Los Angeles Lakers v Oklahoma City Thunder- Game One

Update: Police say OKC shooting not tied to Thunder game; Arrests made


UPDATE #4, May 23,  11:26 AM: Police have made a second arrest in the case, a 17-year-old minor.

The first arrest was of 19-year-old Rodney Hill. No charges have been filed but both are being held on the complaint of shooting with intent to kill.

UPDATE #3 9:45 PM: Oklahoma City Police have made an arrest in the case. From the AP:

Police say Rodney Hill was taken into custody Tuesday afternoon, but no other details have been released. Capt. Dexter Nelson says the shooting didn’t appear connected to the playoff game, which Oklahoma City won to advance to the NBA Western Conference finals.

Basically, it looks like a fight outside a bar escalated and there just happened to be thousands of people around exiting a game. It had nothing to do with the team. Still the Thunder will be under pressure to step up security for future games.

UPDATE #2 5:13 PM: Oklahoma City Police are now saying that the shooting was not related to the Thunder game at all. From the Associated Press:

Police Capt. Dexter Nelson said Tuesday that there have been no arrests in the Monday night shooting. Nelson says witnesses reported seeing a group of females in an altercation with a group of males just before the shooting about 11:30 p.m. Monday.

Men and women fighting? I thought that only happened in New York?

Obviously (even before this report) this was not on the Thunder, this was on people who look for trouble and used this as an excuse. Sadly, it happens everywhere (see: soccer hooligans). That said, the Thunder said they would work with police to up their security for future games, including Thunder Alley where games are shown outside the arena.

UPDATE 8:45 AM: The final tally was eight people injured — seven of them shot and one person was critically wounded, plus a pregnant woman was punched in the abdomen — according to the Oklahoman. There have been no arrests in the case. Yet.

The incident took place just a few blocks from the arena where the game was played. Police estimate there were about 5,000 people in the area when the shooting took place. The area is where a lot of people park or go out after the games. There have been growing crowds — in addition to the packed building about 5,000 people watched the game on a big screen outside the arena, an area called Thunder Alley. The shootings did not take place in the arena or Thunder Alley but did involve the crowd from the game.

It’s unfortunate this kind of thing happens, but it’s not unprecedented. For example, the Lakers used to show playoff games on a projection outside Staples Center when it first opened more than a decade ago (the Shaq/Kobe Lakers era) but stopped after fan violence following a win.

2:27 am: Multiple people have been wounded by gunfire near the Thunder’s arena in downtown Oklahoma City in the wake of the Thunder win over the Los Angeles Lakers. A win that sent them to the Western Conference Finals.

From the Oklahoman:

Multiple people were shot downtown shortly after the Thunder game let out Monday night, police said….

One person was shot in the back, another in the upper arm and a third in the hand, according to police radio traffic. Victims are still turning up to hospitals. The victims’ conditions are not yet known.

Two suspected shooters are in custody at the Bricktown Harkins Theater, Oklahoma City police Capt. Lisa Camacho said.

We don’t have a lot of details yet, we don’t know about the suspects or their motives. That said, there no excuse. It grows frustrating to see every time a team wins — hockey in Vancouver, college basketball in Lexington and the list goes on around the world — there seems to have to be violence afterwards.

PBT will update this as we get more information.

76ers tie NBA worst with 0-18 start after loss to Grizzlies

Matt Barnes, Nik Stauskas, Jerami Grant
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Zach Randolph had 17 points and 11 rebounds to lead the Memphis Grizzlies to a 92-84 victory over Philadelphia on Sunday, sending the 76ers to their record-tying 18th straight loss to start the season.

The Sixers have lost an NBA-record 28 consecutive games dating to last season and at 0-18 matched the New Jersey Nets’ start in 2009-10.

Mike Conley led the Grizzlies with 20 points, while Matt Barnes and Jeff Green finished with 13 apiece as Memphis won for the seventh time in the last nine.

Isaiah Canaan led the Sixers with 16 points, while Robert Covington and Hollis Thompson scored 12 points apiece. Jerami Grant finished with 11 points.

The Sixers led 76-71 with 7:38 remaining and Memphis fans were booing their team. But the Grizzlies went on a 15-1 run to retake control of the game, with Randolph scoring eight points in the rally.

Byron Scott: Kobe Bryant “at peace” with decision to retire after season

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LOS ANGELES — Kobe Bryant was never going to go quietly into that good night. He would rage, rage against the dying of the light — and torn Achilles, knee ligaments, shoulders, and everything else holding him back.

But now, the end is near, and Kobe will face the final curtain at the end of this season. And he is at peace with it, if you ask his coach.

