Kurt Helin

BOSTON - JUNE 13:  Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers walks off the court after the Boston Celtics won 92-86 during Game Five of the 2010 NBA Finals on June 13, 2010 at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
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Report: Back in 1996, Celtics seriously considered drafting Kobe


In the end, the Boston Celtics went the safe route and took one of the “super six of ’96” players who could come in and help immediately — Antoine Walker. It was a good pick, as a rookie he averaged 17.5 points per game, by his second season he averaged 22.5 points a game and was an All-Star power forward for Boston.

But he did not have the career of the No. 13 pick in that draft — Kobe Bryant.

As Kobe heads into his final game ever in the Boston Garden Wednesday night, Baxter Holmes of ESPN took a fantastic look back at Kobe’s 1996 workout for the Celtics, how then GM M.L. Carr thought seriously about drafting him (to the point he consulted with Red Auerbach about it), and how things would have been different with Kobe in Celtics’ green.

“I think this kid is going to be a hell of a player,” Auerbach told Carr. “But it can go either way. He seems to be solid, but he’s a high school kid. You’ve got to make a choice based on what you need today. But I think he’s a hell of a player….”

“When I tell you this — and I don’t like to say a lot of good things about the Lakers — but I am absolutely telling you this straight-up: He was unbelievable in the interview,” Carr says. “He was the best interview that I’ve ever been a part of. Kobe knew the league as well as anyone. He knew the Celtics from a historical standpoint. He knew the Celtics probably better than most Celtics did at 17 years old….”

“We didn’t care which one of the six fell to us,” Weitzman says. “We knew we would take one of them because we needed help right away and all six of those guys were prepared to help right away, whereas Kobe, we knew we’d have to wait. And you know how the NBA works — you don’t have a long leash.”

The Celtics took Walker, and the analysis that it would take a few years for Kobe to adjust to the NBA game was accurate. But in retrospect, he would have been worth the wait.

Kobe grew up a Lakers fan, what would have done if the Celtics had drafted him?

“I would’ve tried to carry on Bird’s legacy,” Bryant says without hesitation. “Absolutely. I would’ve done it with a tremendous amount of pride and honor.”




Do yourself a favor and check out the entire Baxter Holmes article, it’s the best thing you’ll read today.

Report: Stephen Curry getting MRI on left leg, likely sits out Wednesday

Golden State Warriors' Stephen Curry, right, drives over Sacramento Kings' Ben McLemore during the first half of an NBA basketball game Monday, Dec. 28, 2015, in Oakland, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

The Golden State Warriors are going to err on the side of caution when you are talking about their franchise cornerstone. The best player in the NBA. Golden State’s big-ticket draw. Balance all that against a regular season game in December and the scales tilt an obvious direction.

Officially, Stephen Curry is questionable for Wednesday’s night matchup at Dallas. But the tweets coming out of the Warriors camp suggest he will be out Wednesday night, including this first one from the voice of the Warriors, Tim Roye.

I’m sure Curry wants to play, and I’m just as sure the Warriors are going to tell him to sit for a couple of games and get right. He was walking gingerly on that left leg (it’s a calf injury) after the Warriors last game (in which Curry had a triple double), and the team can’t risk further injury with their best player.

Curry being out certainly makes the Warriors more vulnerable, they have been outscored by 5.3 points per 100 possessions when Curry has been on the bench this season (although that number has a lot of noise in it because other starters often sit with him).

If Curry is out, expect a lot more Shaun Livingston. Leandro Barbosa is injured as well and did not travel with the team on this road trip.

Derrick Rose has ditched the mask, “getting my legs under me”

Chicago Bulls guard Derrick Rose, right, chases down a pass intended for the fallen Toronto Raptors guard Kyle Lowry,left, during the second half of an NBA basketball game Monday, Dec. 28, 2015, in Chicago. The Bulls won 104-97. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
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The mask is off, and Derrick Rose has looked more like himself the past three games. He dropped 19 on the Thunder on Christmas, 25 against the Mavericks in a loss, and 20 on Toronto — and he’s shooting 48.2 percent in those three games (3-of-7 from three). It’s led to the “is Derrick Rose back?” line of questioning. Again.

What is different is that the mask is off, and he feels like his body has caught up with the grind of the NBA season. From Vincent Goodwill of CSNChicago.com.

