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First he imitated Kobe Bryant ... by traveling.

Then, on Thursday, new Los Angeles Lakers guard D'Angelo Russell did Kobe like this:

All right, all right, we're almost certainly exaggerating. The Kobe move was all in good fun. Meanwhile this could be interpreted in multiple ways: 1) simply enthusiastic hyperbole from someone who was just watching impressive Tracy McGrady highlights; 2) a lamentation of the injuries that kept McGrady from reaching his heights; or 3) OMG Russell thinks McGrady was better than Kobe!

We're guessing it's a mix of 1 and 2; after all, who hasn't tweeted outrageous things based on a single moment/video, and who doesn't wish McGrady had been able to fulfill his potential?

But hey, this is the Lakers and this is Kobe, so it's fun to imagine his locker-room reaction to the No. 2 overall pick's offseason shenanigans.

Or, before then, he could just shut it down with:

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Vin BakerRocky Widner /NBAE/Getty Images

The story of Vin Baker can be seen as a sad one: A former big man for the Milwaukee Bucks, Seattle SuperSonics and other teams -- he of four straight All-Star appearances and one 20-and-10 season -- fell into alcoholism and ended up losing nearly $100 million.

But that story is far from over, and it's taken a significant and positive turn.

As profiled by the Providence Journal, the 43-year-old Connecticut native is now living in North Kingstown, Rhode Island, and training to be a manager at the Starbucks for which he works.

"In this company, there are opportunities for everyone," the 6-foot-11 Baker told the paper. "I have an excellent situation here at Starbucks, and the people are wonderful."

As for the people who view his story as tragic, Baker was quick to downplay that notion. He isn't running away from it, either; he wants people to learn from his mistakes.

"When you learn lessons in life, no matter what level you're at financially, the important part to realize is it could happen," he told the Journal. "I was an alcoholic. I lost a fortune. I had a great talent and lost it. For the people on the outside looking in, they're like, 'Wow.'

"For me, I'm 43, and I have four kids. I have to pick up the pieces. I'm a father. I'm a minister in my father's church. I have to take the story and show that you can bounce back. If I use my notoriety in the right way, most people will appreciate that this guy is just trying to bounce back in his life."

There's much more in Kevin McNamara's piece on Baker, who recently worked with the Bucks coaching staff at the Las Vegas Summer League, thanks to an invite from Jason Kidd.

Check it out here.

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Shaquille O'Neal and Scottie Pippen Johnny Nunez/WireImage

A week ago, Shaquille O'Neal and Scottie Pippen got into an Instagram feud over the former's suggestion that an all-time Los Angeles Lakers lineup would beat that of the Chicago Bulls ... by 50.

On Tuesday, Shaq talked about it on his podcast, The Big Podcast with Shaq ... and did nothing to dump water on the fire.

Instead, he poured gallons and gallons of gasoline.

It all started when he was asked if his Instagram post was meant to call out the Bulls.

"Of course not. ... I didn't even make the picture; some other little guy made the picture so I just took it. ... And I said we'd beat 'em by 50. And that's how I feel and I'm sticking to it. I didn't say: 'Hey at Scottie Pippen, we'll beat you guys by 50. Hey, at Rodman we'll beat you guys by [50].' I just said, 'I'll beat you by 50.'"

This is where Pippen went wrong, according to Shaq. O'Neal explains:

"He made it personal when he said, 'Oh, at Shaq, hey I don't believe in hypotheticals.' So he swung first, so I'm going to swing second, and I'm going to swing last. Because I don't let bums disrespect me.

"Yeah, he was a great player, but I'm the bridge, he's the water. He will always be under me. Every now and then he will rise to the occasion and get to the same level as the bridge. But when reality kicks in, I am bridge, he is water, he is under me. Scottie Pippen can't disrespect me. So he comes at me, I'm coming back. And we can do this all day, because I have nothing to do."

Shaq wasn't done.

"He made it personal when he put 'At Shaq, we've got six rings,' like he was the main focus of the six rings. You were not the main focus of the six rings. Don't make me put out the scouting report. He wasn't even a factor in the scouting report. It was all about [Michael Jordan]. ... You double Mike, Scottie was open, Scottie hit a couple shots."

Still not done.

"Let's just talk reality. When you say top 10 players, his name will never be mentioned. When you say top 20 players, his name maybe will be mentioned. So don't come to me like I'm not a player. ... You're a Benz, you're a 550. I'm a 600, V-12. OK?"

At this point, O'Neal was asked if he really meant "bum." His response?

"Bum."

Then:

"Think about why I'm saying 'bum.' Because I have the G-14 classification to say that. Everybody can't say that about a Scottie Pippen, but I can. ... I can say he's a bum."

G-14, if you were wondering, is from the movie "Rush Hour."

Now, does O'Neal have a relationship with Pippen?

"I don't. ... He was cool, respectful and all that. But he made it personal when he came at me, flashing his six rings like he was the main, main factor of the six rings. Stop it, Scottie. We all know you were second fiddle. You'll always be second fiddle. ... You're Robin. you're not Batman. You're not Puffy, you're Mase."

Was Shaq a Robin?

"Yeah, towards the end."

But ...

"Three Finals MVPs ain't got Robin on it. Robin Hood [maybe]."

Then O'Neal went back in on Pippen. At this point, if we'd been tagging these with fire emoji, we'd be out.

"When Michael left, you didn't do nothing. All you did was cry and whine when Phil [Jackson] didn't give you the last shot. He gave it to Toni Kukoc, who was a much better player than you. Toni Kukoc hit the game[-winning] shot. When you left and went to Houston, what did you do? Nothing. When you left and went to Portland, what did you do? Oh yeah, you took us to a Game 7 ... up by 17 in the fourth quarter, what happened? You lose."

For the unfamiliar, this is the infamous refusing-to-come-off-the-bench moment from during Jordan's first retirement, and this is the write-up for the Lakers' epic 2000 comeback (it was actually 16 points in the game and 15 in the fourth).

Shaq was just about done, but wanted to make one last point:

"Those are Mike's six rings."

Woof. Pippen has been invited to go on the podcast to debate; we'll see if that happens.

Click here to listen to the full podcast.

H/T Sporting News

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Are Magic disrespecting Howard?

Two teams removed from the franchise with which he made his name, Dwight Howard is a little miffed. That's because the Orlando Magic are letting promising youngster Tobias Harris wear No. 12 -- the same number Howard donned before his contentious exit to Los Angeles. It's reportedly unclear whether Howard knows why Harris wears 12 -- as a tribute to a close friend who died of leukemia as a teenager. But to some that might not matter, after Howard all but forced his way out of the Sunshine State.

  • Should the Magic allow other players to wear No. 12 post-Dwight Howard?

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  • What is your opinion of Dwight Howard?

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  • If you were a Magic fan, what would you most remember about Dwight Howard's eight seasons in Orlando?

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  • Which player had the better Magic career?

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  • When will the Magic next make the playoffs?

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  • What grade do you give the Orlando Magic's post-Dwight Howard rebuilding project?

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