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PostPosted: Tue Apr 12, 2016 5:43 pm    Post subject:

Kobe Bryant Is Basketball
by Josh Eberley - todaysfastbreak.com

The time of Kobe Bryant has faded; tomorrow night he will tie and untie his laces on the NBA hardwood for the very last time.

It’s an inevitable fact of life, father time gets us all, and yet it’s hard to accept with Bryant, who has been the league’s most popular player since the very first time I clicked the remote and watched an NBA game.

This article isn’t about Bryant and his place in history, nor whether he deserved another MVP. No, those are debates for another day. The truth is, here we sit one day away from the end of his career, and none of that crap really matters at all.

It doesn’t matter if you’d trade in your job as a CEO to be his water boy, or if you curse aloud every time you hear his name. Bryant polarized the public like a politician; he divided the masses. But his presence has always been felt.

For two decades this man has captivated the NBA audience. 20 YEARS. For 20 straight seasons, whether his team was irrelevant outside the playoffs or winning a title, fans, media, and players alike couldn’t keep the name Kobe Bryant out of their mouth.

I have no personal story to tell, no intimate moment in which Bryant and I exchanged words. All I have to give here is my take on a 20-year career. Twenty Years of seeing this man on the nightly highlights, hearing his name at the local watering hole, or reading about his stat line online the next day.

The word ‘superstar’ is tossed around liberally, it’s horrendous how often that label is attached to unworthy players. As far as I’m concerned, unless your mom, grandma, and the next door neighbor who doesn’t watch TV know the name, he isn’t a superstar. Who in the world doesn’t know the name, Kobe Bryant?

In Batman Begins, Carmine Falcone (played by Tom Wilkinson) says to Bruce Wayne (played by Christian Bale), “you’re, uh, you’re Bruce Wayne, the Prince of Gotham; you’d have to go a thousand miles to meet someone who didn’t know your name.” That’s superstar status, and that’s Kobe Bryant.

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 12, 2016 5:44 pm    Post subject:

TDIKH: April 12, 2013
by nba.com

It was the night that Kobe Bryant literally gave the Lakers all he had to give.

The superstar scored 34 points to lead Los Angeles’ victory over Golden State, but it cost him the remainder of the season, as he tore his Achilles tendon with three minutes left.

In true Black Mamba fashion, he wouldn’t leave the game until after he hit two free throws that resulted from the play that caused his injury.

“I can’t walk,” Bryant told reporters while on crutches in the Lakers’ locker room. “I tried to maybe put pressure on my heel, but there was nothing there.”

Bryant shot 9-of-21 with four 3-pointers, plus 12-of-16 on free throws in the Lakers’ 118-116 victory, which provided a crucial win in his team’s quest for the Western Conference’s final playoff spot.

Golden State led, 107-101, with five minutes left before Bryant hit a pair of 3-pointers to tie it all up. The Warriors scored once again, and the Lakers’ next possession resulted in the loss of their superstar.

Nonetheless, Bryant managed to tie the game at the foul line despite standing on a torn Achilles.

“He’s the greatest competitor, and he’s been that all season long — all through his career,” Pau Gasol said. “He’s been an example for us throughout all this. He showed character. He showed heart. And that’s what we’re going to need from now on.”

The teams traded baskets and free throws from there until L.A. pulled out the two-point win.

While Bryant played only six games the following season, the contest also proved to be a preview of the future, as Stephen Curry erupted for 47 points, six rebounds, nine assists and three steals, while shooting 17-of-31 with nine 3-pointers.

Meanwhile, Dwight Howard scored 28 points for the Lakers, while Gasol recorded his sixth career triple-double with 26 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists.

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 12, 2016 5:45 pm    Post subject:

Former Laker Horace Grant Recalls Kobe Bryant Trash-Talking Opponents
by Corey Hansford - lakersnation.com

As Kobe Bryant’s 20 year run with the Los Angeles Lakers comes to an end, many of Bryant’s contemporaries are beginning to recall their favorite memories from Kobe’s journey.

Whether it is players who Kobe battled against through the years, or former teammates who saw Kobe grow from high school kid to superstar, the greatness of Kobe is being recognized everywhere.

Kobe has long been known as a fierce competitor on the court and in a recent piece on The Player’s Tribune, former teammate Horace Grant recalls Kobe looking to intimidate opponents well before the game began:

“Kobe was different. He would come right up to you during the handshake and tell you he didn’t like you and that he was going to destroy you. Seriously, he wouldn’t just say it in the pregame, he would say it in the heat of battle. He didn’t care who you were.”

Grant noted that Kobe was looking to plant doubt in his opponent’s head, which would signal the end for them:

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 12, 2016 5:46 pm    Post subject:

Devean George Calls Kobe Bryant ‘Psycho Competitor’
by Corey Hansford - lakersnation.com

Over the course of Kobe Bryant’s 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers, the superstar has played with many different teammates. Although Bryant has gone through his fair share of teammates during his time with the Lakers, few have experienced winning multiple titles while playing alongside the future Hall of Famer like Devean George did during his stint with the team.

