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]
In case you were curious how serious Golden State was about closing out Portland in four…
After missing the last two games with a strained calf, both Warriors wins to put them up 3-0 in the series, the Warriors are bringing back Kevin Durant for Game 4.
Steve Kerr is also out tonight for Golden State, Mike Brown will coach the team.
Durant averaged 25.1 points a game, and thanks to the space created by the other stars on the team had his most efficient season, with a true shooting percentage of 65.1. He also pulled down 8.3 rebounds a game, dished 4.9 assists, and had his best defensive season in a long time as well. If not for an injury after the All-Star break that had him missing games, he would have made a lot of voters’ All-NBA team.
He adds to Golden State’s size advantage against Portland. The Warriors would like to close out the series tonight and get additional rest before facing the Clippers or Jazz in the next round.
The Toronto Raptors had their best half of their first-round series against the Bucks, taking an early lead and, despite a little shooting slump midway through the second they were up nine at the half.
That was all topped off by two emphatic Serge Ibaka dunks. Ones Giannis Antetokounmpo wasn’t going to stop.
Ibaka dunked around him more than over the Greek Freak, but still.
Stephon Marbury is big in China — he has his own statue and a play in his honor.
In six seasons he led the Beijing Ducks to three titles, but eventually rebuilding hits every team and it is coming to Beijing. Which means that while Marbury wants to stay in China beyond this season he is essentially a free agent. Here are the details, via shanghaiist.com (this has been confirmed by other sources).
The 40-year-old former NBA All-Star had a contract with Beijing for the next season that included an unusual clause allowing the team to decide if Marbury — known to fans as “Old Ma” — would return as a player or as an assistant coach. Marbury has said that after his playing days are over, he wants to coach in China; however, he still feels he could play for one more year.
But, after missing the playoffs this past season, Beijing is looking to rebuild and didn’t want their aging superstar clogging up a precious foreign player roster spot. The Ducks announced at a press conference on Saturday that after being unable to negotiate a deal, they were going to terminate Marbury’s contract.
Marbury put out a letter to fans on Weibo — a Chinese social media site — that Shanghaiist excerpted.
Second, we did not make the playoffs in the past season, as a player who always want to win and work hard to prepare myself for winning, it’s very hard to accept the way the season ended. Though I am 40 years already, I still work very hard to keep my body right, I can still play at a very high level, I am sure all the fans could tell from last season I’m still capable of playing. I was still able to lead the team to compete, even with an injured leg. I pulled my hamstring at the beginning of the season and I still played and put everything on the court because that’s who I am. I want to play, I love to compete, I [pursue] winning all the time, l love basketball because it’s my life, I still have a lot in the tank that [makes] me really want to play for another year. I want to dedicate this last year of my career in the best way possible on the court for the CBA, then I’ll retire and work as a coach to help the basketball here for the rest of my life.
Marbury had a 13-year NBA career (and was a two-time All-Star) but things got a little messy for him around the end of his career in the Association. Then he found a second life in China. A lot of Western players struggle to adjust to a very different culture and environment in China — not to mention a different style of basketball — so the league has a high drop out of Western players
However, Marbury has thrived. He’s found a second home.
I have to imagine a lot of teams would leap to get a draw like him on their team for a season.
The NBA’s Most Valuable Player award will not be announced until an awards ceremony June 26 on TNT — after the NBA draft, and after the NBA playoffs that will shape the narrative of the award even though voting will have been completed more than two months earlier. Same for Defensive Player of the Year, Coach of the Year, Rookie of the Year and on down the line.
But not the All-NBA Teams, those are coming sooner — because teams want it that way.
The easiest example is the Indiana Pacers: If Paul George makes an All-NBA team they can offer him a designated veteran contract worth roughly $80 million more than any other team. However, if he doesn’t make a team the Pacers need to worry about him leaving as a free agent in 2018, and they may try to trade him. The best time for that trade might be around the draft — Indiana may be able to secure a high pick from a team near the top of the draft in a trade. However, if the Pacers didn’t know if George made an All-NBA team by the draft they wouldn’t make that move.
So the NBA is announcing early, a story broken by Tim Bontemps of the Washington Post.
To allow for its teams to have all the necessary information to make offseason preparations, the NBA will announce its all-NBA teams before its inaugural awards show in late June, according to league sources.
Because of the newly created Designated Player Exception, which relies on players making, among other things, one of the three all-NBA teams to qualify, decisions about whether players — such as Indiana Pacers star Paul George, for example — will be willing to remain with their current team or be open to being traded elsewhere could be based upon whether a player is voted on to one of the teams.
Smart move by the NBA. There are also bonuses and other impacts on salaries based on end of season awards that will alter the salary structure of teams heading into free agency.