Kobe Bryant Compares Andrew Wiggins to a 17-Year-Old Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant doesn’t dole out compliments lightly, so listen up, folks. 

After passing Michael Jordan on the NBA‘s all-time scoring list and propelling the Los Angeles Lakers to a 100-94 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves Sunday night, Bryant had some high praise for the 2014 draft’s No. 1 overall pick. 

Speaking to reporters following his historic 26-point outing, Bryant said it’s like he’s staring into the mirror when watching Timberwolves swingman Andrew Wiggins, according to The Associated Press’ Jon Krawczynski: 

As for Wiggins himself, he appeared to be humbled just to step on the hardwood simultaneously with the 36-year-old Bryant, according to Bleacher Report’s Kevin Ding: 

In the loss—Minnesota’s eighth in its last 10 games—Wiggins compiled 16 points (4-of-12 shooting), two rebounds, zero assists and two turnovers in 29 minutes. 

Nineteen years ago, Bryant entered the league as a wide-eyed 17-year-old fresh out of Lower Merion High School just outside Philadelphia, appearing in 71 games (six starts) while averaging 7.6 points on 41.7 percent shooting.

And while their roles as first-year players are significantly different, Wiggins is starting to acquit himself nicely, averaging 12.8 points on 39.6 percent shooting from the field and 37.5 percent from three.

As Bleacher Report’s Jonathan Wasserman recently opined, Wiggins is still starting his climb up the developmental curve, although his on-court mindset has undergone a positive transformation of late: 

But he’s been more aggressive with Kevin Martin out of the lineup, something that seemed like half the battle for him as a prospect at Kansas. And despite the ups and downs, nothing has changed with regard to his massive two-way ceiling. 

However, Wiggins still has eons to travel before he gets anywhere close to joining the elite company Bryant shares. And with 32,016 points separating the two, Wiggins can start mounting his charge up the leaderboard Tuesday when the Timberwolves square off against the Washington Wizards

Read more NBA news on BleacherReport.com

View full post on Bleacher Report – NBA

Kobe Bryant Passes Michael Jordan on NBA All-Time Scoring List

Kobe Bryant passes Michael Jordan on NBA scoring list

Kobe Bryant’s legacy grew just a bit more on Sunday night, as he passed his basketball hero Michael Jordan for third place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list.
The feat came about midway through the second quarter of the Los Angeles Lakers-Minnesota Timberwolves game, with Kobe securing the third spot on a second of two free-throws. The Black Mamba received a nice ovation from the crowd and the embrace of teammates and some Timberwolves opponents.

Kobe called passing Jordan “a huge honor” in speaking with ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne following the Lakers’ 100-94 win.
NBA All-Time Scoring List
1. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar – 38,387
2. Karl Malone – 36,928
3. Kobe Bryant – 32,310
4. Michael Jordan – 32, 292
The post Kobe Bryant Passes Michael Jordan on NBA All-Time Scoring List appeared first on Basketball Bicker by Emmanuel Altenor.

View full post on Yardbarker: NBA

Bryant passes Jordan for 3rd on scoring list (Yahoo Sports)

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - DECEMBER 14: Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers hugs teammates after he makes the basket that passes Michael Jordan for 3rd All Time on Scoring List during the game on December 14, 2014 at Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images)

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Kobe Bryant has reached rarefied air.


View full post on Yahoo Sports – NBA News

Nike Unveils ‘Mamba Moment’ Shoes to Honor Kobe Bryant Passing Michael Jordan

Moments after Los Angeles Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant passed Michael Jordan for third place on the NBA‘s all-time scoring list on Sunday night, Nike released a pair of shoes—the Kobe 9 Elite Low “Mamba Moment”—in the Black Mamba’s honor.

The sneakers are available to be customized with NikeID, which allows fans to pick the colors and add personalized text to the shoes. The Kobe 9 Elite Low “Mamba Moment” sneakers are available for $245.

[Nike]

Read more NBA news on BleacherReport.com

View full post on Bleacher Report – NBA

Kobe Bryant Passes Michael Jordan on NBA’s All-Time Scoring List

Kobe Bryant is better than Michael Jordan—at least as far as the NBA‘s all-time scoring list goes.

