Storyline: Kobe Bryant Retirement

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9 months ago via ESPN

“He left feeling like, ‘I gave y’all every f—ing thing I had and that’s it,'” Green continued “So no, [Kobe is] not sitting in retirement like, ‘Man, I wish I can go be out there.’ No, he’s on to the next thing because [he] gave that one thing everything [he] had. And I think it will be very similar with this team. Whenever that point comes, we’re going to know that we gave it everything we got and you move on. But you feel good about moving on. You’re not sick about moving on.”

Kobe Bryant will add another distinction to his Hall of Fame career on Monday, when the Los Angeles Lakers — a franchise with no shortage of all-time greats in its history — will recognize both eras of his incredible 20-year run by retiring Nos. 8 and 24. Just like that, one man will own two of the Lakers’ 11 retired jerseys. “He’s turned himself into a folktale. And it’s a great folktale,” Kyrie Irving told Yahoo Sports. “He’s like the abominable snowman that you can actually see in person. Almost like people are unsure if he’s approachable or not, but he’s an open book when you go and talk to him. It’s awesome to know that one of the greats to ever do it is taking the time to really give you knowledge that is about furthering your career and achieve greatness that you’ve dreamt of as a kid. He does it strictly for progressing the culture.”

Bryant, who gave an informal backstage pep talk to the fighters, can’t stick around for the card. He said he was in a rush to get home to his three daughters, the oldest of which, Gianna, has flashed some of the same basketball skills as her dad. Bryant has said he has no interest in a Lakers’ front office role and is content to keep his scouting reports within the family. “I coach my daughter’s sixth grade team. That’s the extent of it all,” Bryant said. “She’s a beast. She’s tough. She’s a little firecracker, man.”
3 years ago via ESPN

Bryant is too fresh off his playing career and deep into his business pursuits. But it’s worth noting that he met with Buss and Rambis in February to give his opinion on the state of the franchise. He also advocated for Pelinka, his former agent, who will take over as the Lakers general manager. That left Johnson, who was probably Buss’ first choice, anyway. He reached out to check on her after the announcement that her engagement to Jackson was off. They planned to have dinner, and the rest happened quickly. When you’ve been operating without trust for so long, it makes the desire for it even stronger — and there are few people in the world whom Buss trusts more than Johnson.

I got to ask, because I feel like the setting’s begging for it: What’s your relationship with death? Kobe Bryant: A comfortable one. Yeah? Kobe Bryant: It’s a comfortable one. It’s an understanding. You can’t have life without death. Can’t have light without the dark. So it’s an acceptance of that. When it came time to decide whether or not I should retire, [it was] really an acceptance of that mortality that all athletes face. And if you combat it, you’ll always have that inner struggle within yourself. … So … I’m comfortable with it.

In The Wall Street Journal, you said that you’d been planning this phase as early as three years back. What was the moment that made you decide to start planning? Kobe Bryant: Well, the injury. When I injured my Achilles, then it became something where it’s, OK, this is immediate, right? The end of my career could be now. So since I was 21 years old and thinking, OK, I have to figure out what comes next. You kind of brainstorm, you ideate, but you never really execute anything. And when the injury happened, I said, “OK, no, I need to start building now.” And that’s when the turning point was for me.
3 years ago via ESPN

Kobe Bryant doesn't miss playing

Kobe Bryant admitted to watching a few games during the first week of the NBA season. But playing again? Not a chance. “Not even a little bit,” Bryant said Tuesday morning at the launch of his latest signature Nike shoe, the “Kobe A.D.” “It’s strange to think a couple years ago, to be in this emotional space would be unfathomable. But I mean not even a smidge, which I’m very thankful for, because it’s made my transition seamless and I can really just watch and just enjoy the games.”
3 years ago via ESPN

Roland Lazenby recently joined the Triple Threat Podcast to discuss his upcoming book about Bryant. While bound to an understandable secrecy agreement with his publishing house (Little Brown), Roland Lazenby was able to describe the project as a 600-page journey through Kobe Bryant’s life and the path his basketball career took. Outside of his most recent book (Michael Jordan: The Life), Lazenby has also written a biography on former Laker Jerry West and taken in-depth looks at the life and career of both Phil Jackson (while he was coaching the Bulls) and even a young Bryant. Roland Lazenby also acknowledged that the book does spend some time focusing on the life of Bryant’s father Joe “Jellybean” Bryant as an NBA player and the parallels Lazenby described as “a pretty compelling story about Kobe being the force of nature” that he has been, and how their two stories are interlinked in the obvious father/son ways and beyond.

