There are a number of reasons why Kobe Bryant has not given any thought to making an NBA comeback since he retired in 2016, and the future Hall of Famer insists he is not envious that the Los Angeles Lakers appear poised to make a title run without him. In fact, he considers the talent on the current roster to be a deterrent.
In an appearance on the “Ledlow & Parker” podcast with Kristen Ledlow and Candace Parker this week, Kobe was asked if he would consider coming out of retirement if there were a 100 percent guarantee he would win his sixth NBA championship. He responded with an emphatic “no,” saying that he likes to win his rings “the hard way.”
Would @kobebryant return to the NBA if he were guaranteed a ring?
KOBE: No. No. No. No. I like my rings the hard way. I like to fight through them. I don’t like to jump into the easy route.”
— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) October 30, 2019
“I like fighting through them and earning them that way,” Bryant said. “I don’t like to, you know, jump into the easy route, so I wouldn’t take it.”
Kobe then said he feels picking either team in LA would be the “easy route” after the offseasons both the Lakers and Clippers had. Of course, critics will point to the fact that Kobe won three of his championships with Shaquille O’Neal, and some might consider that an easier route than the one other champions have had to take.
Either way, it’s no surprise would not want to join a superteam that has already been established. We heard similar remarks from Shaq not that long ago, and both players take pride in the fact that their championships were something they helped build rather than latched onto. LeBron probably doesn’t care what people say as long as he wins another ring.
Mark Cuban has operated differently than most NBA owners over the previous 19 seasons, frequently trading away draft picks for high-level players, signing top free agents to max deals and almost always swinging for the fences. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, but that never stops Cuban from trying.
And as it turns out, nothing is off limits for Cuban, who told “Fair Game with Kristine Leahy” on Monday that he very nearly pulled off a trade that would have landed both Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal in Dallas.
— ShowtimeForum (@ShowtimeForum) October 22, 2019
Cuban explained that the deal, which he believed to be done at the time, included Jason Terry, Josh Howard and multiple picks. However, before pulling the trigger, Lakers owner Jerry Buss had one final conversation with Kobe, who then decided he wanted to remain in Los Angeles.
The same could not be said for Shaq. Or so says Cuban.
“Come and get me,” Cuban recalled Shaq telling him.
Shaq never ended up in Dallas however, instead moving onto the Miami Heat, Phoenix Suns, Cleveland Cavaliers and Boston Celtics after his nine seasons in Los Angeles. Bryant, of course, retired where he began and is widely respected for it.
Still, could you imagine what Kobe, Shaq and Dirk Nowitzki could have done for the Mavericks? That would have been the most-dominating big-3 in NBA history.
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.
Attendees did strength training, on-court training and video work with Kobe, noted Lakers skills coach Phil Handy and more. Other names I've heard as participants: Jamal Murray, Isaiah Thomas, John Collins, Buddy Hield, Aaron Gordon, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Jordan Clarkson
— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) September 26, 2019
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.
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.
— LakeShowWorld (@LakeShowWorld) September 10, 2019
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.
— Stadium (@Stadium) September 26, 2019
“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.
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 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.
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A post shared by Kobe Bryant (@kobebryant) on
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.
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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
A post shared by Kobe Bryant (@kobebryant) on
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.
DAMN, COACH KOBE!
"The 7th player missed this game for a dance recital so that should tell you where her focus was at this time." pic.twitter.com/kekErfRBmR
— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) September 11, 2019
After receiving negative feedback and realizing people thought he was throwing shade at the girl, Bryant clarified and edited his caption.
— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) September 11, 2019
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's review of Range vs. Kobe's review of his team pic.twitter.com/uWIkHVmZi9
— Kevin O'Connor (@KevinOConnorNBA) September 11, 2019
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.
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.