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August 25, 2014 Updates
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Instead, there was a mention of maturity, how there was an upgrade in that aspect over Beasley's first two seasons with the team, but perhaps not enough to earn renewed trust for a season when every game has to matter. As this week's Sports Illustrated puts it, "Beasley remains an All-Star talent with D-League reliability." Elsewhere, interest has been tepid, to a degree similar to last summer, when Beasley was not added by the Heat until Sept. 11. There was a workout with the Los Angeles Lakers that ended without a contract offer. There yet could be interest from the Indiana Pacers, now that Shawn Marion has instead signed with the Cleveland Cavaliers, leaving the Pacers to reconsider 2014-15 life without Paul George (and whether Chris Copeland would be a preferable Plan B to Beasley). What Beasley made clear before the end of the season was that his hope going forward was to only be judged on his talent, on basketball. South Florida Sun-Sentinel

“There are certain things that my body can’t do that I used to be able to do,” Bryant admits. “And you have to be able to deal with those. First you have to be able to figure out what those are. Last year when I came back, I was trying to figure out what changed. And that’s a very hard conversation to have.” Bryant pauses. “So when I hear the pundits and people talk, saying, ‘Well, he won’t be what he was.’ Know what? You’re right! I won’t be. But just because something evolves, it doesn’t make it any less better than it was before.” Sports Illustrated

Kobe’s focus these days is on efficiency. Over the summer he’s trained nearly every day, either at the Lakers’ facility or at a gym near his house in Orange County. Sometimes he’ll have a partner join him for drills– often 27-year-old Lakers small forward Wesley Johnson. In these instances Bryant takes on a mentoring role, pointing out Johnson’s wasted steps and where he can be more effective. Other times Bryant works out by himself, except for two ball boys, shooting and sweating for up to two hours, never talking. His goal is to regain his conditioning—after adding some body fat earlier in the year, he now looks almost frail with his shirt off. The end goal, of course, is to evolve. “I’ll be sharper,” he says. “Much sharper. Much more efficient in areas. I’ll be limited in terms of what you see me do, versus a couple years ago. But very, very methodical, very, very purposeful.” Sports Illustrated

Bryant's body hasn't withstood a full 82-game schedule since the 2010-11 season. He missed eight games during the lockout-shortened 2011-12 season, the final four games of the 2012-13 season and 76 games last season while recovering from a torn left Achilles' tendon and a fractured left knee he sustained six games into his comeback. Of course, there is an upside to playing less basketball over the last 17 months than at any point since he was a tyke. "Quite honestly, I think we're going to see a better Kobe Bryant than we've seen in the last couple of years because he's had time to rest and rehabilitate," said Dr. Alan Beyer, executive director of the Hoag Orthopedic Institute in Irvine. Los Angeles Times

Bryant sits back, letting the thoughts sit in the air for a moment. Then he continues. “It’s never easy, man. This s--- is hard. So when players look in the distance and see us winning championships and see us celebrating and having a good time, they think, ‘Oh, this is what leadership is, this is how you win, everyone gets along, we’re all buddy-buddy, we all hang out, blah, blah.’ ” Bryant shifts in his seat, leans forward. “No it’s not like that. You talk to Lamar [Odom], Adam Morrison. We were at each other’s throats every day. Challenging each other, confronting each other. That’s how it gets done. But that’s hard, because it’s uncomfortable, right? It’s uncomfortable.” Sports Illustrated

This approach—Bryant likens it to the unpleasant task of telling a teammate he has “s--- in his teeth”—does not go over well all the time. Like with Dwight Howard, for example. Others appreciate it. During filming, Chopra interviewed a number of Bryant’s teammates, current and former, and he asked them to describe Bryant in three words. After each interview Kobe would text Chopra, eager to hear what people said. Most answered with some variation of “the ultimate competitor” or “killer instinct.” But when Chopra asked Steve Nash, he said something different. After thinking for a moment, Nash answered, slowly, in three beats: “Mother . . . f------ . . . a------.” Kobe thought this was awesome. Sports Illustrated

So Kobe found his drive in being different, in being alone. That’s why he studies the iconoclasts. It’s why he’s close to so few people in the NBA. And it’s why, while some like Phil Jackson think he will prosper upon leaving the game, others aren’t so sure. “You know how it’s been hard for Jordan in retirement?” says one GM. “It’s going to be way worse to be Kobe. He has fewer friends and the same competitive drive. At least MJ likes to golf and play cards.” Sports Illustrated

August 21, 2014 Updates
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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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