LeBron James and Kyle Kuzma
Chris Elise/NBAE via Getty Images

Report: LeBron James supports Kyle Kuzma rather than pushing for Lakers to trade him

Leave a comment

Kyle Kuzma‘s trainer, Clint Parks, posted to Instagram after Kawhi Leonard‘s Clippers beat LeBron James‘ Lakers on Christmas, “Watching Kawhi highlights from yesterday. NOBODY wants to speak on how sharp his skill set is compared to Lebrons. It’s clear who’s really in the LAB and who isn’t.” Kuzma tweeted, “Call a spade a spade [shrug emoji]”.

And we were off.

Yet, before a Lakers controversy – based significantly on reading into Kuzma’s vague tweet – fully formed, LeBron and Kuzma downplayed it. The players spoke with each other then addressed the media. Kuzma said he can’t control what someone else says and denied that his tweet referred to Parks’ post. LeBron said he didn’t care what Parks said and he’s used to people using his name for clout. LeBron truly sounded unbothered.

However, Kuzma is now suddenly in the thick of trade rumors.

Sam Amick of The Athletic:

As for James, whose influence and voice should never be overlooked in situations like this, a source with knowledge of his thinking said he remains supportive of Kuzma

Does LeBron have power to get Kuzma traded? Probably.

Would I put it past LeBron wanting Kuzma traded over something petty like this? No.

That someone, protected by anonymity, is denying a LeBron-Kuzma rift means only so much. Even if he wanted Kuzma moved, LeBron would probably deny it, maybe even through back channels like this. LeBron operates far more passive-aggressively. He doesn’t want the responsibility that comes with dictating roster moves like that.

Maybe this line of speculation is unfair to LeBron. Perhaps, he’s truly holds no grudge with Kuzma.

But given LeBron’s power, it’s impossible to ignore the possibility he’s involved.

We might never learn the truth. Kuzma never made sense as a scoring power forward on a team with LeBron and Anthony Davis. Kuzma was always the Lakers’ most useful trade chip. So, Los Angeles trading Kuzma would neither prove nor disprove anything.

At least the Lakers keeping Kuzma would indicate LeBron wasn’t pushing for them to trade Kuzma. Because, again, if LeBron wants Kuzma gone, Kuzma will probably be gone.

In wake of Kobe Bryant’s death, Kendrick Perkins seeks forgiveness from Kevin Durant

Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant and Kendrick Perkins
Layne Murdoch/NBAE via Getty Images
Leave a comment

Kevin Durant once called Kendrick Perkins his favorite teammate of all-time.

A couple weeks ago, they were beefing on Twitter,exchanging barbs that didn’t look as friendly as previously.

Kobe Bryant’s tragic death has Perkins reflecting.

Perkins:

Good for Perkins. Amid all the sorrow, Bryant’s death creates an opportunity for people to re-assess their priorities. Grudges almost always aren’t worth it.

Nick Kyrgios warms up for Australian Open in Kobe Bryant jersey (video)

Nick Kyrgios in Kobe Bryant jersey and Rafael Nadal
Sam Tabone/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Kobe Bryant was a great basketball player. His sport-specific skills – shooting, dribbling, positioning – were incredible.

But his competitiveness and work ethic transcended basketball. Those traits earned him admirers far and wide.

Tennis star Nick Kyrgios wore a Bryant jersey to warm up for the Australian Open:

CJ Fogler:

After his fourth-round loss to Rafael Nadal, Kyrgios – wearing a different Kobe jersey – shared his perspective on Bryant:

Kyrgios:

Basketball is practically my life, and I watch it every day, and I’ve been following it for as long as I can remember.

If anything, it motivated me. If you look at the things he stood for and what he wanted to be remembered by, I felt like, if anything, it helped me tonight.

