An old tweet from Kobe Bryant went viral on Tuesday night after the Milwaukee Bucks won the championship.
Giannis Antetokounmpo made his first All-Star team in 2016-2017, which was his fourth year in the league. Antetokounmpo was on a clear trajectory of improvement, but few saw an MVP in his future at that point. Kobe Bryant did.
That summer, Giannis asked Kobe what his challenge would be. Bryant challenged the Greek Freak to win an NBA MVP Award.
Two seasons later, Antetokounmpo took home his first of two NBA MVP Awards.
After Giannis won his first MVP, Bryant went to the next step. He challenged Giannis to win a championship.
That was in June, 2019. Bryant tragically died in a helicopter crash seven months later.
But two years after the challenge, Antetokounmpo came through.
Bryant is no longer around to issue a new challenge that pushes Antetokounmpo. But maybe he would tell Giannis to go for a second championship. And at the rate Giannis is going, he will accomplish that feat in two years.
Devin Booker is one of several young NBA stars who worked with Kobe Bryant before the Hall of Famer tragically died last year, but the Phoenix Suns star does not think comparisons between him and Kobe are appropriate.
Booker has been outstanding in his first ever postseason. He’s drawn some comparisons to Bryant along the way, and he was asked about those during an appearance on ESPN’s “The Jump” Monday. Booker said he tries to take “bits and pieces of (Kobe’s) mentality and approach,” but he doesn’t want to be compared to him.
Booker has averaged 30.0 points per game in the NBA Finals. He scored 40 points in Game 4 and 42 in Game 5, but Phoenix lost both. He also dropped 46 points in the Suns’ series-clinching win against the Los Angeles Lakers earlier in the postseason, and he said he felt Bryant’s presence then.
If you remember, Kobe gave Booker an awesome gift when Booker was a rookie. You can understand why Booker feels a close connection to Bryant and would be uncomfortable with the comparisons now.
A Nike shoe that was designed to honor Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna has recently somehow leaked, and Vanessa Bryant is extremely upset over the situation.
In an Instagram post on Thursday, Vanessa explained that she designed the shoe in honor of Gianna. She said the sneaker was going to be called the “MAMBACITA” but that she never approved it for sale. Vanessa also said Nike never sent her or her family any pairs of the shoes and asked for help in figuring out how they leaked.
“This is a shoe I worked on in honor of my daughter, Gianna,” Vanessa wrote. “It was going to be called the MAMBACITA shoe as an exclusive black and white colorway on her daddy’s shoes. I picked the colors in honor of her uniform, the number 2 she wore just like her uniform, the inside pattern, Kobe and Gigi on the back in gold instead of Kobe’s signature, the inside shoe details (butterfly, wings, halo), etc. The MAMBACITA shoes are NOT approved for sale.
“I wanted it to be sold to honor my daughter with ALL of the proceeds benefitting @mambamambacitasports foundation but I did not re-sign the Nike contract and decided not to sell these shoes. (The MAMBACITA shoes were not approved to be made in the first place). Nike has NOT sent any of these pairs to me and my girls. I do not know how someone else has their hands on shoes I designed in honor of my daughter, Gigi, and we don’t. I hope these shoes did not get sold. @nike.”
You can see Vanessa’s full post below, which includes a photo of the shoe:
One Instagram user who shared photos of the shoe last month says he does not have a pair in his possession. The user, whose handle is brandon1an, claims the leak came from an authorized Nike dealer.
“I just want to make it clear that I don’t own a pair of those Mambacita Kobes,” the Instagram user wrote, via TMZ. “The pictures I posted are official product pictures from a Nike authorized retailer. Unfortunately for @vanessabryant, Nike clearly sent pairs to this retailer (as well as others) with the intent of selling pairs.”
As Vanessa mentioned, she recently chose not to renew Kobe’s contract with Nike. Kobe had been with Nike for 17 years leading up to his death in January 2020. It was recently claimed that he had been planning to leave Nike to start his own show company prior to his death.
Kobe was famously loyal to Nike during his career, but the relationship between Nike and the Bryant family seems to have deteriorated.
