Posts Tagged ‘Kobe Bryant’

kobe bryant 2016

Yes, the world knows at this point that Kobe Bean Bryant is only a shell of the player that he once was, but before you scoff at the headline that I’ve created, let it marinate for a moment. You’ll then understand where I’m coming from. Allow me to briefly hit you with a little NBA history before you totally write me off.

What do Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in 1989, Magic Johnson in 1992, & Michael Jordan in 2003 all have in common? They were all named NBA All-Stars despite the fact that they were either: a) nowhere near the players they were previously, or b) were on their way to retiring (like Kareem and MJ). In Magic’s case, he had already announced his retirement in November of ’91, but was named an All-Star that same season regardless.

If the NBA lives up to its word of honoring its legends, then Kobe should be a lock for the 2016 All-Star Game. Imagine a starting Western Conference backcourt of Steph Curry and Bryant, and you can be sure that the players on that West squad will do their due diligence to see to it that Kobe is in prime position to secure what would be his fifth and final All-Star Game MVP. What a way to leave the game in an honorable way.

Until we get a chance to see Kobe participate in his final All-Star Weekend as a player in 2016, enjoy these memorable Kobe Bryant All-Star highlights throughout his career.

michaeljordan

Since everyone’s enjoying the weekend break between Games 1 & 2 of the NBA Finals, I figured I’d share with you my personal story of an NBA champion who all of us are quite familiar with.

Michael Jordan once said that one of his motivating factors for consistently performing at a high level on the basketball court was his cognizance of that one fan (or fans) who were able to see him play live and in person that one particular time who may never have the opportunity to watch him play in person again. Well, I was one of those folks he referred to, and as a young kid at the time of attending my first Jordan game, I must say that he did indeed put on a show that night.

MJ pulled off this vintage under the layup Dr. J-like reverse in a way that only he could at that time....Oh yeah, and it was a three-point play as well.

MJ pulled off this vintage under the layup Dr. J-like reverse in a way that only he could at that time….Oh yeah, and it was a three-point play as well.

The time and date of the game, you ask? Friday, March 27, 1998 at 7:30pm in Atlanta, GA against the Dikembe Mutombo/Steve Smith/Mookie Blaylock-era Hawks. At the time, both teams had much in common, as they were both Central Division rivals (the re-shaping of the NBA’s landscape in 2004 saw the Hawks move to the newly formed Southeast Division) who had faced each other in the previous season’s playoffs. Both teams were in a transitional period. Jordan’s Bulls were uncertain about his playing status beyond that season because of the team’s decision to severe ties with Phil Jackson at the end of that season. The Hawks on the other hand, were literally without a permanent home, as they played their last game in The Omni the previous season, and they took temporary residence in the Georgia Dome and Georgia Tech’s Alexander Memorial Coliseum until the Phillips Arena was completed in time for the 1999-00 season.

Upon my attending the game, I knew that this game would be big in terms of its significance. The Jordan Factor by itself was monumental, but the Bulls-who would go on to win their sixth and last NBA championship later that season–played through an entire season which was nicknamed “The Last Dance” by coach Phil Jackson, so it seemed as if EVERYONE wanted to be there. My gut feeling wouldn’t let me down, as the game itself set an NBA attendance record for a single game of 62,046. True to his reputation, Jordan wouldn’t disappoint, as he scored 34 points to lead his team to an 89-74 victory.

It was cool being a part of history, as I received this memoir which commemorated the NBA's single-game attendance record.

It was cool being a part of history, as I received this memoir which commemorated the NBA’s single-game attendance record.

The program directory for the Bulls/Hawks matchup that night.

The program directory for the Bulls/Hawks matchup that night.

My ticket stub for the game.

My ticket stub for the game.

Needless to say, I had a blast watching the greatest player of all time and his Chicago Bulls go toe-to-toe with a very respectable team in the Atlanta Hawks. I want to give a shout-out to a YouTube user by the name of 79maestro who actually put in the time to go into the archives and upload Jordan’s highlights from this game in the video below. If you appreciate classic NBA highlights, and you’d like to see rare Jordan highlights, subscribe to 79maestro’s channel.