I’m a Celtics fan, and so when I saw Kobe do what he does and break the hearts of so many Celtics fans, it was tough to see. But I don’t think they make them like him anymore. He was different. The way he trained, the way he did things, the way he played was special. It’s just sad.

Reports: Kobe Bryant’s helicopter was in holding pattern, advised of flying too low

Kobe Bryant helicopter crash site
PG/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images
Leave a comment

Kobe Bryant’s shocking death has left millions trying to cope.

For some, questions turn to the technical: How? How did Bryant’s helicopter crash?

RadarOnline.com:

“Hold outside Burbank, I have an aircraft,” the recording revealed the tower employee advising Bryant’s helicopter during the communication.

“He’s been holding for about 15 minutes,” a flight tower employee said about Bryant’s helicopter around 9:30 a.m.

Emma Parry and Chris Spargo of The U.S. Sun:

The pilot, Ara Zobayan, was told he was flying too close to the ground.

Per audio from before the crash, Zobayan said: “OK, we’ll continue holding.”

RadarOnline.com:

As the flight towers try to assist in the helicopter landing, they are cautioned about the “overcast” weather and their low flight level, meaning they were dangerously close to the ground.

“You’re still too low level for flight following at this time,” the flight toward warned the pilot on the audio.

Bryant’s helicopter was reportedly traveling north along the 118 freeway, turned west and followed the 101 freeway. After hitting heavy fog around 9:40 a.m., the helicopter turned south and made a steep climb from 1200 feet to 2000 feet.

Moments later they reportedly flew into the mountain at 1700 feet and the vehicle was traveling at 161 knots.

There’s still more to learn, including whether the helicopter had mechanical issues. Perhaps, we’ll never get that answer. If we do, it won’t change anything.

Still, it feels natural to search for greater understanding of this inexplicable tragedy.

In Europe, Kobe Bryant recalled for his “Italian qualities”

Xinhua/Mao Siqian) (Xinhua/ via Getty Images
Leave a comment

ROME (AP) — In Europe, where Kobe Bryant grew up, the retired NBA star was being remembered for his “Italian qualities.”

“All of the NBA players are important, because they’re legends, but he’s particularly important to us because he knew Italy so well, having lived in several cities here,” Italian basketball federation president Giovanni Petrucci told The Associated Press. “He had a lot of Italian qualities.”

“He spoke Italian very well. He even knew the local slang,” Petrucci added.

Bryant, the 18-time NBA All-Star who won five championships and became one of the greatest basketball players of his generation during a 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers, died Sunday in a helicopter crash near Calabasas, California. He was 41.

Bryant lived in Italy between the ages of 6 and 13 while his father, Joe Bryant, played for several teams in the country before returning to Pennsylvania for high school. Kobe Bryant spoke fluent Italian and often said it would be a “dream” to play in the country.

The dream almost came true when Bryant nearly joined Virtus Bologna in 2011 during an NBA lockout, only for the deal to fall apart.

“He was a supernatural,” Italian coach Ettore Messina, who worked with Bryant as an assistant for the Lakers, told the AP via text message while traveling with his current club, Olimpia Milano.

“To hear him speak and joke in our language and to remember when his father played here and he was a kid drew a lot of people to the NBA,” Messina said. “He was also always very attentive to help Italian kids arriving in the NBA and to help them enter such a tough and competitive world. He also did that with me when I arrived at the Lakers and I’m still very grateful to him for that. It’s very sad that his family has been devastated like this.”

Dating from his time in Italy, Bryant was a lifelong soccer fan.

AC Milan, one of the clubs that Bryant supported, tweeted: “We have no words to express how shocked we are to hear of the tragic passing of one of the greatest sportsmen of all time and Rossonero fan, Kobe Bryant. All our thoughts are with the families of those affected by this tragic accident. You will forever be missed, Kobe.”

The International Olympic Committee noted in a tweet that Bryant was a two-time gold medalist, adding: “Rest In Peace #KobeBryant You will always stay in our hearts.”