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Jamal Crawford introduces Kobe Bryant as this generation’s Michael Jordan (Video)

Is Kobe Bryant this generation’s Michael Jordan? Jamal Crawford certainly thinks so.

Kobe Michael JordanKobe was in Seattle for the weekend for a few different events, including the Seattle Basketball Pro-Am. All proceeds from the Pro-Am go to the Jamal Crawford Foundation, where Jamal has been a fixture since he was a teenager. You could tell that Crawford was excited to have Kobe in attendance, because he was all jacked up and gave Kobe a nice introduction, calling him “this generation’s Michael Jordan.”

Though the comparison to Michael Jordan will probably rankle some people, and the merits of whether or not there is such a thing as another Michael Jordan are debatable, Kobe is probably the closest thing to a generation’s Michael Jordan.

Kobe is a 16-time All-Star, 5-time NBA champion, two-time Finals MVP and two-time scoring champion. Jordan won six titles, six Finals MVPs, five regular season MVPs, was a 10-time scoring champion and 14-time All-Star.

Few players can stack up with Michael Jordan, but Kobe is probably the closest to him from our generation.

And if Kobe’s weekend in Seattle is any indication, he might even be as good at baseball as MJ. Did you see the home run he hit at Richard Sherman’s celebrity softball game at Safeco Field?

Pau Gasol: It was difficult telling Kobe Bryant I was leaving

Kobe Bryant Pau GasolPau Gasol chose to leave the Los Angeles Lakers in free agency to sign with the Chicago Bulls, and he says one of the toughest parts was informing close friend Kobe Bryant about his decision.

Kobe and Pau have been teammates since Gasol was traded from the Grizzlies to the Lakers in 2008. Pau became a three-time All-Star with the Lakers and won two championships with the team. The two were leaders on the squad, and every time Pau was mentioned in trade talks, Kobe was there to back and support him.

But this was Pau’s first time as a free agent, and the allure of playing for a more competitive team and different organization was too much, so he signed with the Bulls — even though he would have made more with the Lakers.

Telling Kobe about the decision was tough for him.

“It was difficult. We have a close friendship,” Gasol said Friday via ESPN. “We’ve been through a lot together, and I’m sure I will miss him. But we talked to each other and our relationship goes beyond basketball and we’ll always have a friendship.

“It was difficult to talk to him, but he was very supportive and he understood. He just said I had to do what was best for me and what felt right for me and he was going to support me no matter what. That’s what friends and brothers do, and that’s what we are.”

You might have some questions about whether or not Kobe would be supportive of a friend leaving him, but it says a lot about their friendship that Kobe understood. Heck, how could anyone blame Pau for finally leaving? The Lakers shopped him year-in and year-out the last several seasons. Why wouldn’t he want to test the market and see what other franchises have to offer?

Chest bump to Pro Basketball Talk

Kobe Bryant flies back from Europe vacation to meet with Carmelo Anthony

Kobe-Bryant-Carmelo-AnthonyCarmelo Anthony will continue his free agency tour on Thursday by visiting with the Los Angeles Lakers. No pitch to a superstar free agent would be complete for the Lakers without their five-time NBA champion and 16-time All-Star. That’s why Kobe Bryant reportedly flew back to LA from a European vacation late Wednesday night.

As ESPNLosAngeles.com’s Ramona Shelburne noted, Bryant and Anthony are close friends. Kobe has been courting Carmelo for quite a while, but he still felt he should be present when the team officially meets with the 30-year-old. While the Lakers — like all other teams — have reportedly made LeBron James their No. 1 target, it sounds like Melo can hardly be called Plan B.

Anthony is far from a consolation prize, however. Sources indicate the Lakers are enamored with his game and believe he would complement Bryant well. The Lakers hope to pair the two wings with center Pau Gasol, with whom they met on the first day of free agency.

Gasol has already indicated that the Lakers will have to make some significant changes in order for him to re-sign with the team, and I’m sure signing someone like Anthony and bringing in a new head coach would be enough to persuade him.

The Lakers are said to have delayed their coaching search so that free agents like Anthony or LeBron could pick their head coach if they decided to sign with LA.

While having Kobe fly in to state his case is probably flattering, Anthony has to decide if the Lakers give him the best chance of capturing his first NBA title. Kobe is 35 and has suffered significant injuries in each of the past two seasons. Gasol will turn 34 on Sunday and hasn’t exactly been a model of health, either.

If Anthony is going to leave New York (and it doesn’t sound like he is), you would think the Chicago Bulls and Houston Rockets would be far more appealing.

