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Caught in the Web: Lakers guard Kobe Bryant returns without a hitch

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This time, the scenario played out much differently.

Lakers guard Kobe Bryant nailed his sixth game winner of the season Tuesday and lifted the team to a 99-98 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies, something the Lakers couldn't do earlier this month against Memphis when Ron Artest's game-winning attempt hit off the rim.

In the latest effort, Bryant had 32 points on 13 of 19 shooting along with seven rebounds and six assists, a balanced approach that took a backseat earlier this month as Bryant eclipsed Jerry West as the franchise's all-time leading scorer.

Though he missed a few key plays at the end, Lakers forward Pau Gasol had a dependable 22 points, 13 rebounds and five assists, a performance that led to a much brighter mood than when he lamented earlier this month about a lack of touches.

And the aftermath will certainly be more enjoyable for the Lakers (43-14). They are in closer contention with Cleveland (44-14) for the league's best record, Bryant appeared as if the ankle injury didn't bother him and he continued to produce game winners, a feat that never ceases to amaze the Riverside Press Enterprise's Gregg Patton. And don't forget, Lakers fans are eager to wax nostalgia on what Bryant provided in his first game back.

We'll see if that momentum carries over as the Lakers have a quick turnaround, with the second game of a back-to-back tonight at Dallas. But at least according to ESPN Los Angeles' John Ireland, that debate involving how Bryant and his teammates would adjust to his return is now closed. ESPN's Tim Legler also says Bryant's latest heroics serve as a reminder for the rest of the league to watch out.

More Lakers links (after the jump)

--You've already relived Bryant's game-winning shots. Now watch Bryant talk about his latest clutch performance against Memphis.

--Bryant's game-winning shot gave Memphis its fifth consecutive loss at home. Grizzlies guard Rudy Gay told the Commercial Appeal's Ronald Tillery it was almost inevitable the shot would be good. Said Gay: "There's not much you can do."

--Bryant's new shoes are coming out this spring, but Ball Don't Lie's Trey Kerby says the newest kicks aren't worth your money.

--Dime Magazine has a few Lakers on their top 10 list of the league's toughest players.

--Dallas' acquistion of Caron Butler and Brendan Haywood have led some to think the Mavericks could be a Western Conference contender. That's why the Mavericks feel they have a lot to prove tonight against the Lakers, wrote the Dallas' Morning News' Eddie Sefko. Said Dallas guard Jason Kidd about the Lakers: ""At the end of the day, if you can't get past them, you're not going anywhere."

--The Dallas Morning News' Todd Davis reminds everyone the Mavs have pulled off a string of wins against the Lakers in previous seasons.

Tweet of the Day: "Dont get me wrong kobe is great but not when he play me -- JR_Swish (Denver Nuggets guard J.R. Smith)

--Mark Medina

Follow the L.A. Times Lakers blog on Twitter. E-mail the Lakers blog at mgmedin@gmail.com

Photo: Derek Fisher shows his appreciation for Kobe Bryant's effort -- which included 32 points and the game-winning basket -- in the Lakers' 99-98 victory Tuesday at Memphis. The Grizzlies' Zach Randolph, left, finished with 22 points and 14 rebounds. Credit: Mike Brown/EPA.

 
Comments () | Archives (36)

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@aztronut & Laker Tom Re: Fans affecting games.
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This is embarrassing, but a fair percentage of my family now yells "heebie jeebies" at the TV right when opposing players release their FT shots. It seems to work about 30% of the time, more so when Shaq is shooting.
Please don't mention this to anyone.

It's clear some didn't even watch the game. Kobe was not at fault for the team's lackluster play.. he was well within the offense and making plays for everybody. It's time you guys actually watch the game and stop putting the blame in the wrong place. I'm all for criticizing when Kobe holds the ball or settles for jumpshots on a poor shooting night..not unneccessary criticism though.

Obviously:

Memphis didn't implode after the Pau deal.

It wasn't easy enough? It was all supposed to look like the first quarter.