George, along with other former Lakers teammates Brian Shaw, Horace Grant and Ron Harper, took part in an interview for The Players’ Tribune to talk about how they’ll remember Kobe.

George, like many other teammates and opponents, remembers Bryant for his competitive drive. The former Laker believes Kobe’s competitiveness was on another level entirely:

Kobe isn’t a loud competitor. He’s a quiet, psycho competitor. I believe he’s talking to himself inside, drilling himself. He’s at home watching film 24 hours a day when the cameras aren’t on him.

People know he works hard, but I think it’s almost underrated in a way. I don’t think the average person fully understands how psycho competitive he was, because it didn’t end when the game was over and the lights went down. Seriously — I would go to the gym at 6 a.m., and Kobe would already be there dripping wet, ready to leave.


As Bryant’s 20th and final season comes to a close, the Lakers legend will almost certainly be remembered by many for his relentless drive. George also believes it will be the sustained greatness over two decades in the NBA:

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 12, 2016 5:49 pm    Post subject:

It's pathetic how lakersnation is milking one article (ThePlayersTribune article about Kobe by Grant, George, and Shaw) into multiple page views for their website.
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 13, 2016 6:45 am    Post subject:

Kobe captivates us because we watched him grow up
by Mark Whicker - dailynews.com

They gathered at the Inglewood YMCA. General manager Jerry West and his assistant, Mitch Kupchak, were there. So was Bill Bertka, the scouting lifer who had been Pat Riley’s assistant coach.

Michael Cooper and Larry Drew were there as human thermometers, getting a reading on a 17-year-old from a suburban Philadelphia high school, a kid just wide-eyed enough to call people “Mr,” just ambitious enough to cut in line and join the NBA.

“Not many people were quicker than Michael Cooper,” Bertka said. “Not many people in the NBA were. This kid was.”

No Laker executive had seen Bryant in person. He had played in the high school All-Star games, but he had spent much of his childhood in Italy, where his dad Joe played, and joined Lower Merion High, on the decidedly benign streets of the Main Line. When he practiced at the St. Joseph’s gym, he always sought out coach Phil Martelli and thanked him afterward.

High school players who skipped college were considered to be poorly advised daredevils. But West didn’t become what he was by listening to everybody.

“You mean to tell me you’re thinking about trading a good young center in this league for a 17-year-old kid?” Bertka asked West.

West replied that he absolutely was. “He’s the best player in this draft,” he said.

So the Lakers sent Vlade Divac to Charlotte, where Bryant had no intention of playing, for the rights to Bryant. It was a nice, intriguing subplot to the Summer of Shaq, when the Lakers signed O’Neal as a free agent and he did a cannonball into the waters of the Atlanta Olympics to announce it.

How Bryant went from there to here, how he became the most charismatic athlete in the history of Los Angeles, has been the story of our lives for 20 years now.

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 13, 2016 6:46 am    Post subject:

Kobe's Peers Salute with Season-Long Praise
by Joey Ramirez - nba.com

After 20 years in the NBA, Kobe Bryant has certainly left his mark on the rest of the league. Whether it was the titans of today's game or the budding stars of tomorrow, most everyone had something to say about the retiring legend during his final season.

Below is a compilation of the best quotes from the NBA's players and coaches, who shared what Bryant meant to them:

Frank Vogel (Nov. 29)
“Every time he touched the ball and every time he checked in, the place exploded like it was Game 7 of the Finals.”

Paul George (Nov. 29)
“Kobe was my (Michael) Jordan. I didn’t really have any moments of watching Jordan, but Kobe was my Jordan. Watching him win championships — I remember just being at home watching the games with my mom, my grandma, my dad, (and) just idolizing him. After the game was over, I’d go in the front yard and try to imitate everything that I just saw. So he was, in my eyes – not saying he’s better than Jordan – but, for me, growing up, that’s who I idolized and look up to. That was the standard. He was the best player and it wasn’t close.”

LeBron James (Dec. 1)

"I knew I had to be better because of Kobe Bryant. I knew he was in the gym and I knew he was working on his game. And I knew he was great. So every day that I didn't want to work out or every day I felt like I couldn't give more, I always thought of Kobe. Because I knew that he was getting better." (via ESPN.com)

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 13, 2016 6:48 am    Post subject:

Kevin Durant marveled at Kobe Bryant’s willingness to outwork everybody
by Mark Medina - insidesocal.com

The private conversations will always stay that way. Kevin Durant does not seem like one to wax nostalgia. Neither does Kobe Bryant.

