Archives For Kobe

In an age of teams relentlessly focusing on efficiency and team basketball, the Kobe Bryant isolation brand of ball is frowned upon more and more. Shots with an insane degree of difficulty, many from mid range, and especially in isolation will just drive coaches and analytic heads like me insane.

But Kobe was different. No, this isn’t some sentimental love letter about Kobe Bryant. I want to instead show you some data to show you just how prodigious his iso abilities used to be.

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The Lakers used to wait until a player was actually elected into the hall of fame* before raising their jersey to the rafters and retiring their number. It worked like that…well, forever.

Magic, Kareem, Worthy, Wilt — all of them had to wait until after their election to Springfield took place before they saw their number lifted in the Fabulous Forum. There was even Gail Goorich’s #25 going up into the rafters in the mid-90’s (long after his playing career ended, but shortly after his HOF election) prompting Eddie Jones to have to change his number to #6 after sporting Goodrich’s #25 for his first two seasons.

The team broke this tradition in recent years with Shaq. And they will do it again this season for Kobe, according to TMZ. Seems those two will always be linked in Lakers lore for one reason or another, but I digress.

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So, it’s Kobe’s birthday. He’s 39 years young today and to celebrate the NBA posted this tremendous video of Kobe’s top play against every team he ever faced. What’s a nice touch is that we actually get multiple plays against some franchises who have moved or re-branded. So we get the Charlotte Hornets and the Bobcats, the Vancouver and Memphis Grizzlies, etc.

This thing is 11 minutes of pure fun. Seriously, sit back and enjoy.

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I’m not one to overly praise the Celtics for any of their successes, but it’s pretty clear they are on a roll in the playoffs now. After falling behind to the Bulls 0-2 in the 1st round, the C’s have rattled off six straight W’s to close out Chicago and then hold their home court against the Wizards.

Key to this streak has been the play of Isaiah Thomas, who, while dealing with the tragic death of his sister in a car accident, has performed up to his all-star abilities to carry the C’s offense. His play culminated with a 53 point outburst in an OT win over Washington on Tuesday, the day which would have been his recently passed sister’s 23rd birthday. To say this was an emotional day isn’t doing the circumstances justice and after the game Thomas remarked that he’s playing this way for her.

Thomas will be the first to tell you, though, that his play isn’t just about him, but also about those around him who have shown him support and aided him in his preparation to get on the court to perform. While most would think this only about his personal and professional family with the Celtics. Thomas also credited one Kobe Bean Bryant for helping him out as him and his team have reached their stride:

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It was one year ago today that Kobe Bryant played his last NBA game. Around the league, it was #MambaDay – a celebration of a player whose 20 year career influenced the league like few have. Kobe did not disappoint in his farewell performance, either. Scoring an astounding 60 points on an equally astounding 50 shots, it was more than a night to remember – it was a night which added to a mystique and legend few players in the history of the league possess.

After the game, I wrote the following:

Kobe provided us a night for the ages; he gave us a moment to seal away as ours forever. He turned a night which was supposed to be a sad one filled with teary-eyed goodbyes into a celebration filled with smiles and cheers and did I really just see that? reactions.

In other words, he was Kobe Bryant again.

I will remember this game for the rest of my life. It wasn’t a championship sealing win. There will be no parade down Figueroa. But the feeling of watching a player who has meant so much — to me as a person, to an organization, to a city, to so many fans around the world — was more than just a regular game.

It was one last glimpse into what made 20 years of watching him play such an event and reflective of how he, more often than not, seemed to understand how to turn those events into unforgettable memories. Kobe Bean Bryant. There will never be another quite like him. Goodbye, one last time.

Re-reading those words now, a year later, I still have trouble grasping it actually happened. But now that we are a year removed, it allows us to look back and remember all that went into that night and all the special moments it produced for fans and those in attendance. With that, here are a few of the best posts, videos, and reflections floating around the internet today. Hope you enjoy a trip back in time as we remember #MambaDay.

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2016 brought a lot of memories for Lakers’ fans. Mostly bad ones. The losses piled up and as the 2015-16 season wore on fans became more interested in whether the team would keep their top-3 protected draft pick than anything that happened on the court. Game after game many fans either actively cheered for losses or became so apathetic about the on-court results being a fan felt like work.

Of course, not the entire year was bad. The team did keep their draft pick. The team also made a coaching change and hired Luke Walton. The start of this season also offered some truly genuine feel good moments as the team shot out to a 9-7 start by playing a fun brand of basketball that reminded us all of what it was like to enjoy watching the Lakers play basketball.

But all the good moments were just about ushering in change and the resulting bump in play under the new regime. In fact, I would argue none of those things come close to the feeling we all had on the final day of this past season when Kobe Byrant rode off into the sunset in the most Kobe Bryant way imaginable.

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Earlier today we ran an excerpt from the great Roland Lazenby’s latest book, Showboat: The Life of Kobe Bryant. The book is fantastic (I am not yet finished, but what I have read is tremendous) and you can get yourself a copy right here through Amazon.

However, we have a special surprise for a couple of our readers — we are also doing a giveaway!

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Though he walked away from the game this past April after giving the most Kobe performance imaginable, it was 20 years ago today that Kobe Bryant made his NBA debut for the Lakers. As fans of the team (or more broadly, the NBA) we all know how those 20 years went. The championships, league and Finals MVP’s, all-NBA nods, all-star games, scoring records, etc, etc.

We do not know it all, though.

What Roland Lazenby has done is attempt to fill in some of those gaps and give us more on Kobe than we have ever gotten before. And, while I am not yet finished with his latest book, I can tell you he’s done an excellent job with Showboat: The Life of Kobe Bryant. Below is an excerpt from the book which is now available for purchase here. The book does not begin with Kobe, but instead with the man who passed down the game (and the name Bean) to him — his father Joe “Jellybean” Bryant.

We have read lots of stories about the strained relationship between Kobe and his parents, but I, personally, know little about Joe’s life. This opening chapter from the book introduces us to Joe and gives us a glimpse into his world before Kobe…

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