Jerry West is a man to listen to.
Not a man given to hyperbole. A man of perspective. As competitive an NBA player and general manager as there ever has been (read the book), but a man with an eye for the bigger picture. There are a few people around — Bill Bradley, Bill Russell, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar — that have an interesting perspective inside and outside basketball that make their thoughts fascinating. West is among them.
And right now, Jerry West is heaping high praise on Kobe Bryant.
In doing so, he also makes an interesting point about these NBA Finals, something he did on Hartman and Friends on FoxSports Radio:
He’s playing the best basketball I have ever seen him play to be honest with you. When he shoots shots a lot of people would probably think they are bad shots. For him, he is not only creative, but he is a shot maker. Some people are creative, but they’re not shot makers. He can make tough shots. He just seems to will the ball in the basket. I’ve never seen him play better… At this time of year, people talk about adjustments that people make. The adjustments that people make are not really the telling part of it. Your great players, this is their time to shine. You can’t really run your offense. After the first couple of games, everyone will be waiting on everyone. The team that has the best ability to beat people off the dribble and be creative will be successful. There’s no better player that I’ve ever seen than him… He’s the greatest Laker player that we have ever seen.”
It’s interesting because the Celtics defensive strategy against the Lakers (as opposed to what they did against Orlando) is to double Kobe, to always have the help close by, to take the chance to be creative out of his hands and make somebody else beat them.
But right now, Kobe might be able to rise above that. At least West thinks so. And he’s a man to listen to.
Tributes have poured in all over the NBA world since Kevin Garnett announced his retirement on Friday afternoon — from other players, commissioner Adam Silver and media members who covered him. Garnett and Tom Thibodeau have a lengthy history together: Thibodeau coached Garnett in Boston as an assistant under Doc Rivers, and they won a championship in 2008. This spring, Thibodeau took over as head coach and president of basketball operations for the Minnesota Timberwolves, the team that drafted Garnett, saw his best years and saw him end his career. Thibodeau released a heartfelt statement on Saturday congratulating Garnett:
“I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate and thank Kevin for all of his great accomplishments and contributions to the NBA, the Minnesota Timberwolves organization, and for me personally with the Boston Celtics. Kevin combined great talent with a relentless drive and intelligence. I will always cherish the memories of the way in which he led the Celtics to the 2008 NBA Championship. His willingness to sacrifice and his unselfishness led us to that title. Kevin will always be remembered for the way in which he played the game. His fierce competitiveness, his unequalled passion for the game, and the many ways in which he cared about this team was truly special. KG is without question the all-time best player to wear a Minnesota Timberwolves jersey, and he is also one of the best to ever play this game.”
It’s a shame that Thibodeau didn’t get to coach Garnett again in Minnesota, but the team is in good hands with Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns.
The Indiana Pacers have been a franchise for 50 years — 10 in the ABA and 40 in the NBA. To celebrate this anniversary, they’ve unveiled a new patch that they will wear on their uniforms this season. You can check it out below:
It looks pretty sleek, combining the Pacers’ logo with the zero in “50.” It’s subtle and well-designed.
This summer, three of this generation’s defining NBA players, and three of the greatest players of all time, called it a career: Tim Duncan, Kobe Bryant and Kevin Garnett. The latter two in particular had a lot in common, as psychotic competitors and polarizing personalities. They had many memorable battles over the years, including the Lakers-Celtics Finals in 2008 and 2010 (they each won one) and the playoffs in 2003 and 2004, when Garnett was in Minnesota. On Saturday afternoon, a day after Garnett officially announced his retirement, Kobe paid tribute to him with a tweet.
The next time they’ll be together is 2021, when they go into the Hall of Fame together.
With the NBA season around the corner, there are a lot of eyes on how teams and players will handle the national anthem protests that have become prominent in the NFL. Clippers head coach Doc Rivers wholeheartedly supports the notion of his players participating, and hopes the whole team can figure out a statement to make together. Via Dan Woike of the Orange County Register:
“Listen, we need social change. If anyone wants to deny that, they just need to study the history of our country,” he told the Southern California News Group on Friday. “… I’ve said it 100 times. There’s no more American thing to do than to protest. It’s the most patriotic thing we can do. There are protests I like and protests I don’t like. It doesn’t matter. …Protests are meant to start conversation. The conversation, you hope, leads to acknowledgement, and the acknowledgement leads to action. We’re, right now, still in the conversation.”
“I hope we do it as a group. I know whenever you protest as one solid group, the protest has more teeth if you want to protest,” he said. “… I’m supporting our guys’ right to protest. I’m saying that up front. My hope is you believe it and do it for the right reasons and not just because it’s a hot topic on Instagram.
Rivers has a unique perspective — his father was a police officer, but he’s seen plenty of racism in his life. This won’t be his first time leading a team when it comes to social issues — he was able to unite the Clippers in the spring of 2014 when the Donald Sterling racism scandal broke. It’s encouraging to see NBA coaches trending towards fostering open dialogue on their teams about these issues.