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Devin Booker starts road to recovery, is walking again after groin injury

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PHOENIX (AP) Devin Booker is able to walk, albeit slowly.

That’s a major step toward recovery from a left adductor strain the Phoenix Suns star guard suffered in the fourth quarter Tuesday night in Toronto. Booker was carried off the field by teammates, was on crutches the next day and was moved onto the team plane in a wheelchair.

Booker’s timetable for recovery from the groin injury remains at two to three weeks. He moved about dressed in a suit and smiled while answering questions about his injury.

“I’m already walking. Every day it’s felt better since it happened,” Booker said Thursday night before the Suns’ game against the Washington Wizards. “I’m on the right path.”

Booker thought it was a cramp at first, but when he tried to move, he could not.

“People said I was doing the `Mannequin Challenge,”‘ Booker said. “I don’t ever want to be carried off the court. Anything in my power, if I could have walked off I would have walked off. We had to resume the game, so my big fellas helped me out.”

Booker is averaging 24.3 points and has 10 30-point games this season.

Booker spent Thursday on the bench supporting his teammates. He admitted being out for an extended period of time will be difficult, and pledged not to try to come back too soon and tell trainers the truth about how he feels.

The injury is new territory for Booker, the face of the Suns in his third season. He has played through pain before, but said he’d never felt such pain before.

“It’s never ideal for me to miss games,” Booker said, “but at the same time we have to be cautious with it and take our time.”

The Suns were short-handed with Booker out and center Tyson Chandler away from the team for personal reasons. Forward Derrick Jones Jr. was waived Thursday.

Rookie Josh Jackson started in Booker’s place at shooting guard, and coach Jay Triano said there will be other lineup combinations over the next 10 games.

“He’s a voice for our us anyway,” Triano said about Booker. “He’s been a leader. Even more when you stay in the game mentally, when you’re not playing,” thinking the game, seeing the game and being a part of it. It helps when you return.”

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Nikola Mirotic and Bobby Portis still not talking off court

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The Bulls are 5-0 since Nikola Mirotic returned from an injury suffered when Bobby Portis punched him in the face during a preseason practice. Mirotic and Portis are both excelling individually, and Chicago has outscored opponents by a whopping 34.3 points per 100 possessions when those two share the court.

Jack Maloney of CBSSports.com:

When asked if the two former combatants have spoken yet, Mirotic said, “We did on the floor. We’ve always spoken because we need to have good communication.” As for whether they’ve talked off the floor, however, Mirotic was succinct in his response: “No.”

I guess Mirotic hasn’t completely moved on, though he said he did. But that’s fine. How could someone get past a teammate punching him in the face?

Importantly, this is becoming just a regular NBA problem. The extent of that practice punch was practically unprecedented. But plenty of players have loathed teammates while making it work on the court. That happens more than people realize.

Mirotic and Portis can make this their status quo – at least the on-court cooperation. I’m not convinced Chicago will keep winning like this.

Watch Kobe Bryant’s ‘Dear Basketball’ short film (video)

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Kobe Bryant announced his retirement in a letter called “Dear Basketball,” which was made into a short film.

Now, on the day the Lakers retire his Nos. 8 and 24, you can watch it. It’s quite beautiful:

Double number retirement fitting for Kobe Bryant

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Kobe Bryant’s career truly occurred in two acts.

He was Shaquille O’Neal’s super sidekick for three championships. Then, Kobe led the Lakers to another two titles himself after Shaq departed.

He was an athletic, high-flying slam-dunk-contest champion. Then, he became known for his cerebral play and footwork.

He faced trial for rape in Colorado (the case was ultimately dismissed, and he settled civilly), blame for Shaq getting traded and criticism for being too selfish when the Lakers struggled in the aftermath of Shaq’s departure. Then, Kobe – still beloved by his fans – again became a socially acceptable marketing force.

His 2007 trade request serves as the more accurate intermission point, but his 2006 jersey change from No. 8 to No. 24 works well enough. He had a Hall of Fame career in No. 8 then a borderline Hall of Fame career in No. 24. Think Tracy Mcgrady’s career followed by Bernard King’s – but it was just Kobe followed by Kobe and with far more postseason success.

Here are the win-share leaders with a single franchise during Kobe’s career:

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So much about Kobe is excessive – his accolades, his shot selection, his reputation as clutch. He had an all-time great career, but the myth outpaces reality.

Yet, Kobe becoming the first player with two numbers retired by the same team – which the Lakers will do at halftime tonight – feels incredibly appropriate. In his 20-year career with the Lakers, Kobe had time to succeed then succeed again in an extravagant way only he could manage.

He was dedicated and disciplined, flashy and fastidious, No. 8 and No. 24

Warriors will watch Kobe Bryant’s numbers get retired, Lakers might not

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The Lakers will retire Kobe Bryant’s No. 8 and No. 24 at halftime of their game against Warriors tonight.

The road team won’t miss it. The home team might.

Golden State coach Steve Kerr, via Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area:

“I want our guys to see it,” Kerr said Saturday. “It’ll be a pretty cool moment.

“Just to experience of one of the greatest players in the history of the game getting his jersey retired and we happen to be there? I’m not going to keep them in the locker room watching tape from the first half. The players would look at me like I was nuts.”

Lakers coach Luke Walton, via Harrison Faigen of Lakers Nation:

“I hadn’t thought much about [watching the ceremony],” Walton said Sunday. “We’re still deciding how we’ll approach halftime.

“Our first priority is still the job that we have. I’m sure there’s going to be some halftime adjustments we need to make against the Warriors. We’re toying with a couple different ideas to let guys at least see part of it.”

Kerr seems like a pretty cool guy, someone who understands what truly matters. This will be a historic moment, and that can take priority over watching video for one night in a long season.

But he also has the luxury of coaching an all-time great team. Even with Stephen Curry, Draymond Green, Zaza Pachulia and Shaun Livingston injured, the Warriors are favored.

Walton has a young team that needs every break it can get. But he too should embrace the significance of the ceremony. His franchise is.

After reportedly initially being scheduled for pregame, the ceremony will occur at halftime. The NBA implemented a hard 15-minute limit on halftimes this season. Any team not ready will be assessed a delay-of-game penalty. So, lengthy speeches tonight could hinder the current team on the court. And that’s well worth the cost of doing business.

In the same regard, current Lakers watching Kobe’s ceremony would gain pride in being a Laker. There’s real value in that, probably more than in going over adjustments for a December game during a season very likely to end outside the playoffs regardless.