The Los Angeles Lakers star passed His Airness to move into third place in career scoring, reaching his 32,293rd point in the second quarter of Sunday’s game against Minnesota.  

Bryant’s passing of Jordan has been an inevitability for years, though health issues got in the way. The 36-year-old All-Star missed all but six games in 2013-14, first recovering from a torn Achilles and then suffering a season-ending knee injury.

But fully healthy for the first time in nearly two full years, Bryant has defied age as his Lakers have sunk to the bottom of the Western Conference. Bryant came into NIGHT X averaging XX points, XX rebounds and XX assists, stats that would arguably give him the best line of any player at his or close to his age.

Those points, however, have come at a cost. Bryant is shooting a career-low XX percent, his usage rate is on pace to be one of the highest in league history and the Lakers have floundered thanks to a roster bereft of elite talent.

The few shining moments for fans at the Staples Center this season have largely revolved around Bryant’s assault on the record books. He’s already set the NBA record for most missed field goals, passing Boston Celtics Hall of Famer John Havlicek’s 13,417 misses, but on a more positive note he became the first in history to reach 30,000 points and 6,000 assists. 

Lofty accomplishments as they may be, they pale in comparison to passing Jordan. Bryant and Jordan are forever joined at the hip as the former’s rise coincided with the greatest of all time’s stepping away from the limelight.

Everything about their games invited comparison. From their size (each 6’6″), their demeanor (not always the warmest and fuzziest) and the almost eerie similarities of their games—Jordan has even jokingly told reporters that Bryant “stole” his moves, something Bryant has acknowledged—debate has raged on about whether it’d ever be possible for Bryant to pass his predecessor on the all-time lists.

“The thing that I always bristled at was the notion that I learned everything that I know from Michael,” Bryant told Bleacher Report’s Kevin Ding this month. “That’s just not true. Hakeem Olajuwon deserves a lot of credit; Jerry West deserves a lot of credit. Oscar Robertson deserves a lot of credit. I really was a student of the game and watched everybody.

The Jordan vs. Kobe debate will rage long past Bryant’s career, largely sparked by children of a younger generation, but it’s not a discussion for today, tomorrow or the next day. This is undoubtedly a special moment, a crossed-off goal for Bryant’s twilight—even if he doesn’t want to admit it. 

“I don’t even know how many points he has,” Bryant told Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports. “I don’t even care.”

Bryant still has two all-time greats to pass in Karl Malone (36,928) and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (38,387). Whether he actually moves past either is a question wholly dependent on health and whether he wants to continue playing past his two-year contract that expires in 2016. Even if he continues scoring at this rate, it would probably take at least two more years to pass Malone, let alone Jabbar, who exists on a plane of his own.

Odds are that Jordan will be the last player Bryant passes on the scoring list. Which, given what we know about Bryant, might just be the way he wants it.

 

Follow Tyler Conway (@tylerconway22) on Twitter

Read more NBA news on BleacherReport.com

View full post on Bleacher Report – NBA

On Verge of New Scoring Mark, Kobe Bryant Says Journey, Not Record, Matters

SAN ANTONIO — Whether it is passing Michael Jordan for third place on the NBA‘s all-time scoring list or already assuming the lead in shots missed in league history, Kobe Bryant stresses that for him his career has been about soul to the hole.

“I’ve never been a record-driven person,” Bryant told Bleacher Report. “I’ve always been a person who really enjoys building the game that gets me to the record. I really enjoy that part of it more so than the actual accomplishment.

“The actual accomplishment is something that comes and goes, but the process of getting there is the part that I enjoy the most. So I’m not looking at it and saying, ‘I’ve got to get this’ or ‘I’ve got to get that.’ I really don’t trip over it. I just enjoy playing; I love playing. And I play, and I learn. That’s what I enjoy doing. What comes after that comes after that.”

The edgy, cold-hearted manner he goes about his craft, Bryant knows, has obscured the tenets of effort, ethic and improvement he has preached.

The resultant misunderstanding is something Bryant reluctantly accepts.

