Kobe Down Again; Will Weak East Hurt Pacers, Heat?

The Lakers believe Kobe is out for six weeks while others believe it will be longer.

I’m not a fan of the Los Angeles Lakers. I’m not really a fan of Kobe Bryant either but I am a fan his for one reason, I don’t want him to go out like this. Just a couple of weeks after he returned from his Achilles’ injury, Bryant is out again.

This time, Bryant has a fracture in a small bone in his knee. Most reports are saying he’ll miss the next six weeks but the doctors I’ve had speaking on the issue are saying that it will likely be much longer.

Greats in any sport should be able to go out on their own terms and not because they are forced. Fans have laughed and ripped on guys like Brett Favre and Michael Jordan for years because they couldn’t walk away from the game.

They had to keep coming back and coming back and coming back again. I have to tell you, I completely understand what drove those two men.

I honestly believe the average sports’ fan doesn’t understand what walking away from the game means for these guys. For some, it’s easy because they are ready to get on with life’s next phase but for many including the greats it’s an ordeal.

Why you may ask? Think about it, for Favre and for Jordan, their respective sports are all they’ve known since they were kids. When you have the opportunity to do something you love and that can provide for you and your family then you do it.

While everyone around you realizes that your skills are not once they once were, you struggle to see it.

I’m not saying this is happening with Kobe, but think of the mileage on his body now at the age of 35. My hope is that he can rehab well from this latest injury and go out when he wants to and on his terms.

Will the weak Eastern Conference cost these two come NBA Finals time?

Examining the Conferences

It does not take a rocket scientist to realize that the Western Conference of the National Basketball Association is far and away superior to it’s’ counterpart in the East. There are currently three teams in the Eastern Conference with winning records (Indiana, Miami, Atlanta) while in the West, there are just two teams below .500.

My question is not so much about what conference is better, but rather what team is better. I point this out because most would say that Miami is still the team to beat simply because they are the back-to-back champions and have the main three guys still on the team.

I have to wonder though if the weakness of the Eastern Conference could ultimately do in either the Heat or Pacers (should they get there) in the NBA Finals.

Neither the Heat nor Pacers will be challenged in the first two rounds of the playoffs as things are now. The same cannot be said for top teams in the Western Conference.

If the playoffs started today, you’d have a top seed of Oklahoma City facing an eight seed of Denver who owns a respectable 14-10 record. By contrast, top-seed in the East Indiana would face Toronto who currently sits at 9-14.

Many times, competition that is strong often makes us better. This is why many college basketball teams schedule so many top-ranked teams before conference play begins.

While I understand the professional ranks are different in this regard, you can’t help but wonder if the potentially weak opposition in the Eastern Conference will soften Miami or Indiana for the Finals.