Havin' Kobe back warped things. Memphis spooks Pau a bit. LO couldn't handle Randolph. Ron couldn't shoot but took Gay out. And in the end, as will always be the case, Kobe is too much for OJ.

When's this get easy? Teams are good and we're the champs. It's going to be a struggle all the way to Figueroa.

DESTINED TO BE THE GOAT…
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How can any Lakers fan NOT love Kobe Bryant? Seriously, the dude has cojones that LeBron James and the rest of the ESPN pretenders can only hope to grow. As far as any serious basketball analyst is concerned, Kobe has clearly now taken over the lead for regular season MVP with his 5th game winning shot this season and continued his inevitable drive to surpass MJ and finish his illustrious career as the GOAT.
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Enough of the ridiculous thoughts that the Lakers don’t need Kobe or that in some distant alien dimension they could be a championship caliber team without KB24. Enough of the insults from fans who disrespected Mamba’s basketball IQ and thought he would be a disruptive rather than constructive force on his return. Ron Artest said it best when he reminded that reporter not to get this issue all “twisted” around.
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I have not yet read all of the posts from bloggers but it looked to me like it was Kobe who called the timeout with 8 seconds left so the Lakers could regroup and setup the last play and what a last play it was. While I have usually rudely castigated Phil for his end-of-game plays, I have to take my hat off to him for last night. That was a great play he set up. Three crisp passes to hit Kobe coming off a screen where he could either drive the lane for 2 or take the 3 depending upon how Memphis countered the play on defense.
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Finally, you have to give the Grizzlies credit for matching up well with the Lakers. Pau has obvious difficulties playing against his brother. Phil’s ectomorph versus endomorph description of the Gasol brothers was right on. Skinny Pau versus blocky Marc is going to be a fun match up to watch over the years. You have to give the Grizzlies credit for demanding Marc as part of the deal to trade Pau. It was a good deal for both teams.
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Tough game for many of the Lakers players. Lamar and Ron were completely out of sync. Drew played like he was afraid to get off the ground and was just happy to finish the game without another injury. Jordan had an excellent first half and terrible second half. Shannon continued to show both poor judgment and shooting stroke. Fish hit a couple of clutch 3’s and then joined Pau in an embarrassing series of chokes at the line.
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The Lakers still need to work on getting the entire team humming but I have confidence that as we approach the playoffs, we will continue to get better and better. And just as it is time for the team to come together and play their best team ball of the season, the same can be said of the blog. Time for all bloggers to realize that this is the team we are going to battle with and to which we need to give our undying love and support.
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I have always been a big believer in karma and the ability of fans to impact how their team plays. Call it the power of positive thinking but I have always believed my rooting actually “helped” the Lakers win those 10 NBA championships – yes, even when I was watching the game on a DVR. Bottom line, we have the will and the power to carry our team to another championship so let’s put aside our differences and join together to give our team the cosmic boost it needs to overcome the dark side and triumph once again as champs.
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TOM

AZTRONUT… Awesome game summary. Like some wonderful karmic instant replay to enjoy. Thank you. As for Fish’s last shot, I doubt we would have been in position to even win the game were it not for mental power of the Lakers nation willing their team to perform so splendidly without their esteemed leader. Think about it. There are not only more Lakers fans in the world than any other NBA team and as we see from this blog, there is no team fandom out there that is more passionate and enthusiastic about than we Lakerholics. We may fight like brothers and sisters before the game, but once that ball goes up the power of our will and love for our team ignites the karma that flows through back through every TV, computer, and radio connected to a Lakerholic and energizes our team wherever they are. Laker Power is exponential and existential.
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MAMBA… Oh, man, I love back-to-back games and roll call. I can’t tell you what a thrill it is every game to see the roll call and experience the karma of this blog and all my fellow Lakers brothers and sisters. I hope you have kept copies of all the great poems you have put together for the blog. There will come a day when the LA Times will publish a book about the phenomenon that this Lakers Blog has become. Where was Utzworld tonight. I missed the game day prayer, another in the Lakerholics repertoire of virtual weapons.
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LTLF… No doubt Kobe was nails last night. Kevin McHale, whom I have always hated as a player and Celtic, had the issue pegged right from the start. Kobe was so anxious to play again that it was like watching a little kid play. That pure unadulterated love for the game that is the base upon which Kobe has honed his skills just shone through like a laser in the night. Now we just need to get the rest of the team to finish better and we will be on our way to our 16th NBA championship. Kobe has no peer in today’s NBA as a closer. No peer.
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JEANETTE… “It's all about the love, positive energy. It does help our team.” Damn straight. I know there are readers out there who are saying that I am crazy to contend that we – the die-hard Lakerholics – actually impact the game and our team’s championship aspirations. But it’s all about believing in something. That is a lesson that we have seen over and over throughout history as individuals, families, countries, and cultures have thrived and overcome great adversity. Believe in coincidence or fate or whatever you want, I know my team “hears and feels” my love and support every game. Ten NBA championships on my watch proves that.
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TOM

