Kobe Bryant now = Jordan with Wizards? Kobe, Byron Scott see parallels.


A lot of us have tried to repress the memory of Michael Jordan in a Wizard’s uniform — he still had the fire and the footwork, but he was reduced to a volume scorer with not much around him, still packing the house but only because of who he used to be not who he was anymore.

Does that sound like Kobe Bryant this season?

Kobe leads the NBA scoring at 27.6 points a game, but he’s shooting just 40.2 percent (.488 true shooting percentage, well below the league average). He’s got great footwork and his game IQ is as good as ever, but he can only do so much. Before you say “he’s just a ball hog” think about if you really want to see more of Carlos Boozer, Jordan Hill and Wesley Johnson taking shots. Like Dwayne Johnson as Hercules, nobody should pay to see that.

Does that mean Kobe Bryant now equals Jordan with the Wizards?

Not exactly, but Byron Scott and Kobe himself can kind of see it, as reported by my man Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News.

The 36-year-old Bryant first laughed when asked if there were similarities.

“No. Not really,” Bryant said. “Well maybe. I guess…

“He wasn’t in Chicago, playing for the same organization for all those years. It’s a little different. I’m still younger than he was,” Bryant said. “I can see where you guys are thinking there’s similarities there. I also think it’s probably reachable content at this point. I get it. So, yeah, there’s similarities. Then there are differences. Just have at it.”

“There’s some parallel to it,” Lakers coach Byron Scott told this newspaper. “Kobe didn’t retire or come back. But he’s coming off an injury and coming off of retirement. Michael played with the Wizards. That wasn’t the Chicago Bulls, a team he wasn’t used to playing with. Kobe’s still with the Lakers, but playing with a group of guys that aren’t like the group he’s been accustomed to playing with. There are some parallels.”

Does that mean in a decade we’ll be trying to block these couple final years of Kobe out of our minds?

No. Or at least not completely. Because there is a little truth in what his “Kobe can do no wrong” cult of fans say about his season — this comeback will fit into his legendary toughness legacy. It fits his storyline he (and his marketing team) like to spin. The man blew out his Achilles and his knee then came back at age 36 to be one of the top scorers in the league. That’s not nothing, and this comeback isn’t all ego trip. This does not tarnish Kobe’s legacy. He’s still next in line to get a statue outside Staples Center.

He’s going to get frustrated with the losing, more and more frustrated, but the Lakers are not going to trade him. That speculation ignores basic realities — he doesn’t want to go, he means too much to the Lakers financially to let him go, and finally even if the Lakers and Kobe came around to the idea you can’t move that massive contract onto another contender. What, you think you can just slide Kobe into the Spurs and he’ll happily take a reduced role without the ball in his hands?

Kobe is a Laker. He is staying a Laker. And while the next couple years will not be pretty, it’s the last chance for us to see one of the game’s all time greats in person and we should savor that.

D’Angelo Russell says weather played ‘major part’ in picking Warriors over Timberwolves

Hannah Foslien/Getty Images
Leave a comment

D'Angelo Russell wants to play with Karl-Anthony Towns. Towns’ Timberwolves were reportedly interested in Russell last summer.

Why did Russell join the Warriors instead of Minnesota?

Russell, via Chris Hine of the Minneapolis StarTribune:

“I thought the opportunity here was amazing … ” Russell said after Warriors shootaround Friday. “It was definitely something I was considering very strongly. But then when this opportunity came, the weather is way better, so that helped me.”

“I did my first winter in New York and that was tough,” Russell said. “So to get the opportunity to go somewhere where it’s warm again, I think that played a major part in my plan.”

I don’t blame him one bit.

Russell grew up in Kentucky then finished high school in Florida. He spent his first couple NBA seasons with the Lakers.

He also played collegiately at Ohio State and a a couple years for the Nets. In other words, he spent enough time in cold-weather locations to know how miserable they can be.

This is an issue that will always hinder teams like the Timberwolves. It doesn’t mean they can’t attract free agents. It’s just a disadvantage.

There will always be players who don’t have multiple max offers. Minnesota can separate itself with money, playing time and other considerations.

But good for Russell for playing himself out of that group and earning a max contract in the Bay Area.

Kyrie Irving (shoulder) out for Nets-Pacers

Bart Young/NBAE via Getty Images
Leave a comment

Kyrie Irving missed the Nets’ win over the Bulls on Saturday.

He’s not healthy enough to play the Pacers tonight.

Nets public relations:

Kyrie Irving (right shoulder impingement) is OUT.

Brooklyn (5-7) lags behinds Indiana (7-6) in the Eastern Conference’s middle morass. The Nets must try to catch up in the playoff race without their best player.

But it’s a long season. Brooklyn has plenty of time to gain ground. Spencer Dinwiddie is capable in relief, and the unselfish Nets can create ball movement while Dinwiddie rests.

I’m more concerned about next week. A segment of Brooklyn’s schedule:

  • Nov. 24 at Knicks
  • Nov. 25 at Cavaliers
  • Nov. 27 at Celtics

That’s the team Irving spurned in free agency, the team Irving requested a trade from and the team Irving just left after pledging to re-sign. Those are juicy matchups. Hopefully, Irving is healthy enough to play in all three.

Ray Allen says he would’ve returned to Celtics if they signed Kevin Durant in 2016

Elsa/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Ray Allen left the Celtics on bad terms in 2012. He finished his career with the Heat in 2014.

But Allen apparently could have come back with Boston in 2016… if Kevin Durant signed there first.

Allen, via Darren Hartwell of NBC Sports Boston:

“I had a conversation with (Ainge) and I told him this was my last-ditch effort. I would’ve went back,” Allen said on WEEI’s “Ordway, Merloni & Fauria” radio show.

“This was when Kevin Durant was a free agent. He was thinking about going to Boston. And I said, ‘Hey, if you guys land Kevin, I would certainly look at lacing them back up one more time and try to make something good happen here in Boston.’ “

This is a fascinating “what if?” – for the Celtics on the court and for Allen’s legacy in Boston.

But it also probably didn’t come close to happening. Durant said his top two choices in 2016 free agency were the Warriors and Thunder. Even Allen himself said he never neared a comeback.

Still, it’s interesting – after all the animosity – Allen even spoke to Celtics president Danny Ainge about returning.

European coach berates his players: ‘You’re good guys. F— you’ (video)

Mikhail Serbin/Euroleague Basketball via Getty Images
1 Comment

Remember Luigi Datome? He spent a couple seasons with the Pistons and Celtics.

He makes an appearance in this wild video featuring Fenerbahce coach Zeljko Obradovic (warning: profanity):

A partial transcript the best I could muster:



Festivus isn’t for another month, but someone is already ready for the airing of grievances.