What was more interesting was why he ditched the mask.

Mask or no mask, the real question is can Rose sustain this? He has had stretches of impressive play before, only to take steps back. I need to see this over a longer stretch of ground — at least 10 games — before I start to buy in.

But if Rose finds his groove — and if he and Jimmy Butler can coexist, and if the team can find an offensive identity — it’s not hard to imagine the Bulls breaking out of the pack and being the second best team in the East. They’ve always looked like the second best on paper, but can they start to put all the pieces together? For more than a couple of games?

In an East where it seems every week another team is breaking out — the Hawks won six straight until the Pacers beat them — a few good games from Rose is a hopeful sign for Bulls fans, but not a trend. Yet.

Paul George struggles to get legs under him, break out of shooting slump

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Paul George was one of the best stories the first month of the season. He was the NBA’s Eastern Conference Player of the Month for November, and in his first 10 games he was averaging 24.3 points per game and shooting 38.3 percent from three. The old, aggressive Paul George was back.

But he has struggled of late — George is in a shooting slump. He is averaging 16.9 points per game and shooting 29.6 percent from three (and not much better overall) in his last 10 games. Check out his shot chart from those last 10:

Paul George last 10

Speaking with Manny Randhawa for the USA Today, George said that after most of a season off due to leg injuries, he is feeling the grind of the NBA season in his tired legs. Plus, defenses have geared up to take him out of the picture after his hot start.

“It’s frustrating,” George said after practice Tuesday. “Given the circumstance of being out a year, that’s what I really feel like it’s been, just trying to get used to a full season now. A lot of my shots feel good; I’m still getting good looks a majority of the time. Most of them are just short. It just comes down to legs, making sure I’m sharp, making sure I’m fresh….

“We run a lot of pick-and-rolls and ball screens for me, and it almost seems like everybody’s just loading up,” George said. “Help-side is loading up, the big that I’m coming off on is no longer dropping down, he’s coming up higher (to guard George). So it’s almost forcing me to swing the ball or pocket-pass. Those are times when I’m trying to be aggressive, and I get myself in a bind trying to work through the other team just watching, just following me.”

At 18-12, the Pacers are the current three seed in the East, but things are bunched up — just three games separate two-seed Atlanta and 10-seed Detroit. The Pacers may need to find a way to rest George a little, but they ae not in a position to give away a few games to do it.

Slumps happen. Tired legs happen during the marathon of the NBA season. To everyone. Expect George to get a second wind at some point soon, and keep the Pacers in the playoff mix in the East.

Larry Bird defends Stephen Curry’s impact on game, three ball

Stephen Curry

“He’s hurting the game.”

“Young players are going into the gym trying to be him, not playing a team game.”

“These young players need to work on having a complete game.”

It’s what you heard from high school and youth coaches — about Michael Jordan. And Kobe Bryant. Young players were trying to go isolation, taking too many contested shots, and trying to destroy teams single-handedly — just like their idols. Before that, you had young guards trying to throw ridiculous no-look passes because they wanted to be Magic Johnson.

Now you hear the same misguided complaints about Stephen Curry, and ABC/ESPN color analyst said it about Curry during the Christmas Day broadcast. Curry handled it well and tried to take it as a compliment, but it felt like a “get off my lawn” comment from an old man who forgot what he did mimicking stars while growing up in the game.

If you’re a Curry and Warriors fan living in the Bay Area, and a Comcast Sportsnet subscriber, you can stream tonight’s Warriors game against the Mavericks live, just follow this link

Now Larry Bird has come to Curry’s defense. Bird knocked down his share of threes in an era when that shot was not used as a weapon the way it is now. The man currently with the hammer on Pacers basketball decisions, Bird said this about Curry on the Collin Cowherd Show on Fox Sports Radio (via the San Jose Mercury News).

“I think he loves Steph Curry,” Bird said. “But if you walk in any gym, if there are kids in there, they’re all shooting 3-pointers. That’s the way it was when I walked in gyms years ago. I don’t see anything wrong with it.

 “I just think Steph Curry is probably right now our best player and what a champion. He (Jackson) said `what a champion.’ That team out there is a real champion. Because if you win a championship and then come out and go 28-1, that’s pretty special.”

The Bird is the word.