My second “Like Mike” experience took place over three and-a-half years later, on Thursday, November 1, 2001…Same time, new arena (Phillips).

After emerging from retirement for a second time, Jordan decided to take on his biggest on-court opponent yet, Father Time. At 38 years of age, despite mixed feelings from fans about his last go-round in the NBA, Jordan laced up the Nikes yet again to test his basketball might against the young whippersnappers at the time, such as Kobe Bryant, Allen Iverson, and Tracy McGrady.

Although he aligned himself with new cohorts (the Washington Wizards), Jordan’s game against the Hawks resulted in the same way that it did during the last time he faced the Hawks: another ‘W’. The 38-year-old scored 30 points, 6 rebounds, and 6 assists in only his second regular season game back. Not bad for an “old man”, huh? Another YouTube uploader, by the name of Swove2204.

Oh yeah, I’ve included a couple of artifacts from this game as well.

My ticket to witness Jordan's first game back against the Hawks, this time as a Washington Wizard.

My ticket to witness Jordan’s first game back against the Hawks, this time as a Washington Wizard.

Program Directory to the Hawks vs, Wizards matchup of November 1, 2001.

Program Directory to the Hawks vs, Wizards matchup of November 1, 2001.

After reading this, you’re probably wondering, “How in the world was B.C. ‘Just Like Mike’? The answer is, we were both in the same building on 3/27/98 & 11/1/01! You didn’t think I was gonna tell you that I could take off from the free throw line, did ya?

nba2015

As we enter the 68th season of the National Basketball Association, it’s evident that the 2014-15 campaign isn’t the only thing that’s new surrounding “The League”. We’ll “Witness” veteran superstars go to “NEW” teams (LeBron James), new players (Jabari Parker, Andrew Wiggins, etc), and new coaches (Derek Fisher) who will attempt to lead their teams to victories.

Unfortunately, not all is well in spite of a new season. Due to the fast-paced nature of the game of basketball that is definitely true for the NBA, this season’s first 24+ hours have already experienced a season ending injury to the L.A. Lakers’ prized rookie from the University of Kentucky, Julius Randle, who broke his right tibia during the teams season opener against Dwight Howard and the Houston Rockets. Fans all across the NBA landscape are being deprived of watching the basketball greatness of 4-time scoring champion and 2014 MVP Kevin Durant, who is expected to miss the first month of this new NBA season. He also happens to be the cover boy of 2K Sports’s NBA 2K15 (I’m really starting to believe that the fabled “cover curse” that many athletes experience after being placed on the cover of video games is true).

In spite of the previously mentioned adversity, the show must go on. We’ve already witnessed a game winning shot from Charlotte Hornets guard Kemba Walker to beat Jabari Parker’s Milwaukee Bucks, 108-106 to re-introduced the world to the the NBA franchise that had become a household name for much of the 90’s on into the early 00’s.

There are many questions that are left to be unanswered at this point. Will the San Antonio Spurs repeat as champions in 2015? Will legendary coach and now President of Basketball Operations for the New York Knicks Phil Jackson’s experience as a winner become contagious to his newly inherited team? Can Kobe Bryant, coming off of an achilles heel and knee surguries–not to mention Father Time–hold hold up physically to withstand the rigors of the 82 game NBA season? Will he surpass Michael Jordan’s all time points scored record to reach 3rd on the NBA’s All-Time Scoring list? We can’t help but to just tune in to see.

One thing that is certain is that the Western Conference looks as strong as ever, with high expectations for the Clippers, Warriors, Spurs, Mavericks, Blazers, and Thunder. These are just the teams who are named as favorites to emerge from the West come Finals time in June. While the Western Conference has reigned supreme for quite sometime now, let’s not sleep on the Eastern Conference. Derrick Rose appears to be back…and better–and faster–than ever. Can his Chicago Bulls team (that also acquired two-time champion Pau Gasol from the Lakers this past summer) give their neighbors in the Central Division–the Cleveland Cavaliers–a run for their money? Let’s also not forget about the Miami Heat, who despite losing LeBron to free agency, will have what it takes to become a top four team in the East, ESPECIALLY now that the Pacers appear to be out of the conversation due to the severe leg injury suffered by their all-star forward Paul George, as well as the loss of tough-as-nails shooting guard Lance Stephenson to Charlotte.