“People don’t listen,” he said. “They don’t listen. They don’t listen. No offense, but media people don’t stop and listen. They come up with an agenda of what they want to write, and whatever answer you give, they make it into the piece that they want to write.

“They don’t really sit and listen. You know what I mean? I’ve said these things before, but they write what they want to write for content’s sake or click-through sake or whatever the case may be.

“That’s fine. I don’t let it bother me at all. I’m very comfortable with where I am and who I am, and how I go about what I do or what I enjoy doing the most—which is learning and playing this game.”

Exhibit 1,487A (1,267 regular-season games plus 220 playoff games equal 1,487) was Tuesday night. After the Lakers‘ victory over Sacramento, Bryant wore a swollen upper lip from one collision; he had been awfully slow to get up a couple other times. He was so banged up that he said he just lay down all through halftime.

Byron Scott had found yet another helping to dump on Bryant’s plate, making him the point guard down the stretch of his usual 36-minute outing. The Lakers trailed by six points when Bryant re-entered with 6:45 to play, and he scored or assisted on the Lakers’ final 16 points en route to victory.

After all these years, it still hurts so good.

Persevering to win the game, whether on an epic stage or as a personal challenge between also-ran teams, is still something to savor.

Asked how he is going to make it with 60 games left if he’s so beaten up now, Bryant said: “I don’t know. Just take it day to day, day to day. Continue to do the therapy and stretching and get out there and try to perform.”

The smile did not leave his face the whole time he was speaking.

If Bryant were an old-time blacksmith, he’d rise with the birds and revel in forging something with that hammer and anvil all alone, long before the glory of flaunting his finished project for public consumption.

It should be no surprise that Bryant spent what might be the eve of his passing-Jordan game Friday night engrossed in behind-the-scenes prep. With 31 points in San Antonio, Bryant will eclipse Jordan and trail only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Karl Malone in all-time NBA scoring.

The Lakers scrimmaged in practice at home Thursday before leaving for San Antonio. Bryant enjoyed it immensely—and talked even more immense heaps of trash the way he has in so many practice matchups before.   

Scott has reduced the practice time for Bryant to save his energy for games, evoking memories of the 2010-11 Lakers’ failed three-peat—when Phil Jackson and Bryant agreed to milk his bum knee to the finish by not practicing. The unique community that gets built up by Bryant’s frenetic competitiveness within a group was lacking that season, and neither the journey nor destination proved satisfying.

“A wasted year of my life,” Bryant memorably declared.

 

As far as regrets, Bryant legitimately laments how much more Del Harris could’ve played him in games those first two seasons. But you don’t go the way Bryant has gone in practice then until now if you’re just going for records.

The points you score in practice, by the way, don’t count toward your career record.

And there’s something else, too, which six-time NBA champion Abdul-Jabbar will tell you.

The points you score in the playoffs don’t count toward that career total, either.

The things that count, the things that people judge him by,” Abdul-Jabbar said on NBA TV about Bryant, “he has already achieved.”

Asked to reflect on those achievements, Bryant will point to his NBA championships far ahead of this big pile of points.

Yes, even though Michael has more rings, 6-5.

“I’ve always understood the purpose of playing in the NBA, on a team, with an organization, is to have the end goal of winning championships,” said Bryant, who spoke with B/R recently about the inspiration and relation Jordan has provided as Bryant’s basketball big brother. “And I always kind of sit back and let people banter back and forth for media’s sake or whatever or what critics want to say. But at the end of the day, we play to win championships—and I’ve got five of ‘em. That’s a pretty damn good number.

“No matter how you slice it. You can cut it a million different ways. But five is five.”

 

Kevin Ding is an NBA senior writer for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter, @KevinDing.

Read more NBA news on BleacherReport.com

View full post on Bleacher Report – NBA

Kobe Bryant Calls Los Angeles Lakers ‘Soft Like Charmin’

Pat yourself on the back if you had Dec. 11 as the day Kobe Bryant‘s frustration with the Los Angeles Lakers would reach its boiling point.

Bryant, fed up with a 6-16 record, his team’s league-worst defense and, apparently, a rotten day of practice, lashed out, per Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times:

Now, to be fair, Kobe may not have been completely serious in his comments.

But the tone of their delivery hardly matters. The message came from the heart.

