win a game or two, but the closest thing to an up-for-grabs battle so far is Milwaukee vs. Detroit, if you believe the Bucks' Game 2 upset gives them a chance to win three more games against the Eastern Conference favorites-elect.
In search of something else to scribe on, we focus instead on the Villains of the First Round, First Week Edition. At least the first few of them fall into that prized designation of Guys You Hate ... unless they're on your team.
Who do you think is the best Kobe Stopper? Bruce Bowen? Ruben Patterson? Cuttino Mobley? Ron Artest?
STEIN: There is really only one Kobe Stopper. That would be Kobe Bryant. It'd be a big stretch to say anyone regularly stops Kobe -- surely even Belgians had access to the amazing defense Patterson played on the final play of the last game of the regular season ... which didn't stop Kobe from ducking to his right and nailing a 3-pointer at the regulation buzzer ... to set up a game-winning triple after the second overtime. I'd say Bowen is the closest thing to a defender who consistently gives Bryant trouble, but even then Bryant routinely hangs big numbers on the Spurs. I'm sure Artest would be right there as well if the Pacers played the Lakers more often. Mobley doesn't belong on this list, as I'm sure you'll see Friday night.
"Who wants to make free throws?"
— San Antonio's sarcastic Gregg Popovich, leading off a rant that featured several self-deprecating gems about the Spurs' famed weak spot, concluding with the claim that "we're the worst in the history of the world from the free-throw line." The Spurs shot 19-for-30 from the line in Game 2, including one late miss each from Bowen and Manu Ginobili that could have put the Grizz away before Mike Miller had a chance to launch a potential game-winning prayer at the buzzer.