Kurt Helin

Clever Nike ad for Kobe Bryant’s farewell, he conducts the love/hate


You knew Nike was going to nail “Mamba Day.”

Aside from getting current elite athletes such as Mike Trout to not-quite-still-elite-athletes like Charles Barkley to wear special black-and-gold Kobe-themed shoes on Wednesday, they released a new ad to commemorate his career.

As we’ve come to expect from Nike, they nailed it. Nice cameos by Paul Pierce and Phil Jackson, too.

PBT Extra: Warriors chasing legacy, snubbing critics with push for 73 wins

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The Golden State Warriors know Wednesday night is their chance. Their only chance.

The odds that they get to go after 73 wins again are infinitesimal — it takes a combination of health, luck, and incredible focus nightly to get near the Jordan Bulls’ record of 72 wins in an 82 game season. Think about it this way, next season the Warriors will likely not be close — they are not going to start the season 24-0, and with Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green likely playing in the Olympics this summer rest will be more of a regular season priority.

But as much as it is about carving out a place in history, that nightly focus from Golden State came as an answer to their critics who said they got lucky last season. And it’s a shut-them-down answer.

All of which I discuss in this latest PBT Extra.

PBT Extra: What we will remember most about Kobe is his indomitable spirit

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What will we remember most about Kobe Bryant five years from now? The five championships? His feud with Shaq? That he is third on the all-time scoring list and one of the great bucket getters the game has ever seen? The fadeaway jumper? The 18 All-Star Games?

I think we will remember his competitive fire, his spirit, his ability and willingness to do whatever it took to win.

That’s what I talk most about in this latest PBT Extra.

Sam Mitchel in trouble as Timberwolves coach, reportedly will be considered to keep job

Associated Press

As I had written in this week’s final NBC NBA Power Rankings, I have heard for a while that Timberwolves coach Sam Mitchell is on shaky ground as the young team’s coach. Management thinks it can get a better fit than the old-school Mitchell.

That was confirmed by both Marc Stein of ESPN and Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports. And since this may be the best positioned up-and-coming team in the NBA — led by Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins — big name coaches will take a long look at this job.

I had heard that GM Milt Newton was safe in his job, but could his role change, Wojnarowski writes.

Minnesota owner Glen Taylor has engaged with a prominent search firm to help gauge the potential for giving a coach full autonomy and letting him build out the front office, league sources said. The search firm has been identifying both coaching and management candidates, sources said. Taylor is intrigued with the Stan Van Gundy model in Detroit that has helped return the Pistons to the playoffs, sources said.

Milt Newton is the Wolves’ general manager, but it is unclear if a new coach will answer to him – or if he’ll answer to a new coach, sources said. Newton worked under the late Flip Saunders, who had full control of basketball operations and coached the Timberwolves. Saunders died in October.

I would see Tom Thibodeau or Scott Brooks as great fits here, that is if ownership and management feels they can deal with the gruff Thibodeau. Van Gundy would be a good fit anywhere, but I like him as a broadcaster, so I’m hoping he doesn’t land an NBA gig.

Minnesota may not be the warmest or most popular stop on the NBA tour, but it could be where one of the best teams in the NBA resides in a few seasons.

Nik Stauskas wants to dunk and Bismack Biyombo can’t stop him (VIDEO)

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Playing in front of family and friends in his native Canada, Nik Stauskas had a good night with 13 points and three assists.

And four dunks.

This was the best of the bunch, throwing it down on Bismack Biyombo. His friends liked that one.

The Raptors still won the game handily, 122-98, but it was a good night for one Canadian.