Bryant’s outburst is equal parts futile, understandable and predictable.

It’s futile because the Lakers don’t have the talent to compete on either end, and no amount of prodding from Kobe or head coach Byron Scott can change that.

It’s understandable because Bryant has been pushing himself far past the point any 36-year-old NBA player should. While there’s no denying Kobe’s efforts as a one-man wrecking crew have marginalized his teammates and may even be the reason they’ve been so punchless, it’s also true that he’s killing himself on a nightly basis trying to keep his team afloat.

He’s not getting help, and even if that’s partly his own fault, Bryant is allowed to voice frustration that his 35.4 minutes per game have yielded so few wins.

It’s predictable because this is who Kobe is—a maniacally competitive force of nature that breaks down his teammates and then rages at the fact that they’ve fallen apart.

There was a time when Bryant’s wrath would have motivated teammates to play better. A time when his own productivity and efficiency were undeniably good enough to give his criticism credence. Now, though, he’s hogging the ball, shooting 39 percent from the field and hurting the Lakers on both ends—as indicated by his team-worst on- and off-court splits, per NBA.com.

Ian Levy broke it down like this in a piece for The Cauldron:

To be clear, none of this is meant to (or can) settle any of the long-standing debates over Kobe’s historic value and the prism through which statistics view him. This is simply a player coming to the end of his career, and playing — while not poorly, per se — in a way that’s neither good nor particularly helpful to his team.

The Lakers are in a heap of trouble, and while Bryant may be right about their effort level and overall fortitude, he’s overlooking the fact that his demeanor and playing style contribute to those problems. Until that changes, the Lakers will continue to struggle.

And Bryant will continue to be frustrated.

Read more NBA news on BleacherReport.com

View full post on Bleacher Report – NBA

Kobe Bryant and Teammates Wear ‘I Can’t Breathe’ Shirts Before Lakers-Kings

Kobe Bryant and his Los Angeles Lakers teammates are the newest on a growing list of professional athletes to warm up in “I Can’t Breathe” T-shirts, donning them prior to their home tilt with the Sacramento Kings on Tuesday. 

The team’s official Twitter feed provided a snapshot:

The shirts quote the last words of Eric Garner, who died after New York officer Daniel Pantaleo applied a chokehold. A Staten Island grand jury recently chose not to indict the officer, sparking protests across the country. 

Showing support for Garner, his family and the protests, Chicago Bulls guard Derrick Rose donned the shirt before Saturday’s game against the Golden State Warriors. On Monday, the Brooklyn Nets and Cleveland Cavaliers also wore the shirts, per Chris Haynes of the Northeast Ohio Media Group and Michael Lee of The Washington Post:

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver recently told Yahoo Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski, “I respect Derrick Rose and all of our players for voicing their personal views on important issues but my preference would be for players to abide by our on-court attire rules.”

It doesn’t appear that Silver’s stance is stopping the NBA’s stars from showing their support. 

Read more NBA news on BleacherReport.com

View full post on Bleacher Report – NBA

Kobe Bryant Launching Los Angeles Lakers Farewell Tour in Historical Fashion

The Los Angeles Lakers aren’t winning many games these days, but reigning superstar Kobe Bryant seems intent on going out in style—defying Father Time, breaking records and leaving it all on the floor every night.

The highest-paid baller in the NBA has two years left on his current contract—otherwise known as his farewell tour.

Will he in fact retire at the end of his 20th season? At his current barn-burning rate of 25.2 points in 35.4 hard minutes per game through 21 games played, it’s hard to imagine he’ll have anything left in the tank when his contract runs out. 

Never say never with the Mamba, however. As Mark Medina for the Los Angeles Daily News recently reported, Lakers coach Byron Scott is hoping to persuade the winner of five NBA titles to keep it rolling: “If we put something together that excites him, we’ll have a real good chance of him saying he’ll play another year and give it another shot. That’s what we plan to do.”

Bryant’s response a day later, also per Medina, was noncommittal:

If I want to play, I’ll play. I tend to make my own decisions. If I don’t want to play, I won’t play. It’s just a feeling on if I want to go through the process of being ready every single day and the amount of commitment that it takes.

