Kobe Bryant turns 35 today, and the well wishes have been pouring in.
I’m sure Kobe Bryant has spent his birthday rehabbing his Achilles for 12 hours, but hopefully he spends a few minutes to enjoy it.
For us, here is the NBA’s official Top 10 plays of Kobe’s career. It includes some great stuff — a dunk over Steve Nash, buzzer beaters and more. My favorite: the alley-oop to Shaq in the fourth quarter of Game 7 of the 2000 Western Conference Finals that became the signature play of that team. Watch that play again — Kobe absolutely freezes a good defender in Scottie Pippen with a crossover and that gets him into the lane and sets up the play.
We’re lucky. We get to live in an era with some just amazing basketball talent on the court, guys with amazing gifts we get to watch. We — media, fans, society – can become too obsessed with rings, with celebrity, with all the periphery that we forget to really enjoy this great era of the NBA. We need to stop and just soak in the beauty of the game sometimes. Kobe is just a fun, entertaining scorer to watch. You don’t have to like Kobe (or LeBron or Durant or anyone else) but if you really are a fan of the game take a moment to savor just how fun it is to get to watch these guys do what they do in an era when the game is brought to us wherever we are on the globe.
Happy birthday Kobe.
The Detroit Pistons’ playoff dreams hinged on them being able to hang around until point guard Reggie Jackson got back from this thumb and knee injuries. They have done just that — the Pistons are 11-10 and would be the eighth seed if the playoffs started today.
And now they get Jackson back. Stan Van Gundy made the announcement Sunday at shootaround, before the team takes on the Orlando Magic.
It will take a few games to get his conditioning back, but this is huge for Detroit. Jackson running the pick-and-roll with Andre Drummond is at the heart of Detroit’s offense – the Pistons were 2.3 points per 100 possessions better with the ball in his hands. Ish Smith played well for the Pistons in his absence — 10.8 points per game, 6.4 assists, and he’s been solid. Move his playmaking to the second unit and suddenly the Pistons become a lot more dangerous.
The scouting report on Jakob Poeltl coming out of Utah said he could run the floor well and he was a good finisher around the rim.
But we didn’t expect this.
During the Raptors win Sunday against the stumbling Hawks, Poeltl filled the lane on the break, got the rock, and nobody was going to stop that finish. Least of all Tim Hardaway Jr., he just ends up in the poster.
Entering free agency last July, Hassan Whiteside said his first choice was to stay in Miami — then Pat Riley gave him 98 million reasons to stick around. While the Heat have been up and down this season, Whiteside has thrived as the franchise player in Miami.
Last July he also met with Dallas, but it turns out that was not his second choice. Here is what Whiteside told Erik Gunderson of the Miami Herald before his team fell to the Blazers on Saturday.
“Portland was my second option,” Whiteside said at the team’s Saturday shootaround in Portland. “I would have came here.”
Interesting. There were reports the Blazers chased Whiteside, but it didn’t seem that serious. Apparently, it was. If The Blazers got Whiteside, would they still have spent $70 million on Evan Turner? Probably not. And suddenly a lot of things look better in Portland.
For Blazers fans, watching their team try to outscore opponents while playing terrible defense this season — in part because of a lack of rim protection behind their undersized guards — it’s easy to imagine how much Whiteside would have changed the picture in the Northwest. But at this point, that’s just fan fiction.
JaVale McGree has become a solid contributor for the Warriors off the bench, giving them a needed shot blocking presence. He’s not getting a ton of run (seven minutes a night), but he’s efficient when he’s out there.
Still, there is his reputation as the guy most likely to end up on Shaqtin’ a Fool. He hasn’t done anything like that for a while… until Saturday night, when after a made free throw he tried to inbound the ball for the Suns for a second.
The Warriors bench was laughing under their shirts and towels.