So, the Oklahoma City forward always preferred “learning more from just watching” the Lakers’ star and “figuring out why he’s like this.” After all, those moments told Durant more about Bryant than anything Bryant could ever say. And what Durant saw from Bryant in the Las Vegas during the 2008 offseason.

Then, Durant had just completed his NBA rookie season and began training for the U.S. Olympic trials in Las Vegas. Bryant was also there to train for the U.S. Olympics later that summer in Beijing.

“Jeff Green and I are only ones on the first bus. Right as we’re about to leave, we see Kobe getting on walking by himself when everybody else took the day off,” Durant said. “He worked out on one end. We worked out on the other.”

Then, Durant saw Bryant make 50 shots in seven different spots from behind the 3-point line. As Bryant dripped in sweat, Green and Durant remarked to each other, “He’s the best player in the league.”

“He took a bus to a high school gym to put some work in,” Durant said. “He’s old school. That’s exactly what I wanted to be like.”

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 13, 2016 6:49 am    Post subject:

Kobe Pens Thanks to Gary Vitti
by Joey Ramirez - nba.com

Fittingly, two of the Lakers' most legendary figures, Kobe Bryant and Gary Vitti, are heading out at the same time.

In his 20-year career — which ends with Wednesday's game against Utah — Bryant's health has always been under the watch of Vitti, who is also retiring after a 32-year career that included eight championships.

Whether it was food poisoning in Sacramento or an ankle injury in Indiana, Vitti has mended Bryant over and over for the past two decades. At the end of both men's tenure, Bryant showed his thanks for Vitti by autographing a photo of the two of them walking through Oakland County International Airport after a road game against Detroit on Dec. 2, 2014.

Bryant also left a message for his trainer: "To Gary, You are the best! Thank you for always having my back and showing me how to act like a pro! I love you and appreciate you more than you will ever know.”

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 13, 2016 6:50 am    Post subject:

TDIKH: April 13, 2004
by nba.com

Coming off his worst performance of the season, Kobe Bryant made sure to prove himself by providing his best one.

Fresh off an eight-point, 3-of-13 display against Sacramento, Bryant dropped a season-high 45 points to lead the Lakers’ 109-104 win over Golden State.

Bryant was hot from the start, scoring 14 points in the first quarter alone.

“He came out aggressive and shot the ball,” Shaquille O’Neal told the media. “He was Kobe.”

Still, individual scoring did not immediately translate into team success, as the Lakers trailed at halftime, 59-49, and the gap widened to 16 in the third quarter.

However, the Lakers finally turned it around in the last period, powered by 16 points from Bryant.

He hit a layup halfway through the quarter to take a 91-90 game, but Golden State answered right back. Still, Derek Fisher responded with a 3-pointer for an edge that Los Angeles would never surrender.

Bryant iced the game by scoring L.A.’s final seven points, all within the final 20 seconds.

In addition to shooting 14-of-29 from the field and 17-of-18 on free throws, Bryant tallied seven rebounds, eight assists and pairs of steals and blocks.

Meanwhile, Shaquille O’Neal pitched in 23 points and 13 rebounds to help the Lakers shoot 53.2 percent.

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 13, 2016 6:51 am    Post subject:

Shaquille O'Neal says Kobe Bryant is 'the greatest Laker ever' (Video)
by Harrison Faigen - silverscreenandroll.com

One-half of the most dominant one-two punch in NBA history had some nice things to say about his soon to retire teammate

Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal went to four NBA Finals together during their time with the Los Angeles Lakers, winning three of them. The two had countless breathlessly reported clashes, but since O'Neal he has seemed to soften his stance on Bryant, often complimenting his former teammate from afar.

When Kobe passed Shaq on the NBA's all-time scoring list in 2012, O'Neal called Bryant "the greatest Laker ever." When asked to speak about Bryant's legacy on Inside the NBA on Tuesday night, the always quotatious big man doubled down on that stance.

"Number one, [he is] the greatest Laker player ever," said Shaq. "It was amazing that he played with one franchise for 20 years. Did it his way. Accomplished everything he set out to accomplish. Remember when he first came in? He said he wanted to be better than Michael Jordan. [I was] like 'young fella, hold up,' but passed him up in points."

"One championship less than what Mike has, but to be the greatest Laker ever, I think that's an amazing accomplishment," Shaq continued. "They got Kareem [Abdul-Jabbar], they got Wilt [Chamberlain], they got Magic [Johnson], so I think him going out as the greatest Laker ever, going out the way he did, I think it's remarkable. Especially a guy that didn't go to college. He came from high school. And to accomplish all that, coming from high school, not going to college, I think is great."