Jack Flaherty paid tribute to Kobe Bryant with the cleats he wore on Monday.
Flaherty, who is from Los Angeles and grew up in the city, pitched for the St. Louis Cardinals in their game against the Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. Flaherty wore purple and gold cleats — the Lakers’ colors. His right cleat even had the message: “RIP Kobe” on it.
Flaherty left his start after five innings due to tightness in his side. He allowed a pair of solo home runs and took a no decision.
On the season, the 25-year-old LA native is 8-1 with a 2.90 ERA.
Kobe Bryant and his parents Joe and Pam had a rocky relationship for years leading up to the former NBA star’s death, but it sounds like Bryant expressed a desire to put that to rest not long before he died.
Bryant’s wife, Vanessa, delivered a speech on Kobe’s behalf when Kobe was inducted into the Hall of Fame on Saturday night. During the speech, Vanessa said Kobe told her a week before he died that he wanted his mother and father to attend the enshrinement. She thanked Joe and Pam for “bringing one of the most amazing human beings into this world.” Vanessa also thanked Kobe’s entire family and said his sister Sharia has “gone above and beyond.”
Here’s the video:
Joe and Pam did not attend the ceremony, however. Anansa Sims, who is Matt Barnes’ ex-wife and close friends with Kobe’s sister Shaya, claims to know why. Sims shared a tribute to Kobe on her Instagram page that was attributed to Shaya, whose Instagram is private. Sims said she was told by Shaya that Joe and Pam did not attend the Hall of Fame ceremony because they were not personally invited and were “totally disrespected at the memorial.”
“His parents didn’t just choose not to go to the HOF. His parents were totally disrespected at the memorial. They weren’t personally invited to the HOF,” Sims wrote on Instagram, according to a screenshot captured by The Neighborhood Talk.
Sims also said Joe and Pam wished they had known Kobe expressed a desire for them to attend because they would have gone.
Some of Kobe’s issues with his parents stemmed from his decision to marry Vanessa at such a young age. He reconciled with his parents after the birth of his first daughter, Natalia, but the three went through a public fight in 2013 over some memorabilia.
Lakers legend Jerry West said Kobe’s parents were “traumatized and devastated” over their son’s death. It’s a shame they were unable to work out their differences.
H/T Bro Bible
There has been a big trend over the last few years of basketball players routinely taking games off in the NBA. “Load management” has not only become a concept, but also a practice.
Kobe Bryant was the antithesis of load management. Bryant played in all 82 regular season games five times during his career and often tried to play through injuries.
Why? The late Lakers legend’s wife Vanessa shared the reason on Saturday. Vanessa spoke on Kobe’s behalf at his Hall of Fame induction ceremony. She said that Kobe often refused to sit games because he wanted to perform for fans who had saved up to watch him play.
That is a wonderful attitude.
At the end of the day, the big contracts, the salaries and the league is all possible because of the fans who love their teams and watch the games. Many current players seem to forget that and only seem to care about themselves and their careers. Bryant kept it in mind. Fortunately, some other veteran players in today’s NBA do share that mentality.
The Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame induction ceremony is typically a joyous occasion for all of those involved, but Kevin Garnett understands that this year’s class is going to experience a wide range of emotions.
Garnett spoke with Shams Charania of The Athletic this week about being inducted into the Hall of Fame in the same class as Kobe Bryant. K.G. said that he, Kobe and fellow inductee Tim Duncan all pushed each other to be great during their careers and that it will be “super emotional” not having Bryant there.
“I feel more than honored to go in with these two, but Kobe not being there is gonna be super emotional for everybody,” Garnett said. “The fact that the three of us actually pushed the other two into whether it was awards, All-Star (appearances), battles, rings, we all three pushed the line. To go in with these two guys, I couldn’t ask for two (better people to be inducted with).”
Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna were killed in a tragic helicopter crash early last year. Michael Jordan will be the presenter for Kobe, and Kobe’s wife Vanessa will give a speech on behalf of the Bryant family.
