Kobe Bryant changed the avatar on his Twitter account Friday to “1225,” and while we could speculate on whether or not that means he’s targeting a return date of Christmas Day against the Miami Heat from his torn Achilles injury, the reality is it was likely done as a personal motivational tactic.
ESPN ranked all of the players in the league from 1-500, an exercise in futility that is arbitrary at best and, like anything involving opinions, clouded by personal biases. But it does generate a buzz of fan discussion in the weeks leading up to the start of the season, and coming from the Worldwide Leader, it garners plenty of attention from the players themselves.
Bryant was ranked 25th, after finishing 12th in the voting last season. It’s a precipitous drop, considering what Bryant is capable of when healthy. But with his return date from injury an unknown, along with just how close to his old self Bryant will be once he does make it back, it’s at least somewhat understandable.
The Lakers as a team were picked by ESPN experts to finish 12th in the Western Conference out of 15 teams, likely due to the same uncertainty that surrounds Bryant’s return.
So, 12 for the prediction on the Lakers, 25 for the ESPN individual player ranking. That seems like more than a reasonable educated guess as to the meaning behind Bryant’s avatar change, along with some insight into part of his personal motivation to prove the doubters wrong during the upcoming season.
Wild night in L.A.: Lonzo Ball has triple-double; Nuggets coach, Nikola Jokic ejected
LOS ANGELES (AP) —Lonzo Ball had his second career triple-double and Julius Randle scored 24 points in the Los Angeles Lakers’ 127-109 victory over the short-handed Denver Nuggets on Sunday night.
Ball had 11 points, a career-high 16 rebounds and 11 assists in the 20-year-old rookie’s first triple-double in front of his hometown fans at Staples Center.
Brook Lopez scored 21 points and Jordan Clarkson added 18 for the Lakers, who surged to a 24-point lead in the first half and easily won for just the second time in seven games.
Denver coach Mike Malone and top scorer Nikola Jokic were ejected in the second quarter after Malone stepped onto the court during play to argue a no-call on a play by Jokic around the basket. Malone furiously confronted referee Rodney Mott, who swiftly ejected the coach and his best player when Jokic joined in the argument.
Forward Paul Millsap also left with a sprained left wrist in the second quarter of a miserable night at Staples Center for the Nuggets, who lost for just the second time in six games.
Ball and Magic Johnson are the only Lakers with multiple triple-doubles in their rookie seasons. Johnson had seven, and his new point guard has two in his first 17 games.
Randle added seven points and five assists in a stellar game off the bench.
LeBron James on Colin Kaepernick: “He’s been blackballed”
LeBron James has never been shy about speaking his mind, this season even more so it seems. That’s why it made sense that sooner or later, The King of the NBA would weigh in on an issue that has captivated the sports community: kneeling, national anthem protests, and Colin Kaepernick.
Speaking at Cass Technical High School in Detroit on Sunday, LeBron said that he though Kaepernick’s absence from an NFL roster was the result of clear action by teams to blackball the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback.
James, speaking not only from the perspective of the most influential current NBA player on the planet but as an NFL fan, said that he felt Kaepernick was better than most backups.
“I do know Kap is getting a wrong doing. I do know that. Just watching, he’s an NFL player. He’s an NFL player and you see all these other quarterbacks out there and players out there that get all these second and third chances that are nowhere near as talented as him. It just feels like he’s been blackballed out of the NFL. So, I definitely do not respect that.”
“The only reason I could say he’s not on a team is because the way he took a knee,” James said. “That’s the only reason. I watch football every Sunday, every Thursday, every Monday night. I see all these quarterbacks — first-string, second-team, third-team quarterbacks — that play sometimes when the starter gets hurt or are starters that play. Kap is better than a lot of those guys. Let’s just be honest.”
The Boston Celtics are on a roll, the likes of which not even the faithful fans at the TD Garden would have predicted.
After dropping their first two games of the season — and losing Gordon Hayward for the season due to a gruesome leg injury — the Celtics have ripped off 15 straight victories. They sit at 15-2 on the year, including signature wins over the San Antonio Spurs, Oklahoma City Thunder, Toronto Raptors, and defending NBA champion Golden State Warriors.
Boston’s effort has been lauded as the combination of a quick meshing of the roster in the absence of Hayward (and Isaiah Thomas) as well as the drafting skill of Danny Ainge and the coaching prowess of Brad Stevens.
Indeed, Stevens is an early frontrunner heading into the beginning of the holiday season for Coach of the Year.
Meanwhile, Boston has a few highlights to their name. Lucky for us, the NBA has put some of the best video clips together during their fall run.
Watch the full video above.
Blake Griffin gets Flagrant 1 for kicking Jae Crowder in the crotch (VIDEO)