Via my piece over at This League!:
“Words will not do justice for what Kobe Bryant did for millions of people around the world. He was the face the NBA at a time when the game was growing into a global entity and is a big reason for why the game is where it is today.
He was the torch bearer after Michael Jordan retired for leading the game into a new era and did so with ferocious competitiveness, a will to win that was unmatched and a motivation to be great that everyone should try to emulate. If this world had more Kobe Bryant’s, it’d be an immensely better one.
He was someone who cut zero corners in his mission to obtain success in his field and knew that in order to reach peaks in his profession, you had to put the work in. No one put more work in than Kobe. There are countless stories from players and coaches of his tireless will to be the best and the best he was for many years.
Kobe’s greatness was infuriating. As a lifelong Clippers fan, it was doubly infuriating. He was a thorn in the side of many many NBA fans, yet he demanded respect because he earned it every single night on the floor. No matter how many times he hit a dagger against your team, no matter how many times he embarrassed your favorite player and killed your teams dreams — you were witnessing a man who poured his entire life into being a great basketball player and you knew deep down that he deserved everything positive coming in his basketball career.
“Legend” doesn’t give Kobe Bryant proper accolades for who he was on the court and off. After his retirement in 2016, Kobe poured himself into being a doting father and motivational and inspiring coach not only for his daughters basketball teams (I’d be remiss in also not mentioning that Kobe’s 13-year-old daughter Gianna was among the nine victims of the helicopter crash as well. R.I.P.) but players of all ages. He was an advocate for womens basketball at all levels and was always there to lend a hand or advice to players.
He took pride in helping the new generation of basketball players try to be their best selves, a surprising event given the bloodthirsty nature of his play in the league. A league that he took over because of his competitiveness and “i’m going to destroy you” mentality. In retirement, Kobe was changing the minds of those who had disparaged him throughout his career, simply because he ate teams alive and destroyed hopes and dreams. Now, he was helping to cultivate dreams and better everyone around him. He was selfless in his motivation to make greatness a disease that infected people throughout the world.
If more people had #mambamentality, this world would be amazing. We here at This League send our deepest condolences to the Bryant family and to all fans of Kobe. His legacy will be pervasive in it’s positivity until the end of the time.”
This week: 4, Last week: 3
Notes: “Even as the Clippers await Paul George’s return from a hamstring injury, they have played mostly good basketball, going 7-2 since George’s injury on Jan. 8. It’s mostly because the other All-Star has been fantastic, like against the Heat on Friday when Kawhi Leonard registered his first career triple-double — and then followed it up with a 31-14-7 line against Orlando. Leonard has asserted himself and dominated in his last eight games without George, averaging 35.0 points, 7.9 rebounds and 5.4 assists.”
This week: 3, Last week: 3
Notes: Prompt: Who is most likely on each team to get traded before the deadline “Moe Harkless: There’s increasing sentiment that the Clippers will make a roster tweak or two before the deadline, and Harkless just makes sense as a trade chip given his $11M expiring contract. Harkless has been a valuable member of the Clippers so far, but hasn’t made a big enough impact to be considered essential to the roster. The Clippers are reportedly targeting more size and/or wing depth.”
This week: 5, Last week: 4
Notes: “Montrezl Harrell scored 30 points but was powerless to stop the Hawks’ offensive-rebound assault during Wednesday’s embarrassing 102-95 loss. Atlanta inhaled 23 offensive boards (L.A. had just eight) and won the overall rebound battle by a margin of 63-45, keying a shocking 61-35 edge on the second-half scoreboard. Granted, the Clips were without Kawhi Leonard, Paul George and Patrick Beverley. But this was against the Hawks, one of the league’s worst teams and one that certainly isn’t known for overpowering inside play.
Leonard scored 33 points and logged his first career triple-double to fend off the Heat on Friday, producing a 122-117 win that came despite an early 15-point deficit. Then, he extended his streak of 30-point games to eight with 31 points (plus 14 rebounds and seven assists) in Sunday’s win over the Magic. So, as has been the case all year, the Clips (3-1 this week) can look pedestrian or terrific—depending on how many of their key players suit up on a given night. They’re 28-8 in games Leonard has played.
This week: 4, Last week: 4
Notes: “ The Clippers blew a 21-point lead in Atlanta on Wednesday and allowed the Hawks to grab seven more offensive rebounds (23) than they have in any other game this season. It was a continuation of a couple of trends ...The Clips haven’t rebounded well (defensively, at least) when Kawhi Leonard hasn’t been on the floor.
The Clips haven’t won (they’re 0-6) when Lou Williams has been in the starting lineup. But, despite the continued absence of Paul George, they’ve won the last six games in which Leonard has played. The Finals MVP continues to show progress with his playmaking; After never dishing out more than seven assists in his first 449 regular season games, he’s done it six times in his last 54. And the Clips’ big win in Miami on Friday came with Leonard’s first career triple-double, featuring one nice threading of the needle to Montrezl Harrell.
This week: 4, Last week: 3
Notes: “Despite playing without Paul George (hamstring), the Clippers have won six of their last seven games, including four out of five on their current road trip. Kawhi Leonard has scored at least 30 points in each of his last eight appearances and is averaging 35.0 points, 7.9 boards, 5.4 assists, 2.5 steals and 2.9 treys, during this eight-game tear.”