Kobeee! Kobeee! Kobeeee!!

WHAT AN EXCITING POWER WIN LAST NIGHT!!

WHEEEEEEEEE!

WAHOOOOOOO!


Lets see what the gruesome grizz have done prior to that embarrassing loss.

5 previous home games:

vs Mia Loss 87 - 100

vs Pho Loss 95 - 109

vs Atl Loss 94 - 108

vs Hou Loss 83 - 101

vs LAL Win 95 - 93

Mavs over Lakers by 15.


If you think it is easy to introduce a new PG (like Larry Hughes) at this stage of the season, check this out:

http://mn-sz.com/?p=2845

Kurt Rambis is the only other NBA coach that is employing the Triangle. The article discusses how even a high-quality PG like Jonny Flynn, Kurt's first round draft pick, is still struggling to learn the Triangle.

“It’s part of the stubbornness of young ballplayers, inexperienced ballplayers,” Rambis said to the AP. “If they don’t have something that’s created for them, they don’t feel like they’re involved and then they’re going to try and make themselves involved. All that does is create more
problems for them.”

Although the rookie point guard hasn’t grasped the offense yet, he’s still statistically among the best rookies in the league. Flynn is averaging 14.2 points and 4.0 assists per game, but had many ups and downs throughout the season.

“I can’t even explain how big of a change it’s been,” Flynn said to the AP Thursday. “It’s tough. I’m still learning. Thirty-something games in, I’m still trying to find my place and see where I can be effective. It’s just been tough, especially with the losing. But hopefully it’ll start clicking and I think I can get back to being my old self.”


As Laker fans we get more than our share of big mid season games the whole NBA will be watchin' and tonight's another one.

Both teams know. Both teams will use it as a measuring stick. There are disclaimers but even Phil recognized the significant Dallas move.

Tonight would be a great night to take their heart.

Tonight would be a great night to take their heart. Posted by: VMan | February 24, 2010 at 11:17 AM

THEN TAKE IT WE SHALL VMAN! LAKERS BY 14
MAMBA24

Nuggets guard J.R. Smith? Shouldn't that be "TWIT of the Day".

MAMBA24,

Your posts are just super my friend!

As far as the Kobe dissatisfactors (pretty sure this isn't a word, but does seem kinder/gentler than haters), well, I can only recall one game winner from LBJ, back in the playoffs vs Magic. Kobe seems to have these shots every other day! Don't get me wrong, however, LBJ is fantastic! I'm not sure either is better than the other. The only difference that I can see is that I want KB24 taking the shot I REALLY need to be made at the end of a game.

And, as far as Kobe's teammates, I mean, COME ON, blend in my friends, blend in. MJ, back in the day, dealt with the same thing. Someone should check how many times Kobe passes and the passee misses. Seems like LBJ's teammates hit the shot nearly every time he passes. Would be interesting to know that stat.

LakerTom,

I wouldn't worry too much about most of the comments on the blog. Looks to me like most of the after-game comments are just kids looking for an argument.