There are many great teams that appear to be AWESOME on paper at this point in the season, but come June, the old TNT slogan rings true:

“There can only be one”.

The 1996 NBA draft was for lack of a better word, LOADED.

The 1996 NBA draft was for lack of a better word, LOADED.

Yes, I said it. The 1996 NBA Draft produced the best overall draft class ever. When you look at the overall impact that many of the draftees of ’96 made on the League, then surely you’ll agree with my statement.

To my fellow NBA historians, it probably comes off as seeming almost blasphemous that I’d make the statement that ’96 was the greatest draft class ever,  considering that it’s more p.c. to give supreme reverence to the draft classes of 1984 and 2003 respectively. When the discussion of the best NBA draft classes come up, ’84 and ’03 are almost exclusively mentioned. I feel that the ’84 draft gets the nod as the best draft class because of the #3 pick that year (If you don’t know who was picked 3rd in the ’84 Draft, then look it up). No disrespect to anyone who was drafted on those years, but the ’96 draft class was a cut above the rest.

Think about it for a second. This draft class was LOADED. Some of the names who were products of this draft were guys like Iverson, Kobe, Ray Allen, and Steve Nash…and those were just the household names. Let’s not forget that the ’96 NBA Draft also saw the likes of Antoine Walker, Shareef Abdur-Rahim, Marcus Camby, and Stephon Marbury enter the league as well. Rounding out the list were soon-to-be NBA veterans such as Derek Fisher, Peja Stojakovic, Erick Dampier, and Jerome “Junkyard Dog” Williams. I don’t think it hurts that the 1996 NBA Draft occurred on the same year as the League’s 50th anniversary, for all of my extra sentimental folks out there.

From here on out, when you visit your local barbershop, and some of the fellas want to engage in heated debates about whose NBA Draft class was the deepest, hit them with a curveball, and throw the class of ’96 into the mix. You’ll rest your case.

Head Coach Byron Scott was named the Lakers' 25th head coach on Monday.

Head Coach Byron Scott was named the Lakers’ 25th head coach on Monday.

I have something to admit.   I’m a die hard Laker fan, and I have been ever since 2001 when I witnessed Kobe Bryant’s Hall-of Fame caliber performance against the San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference Finals that year. You’re probably thinking that my journalistic integrity will be in question after confessing my basketball allegiance, but as the theme of this blog goes, I vow to deliver consistent and quality posts on all things basketball to eventually make many of you forget what my favorite NBA franchise (unless you’re a faithful reader/follower of All Things Hoops, or…you’re just stalking my page) happens to be. So, you can imagine how I felt whenever I received the news that Byron Scott–one of the high flying tough-as-nails guards of the “Showtime Lakers” championship run throughout the 1980s–will return to the franchise in a slightly different capacity, this time as a head coach of the Lake Show. The 2008 NBA Coach of the Year and L.A. native son will bring his no-nonsense approach to the game of basketball and look to infuse this ideology into his players. All nostalgic references to the side, Coach Scott has inherited his old team as a coach during an interesting time for the Lakers franchise. This Laker team has none of the legendary luster that his Showtime Lakers exuded. Hell, with the exception of Kobe Bryant, this Laker team doesn’t even remotely resemble the post-Shaq Laker squads that won back-to-back NBA championships in 2009 & 2010. However, with the addition of veteran power forward Carlos Boozer and scrappy point guard Jeremy Lin along with the Lakers’ #1 pick in the 2014 NBA Draft (#7 overall) Julius Randle Byron Scott has a nucleus of players that he can work with to make this team a playoff contender at the very least. The addition of Byron Scott as the head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers gives the franchise a much-need shot in the arm. If you root for this team as I do, then you will too, especially after witnessing the past several seasons that don’t measure up to the standards of this franchise. Since my fellow members of Laker Nation can’t quite see Byron Scott in action as a coach yet, let’s kick back and witness highlights of his heyday as a player for the Lakers.