Gone but never forgotten, Kobe Bryant’s wide-ranging impact lives on

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Kobe Bryant’s influence seems to ripple out from the center and touch everywhere.

From NBA locker rooms to the bench of young girls AAU games. From the NBA court at Staples Center to a playground court in the Philippines. From movie studio lots to corporate boardrooms. From the heart of Los Angeles to cites where for years he was loathed as a villain.

Kobe Bryant touched countless lives — which is why his death has left a hole in hearts around the globe.

As the shock of his unexpected death on Sunday — in a helicopter crash with his daughter Gianna and seven others — wore off on Monday and sadness crept in its place, the tributes that popped up showed how his life had impacted so many others.

It is the truest sign of a life well lived.

The pain in Los Angeles shared by cities globally

Nowhere was the loss of Kobe felt more acutely than in Los Angeles — because to Angelinos Kobe came to symbolize their city. Or, at least what Angelino’s want to believe about their city. He won — championships and an Oscar. He was driven and intellectually curious, a confident risk-taker, a man who was obsessed about his job but still made time for family, and someone who would not accept failure.

You could feel the city’s love on Monday night, when an impromptu crowd filled the L.A. Live Plaza across from Staples Center to watch an outdoor, big-screen replay of Kobe’s finale — a 60-point game that was the perfect ending to his career. Laker fans showed up and chanted his name.

It wasn’t just Los Angeles paying tribute to the man.

At ever NBA game on Monday night, it started with a 24-second violation by one team and an 8-second backcourt violation by the other — 24 and 8 being Kobe’s numbers.

There was Madison Square Garden, home to some of Kobe’s biggest nights.

And there were arenas in Utah and Portland — two franchises Kobe particularly tortured on the court — where tributes were paid because of the respect the man had earned.

Kobe’s impact reached out globally as well, including all the way to the Philippines.

Kobe’s influence among NBA players

As he often does, Gregg Popovich summed up how many NBA players Kobe impacted.

“Young kids on your team idolized him and looked up to him. The older ones knew him, and talked to him and had relationships with him. No matter which one of those groups you belong to, it was a tragic shock.”

Among the many with relationships with Kobe, none seemed hit harder by the tragedy than the man who took over the Lakers’ mantle, LeBron James.

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I’m Not Ready but here I go. Man I sitting here trying to write something for this post but every time I try I begin crying again just thinking about you, niece Gigi and the friendship/bond/brotherhood we had! I literally just heard your voice Sunday morning before I left Philly to head back to LA. Didn’t think for one bit in a million years that would be the last conversation we’d have. WTF!! I’m heartbroken and devastated my brother!! 😢😢😢😢💔. Man I love you big bro. My heart goes to Vanessa and the kids. I promise you I’ll continue your legacy man! You mean so much to us all here especially #LakerNation💜💛 and it’s my responsibility to put this shit on my back and keep it going!! Please give me the strength from the heavens above and watch over me! I got US here! There’s so much more I want to say but just can’t right now because I can’t get through it! Until we meet again my brother!! #Mamba4Life❤️🙏🏾 #Gigi4Life❤️🙏🏾

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LeBron and Kobe were peers — they won two Gold Medals together — but for a younger generation of up-and-coming stars, such as Joel Embiid, Kobe was their north star.

It wasn’t just players who felt Kobe’s impact — even NBA referees did.

Kobe’s business impact

Kobe was preparing for life after basketball long before he hung up his Nikes.

As he retired, he and venture Capitalist Jeff Stibel launched Bryant Stibel, a $100 million tech investment fund that built on the work the pair had been doing for three years. Their portfolio included Alibaba, The Players’ Tribune, LegalZoom, Epic Games (the developer of “Fortnite”) and many more. Plus, Kobe invested $6 million in sports drink BodyArmor, and a number that was incredibly profitable when Coca-Cola bought BodyArmor for $200 million.

But where Kobe really wanted to focus was what he called “Storytelling.” That started with turning a piece he had written for the Players Tribune into a short animated film called “Dear Basketball.” That went on to win an Oscar for best animated short.

The one common denominator across all of this was Kobe’s work ethic — it was the aspirational part of Kobe for fans. Few people won the genetic lottery and get to play in the NBA, but everyone has something that they love and want to succeed at and Kobe’s will and relentlessness can apply to that.

It’s the lasting part of Kobe’s influence, the part everyone can take to heart and apply to their lives.

Once they are done mourning the legend.