For now, fans will simply have to watch and marvel as the 36-year-old puts a younger generation of players to shame.

So far this season, Bryant has already become the only player in history to surpass 30,000 career points and 6,000 assists. In addition, his scoring average is off the charts for an athlete with so much wear on the tires. Per ESPN Stats & Info, no other player has averaged more than 14.6 points per game in his 19th season or later.

Milestones seem to accrue with each passing game but soon, one of the most closely watched records will be broached—Bryant is just 63 games away from passing Michael Jordan for third on the all-time scoring list.

But despite incontrovertible evidence of greatness and accomplishments, there is still the inevitable media scrutiny of a sports figure who has been as polarizing as any in modern history.

Questions continue to be raised about the number of shots he hoists up, the salary he draws or a mercurial attitude that some link to the team’s perceived inability to attract high-caliber free agents.

In October, Henry Abbott wrote an article for ESPN The Magazine, penning the following:

By the old points-per-game measure, he was not just a perennial All-Star but one of the best players ever. But the league has changed around Bryant, and swiftly. The movement of people and the ball, 3s, rim attacks, coordinated defensive effort and generating open shots for teammates are what’s winning now. Subsuming ego and glorifying teammates is a winning NBA strategy, and it’s what D’Antoni and Nash attempted to bring to the Lakers.

That would seem to presume D’Antoni’s era with the Purple and Gold was more effective and team-conscious than the years spent playing under Phil Jackson and his ball-moving triangle offense.

It also suggests that Bryant’s extraordinary career assists total is more a function of his past rather than present. The record would indicate otherwise—the shooting guard’s current rate of 4.8 dimes per game mirrors his career average of 4.8.

Coincidentally, his 25.2 points per game, 5.1 rebounds and 1.3 steals so far this season are also remarkably consistent with his career average of 25.5 points, 5.3 boards and 1.5 pockets picked.

And then there is the notion that a lengthy series of warm and fuzzy curtain calls is even vaguely interesting to one of the fiercest competitors to ever play the game.

In a Sports Illustrated long-form article, Chris Ballard wrote:

Never the type for farewell tours, Bryant bristles at the idea of parading from arena to arena, receiving parting gifts and teary-eyed salutes. ‘No, no, no, no, I’m good,’ he says, waving his hands. ‘If you booed me for 18, 19 years, boo me for the 20th. That’s the game, man.’

Still endlessly fascinated with the game, Bryant is doing what he has always done—walking onto a hardwood court and competing at an elite level. He has answered the questions of whether he could come back after Achilles surgery, or after fracturing his knee last season.

Being one of the league’s leading scorers this season is not smoke and mirrors, nor is it fool’s gold on a bad team.

It is simply playing the game in real time, against real opponents.

He is the last Laker from the team’s halcyon days. Former championship teammates still playing in the NBA grow ever more rare—only Pau Gasol with the Chicago Bulls, Trevor Ariza with the Houston Rockets and Jordan Farmar with the Los Angeles Clippers remain active.

Bryant tries to marshal energy early in quarters, setting up teammates and acting as a decoy. He hobbles like an old Hollywood stuntman until it’s time to sprint. Those announcing the games incessantly question what he’ll have left in crunch time.

Yet, he continues playing a young man’s minutes, still sets nasty picks and wields sharp elbows. And he collects most of his points in a collision alley known as contested two-point land.

Now a lion in winter, No. 24 still has, at least, the majority of two seasons ahead of him.

We don’t know how much time he has left.

But until the last fadeaway jumper arcs through a bank of blinding lights—either finding the net or clanking off the iron—Kobe Bryant will continue making basketball history.

Read more NBA news on BleacherReport.com

View full post on Bleacher Report – NBA

Kobe Bryant and Rajon Rondo have breakfast, spark trade rumors

More than a few people feel that the Los Angeles Lakers are the favorites to land Rajon Rondo when he becomes a free agent this summer, if not sooner. By having breakfast with the Boston Celtics point guard, Kobe Bryant is well aware that he is fueling the speculation. The Lakers are in Boston to…Read More

View full post on Yardbarker: NBA

« Previous PageNext Page »