We all know Kobe would have delivered a memorable Hall of Fame speech, but unfortunately we’ll never be able to hear it. His absence will make the enshrinement bittersweet for Garnett and other members of the NBA community.
This year’s Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame induction ceremony is sure to feature a wide range of emotions, and Kobe Bryant’s wife Vanessa will experience those first-hand when her late husband is enshrined.
Vanessa Bryant will deliver a speech in honor of Kobe at Saturday’s ceremony, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic. Inductees typically follow their presenter with a speech, and Vanessa will be assuming that role after Kobe was killed in a tragic helicopter crash last year.
As we previously learned, Michael Jordan will be the presenter when Kobe is inducted into the Hall of Fame. The six-time NBA champion opened up about the honor in an interview this week and shared the last text message exchange he ever had with Kobe.
Vanessa and Jordan both spoke at Kobe’s memorial last year and delivered emotional speeches about the loss of Kobe and his and Vanessa’s 13-year-old daughter Gianna.
Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant had an extremely close relationship before Kobe and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna died in a helicopter crash last year. Jordan admits he has had trouble accepting the tragedy, which is one of the reasons he can’t bring himself to erase the last communication he ever had with Kobe.
As he prepares to be the presenter for Bryant’s induction into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on Saturday, Jordan spoke with ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan about the ways in which he has coped with Kobe’s death. The six-time champion revealed that he still has the final text messages he exchange with Bryant saved on his phone.
Jordan shared the exchange with MacMullan. He said Kobe reached out to him to tell M.J. how much he enjoyed his Cincoro Tequila, which had just launched. The two then discussed Bryant’s two biggest passions — family and basketball. You can see the full conversation below:
This tequila is awesome,” Kobe texted, referring to Jordan’s Cincoro Tequila, a bottle of which was sent to Bryant at the launch.
“Thank you, my brother,” Jordan responded.
“Yes, sir. Family good?” Kobe replied.
“All good. Yours?”
Jordan smiled, then decided to have a little fun. “He was really into coaching Gigi,” MJ explains, “so I hit him up about that.”
“Happy holidays,” Jordan texted back, “and hope to catch up soon. Coach Kobe??!”
“I added that little crying/laughing emoji,” Jordan chuckles.
“Ah, back at you, man,” Kobe wrote. “Hey, coach, I’m sitting on the bench right now, and we’re blowing this team out. 45-8.”
Jordan, one of the fiercest competitors in sports history, also admitted he is nervous about inducting Kobe into the Hall of Fame. He said he was initially concerned about losing his composure but “realized I’m not going to be nervous about showing emotions for someone I absolutely loved.”
“That’s the humanistic side of me — people tend to forget I do have one,” Jordan said.
Kobe idolized Jordan and modeled his game after the six-time NBA champion. We were reminded of that when “The Last Dance” aired last year, as Kobe gave Jordan credit for his own five championship rings when he was interviewed for the documentary.
Bryant openly tried to play like Jordan, talk like him, lead like him, and win like him. Even his love letter to basketball was just like Jordan’s. The two shared a lot of great memories together, and you can expect Jordan to do a great job of recapping that on Saturday.
H/T Bleacher Report
One upside of the new NFL jersey number rules is that players can pay tribute to their heroes in ways they previously couldn’t.
That’s what Carolina Panthers first-round pick Jaycee Horn will be doing. The rookie defensive back revealed on Twitter that he’d be wearing No. 8 in honor of Kobe Bryant.
Horn has been pretty attached to the idea of paying tribute to Bryant. In his introductory press conference, Horn entertained the idea of wearing No. 24, Bryant’s other number with the Lakers.
“It’s a great number, it’s definitely in mind,” Horn said, via Cody Benjamin of CBS Sports. “I’m looking at some of those single digits, too, though. See how it works out. My brother was talking to me about it on the way over here (and) change my mind a little bit. We’ll see how it shakes out.”
It’s a pretty popular move to switch one’s jersey number in honor of Kobe. Horn might not be the last NFL player we see using that as a reason to do something like this.