I agree that it's imperative that this team stay healthy for the rest of the year so everyone can get in sync. With the injuries, it's been so choppy and inconsistent it's....well, looked like what it's looked like.

The one thing I see that kills this team more and more is our inability to put a player on the court not named "Kobe" who can consistently hit a perimeter shot. It showed in last night's game. Once Fish, Artest, Brown, Farmar, and LO start missing outside shots, the other team just packs in the paint and our bigs have a very difficult time maneuvering. It tends to snowball from there and get uglier and uglier as the game goes on.

It's too late now I guess, but in the offseason we really need to address this weak spot. Be it a PG, SG, or SF, we need to get a decent shooter.

Another question I often find myself asking is: Who's our scorer off the bench? Hmmmm......

KOBEWAN STRIKES BACK A FABLE
All the teams gave a sigh of relief, when the Lakers lost Kobe Bryant their Big Chief
They saw without Kobe a Laker 4 game run, but Knew without Kobe the Lakers were done
They hoped in their hearts that envy would begin, because of the Teams success without Bryant
With Kobe they couldn’t beat them so their only hope, The Lakers would fall for the Rope-A-Dope
Give them a lil success & it would go to their head, thinking they could win without Kobe instead
They hoped that when Mamba finally healed, The Lakers would think that he was a fifth wheel
Yes all the teams were stupid that way, To think without Kobe the Lakers wanted to play
And then on a glorious February night, The Mamba returned, God it was such a sight
Fish gave a whoop and Pau shed a tear and all cried THANK GOD THE MAMBA IS HERE
And the Grizzlies what could they say, AW HELL MAMBA’S BACK I DON’T WANT TO PLAY
But play against him they knew they must, From beginning to end Mamba showed no rust
And what of the other Lakers how did they adjust, Quite easily for in the Black Mamba they Trust
And it finally came down to what you already knew, The last shot would be taken by you know who
Not a bit of hesitation, like a phrophesy, The ball flew like a missle Oh it was pretty
Pau grabbed & hugged Kobe, Fish gave a sigh, 10Rings smirked & said what a Lucky, lucky Guy
But after the game before hitting the sack, Phil burst into tears and said THANK GOD MAMBA IS BACK
…….AND THE LAKERS LIVED HAPPILY EVER AFTER AND WENT ON TO A 24 TITLE DYNASTY #4
THE END

Posted by: MAMBA24 | February 24, 2010 at 07:34 AM
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I couldn't let this one go without a re-post.

OUT FREAKIN STANDING !!!

kobe is doing what kobe does...shoot!! amazing what the rest has done...hell he had a good night before the rest.... what kobe really needs to do is continue to have an all around game like lebron.... team ball!!!! the lakers are really better without him but what kobe adds is a lucky shot...but with team ball it doesnt come down to that...laker fans love those
shots..but taking a quote from kobe himself 'Everybody gets lucky sometimes'

J. R. Smith, let's see on Sunday. Lakers still have a game against the Mavs, you'll be next.

If you look at last nights game, Kobe's mates shot 24/57 at 42%. LeBron's shot 33/66 at 50%. If Kobe's pals hit 50% Lakes win by 9. Side note: Kobe 13/19 while LBJ 7/16.

JASONF… You are right on about how injuries delay the team getting in sync. I think you are right about the trolls and Kobe haters. You are also right that we definitely did not have good outside shooting last night. The biggest problem was Ron, who is the team’s best 3-point shooter but could not even hit the rim on some of his shots. I laughed at the announcers kidding that they had to stop the game to repair the glass after Ron bricked a hard 3 off the glass 2 feet from the rim. Fortunately, one player on the team was hot from beyond the arc and nailed 3 sweet treys to bring us back, tie the game, and then win it. Some dude named Kobe.
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The thing about the NBA is that every team has opponents who just match up well and thus play well against them. For us, it is obviously now the Celtics, Cavs, Blazers, Bobcats, and now the Grizzlies. Basically, Pau and Drew are just not the same players when we face Memphis, probably because of brother Marc knowing Pau and Drew just being downright afraid to jump. There were offensive moves by Drew last night that made me cringe as he obviously did not want to jump high in any kind of traffic. Can’t blame him. I only hope that we will eventually see Drew get his hops and physicality back. That is the key to his becoming the Beast. Right now, he just does not have it. I am still hoping by the playoffs we will see it. If not, then next year.
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T0m