Kobe Bryant thanks Hornets for trading him to Lakers

Prior to putting on the purple & gold of the Los Angeles Lakers, and winning five NBA championships and an MVP Award, Kobe Bryant was a member of the Charlotte Hornets, briefly.

After being selected with the 13th overall pick in the 1996 Draft by the Hornets, Bryant was famously traded to the Lakers for Vlade Divac. And the rest is history.

18 years later, Bryant took the opportunity to thank the Hornets for the trade that sent to him L.A. by posting the above collage on his Instagram account with the following caption:

“On this day 18yrs ago the hornets told me right after they drafted me that they had no use for me and were going to trade me. #thanku #Believe #usmnt #lakers #jwest #drbuss #letsGo #USA”

The Mamba never forgets.

Sydney Leroux partners with Kobe Bryant’s drink company

Sydney-Leroux

One of our favorite soccer players in the world is officially partners with Kobe Bryant and his sports drink. Bryant, who owns more than a 10% stake in BodyArmor Super Drink, announced on Thursday that Sydney Leroux is the first female athlete the beverage company has signed.

“Proud to announce @drinkbodyarmor has signed our first female athlete @sydneyleroux,” Kobe wrote on Instagram. “She’s taking over the @drinkbodyarmor Twitter handle and live tweeting during #usaVgermany match #upgradetheroster #upgradetheathlete #upgradeyoursportsdrink #ladymamba.”

Lady mamba? That’s some serious praise from the five-time NBA champion. In addition to being a soccer player, Leroux has also tried her hand at boxing and even toyed with golf. She also happens to absolutely dominate a bikini. Her endorsement of BodyArmor has won me over.

Kobe Bryant uses LeBron’s cramps to plug his Body Armor sports drink

Kobe Bryant Body Armor drink

Kobe Bryant wasn’t about to sit back and watch the LeBron James “cramp game” take place without getting a piece of the action. He — or most likely his marketing reps — seized the opportunity to plug Kobe’s sports drink — Body Armor.

As you can see above, Kobe’s Instagram account shared a photo of the Body Armor sports drink along with this commentary:

“Pro and college players should be allowed to CHOOSE what sports drink hydrates them the best and not be FORCED to drink LEAGUE SPONSORS. #AthletesChoice 2 much on the line for cramping #UpgradeYourSportsDrink @drinkbodyarmor #AthletesFirst”

Gatorade, which is the official league sponsor of the NBA, went hard after LeBron for cramping during Game 1 of the NBA Finals. In the ultimate irony, we learned that LeBron was actually drinking Gatorade to hydrate during the game because the league only gives players two options on the bench — water or Gatorade.

Now that Gatorade can’t talk trash, that leaves us with Kobe’s sports drink as an alternative. We doubt the outcome would have been any different with his drink.

Byron Scott: I’m the perfect guy for Lakers job; Kobe Bryant has to change his game

Byron-ScottByron Scott believes he is the right man to coach the Los Angeles Lakers. The former Cleveland Cavaliers coach said as much during an interview with ESPN LA 710 this week, claiming he would be a “great fit” with the Lakers partly because of his relationship with Kobe Bryant.

“I am the perfect guy for this job,” Scott said, as transcribed by Pro Basketball Talk. “I’ve got a great relationship with Kobe. I know the team, know the roster, watched them all season long. And I just think it would be a great fit.”

The Lakers are coming off one of their worst seasons in team history. They won just 27 games under Mike D’Antoni, who was a lame duck for most of the year. Scott found no success in three years with the Cavs and was fired during the 2012-2013 season. His coaching resume is not impressive, so an endorsement from Kobe might be his best bet.

How comfortable does Scott feel with Kobe? Comfortable enough to talk about how Bryant will have to change his game going forward.

“Obviously, if I get the job, the first conversation with Kobe,” Scott said. “We have to talk about the future of the Los Angles Lakers. We have to also talk about the type of direction we’re going to be taking and also talk about the type of game that he’s going to be playing, because he’s going to have to change his game a little bit, and I think he knows that.

“We’ve got to sit down and talk about the minutes and things like that. We’ve just got to come to an agreement. But he knows me. I’m an old-school type guy, old-school type guy. … But I think the biggest thing is, No. 1, I respect the hell out of Kobe, and I think he respects me. That’s the first hurdle you’ve got to get past, and then other things, we’ll solve all those little issues.”

Kobe has dealt with some issues of mortality over the past year or so. He battled back from an Achilles injury only to suffer another serious injury and appear in just six games this past season. There’s no way he’ll ever be the player he once was, and Scott understands that. Getting Kobe to understand that could be more of a challenge. Whether or not Scott is the man to handle that challenge is for the Lakers to decide.