We're the champs ... It's not anything new.

--Kobe on beating the Suns in triple overtime
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images Kobe Bryant had a good game personally Sunday, but the Lakers lost Game 1 to the Hornets.

Our regular run-down of Kobe sightings in the digital sphere:

• The Associated Press' Jim Litke opines that Kobe didn't get his money's worth for the $100,000 fine he received from the NBA for his remarks in a game last week, arguing that the Lakers would have been better served -- or equally served, at least -- by Bryant being suspended for Sunday's Hornets-Lakers series opener. The fine may end up being halved after Bryant's appeal, but, regardless, L.A. lost Game 1 and now sits in a bad position heading into Wednesday's second game:

"Wherever the figure ends up, though, may be less important than whether it eased the frustration with some teammates that likely set off Bryant's tirade in the first place," Litke writes. "Judged on the admittedly slim evidence of the Lakers' lackluster performance Sunday at home against the Hornets, the answer is probably not."

• The Los Angeles Times' Mark Medina attempts to solve the mystery of Kobe's fall in the second quarter of Sunday's Lakers-Hornets game, calling on video replay to deduce what exactly happened when Bryant made the fallaway 16-footer with about 10 seconds to go in the first half. It at first looked as if Bryant fell into the knee of AEG president Tim Leiweke, but, per the video evidence, it's not entirely clear whether it was Leiweke's knee or a chair that Bryant hit. It's an interesting analysis.

• With the NBA playoffs in full swing, Paul Doyle of the Hartford Courant -- among other sportswriters around the country -- tackles the question of which player he'd take to shoot the last shot of a game, going against what he thinks is the popular belief that Kobe's the best choice. In fact, Doyle writes, Bryant's nowhere close to the best choice and certainly not his player of choice:

"No wonder Bryant is commonly called the league's best closer. If people (fans, media, players) say it enough, it becomes reality. Statistics, though, say otherwise. Whether it's game-winning shots or crunch-time shooting percentage, Kobe is not the NBA's best."

• On the topic of Kobe's Sunday fall, Bryant told Jill Painter of the Los Angeles Daily News that it was indeed a metal object -- the empty chair, presumably -- that he ran into on his way down, not Leiweke's knee. At halftime, Leiweke was also quoted as saying that Bryant told him he didn't think he would be OK immediately after the injury.

-- Pedro Moura

Getty Images

LOS ANGELES -- Kobe Bryant could hardly contain his laughter as the question was being asked. He looked down and simply shook his head and chuckled under his breath before the sentence could even be completed.

Are you concerned at all about the big picture after losing to the Denver Nuggets?

It took about five seconds for Bryant to contain himself before he looked up and essentially sighed his response. "No."


Derick E. Hingle/US Presswire Kobe Bryant has won only one MVP and Phil Jackson has won only one coach of the year award.

Our regular run-down of Kobe sightings in the digital sphere:

• ESPN.com's LZ Granderson opines that we will later regret it -- deeply regret it -- if Kobe Bryant finishes his career with only one MVP award, as he has now. Both Bryant and Lakers coach Phil Jackson possess only one of their respective best-of-the-year awards, and Granderson thinks that's ludicrous  especially in Bryant's case:

"I get it, dude rubs people the wrong way," Granderson writes. "He used to take ill-advised shots. He's been accused of tanking games to make a point. He's had legal trouble. He ratted out Shaq. He tried to be a studio gangsta. Trust me, I get it all. But he's not being considered for Miss Congeniality."

• The Los Angeles Times' All the Rage blog passes along a recent photo of Bryant in a Giorgio Armani suit from an ad and talks to the designer of the clothing, who provides some interesting insight on dressing a man like Kobe Bryant.

• Tommy Beer of HoopsWorld.com goes over the MVP candidates at this point in the season and believes he can't get too far down his rankings before including Bryant. His placement on the list? Fourth place, although Beer seems to think only Chicago's Derrick Rose or Orlando's Dwight Howard have good shots at winning it:

"Not surprisingly, Kobe has been the driving force behind the Lakers surge of late," Beer writes. "Over his last four games, Bryant is averaging 34.3 ppg, 6 boards, and 6 dimes. It appears the demise of the Lakers and Mr. Bryant may have been greatly exaggerated."

• CBSSports.com's Ben Golliver takes recent comments from Bryant on ESPN's Pardon the Interruption on the unlikely return of Jackson next season and puts them into a little bit of context, going off of what we know about Kobe.

-- Pedro Moura

Juan Ocampo/NBAE via Getty Images

NEWARK, N.J. -- Back in New Jersey, home to one of his many hustles, Kentucky coach John Calipari could not claim he had never been conned, scammed or beaten in the recruiting shell game he is supposed to master.

In fact, as the newly appointed savior of the Nets, Calipari was tricked out of landing the most gifted prospect he ever courted, played for a fool by a teenager and the representatives banking on the kid's hang time, jump shot and smile.

"John wanted to take Kobe Bryant in the [1996] draft," John Nash, Calipari's general manager at the time, said Thursday by phone. "And he got faked out."


Noah Graham/NBAE/Getty Images

Our regular run-down of Kobe sightings in the digital sphere:

• Don't miss this piece from ESPN.com's Henry Abbott: In this piece for the TrueHoop blog, Abbott argues that, while Kobe was indeed successful in clutch situations of Tuesday's win over the Phoenix Suns, there were a lot of not-so-great things he did that have been largely glossed over because of what he did in the third overtime. To prove his argument, Abbott goes over each one of Kobe's late-game touches, before finally reaching the conclusion that you simply can't assume anything anymore:

"A great player, on a great team, who won yet another game with a big bucket. But also a player who was lucky enough to be able to fire away near the end of regulation and the first two overtimes and miss them all," Abbott writes. "A player who went about eight minutes, encapsulating the first overtime, without hitting a field goal. A player who had the ball in his hands most of the time as his heavily favored home team turned a seven-point lead into a cliffhanger."

• Janis Carr of the Orange County Register presents a slideshow of 15 potential candidates to fulfill the role as the next Kobe Bryant after considering Bryant's recent comments about having already had his time. Among Carr's choices: North Carolina freshman forward Harrison Barnes, BYU senior guard Jimmer Fredette, Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant and New York's Carmelo Anthony.

• The Los Angeles Times' Mark Medina recounts Bryant's postgame meeting with the media following Tuesday's game. It appears Kobe wasn't nearly as enthused to talk after the game as he was to play it, in typical Bryant fashion. He left unanswered questions about his sore ankle and a potential lack of communication between he and Phil Jackson.

"We're not having three overtimes with these damn questions," Bryant told the media. "Last one."

• NBA.com's Steve Aschburner uses Grant Hill's defensive performance against Bryant in Tuesday's thriller as the lead-in to his story on Hill's newfound prowess on defense, noting that only when Hill fouled out of the game in the third overtime did Bryant really begin to take over the game. It's an interesting observation.

-- Pedro Moura

Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE/Getty Images

His story is too familiar.

His team has neither shocked nor awed us.

And so another player will likely be honored as the NBA's Most Valuable Player while Kobe Bryant, arguably the greatest player of his generation, is left to stew privately and console himself with remembrances of how much better it feels to win these types of awards in June.

Greatness -- sustained, stubborn greatness like Kobe Bryant has been able to maintain throughout his career -- makes for a flat story arc.

And in the eyes of the writers who vote on the award, he completed his arc in 2008 when he won his first -- and likely only MVP award -- by finally learning how to elevate his teammates.

What too often gets lost is that he's been doing that ever since.