Steven Adams inks two-year, $25.2 million extension with Grizzlies

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Steven Adams signed a two-year, $25.2 million contract extension with Memphis, which will keep him tied to the team through the 2024-25 season. ESPN’s Adrian Wojanrowski broke the news on Saturday.

Adams has been crucial to the Grizzlies’ recent success. He’s coming off his first season with the team, where he averaged career-highs in rebounds (10.0) and assists (3.4). He also helped them lock up the No. 2 spot in the Western Conference and make it to the Conference Semifinals, where they lost to the eventual-champion Warriors 4-2. Despite the improved numbers, a lot of his value is from intangibles that don’t show up in the box score.

Adams spent the first seven years of his career with the Thunder before being traded to New Orleans in the four-team deal that sent Jrue Holiday to Milwaukee. Adams was moved again to Memphis in a package for Jonas Valanciunas.

Adams has found a new home with a young Grizzlies team that is looking to win a championship. The team is built around Ja Morant, Jaren Jackson Jr. and Desmond Bane, but Jackson Jr. is expected to miss time after being diagnosed with a stress fracture in his left foot. Memphis will rely on Adams more than ever to begin the season.

Watch Curry, Klay in 3-point shooting contest in Japan. Yeah, they’re good at this.

NBA Japan Games Saturday Night
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The NBA went to Japan to promote the brand, play a few games in a huge market — Japan specifically but Asia as a whole — and put on a show.

Is there a better show than Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson draining 3s? Here they are in a 3-point contest during a basketball exhibition (there were some pro dunkers) in Tokyo on Saturday.

Stephen Curry, was there any other possible outcome?

It’s preseason and they are the defending champs — they should be having fun, playing with some joy.

Thompson took part in the shooting contest but is not playing in either of the exhibition games in Japan as the Warriors ease him back into play this season. It’s a marathon of a season and the Warriors need the best version of Klay starting in April, not October.

Report: Pelicans, Nance agree to two-year, $21.6 million extension

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Larry Nance has been a stabilizing influence in New Orleans since coming over mid-season as part of the trade for CJ McCollum. Nance is a versatile player who can play the four or the five, knocks down his threes, is very strong on the glass, can be a disruptive defender in passing lanes, and fits in — and he has the veteran attitude of work this team needs.

So the Pelicans have reached an extension to keep the 29-year-old around for two years past this coming season, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

This is a signing that should make Pelicans fans happy. Importantly, it makes CJ McCollum happy — they are tight and this is something McCollum wanted to see. The money on this deal seems fair, about the league average for a solid rotation player.

Nance is the kind of veteran this team needs considering its young core of Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram (just turned 25), Herb Jones, and guys like Trey Murphy III, Jose Alvarado, and others. Nance compared it to the young Lakers teams he was on, but noted that team lacked the same level of veteran leadership this Pelicans team has.

We may see more Nance at the five lineups — small ball with Zion at the four — to close games this season in New Orleans, that could be their best lineup because Nance can defend but also spaces the floor for Zion on offense. Coach Willie Green has a lot of different players and matchups to experiment with.

And now he has the stability of Nance for a few more years.

Durant tired of talking Nets dramatic offseason: ‘I didn’t miss any games’

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No team had an offseason quite like the Brooklyn Nets. First, they would not give a long-term extension to Kyrie Irving, which sent the star guard looking for a new team (but there were no offers that worked for everyone, so he opted in with Brooklyn). Then Kevin Durant asked for a trade, and to gain a little leverage reportedly threw down an ultimatum of him or the coach and GM. No trade could be found — how much the Nets wanted one is up for debate — so he is back in Brooklyn. And all that is not even getting into the return of Ben Simmons, a trade for Royce O’Neal, or anything else.

The Nets drama and how they move past it has been the talk of training camp. The only talk at training camp, it feels like.

When asked Friday if there were any inaccuracies in the reporting of the Nets summer he would like to clear up, Durant sounded weary of rehashing the summer.

The only thing that will start to move the conversation in a new direction is the Nets playing and winning games (they open the preseason Monday against the 76ers). And even those wins will have the shadow of the offseason cast over them. Durant and Irving made this bed.

Part of the fascination is the Nets remain the team hardest to predict in the league. They arguably have the most talented roster in the league and, if everything comes together just right, they can contend for a title. It’s also possible the wheels fall off early and by Christmas the Nets are looking to trade Durant again. Both things feel possible (even if reality most likely lands somewhere in the middle).

That uncertainty about the Nets’ future is the drama that will keep eyeballs on them — which also means more questions about this past offseason. Durant can choose not to answer them, but the questions aren’t going away.