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.
Bill Oram: LAL GM Mitch Kupchak: "I'd put that night up against any Game 7, any championship, in terms of a performance in the last game of the season"
Tom Orsborn: Manu on Kobe: "The way he closed it out was unbelievable, the 3s, the contested shots & getting the win. It was a great goodbye party.”
Kobe Bryant not only set a points record for a player of his age in his final NBA game Wednesday night -- he also helped the Staples Center and the Los Angeles Lakers break industry merchandise records. On Wednesday alone, the Staples Center sold $1.2 million worth of Kobe merchandise, Sean Ryan, AEG vice president of merchandise told ESPN. Ryan said that's a single-day sales record for any arena in the world.
Prices of the merchandise were certainly for the well-heeled. Most of the hats, more than 60 percent of which sold out, cost $72.48 each. There were eight hats made out of snake and lamb skin that cost $38,024 and eight hats made from cashmere with five diamonds on it that cost $24,008. Ryan said only three went unsold.
Kobe Bryant not only set a points record for a player of his age in his final game Wednesday night, he also helped the Staples Center and the Los Angeles Lakers break all-time industry merchandise records. On Wednesday alone, the Staples Center sold $1.2 million worth of Kobe merchandise, Sean Ryan, AEG vice president of merchandise told ESPN. Ryan said that's a single-day sales record for any arena in the world.
The Los Angeles Rams knew they would command huge swathes of public opinion when they announced their blockbuster trade with the Tennessee Titans for the number one pick in the draft. And indeed they did, but it happened about 12 hours after they knew the deal was in place. Knowing that Kobe was preparing to take the court for the final time of his career, the two teams didn’t want to overshadow his moment and therefore delayed the announcement until the following morning, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
Damian Lillard: This is literally the moment I was told "Kobe has 60 with 10 seconds left" Amazing @Kobe Bryant!
Dwyane Wade: What else should we have expected. It's only Kobe Bryant were talking about. 60!!!!!! You never seem to amaze. #Salute @kobebryant
Yes, Bryant had to shoot 50 times to reach 60 points. No one seemed to mind. And yes, he was exhausted, breathing so hard that his teammates wondered if he could keep going, if passing him the ball over and over, setting screens upon screens, would wipe him out before the fourth quarter. Only, he became stronger in the fourth quarter. He made big shots, including two immense 3-pointers to complete an improbable 101-96 comeback victory over the Jazz. An hour later, Bryant stood on the court with his longtime agent, Rob Pelinka, and told him about that 3-pointer with 30 seconds left that secured the victory. No legs, Rob. Nothing left. “Shot it with my arms,” Bryant said.
Whenever Bryant hit a touch stretch, he fought his way out of it. It was the story of this season, of these final few years when nothing came easy to him. “There were times where I drove to the basket and my legs were just like, ‘What, are you nuts?’ But I just throw the ball up and it goes in, and [I’m] like, ‘Thank God.’”
Here it was past midnight, and I walked up to Kobe Bryant and simply said, “You found an ending to your story, didn’t you?” “Go f---in’ figure, huh?” Kobe Bryant responded to me with a look of pure astonishment. He stared with a stone seriousness for a moment, and then dissolved into laughter and asked me: “Seriously, what the f--- happened tonight, man?”
NBA: Dear Kobe, Thank you. Thank you for your passion, commitment, and dedication to basketball. Thank you for showing us that 24 is not just the number on your jersey, but the number of hours in a day you must devote to basketball to be the best. Thank you for giving and giving and giving.
Jon Schriffen: When Steph Curry heard Kobe had 60 pts on 50 shots he couldn't believe it and said "stop playing." #MambaOut
"There were a lot of points there where I got emotional," Bryant said. "When I first ran out of the tunnel. When I put on my jersey. When those moments happen you catch yourself. You have got to block that out because none of it makes a difference if you go out there and completely lay an egg and mess up the situation.
Scottie Pippen: 60 points and a win. Amazing. Fans in LA got their money's worth tonight. #MambaDay #ThankYouKobe
Mike Trudell: Kobe message to young guys: "Don’t be that guy. Get yourself in the gym, work as hard as you possible can. Hopefully they got the message."