While Roland Lazenby described Bryant’s final year as sub par when compared to the incredible standard he established throughout his Hall of Fame career, he said a portion of the book will also center around the vintage 60-point scoring performance Bryant left us with and how unique of a farewell game that truly was. He also described the project as a view of Bryant as both a cultural and sports figure and said his basic focus was on the 20-year career and all the relationships that played a role in developing and maintaining Bryant’s greatness along the way.

FTW: How has retirement been for you? Kobe Bryant: Retirement’s been great for me. I’m focused on the next thing and enjoying that. I get up every morning, and I’m excited to get to it. It’s been good. FTW: John Black said the morning after the game, that you had woken up really early, gone to the gym, got in the office by 8:30, is that still something you’ve kept up? KB: 8! (laughs) Yeah, yeah. I love everything I’m doing. I’m very, very fortunate to be able to say that. It’s always been a great fear of playing the game is will you be able to love the next thing as much as you love playing. Fortunately for me, the answer is yes.

FTW: There was an AP story that came out and said you’ve been speaking with Spielberg and a lot of the giants in the movie industry, but have you called people from other facets of the business world, as well? KB: Yeah, I’ve been really fortunate to have really great mentors throughout my career, which have nothing to do with basketball. Anna Wintour, Arianna Huffington, Mark Parker, Jony Ive, to be able to have access to them, to speak to them — just speak, not necessarily about business in particular, just nature and people and culture and things like that.

FTW: What’s your stance on eSports and has that changed? Recently, ESPN has been getting into it, it’s now seen more of as a legitimate sport whereas before it was viewed as just video games and not a real sport. KB: I think people are really interested in watching people problem solve. It doesn’t matter what industry. People are very fascinated by that — seeing the struggles people go through and how they overcome it. I think this was just a matter of time before it caught fire. To be able to sit and watch a performance on TV and watch how the gamers are figuring out those challenges amongst themselves, you can’t help but be interested.

Silver said he and the league have already been in discussions with Bryant about incorporating him into the NBA’s future plans in myriad ways, similar to the role that Celtics legend Bill Russell has with the NBA. “I’m sure this is not the last chapter for him, in terms of the NBA,” Silver told the group at NBA headquarters. “He’s talked a lot about all kinds of things, but he said he’d be particularly interested in doing something around media. “There’s some film projects he’s talked to us about. I think he really wants to explore how it is he can teach the game to others, how he can present the inside of the game.”

Chris Bosh on Kobe Bryant: We went to the village to hang out a few times while the Olympic Games were going on, and I remember everybody walking through the arcade that they’d set up for the athletes. There were a bunch of games, but in particular, they had those mini pop-a-shot basketball games that you can find in just about every arcade in the world. Kobe and Michael Redd started playing, and things got competitive. After a few games, I got tired of watching, so I left to meet up with some friends. I had to have been gone for a couple of hours. When it was almost time to head back to the hotel, I stopped by the arcade again and those guys were still playing! Both of them were in a full sweat with a focus like it was a real game. That was pretty funny to me because I’d always heard about how competitive Kobe was and in that moment, I got to witness it for myself.

Sixty points?! On 50 shots?! “It was like I was forced to,” Kobe says. “By the crowd and mostly by teammates.” What was more ridiculous? That his 60 points was twice as many as any Hall of Famer has scored in his last regular-season game. That, at age 37, he was five years older than anyone else who has scored 60 points? That no one has taken 50 shots in an NBA game in 49 years? Or that his teammates didn’t want him to pass? “I challenged him to score 50 points and that motherfucker got 60,” O’Neal said as he stood on the court long after Kobe had left it, trying to process his final brazen act. “It would have taken me four months to get 50 shots on any of the teams I played for,” Horace Grant said. “And that motherfucker took 50 in one night.”