LTLF,

Currently, Trevor Ariza is in the injured list with a hip injury. Do you think Rockets will be willing to trade Ariza back with the Lakers expiring contracts, plus cash and draft picks? (by end of the season)

Gunner,

I usually refrain from responding to you, but this is just hilarious.

Did you watch the game last night? How many shots did Kobe take? How many did he make? Was he in the flow of the offense? I'd love to hear your thoughts on those questions, because the answers will make you look as foolish as you normally look.

So strange... a shooting guard... *shooting* the ball. Weird. Guess he wasn't rebounding or dropping dimes. Oh, wait. Yes, he was.

Remember how I said I'd love to hear your thoughts? Never mind.

Go Lake Show!

Here is another question again to LTLF. Rudy Fernandez is disgruntled in Portland and might want to go back to Spain with Real Madrid. Do you think Portland Blazers will agree with our expiring contracts like Farmar which is within the range of Fernandez salary? Well, rather than losing him without any exchange, at least they get an expiring contract. The same reason with Lakers, we need a perimeter shooter in the 2nd unit that could spread the floor, rather than losing Farmar w/ other team, we can go for sign and trade with Blazers. I'm sure Rudy would be very happy to play with Pau and Kobe here in LA.

Hey guys a new post is up.

MM

GAAAMMMEE DDDAAYYY!!

Nice to get a back to back after a break that felt like eternity! Last night we saw flashes in the first quarter of greatness i.e. Kobe Bryant. The game was controlled to our advantage on tempo. Kobe had a couple steals which he converted into high percentage shots down the other end and even a sweet tomahack that brought the whole crowd to their feet! Ron was being Ron, he put Gay in his pocket the entire night but he was a suck fest on the offensive end. If he can tune in to offense like he does on defense in the next coming weeks I see him being a nightmare in our favor come playoff time. Not at all worried about Ron as long as he continues to be dependable on defense.

Our bigs got out hustled in that pivotal third quarter. Though i will stress that the transition defense wasn't bad at all, but too many turn overs by us (17) matching them pretty much and thats when they went on their spurt and even lead by 11 at on point.

Something about Memphis gets into the mind of our big's making them falter or play to their level. Or maybe they ARE to our level. Lakers need to continue to crush this team and separate themselves from the rest of the Western pack as the conference leaders they are. Andrews foul troubles had him frustrated and he really never exerted too much energy in fear of re-injuring something else. Pau can't cope cause he's skinny and knows how good his younger brother Marc is. The fact that he was on that same team before his glamourous trade to the Lakers doesn't help him focus either.

Lamar was inconsistent. (shocker)

So glad to see Mamba back in. He NEVER loses his focus, its amazing in the flesh. Every game he breaks a new record for something, I can see that as daunting for the rest of the players to live up to, but they have to continue working on their game. Use him as inspiration.

Shannon especially, he made some poor decisions resulting in a couple turnovers and some bricks. I new coming in Shannon was maybe going to struggle. He must find away to implement that same style of swagger he possessed while starting in place of Kobe and translate it on the court WITH Kobe back. We NEED the hustle he brings off the bench. One area I think both Farmar and Shannon should work on is their passing. Specifically with our post. They need to download last years finals games and watch the beautiful passing and ball movement in the post and high-post area that Kobe and Pau made in route to their first ring together. Once those two can incorporate their passing to their offensive mindset they'll start to build some confidence leading up to the big dance.

Our big's have to snap out of it and realize that Memphis is a potential first round series come May this year, we have to be effective when we play them. We can't take the night off and only play one quarter and let Kobe bail you out again if you just keep it close through out without ever really establishing rhythm.