“It was so matter of fact, and he was so at peace with (the decision),” Lakers’ coach Byron Scott said of when Kobe told him this season would be it. “After I thought about it, I felt better about that. It wasn’t like he was agonizing over it or anything, it was like ‘I’m announcing I’m retiring’ and just kind of went on from there.”

Bryant told Scott before anyone else in the Lakers’ organization, and told him sometime Saturday (when the Lakers played and lost in Portland).

“I said, ‘what?’ He just told me at a very awkward time; we started laughing about it,” Scott said. “He said ‘you looked like you were saying ‘what they hell are you talking about’ but it just caught me off guard.”

It’s been an ugly season for Kobe, his body can no longer do what he expects of it — he can’t get the separation, the lift needed for his shoots. He was shooting 31.1 percent on the season going into Sunday’s game against Indiana, and he started 1-of-11 from the floor Sunday night. Yet he kept gunning.

“I gave up hoping he would change his approach 15, 18 years ago,” Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak said. “He is what he is. And I’m thankful for it.”

Kupchak added hoped this decision would ease the pressure on Bryant.

“I would hope that he has more fun, and appears less frustrated, and also gets more appreciation,” Kupchak said. “He’ll get it at home, but on the road too, because people will have to recognize this is his last year and they are watching one of the all-time greats.”

Kobe got plenty of appreciation from Lakers’ fans on Sunday night with a massive ovation when he was introduced. Kobe had wanted to avoid a Derek Jeter style farewell tour, but with that announcement and the Lakers playing 13-of-17 on the road in December you can bet there will be some of that.

“One of the best ever to play the game,” Pacers coach Frank Vogel said pregame. “I don’t know if there’s any one moment, just throughout the course of his career you didn’t want him to have the ball in his hands with the game on the line, period. Because you knew he was going to beat you.”

No doubt Kobe goes down as one of the game’s all-time greats — five-time NBA champion, MVP, two Finals MVP’s, 17 All-Star Games, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg — but what Scott ultimately wants is Bryant to leave the game on his terms.

“What I want from Kobe is basically his last game to be able to walk off the court, wave to the fans, and be able to go into the locker room standing up,” Scott said.


Here is Kobe Bryant’s letter given to every fan at Lakers’ game Sunday

Los Angeles Lakers v Portland Trail Blazers

LOS ANGELES — In a classy move — and one done in a very Kobe Bryant tone — every fan coming into Staples Center Sunday night to see the Lakers take on the Pacers received a letter from No. 24.

Inside a sealed black envelope, on quality, embossed paper, was this letter from Bryant (photo below):

When we first met I was just a kid.

Some of you took me in. Some of you didn’t.

But all of you helped e become the player and man in front of you today.

You gave me confidence to put my anger to good use.

Your doubt gave me determination to prove you wrong.

You witnessed my fears morph into strength.

Your rejection taught me courage.

Whether you view me as a hero or a villain, please know I poured every emotion, every bit of passion and my entire self into being a Laker.

What you’ve done for me is far greater than anything I’ve done for you.

I knew that each minute of each game I wore purple and gold.

I honor it as I play today and for the rest of this season.

My love for this city, this team and for each of you will never fade.

Thank you for this incredible journey.

It speaks to Kobe’s mindset over the years that he talked about the fuel from the rejection of Lakers’ fans motivating him. As a Los Angeles native (and former Laker blogger), let me tell you there was precious little rejection of Kobe from this fan base. There were questions and doubters early on, but even when Shaquille O’Neal was seen as the driving force of the team Kobe was beloved in Los Angeles. Something that continued through his trial in Colorado — Lakers fans have almost always had his back.

But Kobe finds fuel everywhere. Which is why he is a future Hall of Famer.


Jahlil Okafor tweets apology for recent off-court behavior

Jahlil Okafor

The off-court incidents have been piling up for Jahlil Okafor over the past month: first, an incident captured on video that showed Okafor getting into a fight with a heckler early Thanksgiving morning; then, a report that Okafor had a gun pulled on him in a previous incident; and finally, this morning’s report that the Sixers’ No. 3 overall pick in this June’s draft had been pulled over in recent weeks for driving 108 miles per hour in Philadelphia. Together, they aren’t a good look for the rookie.

On Sunday afternoon, Okafor apologized for his recent behavior in a series of tweets:

The recent incidents involving Okafor are surprising—going into the draft, he never had any red flags for maturity or off-the-court issues. He’s certainly saying the right things after the fact, and he’s only 19, so hopefully this is nothing more than a small rough patch where he’s made some bad decisions, and not an indicator of things to come.