Here is video of O'Neal's comments, courtesy of Whip Clip:

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 13, 2016 6:53 am    Post subject:

Jordan Clarkson thanks Kobe Bryant for playing with him
by Harrison Faigen - silverscreenandroll.com

The team's current shooting guard appreciates its past one

Kobe Bryant may not be ready to declare which current Los Angeles Lakers teammate of his can take his torch as franchise player when he retires just yet, but he has passed a different torch this year. Bryant shifted down a position to start at small forward this season, ceding his traditional position at shooting guard to Jordan Clarkson.

The transition wasn't entirely meant to be ceremonial, but it was still a notable one. Even if Clarkson doesn't project to have anywhere near the career that Bryant had and may not become anything more than a solid starter for the Lakers moving forward, the team hopes that he and teammate D'Angelo Russell can anchor their backcourt for years to come.

Clarkson has come a long way in nearly two years since watching himself fall to the 46th overall selection in the 2015 NBA Draft, and the sophomore guard took to Twitter on the eve of Bryant's final game to thank him for his hand in helping Clarkson develop:

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 13, 2016 8:55 am    Post subject:

lakersfreak wrote:
Shaquille O'Neal says Kobe Bryant is 'the greatest Laker ever' (Video)
by Harrison Faigen - silverscreenandroll.com

One-half of the most dominant one-two punch in NBA history had some nice things to say about his soon to retire teammate

Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal went to four NBA Finals together during their time with the Los Angeles Lakers, winning three of them. The two had countless breathlessly reported clashes, but since O'Neal he has seemed to soften his stance on Bryant, often complimenting his former teammate from afar.

When Kobe passed Shaq on the NBA's all-time scoring list in 2012, O'Neal called Bryant "the greatest Laker ever." When asked to speak about Bryant's legacy on Inside the NBA on Tuesday night, the always quotatious big man doubled down on that stance.

"Number one, [he is] the greatest Laker player ever," said Shaq. "It was amazing that he played with one franchise for 20 years. Did it his way. Accomplished everything he set out to accomplish. Remember when he first came in? He said he wanted to be better than Michael Jordan. [I was] like 'young fella, hold up,' but passed him up in points."

"One championship less than what Mike has, but to be the greatest Laker ever, I think that's an amazing accomplishment," Shaq continued. "They got Kareem [Abdul-Jabbar], they got Wilt [Chamberlain], they got Magic [Johnson], so I think him going out as the greatest Laker ever, going out the way he did, I think it's remarkable. Especially a guy that didn't go to college. He came from high school. And to accomplish all that, coming from high school, not going to college, I think is great."

Here is video of O'Neal's comments, courtesy of Whip Clip:

Continued....

Shaq may have changed his mind. I heard him say on an ESPN segment today that he is old-school and would have to give it to Magic but that others would pick Kobe.
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 13, 2016 9:48 am    Post subject:

Kobe Countdown: 5 Part OC Register Series
by Bill Oram - ocregister.com

The History (Part 1): Fact and legend often blurred in Bryant's early Lakers days

The 20-year story of Kobe Bryant has been so carefully manicured that it can be difficult at times to separate the legit from legend, the reality from the revised. Time has a way of shape-shifting history; of sanding edges.

As a Laker, Bryant developed in the public eye, on the court, hoisting the Larry O’Brien Trophy five times, winning four All-Star Game MVPs and possessing an uncanny knack for scoring a game’s last basket.

As a legend, Bryant sprouted in the shadows. For each title, there were hundreds of closed-door practices. Bryant took on a superhero persona. No hour was too early, no exercise too extreme. Like all mythology, the stories have been told over and over, each time more spectacularly than the last.

Even with the benefit of a 20-year catalog, in Bryant’s final days, the moment to best fit that description remains Bryant’s first with the Lakers: in the Inglewood High gym, spring of 1996.

Bryant schooled former Lakers great Michael Cooper one-on-one, fortified General Manager Jerry West’s desire to get him to L.A. and set into motion a series of events that would lead to one of the greatest eras in franchise history.

“That’s you people that create the word ‘legendary,’” West told a roomful of reporters earlier this year, “because I’ve seen a lot of good workouts. But for someone that age, it was remarkable the skill, the love he had for the game, and the desire to excel.”

Del Harris, then the coach of a Lakers team that had gone 53-29 the year before, watched the workout. He had coached Joe Bryant in 1983 in Houston, and remembered the forward’s young son, Kobe, “a cute little guy,” running around the gym.

Harris watched as Bryant, now 17, still a boy, scored repeatedly on Cooper, the 1987 NBA Defensive Player of the Year.

“It wasn’t the Michael Cooper of the ’80s that Kobe beat,” Harris recalled last month. “Come on, let’s be a little kinder to Michael.”

Still, it was enough for West and the Lakers. Locking in on Bryant was the first step of a complicated and, in West’s words, “daring” summer for the Lakers. The Lakers’ strong record that year meant they owned the 24th pick, much too low to nab Bryant.

Continued....