Mike Trudell: Kobe to the media: “I don’t think you understand the impact you have on players with what you write, good and bad. I want to thank you."
Mark Cuban: Dang @Kobe Bryant. You couldn't go for 62 and move us down your list :) Your left handed turnaround 3 is still yr greatest shot ever #legend
Bob Garcia: Kobe: "this has been an amazing for basketball fans. 73 wins that is ridiculous. What happened here tonight just made it a great night."
Ryan Ward: Kobe Bryant on how vital hatred from opposing fans was throughout his career: “Extremely necessary for me. That’s why I fed off of.”
Mike Trudell: Kobe said he was deeply touched by @Magic Johnson's introductory tribute tonight: “(Magic Johnson) will always be number one for me."
Evan Turner: Still can't believe I witnessed the Mamba's 60 point performance, I will remember it forever. #legend
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: There have been a lot of great basketball players, but few have achieved the status of Legend. Kobe Bryant became a legend the old-fashioned way, through dedication to practice, commitment to his team, enthusiasm for the game, and loyalty to the fans. To become a legend, it’s not enough to be an exceptional player, you must also be an inspiring player. That means not only inspiring kids to want to play like you, but inspiring your peers to up their game so they won’t settle for anything less than their best.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: But most important, when a legend takes the court, the fans experience a thrill of excitement in their guts that anything is possible. That at any moment, we might witness something that will shock and delight us. Kobe has been shocking, delighting, and exciting us all for to decades. Other players will rise to greatness, but few will join him in the constellation of legendary.
Twitter had all sorts of issues Wednesday night. And during the second half of Kobe Bryant’s final game, the official Lakers Twitter account mysteriously disappeared. The handle stopped showing up in Twitter searches. Really, the entire account was gone … during Kobe’s last game.
August 18, 2022 | 2:54 am EDT Update
The Lakers remain active in trade talks and would part with their 2027 and 2029 first-round picks in the right deal, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said in an appearance on Sports Center (video link). Those picks “have a lot of value in the marketplace” if they’re unprotected, Wojnarowski states. He adds that L.A. would be willing to give them up in a trade for Kyrie Irving, but the Nets haven’t been interested.
Those around the team were confident that James signing an extension was likely, considering how much he’s enjoyed playing for the Lakers and living in Los Angeles. The primary complication in James’ decision was that he has been privately adamant that the Lakers still need to improve the current roster and trade for superstar point guard Kyrie Irving, league sources have told The Athletic.
The Lakers have explored runs at Nets point guard Kyrie Irving ($36.9 million expiring contract), but it’s unclear if Brooklyn would want to include Joe Harris’ $19.9 million salary for 2023-24 as well. The Pacers have Buddy Hield, a former client of Lakers executive Rob Pelinka, at $18.6-23.3 million for next season (depending on incentives). Los Angeles has also explored a deal for Pacers center Myles Turner with the expectation that he would extend or re-sign beyond his current $17.5-20 million salary for 2022-23.
Per several sources connected to teams like the Brooklyn Nets, Indiana Pacers and San Antonio Spurs, the Lakers have not been willing to part with significant draft capital to get off Westbrook’s contract. But that may have been tied to uncertainty surrounding James’ future, which is now put to rest.
The sense from those sources: Westbrook will have a new home when the Lakers green-light trades that include both their 2027 and 2029 first-rounders. What’s still unclear is whether L.A. will be willing to do so.
Rob Pelinka has been “very active” in attempting to add more shooting and size to the Los Angeles Lakers roster, according to Adrian Wojnarowski on ESPN. “Rob Pelinka has still been very active, even in the dog days of August. He’s been on the phone a lot, he’s still trying to find deals to bring in more shooting, perhaps some size. And so I think those conversations continue all the way into training camp,” said Wojnarowski on NBA Today.
Among the executives with whom I spoke, a Boston deal with Jaylen Brown as the centerpiece appears to be the unofficial front-runner here. In general terms, sources say the Nets are using the fact that the Celtics (and perhaps other teams) have made their second-best player available as a baseline of sorts in negotiations. Translation: If you’re still trying to discuss a Durant deal without putting your second-best talent on the table, then just stop wasting everyone’s time and bow out of this race.