Kobe says ‘only an idiot would’ doubt his resolve to return following latest injury

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The news that Kobe Bryant would miss the next six weeks with a fractured bone in his left knee was not only devastating to a team decimated by injuries for the second straight season, but it could have taken an emotional toll on Bryant, as well.

The league’s most fiery competitor was sidelined for eight months after tearing his Achilles back in April, and was just beginning to get some rhythm to his game back after playing in six of them following his Dec. 8 return to action.

Bryant was playing increasingly well offensively, and played a key role in the victories in Memphis and Charlotte. While this latest setback is obviously less than ideal, Bryant expects to make his return on schedule, and would have strong words for anyone who chose to doubt him.

From Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:

Before the natural anguish of learning that his left knee had suffered a fracture, a most improbable sense washed over Kobe Bryant: relief.

“Lucky it wasn’t a meniscus,” Bryant told Yahoo Sports on Thursday afternoon. …

Everything is conspiring against Bryant now, and the declarations of his demise promise to grow louder and louder. He is 35 years old, fighting back from an Achilles tear, a fractured kneecap and awaiting the start of a $48.5 million extension over the next two years. The walls are closing, his path to restoration never so perilous, and yet here was Kobe Bryant on Thursday afternoon making clear his belief on those who’d dare doubt his resolve again.

“Only an idiot would,” Bryant told Yahoo Sports.

We know Bryant will come back, but questions will linger as to whether or not he did so too soon after recovering from his torn Achilles injury.

Bryant was fine from a basketball standpoint, if understandably a bit rusty. But was the rest of his body strong enough to take on the work load, and was this latest injury a result of other areas needing to compensate?

No one knows for sure, and Bryant is right in that it would be foolish for anyone to doubt his level of determination — especially considering that he’s proven for close to two decades just how single-minded he can be when a goal is within his sights. But let’s hope that when he makes it back next time, he does so at full strength to prevent any further injuries from occurring that could derail his final few seasons.

Heat forward James Johnson expected to miss 7 to 10 days

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MIAMI (AP) The Miami Heat will be without starting forward James Johnson for at least two games and probably more after bursitis was found in his right ankle.

Johnson left Miami’s win over the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday with ankle pain, and an MRI performed Sunday led to the bursitis diagnosis. Johnson is not traveling with the team for its trip for games at Atlanta on Monday and Boston on Wednesday.

The team says Johnson could miss seven to 10 days, which would also mean his status for home games against Dallas on Dec. 22, New Orleans on Dec. 23 and Orlando on Dec. 26 is in some doubt.

Johnson is averaging 10.9 points and 5.2 rebounds for the Heat this season.

LeBron James wears one black, one white LeBron 15 shoes with “Equality” on back (VIDEO)

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LeBron James notched his third-straight triple-double on Sunday, this one coming against the Washington Wizards. But before the game, the story was all about how James was voicing a silent protest — in Washington D.C., no less — by wearing a special version of his shoes.

LeBron took to the floor wearing his LeBron 15s, but this player edition had the word “Equality” on the back of them. James wore one black shoe and one white shoe.

James wore the black versions of this shoe in the Cleveland Cavaliers’ opener to start the season.

Via Twitter:

LeBron finished the game with 20 points, 15 assists, and 12 rebounds. The Cavaliers beat the Wizards, 106-99.

Stephen Curry says he’d want in on potential Panthers ownership

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The Carolina Panthers are up for sale. Owner Jerry Richardson said he would sell the team late on Sunday following an announcement by the NFL that Richardson was under investigation for “workplace misconduct”. The NFL’s investigation and Richardson’s decision to sell was preceded by a report from SI saying Richardson had paid out settlements amid sexual harassment and racial slur claims.

Enter Sean Combs and Stephen Curry.

Combs — that’s Diddy, you to and me — has previously voiced his interest in being involved with the NFL, and after seeing that Richardson would be selling the team, jumped at the chance to boost his profile. Combs tweeted that he wanted to buy the team, and that’s when Curry joined in.

Via Twitter:

Naturally, Curry is from Charlotte and went to both high school and eventually college in the area, playing at Davidson. He’s an avid Panthers fan and has been on the sideline for the team publicly many times over the years.

Curry being part of an ownership group for the Panthers would be pretty wild. Perhaps Charlotte Hornets owner Michael Jordan would like to join in? It seems like they would have the liquidity and credit availability between the three of them to get the team.

Then again, the asking price for the Panthers could be north of $2 billion. The last team to be sold was the Buffalo Bills in 2014 for $1.4 billion. In September, Forbes released a valuation for the Panthers that put them at $2.3 billion.

Might need to get a few others involved in this one.

Watch Raptors fans give Vince Carter a standing ovation in Toronto (VIDEO)

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Vince Carter is 40 years old and playing in what could possibly be his final NBA season. The Sacramento Kings guard started his career with the Toronto Raptors, and on Sunday he played what could possibly be his final game at the Air Canada Centre.

And so, when Carter was subbed out late in the fourth quarter on Sunday, the folks in Toronto did what came naturally: they cheered.

The whole thing was pretty great to watch, and a real testament to how Carter is viewed by fans in Toronto.

Via Twitter:

Carter scored just four points in 25 minutes for Sacramento, going 2-of-5 from the field while adding three blocks, two assists, a rebound and a steal.

The Raptors got the win over the Kings, 108-93.