Tyronn Lue remembers swatting Kobe Bryant's shot; Kobe wanting to fight

February, 9, 2016
Feb 9
5:05
PM PT
McMenamin By Dave McMenamin
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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INDEPENDENCE, Ohio -- Many years have passed since Tyronn Lue started his playing career as a teammate of Kobe Bryant's on the Los Angeles Lakers from 1998-2001. Yet you would have thought it was just yesterday that Lue and Bryant were donning the purple and gold together from the detail that Lue provided when sharing his favorite "Black Mamba" memory.

"We're playing 5-on-5 one day and it was the gold team against the white team," Lue recalled Tuesday after the Cleveland Cavaliers' practice before Bryant and the Lakers come to town Wednesday. "It was myself, Devean George, Brian Shaw, Mark Madsen and I want to say Slava Medvedenko, playing against the first unit -- against Fish (Derek Fisher), Kob', Shaq (Shaquille O'Neal).

Tyronn Lue and Kobe BryantAP Photo/Kevork Djansezian)Tyronn Lue and Kobe Bryant played together on the Lakers from 1998 to 2001.

"Long story short is, it was a game point and [Bryant] drove baseline and I was at the elbow. And he drove baseline and I went down the lane and I pinned his dunk against the glass. He tried to dunk it and I blocked it against the glass. We came down, Devean George made a layup for game and Brian Shaw went, ‘Ahhh, he blocked you!' He went crazy. Kobe wanted to fight me at first and then, second, he wanted to play one-on-one after practice.

"'We going to play one-on-one, me and you.' I said, ‘No, I'm not playing you one-on-one.' He was so mad and then, after that, it was just, every day we stepped onto the court, he just went after me every single day. It was crazy. And then, like other stories, just playing one-on-one every day, every time we acquired a new guy, he would play those guys one-on-one after every practice just to show them, like, ‘I'm the man, I'm the man.' Did the same thing with Glen Rice. Just his competitive nature, man, it was just unbelievable."

Lue was in a reminiscing mood on the occasion of Bryant playing his final game of his 20-year career in Cleveland. They've both come a long way since that scrimmage showdown in Lue's second season. Lue, 38, has gone on to become a head coach in the league just like fellow Bryant teammates in Shaw (49) and Luke Walton (35), while the 37-year-old Bryant is still lacing them up.

"It just makes me feel old," Lue said. "It shows his greatness, how long he's been able to play and sustain it for so long, it's just a tribute to him."

Lue said he has not spoken to Bryant since taking over as Cavs coach after David Blatt was fired. In fact, the last time he got in touch with Bryant was to ask him to send him an autographed No. 24 uniform for a friend. But Lue expects a warm greeting with him Wednesday.

"You talk to Kobe when you get a chance, but you don't want to wear your relationship out with him," Lue said. "Whenever I see him, whenever I call him or need to talk to him, he's always there. He always picks up and I know [Wednesday] he'll come over probably give me a hug before the game and talk to me say congratulations … [It's] such a great bond that I have with him, playing in L.A. for three years, winning two championships. It's just a bond that can't be broken."

That bond seems contrary to Bryant's "Friends Hang Sometimes, Banners Hang Forever" catchphrase he recently trademarked. Lue explained that Bryant's message was, in his opinion, the importance of prioritizing winning. It's the same reason why Bryant and LeBron James did not have much of a relationship for years.

"When you have a guy like Kobe, who is a competitor the way that he is, and then the being the No. 1 at the top of the game for so long, he's went through a lot of generations where it was the Tracy McGrady and Kobe comparison, then it was the Vince Carter and Kobe comparison," Lue said. "He kind of took that challenge and still was always No. 1. It was kind of the same thing with LeBron. [Since he came] into the league, he's always had that situation where he had to be the best, every single night. LeBron's withstood a lot of guys also. So Kobe, knowing LeBron's coming in to try to take his spot, he's not going to open up to him and give him any leeway or give him any reason to try to come in and take his spot is what he was thinking. I'm glad they have a great relationship [now] because, as far as I've been in the league, those two guys have carried the league for a long time."

Watching Bryant from afar this season, Lue sees his former teammate enjoying the game and opening up more than he ever has in the past. He wants the same for James someday, when "The King" faces his own basketball mortality.

"I know there's a lot of media pressure and lot of pressure to win championships, but just for LeBron, I hope he's able to enjoy it," Lue said. "You know, sit back and just take it all in and enjoy the game and enjoy the success he's had. I think that will be good for him like it is for Kobe right now."

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Magic's top five Lakers

February, 9, 2016
Feb 9
10:07
AM PT


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Kobe Bryant and Tim Duncan have achieved so much during their remarkable NBA careers, winning a total of 10 championships between them. But if you had to choose, who would you say has had the better career?

Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar -- a Los Angeles Lakers legend whose statue stands outside the Staples Center -- is going with "The Big Fundamental" based on his health and overall, sustained success with the San Antonio Spurs.

