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December 14, 2014 Updates

I've been lucky enough to cover Bryant since he arrived in 1996 (and his father, Joe, as a Philadelphia 76er in the '70s). Kobe's the most exciting player I ever saw. routinely doing stuff that defied belief. Unfortunately, they don't give you extra points for degree of difficulty. If they did, Kobe would have been the greatest there ever was. No one may have ever been to the heights that Bryant reached at his zenith, simply because no one else ever did anything close to what he did while taking shots as crazy and making the game as hard. Forbes.com

Bill Oram: Byron confident Kobe will pass MJ on before halftime tonight. And th shot? "If I had to guess, it's going to be that patented fallaway." Twitter @billoram

When Lakers (7-16) play the Minnesota Timberwolves (5-17) today at Target Center, Bryant will need to score only nine points to eclipse Jordan’s 32,292 career points for third place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list. Unsurprisingly, Bryant’s upcoming milestone has fueled the never-ending comparisons to Jordan, something that has followed Bryant throughout his 19-year career. But Young’s uneasiness to Jordan’s question provided a snapshot on how the current generation of NBA players idolize Bryant the same way the Lakers’ 36-year-old star admires Jordan. “It’s so hard to compare anyone to Michael, but I think it’s fair to say Kobe is the second coming of MJ,” said Indiana Pacers forward Paul George, who grew up watching Bryant while playing for Knight High in Palmdale. “Kobe has transcended the league the same way I felt Michael did.” Los Angeles Daily News

Scott thinks so. "Jordan, back in the day, they said he was a tough guy to play with because he was so demanding," Scott said. "He was punching guys in practice and things of that sort. And Kobe is in that same cloth." Just ask Smush Parker, who once said Bryant told him in practice, "You can't talk to me. You need more accolades under your belt before you come talk to me." ESPN.com

He is also the only person to have served as head coach for both players, at any level, which makes him an almost unquestionable authority on one of the most popular comparisons in all of sports, and all of sports history. But Bryant disputes this claim from Jackson. All of it. "Nah, it's a myth," Bryant said. "Phil likes to say things a lot of times to create good content, to create good stories, as most [reporters] do." ESPN.com

Amid Young’s playful demeanor, he has taken on a serious tone during the Lakers’ worst start in franchise history. After last week’s loss in Boston, Young abruptly walked away from a post-game interview that lasted only 45 seconds. Young also weathered frustration while missing six weeks because of a broken right thumb. “He cares about winning,” Scott said. “That’s the thing I love about him the most. He’s a player that likes to play around and have fun and practice and enjoys playing. He has a certain zest for going out there and having that competition. But when we lose games, he takes it pretty hard. That’s very important.” Los Angeles Daily News

Bryant is early in his 19th NBA season. He doesn't know whether he'll play after his current contract expires following next season, although Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak suspects Bryant will retire. If surpassing Jordan's career points total is Bryant's final milestone on his rise, he'll be grateful to sit alongside one of his heroes. "It's not like a distraction or anything," Bryant said. "It's not like it's (not) going to happen. I just take it all in stride." USA Today Sports

You mention attitude, which is interesting. Most people think your attitude is "stats first, team second." Nick Young: Stats don't mean too much when you're losing. People think all I worry about is my points, but that's not true. I try to go out there and have fun, especially on a team like this, with Kobe Bryant. I have to bring that energy, because he's the tough cop. I'm like Eddie Murphy in 48 Hrs. Every team needs a mix of guys like that, a good balance. Rolling Stone

What's Kobe Bryant like as a teammate? [Laughs] He's not normal. That's one person who's not normal. But he's also not like people think. He rides people, for sure – some people more than others, and some of them can't handle that. But he was the first person who called me when I got injured, he checked in on me. I was kind of touched. He went over plays with me, told me how to recover. I thought that was pretty big. When Kobe calls you, what does it say on your phone? "Mamba?" "Vino?" Oh, it says "Kobe." I make sure I show everybody that number. "It's Kobe calling." Rolling Stone

Clothes are a big deal in the NBA. Who do you think is the most fashionable player? Nick Young: Me. I influence a lot of people with my hairstyle, with dressing up, but nobody will give me credit. I'm not afraid to take chances, I like to look good and I have a personality. I like to see that my haircut is on a lot of people these days, people been trying to battle me with sneakers on the court – but you know what? Right now, I'm holding the crown. I won't back down. Rolling Stone

What's your favorite piece of clothing? Nick Young: My black leather jacket from Saint Laurent. It was a lot of money. I went and they said, "You gotta have this" and I was like, "Nah, I don't know if could spend $5-6,000 on a jacket." But, here's how I got it: I had bought another jacket, but it didn't fit, so I returned it and I had $2,000 credit that I forgot all about, so I snapped it up! I knew my teammates were going to crack jokes on me as soon as they saw it, that's what I started calling myself "Young Mike Jackson." It's tough to look good in a leather jacket. Rolling Stone

 

THE TOP 50 PLAYERS IN LAKERS HISTORY

Kobe Bryant and Magic Johnson headline a fantastic list that includes up to 33 NBA champions.

   

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