There’s the obvious swipe at the narcissism that’s made him at least as famous as his scoring. Of course Kobe has moved into a world of his own making. The only surprise is that he’d pass the vision to a group of writers and trust that they’d execute it better than he could. “I think Walt did this with animation, as well,” he says. Yes, he’s referring to Walt Disney. “He quickly realized that, although he could draw pretty well, there are other animators out there that are just much, much better. He went and found those animators and gave them the vision and allowed them to do what they do best. If you collaborate with great people and each one is enhancing the other, that’s when we create things that are timeless.”

Bryant seemed surprised when he and I boarded an elevator together a couple of hours before the Lakers played the Grizzlies. He recovered quickly and started asking about my daily routine — how often I filed stories, tweeted to followers, etc. He was already gathering information for his post-basketball career, which he hoped would include a website launch akin to Derek Jeter’s theplayerstribune.com, of which Bryant was an original investor. Along those lines, imagine my surprise last season when Bryant didn’t glare at a reporter who asked whether his career was headed the way of Michael Jordan’s — slow in the beginning, plenty of championships in the middle and rough at the end for team and player.

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.
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January 21, 2020 | 8:11 am UTC Update
Celtics swingman Jaylen Brown thought Boston wouldn’t budge from its original $80 million extension offer before the front office substantially sweetened the pot, he told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski on the Woj Pod (hat tip to Nick Goss of NBC Sports Boston). Brown eventually signed a four-year, $115 million rookie-scale extension, which included $12 million in incentives. “To be honest, I came with the mindset I didn’t think that anything was going to get done,” Brown told Wojnarowski. “I wasn’t sure that anything was going to get done. The first offer was four years, $80 million. I didn’t think they were going to budge from that. So, I came with the mindset, I told (agent Jason) Glushon that, ‘Let’s see what can happen, you know?’ For me, I didn’t think Jason was going to be able to get anything done. I thought they were going to stay at ($80 million) and that was going to be it.”
Without an extension, Brown would have entered restricted free agency this summer. He was fully prepared to do that until the offer grew. “I was hell-bent, I was already locked in, focused, ready to carry the weight that I was going to go into this year playing my fourth year out. And then they jumped up, and that just showed they wanted me here in the organization,” he said on the podcast. “They appreciated my value. They thought that I added to winning. It was an offer that was too hard to kind of turn down.”
“I think you just don’t know what it’s going to be like to coach stars of that ilk,” Vogel said. “They’ve been wonderful, from the time I took the job, they’ve been very collaborative. Come together with a plan, they’ve helped with the buy in with the rest of the group. It hasn’t been the type of challenge that you may expect coaching stars of that caliber.”
In his second interview since getting axed in December, David Fizdale was on “The Jump” and repeated he had no “regret’ but added: “For me personally, the toughest part was that I didn’t fulfill what I went there to do. I wanted to give the fans a relative team, a winner. The fan base was so awesome and so passionate about the team. The fact that I couldn’t get over the hump to where I wanted to get it to; that part is a tough pill to swallow.”
Storyline: David Fizdale Firing
Any team that holds a formal “shootaround” or, for that matter, a practice, has to invite the media. Players are also supposed to be available in the locker room for 30 minutes prior to each game, but there is a basic working agreement between the league and press that players should either be available at shootaround or before the game, but not both. What has happened, though, is that most of the league’s stars, LeBron included, do not talk in that 30-minute span, ever, even if there is no shootaround.
Teams, like the Lakers, are still holding meetings and walk-throughs and working out injured players the mornings of games, they just aren’t inviting the media. They get away with it by not calling whatever it is that they’re doing a “shootaround.” Not every team is doing this — the Celtics, for instance, had a lengthy shootaround and media session afterward Monday morning — but the Lakers appear to be one. Over and over, the team announces it is not holding a shootaround (or even a practice on an off day), and then their players contradict them by referencing the workouts after the fact. On Monday, Quinn Cook posted a picture to social media of Danny Green at TD Garden for a morning workout.
An agitated Delonte West was captured discussing an alleged altercation. The person who posted the clip of the former NBA player to social media, Twitter user @damani_givens, told Complex that the video was taken in Washington D.C. West appears to be saying that someone approached him with a gun as he was walking down the street. However, when he was asked further detail about his account of the incident, Delonte repeatedly said “I don’t give a fuck” twice before ranting about something that’s difficult to understand.
January 21, 2020 | 1:58 am UTC Update
January 21, 2020 | 1:30 am UTC Update
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January 21, 2020 | 12:24 am UTC Update