At the end of May in 2013, a car driven by former Atlanta Hawk Daron “Mookie” Blaylock drifted over to the wrong side of an Atlanta area road and collided head-on with a car driven by Monica Murphy, killing the mother of five.
Monday Blaylock pled guilty to vehicular homicide in the case and was sentenced to 15 years in jail, reports the Atlanta Journal Constitution.
While he was sentenced to 15 years, the 47-year-old former NBA star will only serve three years in prison for vehicular homicide and other charges in the May 31, 2013, death of Monica Murphy, according to the terms of a negotiated plea deal.
That plea came on the day jury selection was to start, attorney Amanda Palmer told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The negotiated deal, seven years in prison and eight on probation, allows for Blaylock’s prison sentence to be suspended after three years. The conditions for the suspension include 1,500 hours of community service and treatment for alcoholism, including twice weekly Alcoholic Anonymous meetings. Additionally, he cannot drive until his probation is completed, Palmer said.
There was no alcohol in Blaylock’s blood at the time of the accident, according to reports. Blaylock almost died in the accident, spending days in the hospital’s intensive care unit.
Blaylock played 13 years in the NBA, seven in Atlanta plus stints in New Jersey and Golden State. He was a lock down defender who twice led the league in steals (he remains the Hawks franchise leader in steals). He also was one of the first guards to really embrace shooting the three ball (back in the 80s it was still a novelty.
The band Pearl Jam was first known around Seattle as Mookie Blaylock until the player forced the band to change its name.
Kobe Bryant’s outsized career warranted outsized recognition, and the Lakers found a perfectly fitting honor. They retired both his No. 8 and No. 24 in 2017.
Now, people are searching for the appropriate way to commemorate the unprecedented basketball giant who died so young. Many tributes – including teams opening games with 24-second then 8-second violations – have focused on his numbers. Hawks guard Trae Young wore No. 8. Any 8, 24 or 81 appearing in a box score have become a topic of discussion.
Now, Spencer Dinwiddie – who was particularly proud of Bryant telling him last month he’s playing like an All-Star – is the face of another movement to memorialize Bryant.
Marc Stein of The New York Times:
Beyond Dinwiddie, players who wear No. 8:
Players who wear No. 24:
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.
Bryant is headed to the Hall of Fame. That’s the way to ratify his legacy through all of basketball.
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.
NBC Sports Philadelphia:
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.
Kobe Bryant scored 60 points in his final NBA game – an incredible sendoff for a great career and, tragically, a moment with added significance considering its proximity to his death.
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:
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.
Kobe Bryant’s death devastated the basketball world.
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:
I wonder how many teams thought to request a cancellation. I bet many awaited guidance from the league office.
Likewise, I wonder how many players felt they could step away. Kyrie Irving – who was quite close with Bryant – missed the Nets’ game for personal reasons.
Eight teams hosted games Sunday:
- Nuggets (vs. Rockets)
- Spurs (vs. Raptors)
- Hawks (vs. Wizards)
- Grizzlies (vs. Suns)
- Pelicans (vs. Celtics)
- Knicks (vs. Nets)
- Clippers (vs. Magic)
- Trail Blazers (vs. Pacers)
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.