The History (Part 2): Three titles for Kobe-Shaq-Phil trio

By Kobe Bryant’s third NBA season, the Lakers finally belonged to him and Shaquille O’Neal.

They were just missing the third corner of their triangle.

Phil Jackson arrived after a 31-19 lockout-shortened 1999 season in which the Lakers had jettisoned Nick Van Exel, Eddie Jones and Coach Del Harris. The series of moves pushed the young superstar Bryant to the forefront and set the Lakers up for the success that would soon follow.

A player who wanted nothing more than to play like Michael Jordan, Bryant now had Jordan’s former coach on his side.

“When he came here everything changed for me and how I viewed the game,” Bryant said in an interview with NBA TV last year. “To that point, I really thought about the game from a tactical perspective, and fundamentals and training, surface things.”

Jackson’s arrival brought a focus on “spirituality, the mindfulness that comes with the game,” he said.

“Understanding how to put yourself aside,” Bryant said, further explaining what he learned from Jackson.

For a prodigy who unapologetically aspired to be the game’s greatest player, that may have been the greatest challenge.

Kurt Rambis served as Lakers interim coach in 1999 after Harris was fired, and returned as an assistant coach for three separate stints. He said the biggest difference between Bryant in those first years and later in his career, when he was the primary option on the team, was his inability to operate within a team dynamic.

“He grew up believing so much in himself,” Rambis said, “that he could do whatever – and he probably could – on the court."

Bryant never relinquished that, but still evolved as a leader.

“To see that maturity in him,” Rambis said, “to see (him) blossom as a leader as somebody who took the responsibility of the organization on his shoulders, you really appreciate somebody that understood that and grew into that.”

The first year with Jackson at the helm established a new, greater era of Lakers basketball.

“People need to understand,” said Lakers trainer Gary Vitti, who is retiring after 32 seasons, “we had some teams before Phil came here that were more talented than the 2000 team that won the first Phil championship.”

Continued....

The History (Part 3): Bryant's individual numbers flourished while he flirted with leaving the Lakers

Scoring titles and NBA championships, All-Star Games and Olympics. Kobe Bryant kept so busy over his 20 years, ticking off achievements, it is easy to overlook the events that never happened.

Like Bryant leaving Los Angeles.

“I’m a Laker for life,” Bryant said earlier this year, with rumors percolating that he would return for a 21st season to spend a year with Phil Jackson in New York. “I’m not playing anywhere else.”

That wasn’t always the case.

In 2007, Bryant was “at a crossroads,” trainer Gary Vitti said.

The superstar was pushing for a trade to the Chicago Bulls, where he could steal Jordan’s town the same way he copied his moves.

The previous four years had been an exercise in frustration for Bryant. After the Lakers won a third straight title in 2002, things began to unravel.

The three-time defending champions wobbled to an 11-19 start in 2002-03, even as Bryant averaged a career-high 30 points per game – the first time his numbers exceeded O’Neal’s. It was the beginning of a transition from one star leader to the other.

The Lakers recovered to claim the five seed in the playoffs that season but lost to the San Antonio Spurs in the conference semifinals.

A year later, the Lakers signed future Hall of Fame veterans Gary Payton and Karl Malone, only to watch a locker room bursting with egos collapse in a five-game Finals to the Detroit Pistons, the great superstar-less team.

In fact, the near trade of Bryant in 2007 was the second time he nearly departed. After the loss in 2004, the Lakers model was broken. O’Neal and Bryant could no longer coexist, Bryant was reportedly sick of Jackson’s famed triangle offense and bad blood had developed between him and Malone.

Most critically for Bryant, he faced sexual assault charges that threatened to end his career. His clean, youthful image was stained, and he would spend years polishing it after the charges were dropped shortly before the 2004 season.

That summer, Bryant was a free agent and either O’Neal was going to go, or he was.

Ultimately, the Lakers sent O’Neal to Miami in a sign-and-trade deal, and replaced Jackson with Rudy Tomjanovich, although Jackson would be back a year later.

Before Bryant was handed the keys, however, he toyed with simply starting over somewhere else. Chicago was a possibility. Bryant said earlier this year that he and his wife, Vanessa, had made plans to travel there to look at homes and schools for their then-infant daughter Natalia.

The other serious option was the Clippers.

Continued....

The History (Part 4): Bryant, Lakers return to glory with Gasol

He was the alpha Laker, and part of the accompanying persona was an intense, self-prescribed seclusion from matters that did not directly contribute to winning. His friendships were born out of respect and intensity.

“If you cannot help him win,” trainer Gary Vitti said, “then he doesn’t waste his time developing a relationship with you. It’s that simple. He’s not looking for friends.”

Pau Gasol became the rare player who bridged those two islands.

The Lakers were 29-16 and in first place in 2008 when the Lakers pulled off the trade that finally gave Bryant the big man complement he had missed since Shaquille O’Neal was driven out of town.

