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Monday, October 21, 2019

Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant reportedly held invite-only training camp for NBA stars

Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant is doing his best to impart the “Mamba Mentality” to today’s NBA players.

Bryant held an invite-only training camp at his Mamba Sports Academy in Thousand Oaks, Calif. last month, according to the New York Times’ Marc Stein. Stein says the list of attendees included Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, Kyrie Irving, De’Aaron Fox, Jamal Murray, Isaiah Thomas, John Collins, Buddy Hield, Aaron Gordon, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Jordan Clarkson.

Stein says the group did strength training, on-court training, and video work with Kobe.

Kobe helping Kawhi and Paul George makes it seem like Bryant is working to help the LA Clippers take down his former team, the Lakers. But Caldwell-Pope is a member of the Lakers, and maybe there were other Lakers; we don’t know the entire list of participants.

Bryant has gotten active in a coaching role since retiring. Not only is he helping these NBA players, but he’s also coached his daughter’s youth teams.

Let’s just hope whatever advice he provided these players produces better results than what happened with another player Kobe trained last year.

Dwight Howard appreciates Kobe Bryant’s latest comments about him

Dwight Howard

Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard infamously butted heads during their lone season together with the Los Angeles Lakers, but Kobe believes Howard will be in a better position to succeed in LA seven years later. Howard agrees.

In a recent appearance on “The Talk” on CBS, Bryant said he feels Howard is ready to “do whatever is necessary to help this team” in his second stint with the Lakers, and Kobe is confident Howard will accomplish that.

Howard was asked about Bryant’s remarks in an interview with Shams Charania of Stadium, and he said he appreciates Kobe saying that and agrees with the five-time NBA champion.

“I haven’t spoken to him. I appreciate him saying that,” Howard said. “He didn’t have to. He’s right.”

It’s interesting that Howard feels another Lakers legend’s opinion of him is “irrelevant” but appreciates what Kobe said, though it’s not surprising. Howard has historically not responded well to negative criticism, which is something he claims he has tried to work on in recent years.

There are a number of reasons Bryant and Howard clashed, but Kobe didn’t really hide how he felt about Dwight during that season. It’s probably easier for Kobe to compliment Howard when he doesn’t have to share a locker room with him.

Kobe Bryant explains how Rob Pelinka messed up Heath Ledger story

Kobe Bryant

Los Angeles Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka was caught in a bizarre lie earlier this year involving an alleged meeting between Kobe Bryant and late Oscar-winning actor Heath Ledger. As it turns out, he didn’t fabricate the entire story.

Maybe just the important parts.

When the Lakers hosted The Rock to speak at their “Genius Series” back in March, Pelinka shared a story about the time Kobe was so inspired by “The Dark Knight” that he sat down for dinner with Ledger to discuss his portrayal of The Joker in the film. However, the movie was released in July 2008, which was six months after Ledger’s death, and no such meeting ever took place.

Pelinka may have just gotten the details mixed up. During a recent appearance on the “Knuckleheads” podcast with Quentin Richardson and Darius Miles, Bryant explained that he was inspired by Ledger’s performance in “The Dark Knight” and that it did influence the way he prepared for a game at Madison Square Garden in 2009, but he never met with the actor.

“I had to find that space. I didn’t go out to dinner in New York. I stayed in my room. This is actually the story Rob told, that he got confused about, the Heath Ledger stuff,” Bryant said, as transcribed by Pete Blackburn of CBS Sports. “Because I stayed up watching Batman, and watching Heath Ledger. And then I went and started researching about Heath Ledger, and how he got into character and how he just became all-consuming. That inspired me to go into my Garden mode. When I go in there I don’t want to say hi to the gen — I don’t want say hi to these people — I don’t wanna talk to nobody. Everybody leave me alone.”

That’s less embarrassing for Pelinka than if he had made the entire story up. It seemed like there was no way he could just blatantly lie like that, though Kobe could have hung him out to dry if he wanted to. With some of the negative stories that came out about Pelinka along with the Ledger anecdote, Kobe probably wanted to go easy on him.

Kobe Bryant crushed for Instagram comment about girl missing game for dance recital

Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant was crushed on Twitter Wednesday for an Instagram comment he made about a girl who missed a game on the girls’ basketball team he coaches.

Bryant has four daughters and coaches one, Gianna (Gigi), at basketball. Bryant frequently posts photos of the teams he coaches and touts how his “Mamba Mentality” and coaching style has helped them improve. For instance, he recently boasted that one of his teams beat an opponent they’d lost to 22-21 two years ago, by a score of 115-27 this time.

On Wednesday, he shared a new post on Instagram that shows how dissatisfied his players were by finishing in fourth place two years ago. He says many of the girls have remained with him to work hard and improve.

Here’s the caption: “Here’s our fourth place “winners” picture lol six of the kids in the picture stayed with me and worked every single day to get better and continue to work to this day. The 7th player (not in pic) missed this game for a dance recital so that should tell you where her focus was at this time, meaning she enjoyed dance more than ball which is fine. Now? She eats sleeps and breaths the game. So from this original group of 7 we have added a player TWO years YOUNGER (6th grade now), a player who’s team in our area folded and a player who’s family moved here from Tennessee. The beauty of coaching is growing the players from the ground up. That journey continues #mambas #2yearsago”.

What’s wrong with that caption? Nothing. But that wasn’t Bryant’s original caption. Bryant’s original caption led some to believe he was shading the girl for missing basketball for a dance recital.

“The 7th player missed this game for a dance recital so that should tell you where her focus was at this time,” Bryant’s original caption said.

After receiving negative feedback and realizing people thought he was throwing shade at the girl, Bryant clarified and edited his caption.