"Jeez, I would say that Tim Duncan has had a better career just because they've been able to win more consistently, and they didn't have to rely on Tim all the time," Abdul-Jabbar said during a recent "Conversations with Tyler" interview with Tyler Cowen at George Mason University.

Another Lakers legend and Hall of Famer, however, disagrees with Abdul-Jabbar's choice.

"Kareem can have his opinion," Magic Johnson told SportsCenter on Tuesday. "Both of them won the same amount of championships. I'm always going to be partial to a Laker because I love Kobe, I know him as a man and a person. What he did for the city and for basketball fans all over the world ... he was a guy who made these young players work out harder, do more, because he was working out so hard. LeBron, all those guys, followed Kobe Bryant. And he's been a guy who's said, 'Hey guys, this is how you do it,' and guys have followed."


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Lakers Daily Links: Tuesday

February, 9, 2016
Feb 9
7:44
AM PT
By ESPN.com
ESPNLosAngeles.com

Kobe Bryant gets hot then cools off in final minutes of Lakers' 89-87 loss to Pacers: It was like the good old days, Kobe Bryant heating up quickly and yanking the Lakers back into a game. But now they're simply old days for the 37-year-old. -- Los Angeles Times

Kobe Bryant's latest farewell stop brings fond memories : Shaquille O'Neal used to like Kobe Bryant. He called him the world's best player here in 2000, and it was entirely sincere. Bryant's most recent stop on his goodbye tour was where he came of age in the NBA Finals. He remembered it fondly Monday before the Lakers lost to the Indiana Pacers, 89-87. -- Los Angeles Times

Lakers live and die by Kobe Bryant’s shooting in 89-87 loss to Pacers: His shot kept falling short over and over again. The Lakers played at a mind-numbing pace that would put most people to sleep. But as Kobe Bryant has done and learned throughout his 20-year career, he remains bound to accomplish three things. -- Los Angeles Daily News

Lakers coach Byron Scott shocked as Knicks fire Derek Fisher: The news struck Byron Scott in multiple ways. The Lakers’ coach sounded incredulous over the New York Knicks firing Derek Fisher as head coach, both out of respect for the coaching field and because they played one season together nearly 20 years ago with the Lakers. -- Los Angeles Daily News

Lakers’ Kobe Bryant offers advice to Peyton Manning about retirement: He studied the game endlessly. He demanded plenty from his teammates. He fought through every injury imaginable. He remained consumed with winning championships. That will mark the legacy of Lakers guard Kobe Bryant once he retires following his 20th NBA season and becomes a first-ballot Hall of Famer. But that description also applies to Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning, who helped Denver defeat Carolina on Sunday to collect his second Super Bowl title. -- Los Angeles Daily News

Lakers 'live,' then 'die' with Kobe Bryant's shooting in loss to Pacers: Kobe Bryant had scored 11 straight points. Contested 3-pointers were traveling from his fingertips, over the defender and through the hoop as if on a track. Then, with the Lakers on the verge of one of their gutsiest wins of the season, Bryant’s shots stopped falling. -- The Orange County Register

Isaiah ThomasMark L. Baer/USA TODAY SportsThe clear winner so far of the point guard deals at the 2015 deadline is the Celtics, who landed All-Star Isaiah Thomas.

It was one of the craziest few hours in recent NBA history. In the moments leading up to last year's trading deadline, a flurry of frontline point guards rapidly switched teams in a dizzying array of deals.

Though other point guards were dealt in separate moves, the day was defined by what essentially was a five-team swap of interconnected moves: Goran Dragic went from Phoenix to Miami; Brandon Knight went from Milwaukee to Phoenix; Michael Carter-Williams went from Philadelphia to Milwaukee; and Isaiah Thomas went from Phoenix to Boston.

Nearly a year after this giant trade, the results have been mixed. Most of the teams involved aren't better, some are waiting on draft picks coming later to define the success and only the Celtics really can claim victory.

Thomas has been the smash hit of the great point guard swap; he's about to play in his first All-Star Game. Tuesday is an interesting time to ponder the fallout from it all since Thomas' Celtics play the Carter-Williams' Bucks, who have struggled this year as Carter-Williams hasn't made the impact that the Bucks had planned.

Knight got a $70 million deal and Dragic got $85 million, making them winners for sure, but their teams haven't really gotten the production they were seeking.

As time has passed, the thinking and motivation of each team has become clear and allows for a more reasoned judging of just what the heck happened.

The genesis of the huge deal hinged on two moments. The first was a decision by the Bucks, who were facing both Knight and Khris Middleton


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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Kobe Bryant
PTS AST STL MIN
16.9 3.4 1.0 29.2
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsJ. Randle 10.0
AssistsK. Bryant 3.4
StealsD. Russell 1.2
BlocksR. Hibbert 1.6