Kobe Bryant took a pay cut in signing his latest two-year contract extension with the Lakers, but for many fans of the team, it simply wasn’t enough.
Bryant’s deal will pay him in the neighborhood of $48.5 million over the next two years, and there’s no question he’s worth all of it and then some to the Lakers franchise. But given the league’s stricter salary cap guidelines that teams are forced to adhere to in the latest iteration of the collective bargaining agreement, it leaves L.A. with limited options in terms of attracting free agents to build a contender in the immediate future.
That’s what Bryant has been hearing from Lakers fans via his social media channels since inking the deal, and he took to Twitter on Wednesday to defend his extension.
Kobe is right in that the Lakers obviously did their math, and extended him for an amount that would leave the team enough cap space to offer a max contract to someone next summer in free agency. And, it’s impossible to begrudge the franchise icon for getting paid for two more seasons at a level that may or may not be too much for a player in his stage of his career with his skill set that may not be what it once was following the torn Achilles injury.
The reality is that even if Bryant had decided to play for a dollar next season, there was no guarantee that any of the marquee free agents would choose to come and play for the Lakers. There is too much uncertainty there, but there’s a definite business decision that was made by locking Bryant up at this price — ticket sales and watchability will feed dollars into the franchise, and short of competing for a sixth title that Bryant clearly would like to have to round out his Hall of Fame career, that’s what this business of basketball is all about.
As of tomorrow, training camps around the league open, and all the focus goes to the 2016-17 season.
For fun, let’s look back one more time at last season — the 50 top circus shots of last season.
Stephen Curry driving the lane and throwing up prayers once he draws contact (and hitting them), there is Russell Westbrook throwing the inbounds pass off an opponent’s back, and so much more. Enjoy. Then let’s get on with next season.
Kevin Garnett intimidates people. In the machismo-fueled world of professional sports nobody comfortably admits they were intimidated, but in the wake of Garnett announcing his retirement, a number of players stepped forward to say exactly that. And that KG trashed talked them fearlessly.
Oklahoma City’s Steven Adams found a way to avoid that — tell KG he didn’t speak English.
Adams was lucky, KG had a reputation for going harder at foreign-born players with his trash talk and intimidation. Then again Adams is not the kind of guy prone to be intimidated.
Athletes are injecting themselves into the needed national conversation about race, violence, and policing in this nation. That has taken some very public forms, including LeBron James, Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade and Carmelo Anthony speaking at the ESPYs, and Colin Kaepernick taking a knee during the national anthem and leading others to do so. Some NBA players likely will follow Kaepernick’s lead.
Pistons coach/GM Stan Van Gundy likes seeing players speak out.
A couple of his Detroit players — Reggie Jackson and Marcus Morris — said they backed the 49ers quarterback. Here is what the never shy Van Gundy said about all of it, via Vincent Ellis of the Detroit Free Press.
“I’m encouraged by the fact of what some of those guys stood up and did at the ESPYs and had a conversation,” Van Gundy said. “I’m really proud of the fact that we have guys that not only see the problem, but want to try to do something about it…
“To me, in some ways, (police brutality is) just the most visible to focus on and it goes to deeper inequities in our criminal justice system, our education system so there’s so much to focus on,” Van Gundy said. “I think it’s great that we have players that want to be part of that conversation, and a lot of players that want to go beyond the conversation and be part of the solution.”
Van Gundy has been telling his players part of that solution is to vote.
The players union and NBA sent out a release saying they wanted to work together to create positive change, but details are still vague on what that might be. The only thing we know for sure as we head into the NBA season — with as divided a nation and election as anyone can remember as a backdrop — is that some NBA players are going to try and keep the conversation going.
It was the last game of the group stage of the 2000 Olympic basketball tournament at the Sydney Olympics, the USA was taking on France, another USA win on its way to another gold medal.
But what we all remember is this one play — Vince Carter dunking over the 7’2″ French center Frederic Weis.
Best. Dunk. Ever.
Weis was never the same.
In an impressive career — two-time All-NBA, eight-time All-Star, hours and hours of crazy highlights — this is always going to be the highlight at the top of the list. So we will use the anniversary of this dunk to look at it one more time.
Hat tip to nitramy at NBA Reddit.