Kevin O’Connor even pointed out how Kobe seemingly taking aim at a girl for choosing dance over basketball went against Bryant’s stated beliefs about the benefits of young kids doing multiple sports and activities, which was evidenced by his review of David Epstein’s book, “Range.”

Kobe may have corrected things, but not before the Twitter mob came after him. He really is a different dude, which is why the Mamba Army loves him.

Shaq had ‘code’ to get Lakers to stop passing to Kobe Bryant

Shaq TNT

Former NBA player Raja Bell revealed a juicy nugget about Shaquille O’Neal and an in-game “code” he had with his Los Angeles Lakers teammates.

O’Neal and Bryant have gone back-and-forth over the years trading barbs. However, a story relayed by O’Neal’s former teammate tells just how much frustration O’Neal had towards Bryant at times when they were teammates due to Kobe’s ball-hogging ways.

During the CBS Sports’ “Kanell and Bell” podcast, Bell shared that O’Neal had a “secret code” he would use to get teammates to stop passing the ball to Bryant.

Bell learned of Shaq’s code because O’Neal also used it in Phoenix to stop Gordan Giricek from ruining the Suns’ offensive flow in the 2007-08 season.

“Shaq told me a story. We had a kid named Gordan Giricek on our Suns team, he had gotten there, and Gordon would go in the game, and Gordon was about his buckets. So Gordon would get in, and no matter what we were doing, no matter what the flow or the chemistry was, Gordon would be just, you know, shooting the ball. Gordon was my guy, I played with him in Utah.

“But Shaq started saying ‘hey guys, this is the symbol.’ (twitches thumbs downward) When I give you this, Gordon doesn’t get the ball anymore.’ And I’m like ‘dude what is the background on that, where’d you come up with that?’ And he was like ‘when Kobe was young, he would be going in and just trying to get ’em, so the rest of us had a universal kind of code that if we looked at each other and went (gives signal) then that meant Kobe didn’t get the ball anymore.'”

You know someone’s not working in the framework of a team’s offense when players develop a secret code to stop passing them the ball.

Bryant said last month that he had “no beef” with O’Neal after Bryant’s criticism of O’Neal’s work ethic went viral. It will be interesting to see if Bryant has any response to this revelation by Bell or whether he will shrug it off.

Gilbert Arenas tells incredible Kobe Bryant-Michael Jordan revenge story

Kobe Bryant

Did Kobe Bryant drop 55 points on Michael Jordan all to get revenge on MJ over a comment the six-time champion made during a prior game between their teams? That’s what one player says happened.

Gilbert Arenas shared a great Kobe story on “The No Chill Podcast” about what led to Kobe’s huge game against His Airness in 2003. According to Arenas, during a prior game between MJ’s Washington Wizards and Bryant’s Los Angeles Lakers in DC, Jordan’s Wizards got the win. After the victory, Jordan supposedly told Bryant that the youngster could wear MJ’s shoes on the court but he would never be able to “fill these shoes.” This was in 2003 when a 24-year-old Kobe was wearing Jordan model shoes.

Arenas says Kobe went silent and didn’t talk to his team for two weeks as he got mentally prepared for the rematch between the teams, which took place on March 28 at Staples Center.

The Lakers won the rematch 108-94, getting 55 from Kobe on 15/29 shooting including 9/13 on threes. MJ, who had turned 40 by that point, scored 27 points in the loss. Bryant sure showed up his role model.

It’s a great story, though we must note Arenas’ timeline seems a little off. The first game between the Wizards and Lakers that season took place on Nov. 8, very early in the season. Washington won the game 100-99, getting 25 from Jordan on 9/14 shooting. Bryant shot 8/21 in the loss.

The main point is still the same: Bryant was motivated to show up his idol and did.

Bryant modeled his game after Jordan as this video shows. There is no doubt he would have wanted to be at his best against Jordan, who retired after that season.

Below is the video of Arenas sharing the story:

Kobe Bryant explains why he hates analytics in NBA

Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant is not a fan of the statistically-driven movement in the current NBA known as “analytics.”

Bryant joined ESPN’s TV crew from the US Open on Thursday night to talk about tennis, which he began playing after retiring from the NBA. He is putting out a tennis book through his production company called “Legacy and the Queen” that he was promoting.

During his appearance, Bryant was asked by John McEnroe what he thinks of analytics.

“I hate it,” Kobe said. “It’s ridiculous. What numbers don’t tell you is they don’t tell you the emotion. I don’t like analytics.

“You see the numbers, but the numbers don’t tell you how or why they are the way they are. You have to be able to feel that, to sense that. Tendencies.”

Bryant then gave an example to illustrate his point. He said a stat could tell you that a player goes to his left 60 percent of the time, but the stat won’t tell you the player isn’t really comfortable going to his left and would prefer to go to his right. He says that’s the sort of thing you find out by scouting and watching video.

Bryant’s stance on analytics shouldn’t be too surprising. Analytics have shown that an optimal strategy for scoring points (and ultimately winning) is to take 3-point shots because they’re 50 percent more valuable than two-point shots, and to take high-percentage twos, which tend to be close to the basket. Kobe’s game was based very much on long two-point shots, which don’t fit in as well with the analytically-driven strategy.

He’s right in a sense. Analytics can help with strategy, such as showing why going 2-for-1 on possessions late in quarters is beneficial, or in telling players which shots they tend to make more than others. But analytics don’t give you the whole picture, and they should not be taken as an absolute. If people declined to deviate from the advised analytics strategy, you wouldn’t have had CJ McCollum beating the Nuggets in the playoffs by taking mid-range jumpers.

Bryant isn’t alone in this anti-analytics view. A current star gave his explanation for why he doesn’t like them either.