Kobe Bryant has a reputation as one of the game’s toughest competitors, and someone who values winning above all else — including maintaining strong interpersonal relationships with his teammates.
Bryant himself feeds into this from time to time, most recently discussing it with Sports Illustrated’s Chris Ballard.
“If you go back and look at the guys I’ve gotten along with, they’re all cut from the same cloth,” Bryant said. “All of them. Then you look at the guys I didn’t get along with, or might have had some ups and downs with and they’re not. It’s a consistent thing…and I’m fine with that. It’s okay.”
But all of his teammates, past and present, don’t necessarily see it.
Darius Morris, a lesser contributor who spent two seasons in Los Angeles, couldn’t have been more complimentary when talking up Bryant as a teammate in a recent Instagram post.
“Happy bday to big bro @kobebryant I always get the question how was Kobe as a teammate? Honestly I can say he was one of the best I had on and off the court despite the perceived notions maybe because he had already matured and already made it clear he is one of the best to ever play the game. He schooled me on the business and lifestyle of the NBA. Although a couple jokes here and there He was never negative or talked down to anybody and I was there when went thru some tough times but he went out of his way to be helpful towards me, push me, and to think big picture in life and to have the mental toughness to remain focus and never be satisfied What more could you want from a teammate? In my opinion,he isn’t selfish he just put his heart and soul into the game and sometimes it’s hard to trust that others feel the same way as about the game. Unfair things I hear about him far from the truth but that’s life. With that being said hopefully don’t have to answer that question for awhile lol”
Bryant’s style undoubtedly isn’t for everyone; just ask Dwight Howard about that. But for younger players coming in who are willing to put in the work, it appears that Bryant is more than happy to take on a mentorship role in order to get the most out of his teammates.
[via Eric Pincus of the Los Angeles Times]
The second round was supposed to be when things got exciting. Instead, the San Antonio Spurs put on an absolute clinic at home, blowing out the Oklahoma City Thunder, 124-92 to take a 1-0 series lead.
Just about everything went in for San Antonio, particularly for LaMarcus Aldridge and Kawhi Leonard, who combined for 63 points. How dominant were they?
Aldridge in particular got anything he wanted against the Thunder. Oklahoma City’s stars were quiet, with Kevin Durant scoring just 16 points and Russell Westbrook 14. San Antonio controlled the game from the start and Oklahoma City never recovered from the opening punch.
It’s hard to imagine Durant and Westbrook are this ineffective again, and hopefully the rest of this series will be a little more competitive. But the Spurs did what the Spurs do, and did nothing to shake the feeling that they’re the favorites to win the west, now that Stephen Curry‘s status is unknown.
ATLANTA (AP) A year ago, Atlanta’s magical season ended with a resounding sweep by Cleveland in the Eastern Conference final.
Now, the Hawks have another shot at LeBron James and the Cavaliers.
Feeling confident after an opening-round victory over Boston, the Hawks returned to practice Saturday to begin preparations for the best-of-seven series.
Game 1 is Monday night in Cleveland.
The Hawks were the top-seeded team in the East last season after a record 60-win campaign. It didn’t do them much good against the Cavaliers, who steamrolled Atlanta in four straight games.
Even though they slipped to 48 wins and fourth in the conference, the Hawks actually sound a bit more confident heading into this matchup, largely because of their improved defense and rebounding.
For the second consecutive year, the Warriors have lost their lead assistant to another team. When the Pelicans hired Alvin Gentry during last year’s playoffs, Steve Kerr promoted Luke Walton to associate head coach and added former journeyman big man Jarron Collins to the bench. Now that Walton is headed to the Lakers as their next head coach, the Warriors will go outside the organization to find a replacement, according to ESPN.com’s Marc Stein. And one name that will likely not be in the mix is David Blatt, who very nearly became an assistant under Kerr in 2014 before being offered the Cavaliers’ head job.
Given Walton’s success this season as interim head coach while Kerr recovered from back surgery, this will undoubtedly be the most attractive assistant job in the league.
In the last few years, NBA head coaching salaries have skyrocketed, and new Lakers coach Luke Walton is no exception. According to the Los Angeles Times‘ Mike Bresnahan, Walton is getting $25 million over five years, which is the same as Steve Kerr’s deal with the Warriors, now-former Knicks coach Derek Fisher’s deal in New York, and Fred Hoiberg’s deal with the Bulls.
This kind of money has become standard for head coaches who don’t also have front-office power. Tom Thibodeau and Stan Van Gundy both get between $7 and $8 million annually to do both jobs. Given how good Walton’s current situation with the Warriors is, the Lakers probably had to be on the high end of the coaching spectrum to get him to leave.