We don’t know what the future will hold, but there’s a good chance that Boston’s Big Three (or Core Four or whatever other nickname you have for them) will not be back together next year. Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett are free agents, and their futures with the team are uncertain.
So it was an emotional end when, with the game out of reach and 25 seconds remaining, Doc Rivers pulled Paul Pierce, Garnett and Allen off the floor. You could tell how they were feeling. This can’t be easy (especially since they led or were deep in the mix of this game for three and a half quarters).
If this is the end, they will be missed. This group played some old-time basketball — they defended hard, they moved the ball, they were not afraid to mix it up but could bring you the sublime and beautiful ball movement that would make any coach proud. The NBA was better for having them join forces
Report: Multiple NBA players giving up No. 8 and No. 24 to honor Kobe Bryant
The NBA typically makes players wait for a new season to start to allow players to change a jersey number but Dinwiddie has been granted permission to make the switch to No. 26, according to a source familiar with the decision
Anyone who wants to honor Bryant giving up No. 8 or No. 24 should. Who’s anyone to tell them that’s the wrong way to grieve and pay tribute?
But other players will want to wear No. 8 or No. 24 to honor Bryant. That’s just as respectful. I hope they aren’t peer-pressured out of doing so.
Some players who want to wear No. 8 or No. 24 in memory of Bryant might even be among those giving up the number now.
In 2009, LeBron James – who was wearing No. 23 with the Cavaliers – said the NBA should retire No. 23 for Michael Jordan. He pledged to kickstart the movement the next season by changing his own number. He signed with the Heat – who already retired No. 23 for Jordan despite him never playing for them – and wore No. 6.
LeBron returned to Cleveland in 2010. His number during his second Cavs stint? No. 23. His number with the Lakers now? No. 23.
People change their minds on these things – especially when the cloudiness of grief subsides. Individual players should choose their number as they see fit.
So, I hope this doesn’t turn into a formal league-wide retirement of Bryant’s numbers. It seems more fitting – outside the most extreme cases, like Jackie Robinson in baseball – for that to remain a team honor.
Allen Iverson, like the rest of us, has been dealing with the incredible shock of Kobe Bryant dying. Iverson released a statement that includes a story that truly captures both stars:
“Words cannot express how I’m feeling today. The only 2 words that ring in my head — devastated and heartbroken. I cannot seem to shake this feeling no matter what I’ve tried to do since hearing this yesterday.
“People will always remember how we competed against each other in the league, but it goes so much deeper than that for me. The story of us being drafted in arguably the deepest class of its kind ever in the NBA can be debated for many years to come. However, his generosity and respect for the game is something that I witnessed first-hand every time we stepped on the dance floor to compete.
“It’s one memory of him that I can’t stop thinking about. It was our rookie season and my first trip to LA for a game against the Lakers. He came to my hotel, picked me up and took me to a restaurant. When we returned before he left, he asked me, “What are you going to do tonight?” My reply was, “I’m going to the club, what are you going to do?” He said, “I’m going to the gym.” That is who he always was, a true student of the game of basketball and also the game of life. He prepared relentlessly. There is something we can all learn from the “Mamba” mentality and from the way my brother lived his life. He will always have my respect as a competitor, as a friend, as a brother.
“My thoughts and prayers are with his wife Vanessa, their children and the families of all of the victims of yesterday’s tragedy. As a father, I cannot wrap my head around how they must feel.
“We are not okay. But we will find the strength to pull through this together because that’s what Kobe would want us to do.”
Amid his grief, Iverson now has another issue to deal with.
Police are searching for a man accused of stealing a half-million dollars’ worth of jewelry from Philadelphia 76ers legend Allen Iverson.
Police said the unidentified man entered the Sofitel Hotel at 120 S. 17th Street Monday around 10:30 a.m. and snatched a backpack containing jewelry valued at approximately $500,000. NBC10 later confirmed with sources that the jewelry belonged to Iverson.
I can’t imagine many people in Philadelphia helping someone get away with stealing from Iverson.
Gordon Hayward: I didn’t step into lane to help Kobe Bryant score 60
Bryant’s final point came on a free throw with 14.8 seconds remaining in the Lakers’ win over the Jazz in 2016. Before Bryant attempted his free throw, Utah forward Gordon Hayward stepped into the paint. A story swirled in the last day that Hayward deliberately committed the violation so Bryant, if necessary, would get an extra free throw to score 60.
Hayward – now with the Celtics – set the record straight:
The past day has been incredibly heartbreaking for me. Kobe is someone that I looked up to and admired and developed a personal relationship with. I have struggled so much with trying to understand the devastating news and like many others I’m still trying to process it.
It has also come to my attention that there is a story going around tonight about an intentional lane violation that I took to ensure Kobe would get his 60th point in his final game and many are applauding me for the gesture. The fact of the matter is that is not true.
That was a night that I will truly never forget as I can remember almost every moment of it and my goal that night was to compete as hard as I possibly could against Kobe because that is what he was all about and I wanted to give him my very best.
He got 60 on me and I didn't give him anything free all night. What happened on the free throw line was not intentional. Kobe would have lost respect for me if I gave him something free. That’s what made him so very special!
Did the Jazz, who were already eliminated from the playoffs, play their absolute tightest defense on Bryant? No. Do players sometimes help opponents – especially a revered star like Bryant – reach milestones in otherwise-insignificant moments? Yes.
But unintentional lane violations happen somewhat frequently (and are often uncalled). There was just a big one last night. It’s not an area where players or referees stringently follow the rules.
It’s totally believable Hayward didn’t have some deeper meaning behind his step into the paint.
I’d take him at his word.
Report: No teams requested Sunday’s games be canceled after Kobe Bryant’s death
The NBA even postponed the Lakers-Clippers game originally scheduled for tonight. That led to the question: Why didn’t the league postpone games Sunday, the day Bryant died? Obviously there should be special consideration in Los Angeles, where Bryant spent his entire career. But nobody – from those involved to onlookers – had their hearts and heads in Sunday’s games.
Marc Stein of The New York Times:
No teams that played Sunday requested for games to be canceled, league sources say, but there is obviously no manual for dealing with a tragedy like this. Teams that did play Sunday were allowed to keep locker rooms closed pre-game to delay Kobe questions until after the games https://t.co/I4Rb5PGENl
Postponing games (finding makeup dates, extra travel) or canceling games (refunding tickets, unbalanced schedules) would have created different headaches down the road. Maybe it would’ve been better to deal with those issues than playing. But playing also gave teams an opportunity to honor Bryant, find distraction amid grief and start the process of moving forward.
I wouldn’t get too hung up in the debate of whether the NBA should have canceled games Sunday. Whether or not games were played, Bryant was gone. There was no good solution here.