Kobe Bryant has never been shy about sharing his opinions.
So after the retired Lakers legend discussed his new ESPN hoops show, “Detail,” that will debut on Thursday, he went all in – unprompted – on the NBA’s Coach of the Year debate.
“I’ve got to talk about my man Quin Snyder,” Bryant told USA TODAY Sports about the fourth-year Utah Jazz coach whose team is 48-33 and has won 29 of its past 34 games. “The job he has done is freaking insane. It is insane. I love Quin. I always have. I’ve been a big Q guy forever…and the job that he has done seems like it’s going under the radar, which, why, I have no idea.
“But if there was ever even a doubt as to who should be Coach of the Year, the people who are second-guessing that need to have their voting credentials removed.”
That last part is a bit extreme, as the list of Coach-of-the-Year worthy candidates is longer than normal this season. From Toronto’s Dwayne Casey to Indiana’s Nate McMillan, Philadelphia’s Brett Brown, Houston’s Mike D’Antoni, San Antonio’s Gregg Popovich, Boston’s Brad Stevens, Portland’s Terry Stotts, and New Orleans’ Alvin Gentry, there is no shortage of candidates. We published our votes on Wednesday morning, with myself and fellow NBA writer Jeff Zillgitt both revealing first-place votes for Snyder. And as Bryant sees it, Snyder – who was a Lakers assistant under Mike Brown during the 2011-12 season – is the indisputable pick.
“It’s ridiculous,” said Bryant, who remains close with Snyder. “It’s unbelievable. The injuries to (big man Rudy Gobert), (Gordon) Hayward leaving (last summer in free agency), I mean everybody thought Utah might struggle to make the playoffs and they’re the third seed in the West? I mean, are you kidding me? ‘Q’ has got to start getting the respect that he deserves as being one of the best coaches in the league – period.”
Bryant had a strong view of the MVP race as well. By most accounts, Houston’s James Harden is the frontrunner and Cleveland’s LeBron James is the primary threat. But Bryant, who faced both star players so many times during his 20-year career, believes Harden should win by a landslide.
“It’s got to be James,” Bryant said. “I really don’t understand the debate about picking somebody else. I don’t get it. Like, what the hell does this guy have to do? I mean for the last three years, the guy has been absolutely lights out, and now you still want to sit here and debate who should be MVP when he leads the league in scoring (30.4 points per game), his assists numbers (8.8 per) are off the charts, they have the best record in the league (65-16).
“If he doesn’t win MVP this year, what the hell is he supposed to do to win MVP, average 40 (points), 15 (assists) and 15 (rebounds)? I mean, come on now. Enough is enough.”
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