Excited for Dallas tonight! Hopefully they come out aggressive for the entire 48 minutes. We need a double-double from at least four players tonight to prevail. Let your defense create your offense. TAKE CARE OF THE BALL guards, no silly turnovers!

GO LAKERS!!!!!!! ^_~

On the positive side, it's great to see KB24 back and does his things. What a way to make a comeback with yet another GWS!

Hate to mention the negative but it looked like some of his teammates have regressed to the old days, LO especially. And even though it was a win, it really should NOT even be close. Like somebody mentioned earlier in the thread, Memphis has been wupped on their own home court four straight losing in double-digit each game.

I'm glad for the win but this is the Griz folks! the lowly mediocre Griz OK? The championship-bound Lakers should have crushed the Griz in a laugher.

PS: Can't believe Fish still played as many minutes as Farmar and Brown combined. Fish has fallen so far now even his best skills have taken a nosedive. Imagine him choking on FTs during crunch time now! That's two straight games that I've seen. Hack-a-Fish anybody?

Edwin,

Are you talking about trade after the season? As you know, trades are off until... July? Looking like Farmar played yesterday, I was ready to trade him for 2nd round pick from 2020 in the heart beat.

great job kobe, welcome back. crappy job odom, artest....get your acts together!

Forgot to mention, Odom had a disastrous game against Randolph, basically outplayed in all areas, including rebounding? What is going on?

Psycorp,

Agree with you on Fish, with one small note, Farmar manage to have even worse game


lakeshowinphx:

You wrote: "great job kobe, welcome back. crappy job odom, artest....get your acts together!"

Response: Kobe's team mates showed and proved that they too can play a team game with out Kobe and with Kobe they suck, go figure why? As Ron Ron said, it is all about mamb24 show, me me me and I, I, I

I love the fact that Kobe in in the Nuggets head, specifically JR Smith's! You think that Kobe wastes his time "tweeting" about JR Smith?

WHATS GOING ON:

LAL_Fan:

You wrote: "Forgot to mention, Odom had a disastrous game against Randolph, basically outplayed in all areas, including rebounding? What is going on?"

Response: brother, brother, the answer is simple; too much Kobe is going on. Kobe's teammates are stifled and play timid in his presence. The onus is on Kobe as a team leader to put his team mates at ease and at the same time be that transparent team leader. Kobe as a leader does not have the quality that Magic possessed, no comparison and not even close.

The year Kobe threatened to be traded, that laker team played great with out him and we all have seen same results in recent past as well. The proof is in the eye of the beholder and it does not require rocket science to see the difference between two teams, with and without Kobe. Go figure. Laker team and Kobe are lucky to have Dfish even though fans do not understand his intrinsic value.

LAL_Fan,

Yes the likes of Farmar and Brown still occasionally make silly mistakes, have inconsistent games and even occasional stinkers.

But, but... if they are not given the chance to learn from their mistakes and practice improvements now then when? in the PO when Fish would be totally broken down from season-long fatigue and when the stakes are much higher?


Marvin Gaye,

Just want to let you know that we Laker fans here really appreciate a doze of comic relief every now and then.

Marvin,
" The onus is on Kobe as a team leader to put his team mates at ease and at the same time be that transparent team leader"

True. But the other players need to do their part, as well. Bynum and Odom, in particular, have focus issues that are unrelated to Kobe.

My son Alex, 4 yo, asked me if Kobe was going to play and I said yes. He said "buzzer-beater day!". I said "No, we'll win by 10 or 20 points, hopefully". He said "No, daddy. It's gonna be by 1 point, buzzer-beater from Kobe".

Well, we all know what happened.

By the end of the game, he came to the sofa and said "it's buzzer-beater time!". To avoid frustrations, I told him that the Mamba was 18 days without playing, etc...it might not happen, who knows...

Kobe hit that shot and he looked at me and said: "BUZZER-BEATER!!!!"

Kobe, you're spoiling my son as well as all of us, man...

You're the MAN!

Cheers.


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