In their first game together, on Feb. 5 in New Jersey, Bryant became giddy, he would later reveal, after a pass to Gasol in the post did not bounce off his hands as it likely would have with his predecessor, Kwame Brown, but resulted in a slick basket for the Lakers.

Bryant described running past the Lakers bench and hollering to Coach Phil Jackson, “We’ve got a big man that can catch and finish! We’re going to the Finals!”

The Lakers had in place the core that would bring them their next two titles.

Jackson had returned in 2005 after labeling Bryant as “uncoachable” in his book, “The Last Season,” in 2004. The tome is remembered primarily for its strong, disapproving stance on Bryant’s attitude and accusations of selfishness.

By 2008, the icy relationship between Jackson and Bryant had warmed, with the two working together after they had “locked horns” in previous years, in part fueling Jackson’s departure following the 2004 season.

“It wasn’t until the second time around where Phil just stopped arguing with him,” Vitti said. “That’s what happened. Phil just stopped arguing with him.”

Bryant and Gasol would team up to lead the Lakers to the Finals in each of the next three seasons, including championships against Orlando in 2009 and Boston in 2010. Along the way, Bryant established a bond with the Spaniard that he never shared with O’Neal.

Continued....

The History (Part 5): Injuries bring frustration, then acceptance and appreciation

Metta World Peace sat at his locker recently and was reminded of one of the worst moments in Kobe Bryant’s storied career.

“I wish that had never happened,” World Peace said softly. “He was playing well that season.”

Memories flooded back of Bryant, then 34, disproving concerns about age and ability night after night, steering the Lakers toward a playoff berth that shouldn’t have been so difficult. He scored 47 points one night, recorded a triple-double another. But the night in question was April 12, 2013, when Bryant, amid another herculean performance, tumbled in the fourth quarter, and sat up, stroking his left ankle, checking his Achilles’ tendon.

“There’s just nothing there,” Bryant would say later that night as he contemplated the injury, which has ended careers more often than it has been overcome.

The Lakers had spent the previous offseason amassing players who could land the organization another championship. Bryant’s career was one timeline and the declining health of team owner Jerry Buss, who died in January of 2013, presented another.

Dwight Howard was brought in from Orlando to man the middle, and to orchestrate the chaos a past-his-prime Steve Nash was given a three-year contract.

“We had a great (expletive) team,” World Peace said.

Coach Mike Brown was fired five games into the high-expectations season and ultimately replaced by Mike D’Antoni. The constant clash of styles and mentality between Bryant and D’Antoni, Nash and Bryant, Howard and everybody, put the Lakers in a deep hole.

At the All-Star break they were four games under .500.

From that point on, Bryant averaged more than 39 minutes and 20 shots per game. He scored 28.5 points per night.

“That team was a championship team,” World Peace said. “I thought for sure we were winning it that year. I thought for sure. But it’s not that easy. You’ve got to do it together.”

Bryant was doing much of it on his own.

Howard bellyached, Nash just plain ached.

Then Bryant’s Achilles’ tendon gave out in the fourth quarter as he tried to drive past Warriors forward Harrison Barnes. It snapped like a rubber band. Famously he walked off the court under his own power, but not before ignoring the searing pain and swishing two free throws critical to the game’s outcome – a Lakers 118-116 victory.

Bryant threw a couple of Gatorade bottles in the training room after the injury; “cried and cursed,” longtime trainer Gary Vitti said.

Within hours, he had already scheduled surgery to repair the tendon so he could begin rehab.

“He didn’t even give himself a chance to mourn,” Vitti said.

Much was laid to rest that night in the career of Kobe Bryant.

Continued....
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 13, 2016 1:33 pm    Post subject:

Never thought it would happen till this year. Sad but there is excitement about the future of the Lakers to be sure.
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 13, 2016 6:53 pm    Post subject:

Lakers Rumors: 5 under-the-radar free-agents Los Angeles will likely pursue this summer [NBA Free-Agency 2016]

John Michaels | Apr 09, 2016 10:04 PM EDT

Read more: http://en.yibada.com/articles/115241/20160409/lakers-rumors-5-under-the-radar-free-agents-los-angeles-will-likely-pursue-this-summer-nba-free-agency-2016.htm#ixzz45lWa2Kvh


Forgot how to do this
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 14, 2016 7:56 am    Post subject:

Kobe Bryant goes out with vintage 60-point performance
by Martin Rogers - usatoday.com

For so long it was the kind of night where no one cared about the result. Not even, it seemed, Kobe Bryant.

It was a night that was all about the occasion, all about the chance to say goodbye, all about the chance to celebrate a superstar’s swansong and all about getting Bryant as many points as possible.

Until, somehow, suddenly it wasn’t.

Deep, deep into Wednesday, Bryant found the warrior within once more and what had shaped up in every way like a stat-padding goodbye on the back of yet another Lakers defeat turned on its head.

