If you’re near a TV on Monday night, you’re going to want to turn on the game between the Golden State Warriors and the Los Angeles Lakers. Not just because the Warriors are great and you should want to watch them (they are, and you should), but because Kobe Bryant is having his jerseys retired.
The 18-time All-Star will have both of his jerseys - 8 and 24 - sent to the Staples Center rafters at halftime, as fans and players alike reminisce about a legendary career.
At The Athletic, Anthony Slater wanted to tell the Kobe story through the eyes of the Warriors. He talked with a handful of Golden State players (as well as coach Steve Kerr) about their experiences playing against Bryant, and their memories watching him.
The article is full of must-read material, but this story about Andre Iguodala really captures the essence of Bryant:
In November of 2005, near the start of Iguodala's second season, he tangled with Kobe in Kobe's hometown of Philadelphia and won.
“He was 3 for 17, only had 17 points,” Iguodala said. “I was locking that s— up.”
Like any great decade-old tale, some of the statistics have been exaggerated. Kobe wasn't 3 of 17, he was 7 of 17 for those 17 points. But that's still an inefficient night mostly due to Iguodala.
“Then Phil Jackson said in the paper: 'I've never seen anyone guard Kobe as good as that,'” Iguodala said. “Then Aaron McKie has a quote, he said: 'Yeah, man, this kid grew up in the era of Kobe, he studied Kobe, so he can guard Kobe.'”
Two months later, the Sixers made the return trip to Los Angeles. Iguodala swears he'd forgotten about the first matchup. Kobe obviously hadn't.
“He came in the visiting locker room and asked my teammates: 'Yo, where's Dre,'” Iguodala said. “They're like, 'Oh, he's on the court shooting.' He just said: 'Tell him 50 tonight.' It was like he'd been waiting for that game.”
Kobe guaranteed Iguodala 50 pregame and then delivered him to the doorstep of it, making 19 of his 29 shots, hitting all seven of his 3s and scoring 48 points before subbing out of a blowout win with 4 minutes still left to go.
Yup, that sounds about right.
Later in the article it’s revealed that Jordan Bell, despite being an NBA player, is just like us: he likes to get into age-old basketball arguments, too!
Bell has an older brother who is a full-fledged Kobe stan. If you tell him that LeBron is better, you'll rope him into a heated argument. Bell liked riling his older brother up. So he always told him: LeBron's better.
“I remember there was an All-Star Game,” Bell said. “Kobe blocked LeBron's shot twice, something like that. My brother was in my ear twice about that. I think LeBron's better, that's just me. He thinks Kobe's better. So he's always bringing up the rings, I'm always bringing up MVPs. Back-and-forth.”
Of course, when it come to Kobe stories, one man on the Warriors has actually played with him: Nick Young. And, well . . . let’s let Nick tell this one:
Nick Young recalls the time Kobe threw his Adidas in the trash when Nick asked Kobe to sign his shoes after Bryant’s last game. pic.twitter.com/79XvRW9rOa— Logan Murdock (@loganmmurdock) December 16, 2017
Draymond Green’s lingering injury
In case you haven’t noticed, Draymond Green hasn’t been on the court much lately. While Stephen Curry’s injury has gotten the bulk of the press, Green has only played one game since December 4.
Logan Murdock of The Mercury News caught up with Steve Kerr, who admitted there’s an element of concern with Green. Kerr said that, “At first it didn’t seem like it would be more than a few days. It’s a little bit concerning that he hasn’t made bigger strides but I still don’t think its a major level of concern.”
Thankfully, the Dubs are flying high, even with Green and Curry’s absences. So hopefully both players take all the time they need to heal fully.
It’s pretty inarguable that the Dubs have had the best alternate jerseys this year. And that may just be the start of things. Nike has been teasing a new set of jerseys titled the Nike NBA City Edition, and it appears that they were accidentally revealed in the NBA 2K18 video game.
They were quickly taken down, but not before Sportslogos.net managed to get some screenshots. You have to go check out the Golden State jerseys; they’re amazing.
Kevin Durant, MVP candidate?
Early in the season, it looked like Steph Curry would be the Warriors’ best MVP candidate. Curry was the team’s leading scorer, while Kevin Durant appeared to be focusing more on defense.
Curry’s ankle injury may have changed things. Durant has been scoring like crazy, the Dubs have been winning, and people are, understandably, noticing a correlation.
At Bballbreakdown, Kelly Scaletta placed Durant fourth in the MVP standings, noting that KD is “leading the charge with Stephen Curry out. In the two games Steph has missed, Durant averaged 32.0 points, 9.5 rebounds, 6.0 assists, and 4.0 blocks.”
It’s now been three games that Curry has missed, but the point held true against the Dallas Mavericks. If Curry is out longer, Durant’s MVP case will only grow stronger.
Trying to figure out the three-point revolution
In a mailbag, ESPN’s Kevin Pelton was asked a great question: is the dramatically increased number of threes being taken due to Mike D’Antoni’s Phoenix Suns, Daryl Morey’s Houston Rockets, or Stephen Curry?
Pelton doesn’t have an answer, but he does have a good discussion starter:
I'm not sure which of the two modern options -- if either -- to give more credit for that explosion. It doesn't really appear to be the case that coaches have changed their threshold for what level of 3-point shooting is acceptable based on the growing acceptance of statistical analysis, as percentages have stayed steady or even increased. So we've got more players capable of taking more 3s at an acceptable rate, and I don't know whether that's driven more by coaches encouraging players to practice and shoot 3s (particularly big men) or Curry-influenced players working harder to shoot 3s.
The three-point revolution is always a fun topic. Even (especially?) if it angers Charles Barkley.