Bryant had taken a ton of shots against the Utah Jazz, missing most of them — 28 of his 50 from the field falling awry. But when it mattered, as much as a season of 65 defeats can matter, he found that magical touch once more.

He ended with 60 points, a sweet, round number to cap off a career filled with two decades of ferocious, uncompromising, ball-busting effort, five NBA championship rings and a place among the all-time greats.

On the back of his final act, Los Angeles somehow rallied from a 10-point deficit with just over three minutes to play and turned it into a 101-96 victory at Staples Center. Bryant scored 13 of his haul in those closing stages, then exited with 4.1 seconds remaining and the contest by then wrapped up.

He saluted the crowd and exited stage right, hugging head coach Byron Scott. Scott had just one comment to whisper: "Un-(expletive)-believable."

It was.

Continued....
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 14, 2016 7:58 am    Post subject:

Kobe Delivers Final Press Conference
by Joey Ramirez - nba.com

After a 20 years in the NBA and an insane, 60-point finale on Wednesday, Kobe Bryant delivered the final press conference of his career.

The 37-year-old touched on an array of topics regarding his past present and future.

Below is a full transcription from Staples Center.

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 14, 2016 7:58 am    Post subject:

Kobe Bryant's post-basketball life? Back in the gym for starters
by Martin Rogers - usatoday.com

Kobe Bryant pledged to be back in the gym and back at work on Thursday morning as the new chapter of his life gets underway.

In his final press conference as an NBA player, Bryant followed the spectacular 60-point performance that propelled the Los Angeles Lakers to victory in his last game with a telling insight into what comes next.

"I have to," Bryant said, when asked if his intended plans to both work out and put in a shift at the offices of his fledgling media company would be adhered to.

Having seen past teammates and rivals struggle with the transition from the hardwood to retirement, the 37-year-old insisted he would fill his post-basketball days with worthwhile endeavors.

"That’s a very slippery slope," he said. "I have done my research with players, and it is kind of like, 'Tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow.' Then all of a sudden it is like, 'Uh oh.'

"So I think the important thing is get into a routine to maintain discipline, to find a new routine. I have been in a certain routine my entire career."

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 15, 2016 3:35 pm    Post subject:

Hey all,

There are some constants in the universe like the Sun rising every day and Kobe playing for the Lakers.

Still getting used the the latter no longer being the case.

Yeah, I'm bummed.

Will get back into the swing of things here shortly.
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 16, 2016 2:00 pm    Post subject:

lakersfreak wrote:
Hey all,

There are some constants in the universe like the Sun rising every day and Kobe playing for the Lakers.

Still getting used the the latter no longer being the case.

Yeah, I'm bummed.

Will get back into the swing of things here shortly.


I am sure you are not alone with those feelings.



Bonsignore: LA Lakers, GM Mitch Kupchak look to future without Kobe Bryant



By Vincent Bonsignore, Los Angeles Daily News


Posted: 04/15/16, 11:47 PM PDT | Updated: 2 hrs ago

There is a white board inside the office of Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak, on which the Lakers’ current roster is written in custom marker. In the natural course of sports business, players come and players go. And when they leave the Lakers, Kupchak takes out an eraser and wipes their names away.

For the last 20 years, the one constant on Kupchak’s board was Kobe Bryant. He was the foundation piece the Lakers constructed two separate championship eras around that yielded five championships, and a lighthouse that helped navigate them out of danger.

The sports world is nothing but not one of flux. For the Lakers, Bryant provided a rock of stability.

Kupchak found himself staring at that white board on Friday before meeting with reporters. As he did his eyes eventually locked in on Kobe Bryant. As he sat there looking at it, it dawned on Kupchak what needed to be done. After all, the Lakers season had been over for two days now, and as hard as it was to contemplate, so too was the illustrious career of one of the greatest Lakers of them all.

Welp, Kupchak thought to himself, now is as good a time as any.

http://www.prosportsdaily.com/Headlines/ExternalArticle?articleId=405478
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 16, 2016 2:03 pm    Post subject:

Kobe Bryant Courted By 'Inside the NBA'

4/16/2016 12:50 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF

Kenny Smith's dream may actually come true ... 'cause "Inside the NBA" has reached out to Kobe Bryant to see if he wants a job, TMZ Sports has learned.

Both Kenny and Shaq have publicly talked about wanting Kobe to join the panel on the TNT show after he retired from the NBA ... and now, our sources tell us the courting has officially begun.

It's unclear if producers are trying to lock Kobe up to join the guys for the current NBA playoffs ... or if they're looking more toward getting him as a regular for next season.

As one well-placed source connected to the show put it ... "We'd love to have Kobe."

Our sources say Kobe is still evaluating all of his post-NBA options and hasn't made a decision about what he wants to do ... but ya gotta believe he's taking this offer seriously.


Read more: http://www.tmz.com/2016/04/16/kobe-inside-the-nba-job-offer/#ixzz461tpDY00
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 17, 2016 6:40 am    Post subject:

Mitch Kupchak Assesses State of Franchise After Season
by Advith Sarikonda - lakeshowlife.com

Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak held an end-of-season press conference that touched on a variety of topics

Fresh off a disappointing 17-win season, Los Angeles Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak talked about the state of the squad on Friday for 45 minutes in front of several cameras and journalists.

All eyes were on Kupchak, GM of the second worst team in the NBA. To his credit, Mitch kept his composure and answered questions about a variety of topics, including the growth of the team’s young players, the importance of building a championship-contending team, the status of Byron Scott, and more.

As the man in charge of a historically terrible team, Kupchak of all people understands that Lakers fans are not a patient bunch. Every year is expected to be a year in which the team competes for a championship. Unfortunately, the last few years have been a tumultuous time replete with disappointment and losing.

Jeanie Buss, part owner of the Lakers, held her brother Jim to a three year timeline in which she expected him to turn the team into a playoff contender by next season. When asked about this immediate pressure to win, Kupchak acknowledged that decisions should not be done hastily just for the sake of speedy rebuild.

“This is not a process you can rush,” he said. “I’m [not] going to encourage us to spend $60 million on veteran players to long-term deals that might only assure us mediocrity. That’s not how we sat down and decided to advance this team.”

Obviously, no amount of reps or time together will help the current Lakers team achieve contender status. Hence, this summer has largely been viewed as a potentially monumental one as the team attempts to rebound from a string of dreadful seasons. While it seems unlikely that marquee free agents will come to play for the Lakers anytime soon, Kupchak remained cautiously optimistic.

“In terms of players, we still don’t know the status of our pick…We had cap room last summer and we’ll have almost triple of what we had last year. Does it mean we’ll use it all? We have to recruit effectively,” Kupchak said. “We have the opportunity to use our money wisely. We may use it all, we may only use what we feel is prudent.”

Kupchak continued, talking more in-depth about the Lakers first-round pick that’s stuck in limbo.

Continued....
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 17, 2016 6:41 am    Post subject:

Byron Scott expects to be back with Lakers, dismisses coaching critics
by Baxter Holmes - espn.go.com

Los Angeles Lakers head coach Byron Scott said Friday that he "absolutely" expects to maintain his role next season, despite the Lakers' posting the worst record in franchise history in each of the two seasons since he was hired.

"Absolutely," Scott said two days after the team closed its 2015-16 season with a win over the Utah Jazz, which gave the Lakers a franchise-worst 17-65 record.

Scott, who has one more guaranteed year on his deal, said he has not yet met with Lakers management to discuss his future with the team, nor has he been given assurances that he'll coach the team moving forward.

"I don't need that," Scott said. "There's going to come a time where we're going to talk, I do understand that, and I do understand this business.

"As I told you [media] from day one, and it's still to this day, this is my dream job. This is my dream job, and obviously, you want the opportunity to turn it all around, and you hope you get that. But I understand the business of basketball. It's all about wins and losses, and I understand that as well.

"But I think over the last couple of years, the process that we've tried to implement is in place, and obviously, this summer is an awfully big summer for us, and I'm looking forward to it as the head coach of the team until they tell me differently."

Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak said Friday that he and Lakers part-owner and executive vice president Jim Buss plan to have an "informal lunch" with Scott at some point in the next two weeks.

Continued....
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 17, 2016 6:42 am    Post subject:

Scott Brooks is interested in the Lakers coaching job
by Harrison Faigen - silverscreenandroll.com

If the job becomes available, the former Thunder coach would listen

With the Los Angeles Lakers finishing with the worst win-loss record in the history of their franchise for the third season in the a row, many assumed that head coach Byron Scott would be held responsible and let go. Scott, in his second year with the Lakers, instead sounds confident in his job security, while the most recent reports indicate there is now a "strong belief" within the organization that he will remain head coach heading into the 2016-17 campaign.

Should the Lakers change their mind and decide to show Scott the door, at least one of the biggest names on the head coaching market is interested. Former Oklahoma City Thunder head coach Scott Brooks "has interest in a position with the Lakers should it become available," according to Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders.

Brooks is a Southern California native and has a reputation for player development following his time coaching Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Serge Ibaka, and James Harden. Those names are relevant to the Lakers because they are all, with the exception of Durant, players that developed beyond most's projections for them when playing under Brooks. With the Lakers focused on developing their young core players, Brooks would be an interesting candidate for the job if Scott is fired.

Durant is also a free agent this summer, and while it's unknown if Brooks' presence would impact his choice in suitors this summer, it certainly wouldn't hurt given Durant's obvious fondness for his former head coach.

Continued....
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