IT was a horrible news. I had hoped it was only fake news. But the reality was it was not.
RIP Kobe Bryant. The all-time Los Angeles Lakers and National Basketball Association (NBA) great died in a fiery Sikorsky S-76 helicopter crash in foggy conditions at 10:00 Sunday morning Pacific time (2:00 a.m. January 27 Manila time), in Calabasas, Southern California, USA. He was 41.
Bryant’s daughter, 13-year-old Gianna, was also among the nine people killed in the crash. Gianna was one of his four daughters by wife Vanessa. Kobe’s youngest, “Koko” Capri Kobe Bryant, will turn just one on June 20.
Kobe was to attend a girl basketball tournament game (where Gianna would also be playing) at his Mamba Sports Academy when the tragic incident happened.
He was there to coach and Gianna was there to play.
It was just a day after current Lakers star LeBron James surpassed him as the third all-time leading scorer in NBA regular-season history.
What I like about Kobe was his competitiveness and relentless work ethic, the Mamba Mentality. He spent his entire 20-year NBA career (1996-2016) with the LA Lakers.
So long, Kobe.
* * *
In his 1,242nd regular-season NBA game, LeBron James chalked up 29 points in a 108-91 road loss to the Philadelphia 76ers (33,655) to move past Kobe Bryant (33,643/1,346 games) as the NBA’s third all-time scoring leader.
A special day it became more because Bryant hailed from Philadelphia although the Black Mamba grew up in Italy where his dad “Jellybean” Joe played pro ball following his NBA days.
Kobe was eligible for induction into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall Fame for the first time in 2020. He will still be posthumously elected, hands-down.
Other prominent retired NBA players that are a cinch to be elected on a first-time ballot are Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett and Chris Bosh. The names of the players elected to the Hall following a four-year retirement wait will be announced during the Final Four of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament in late March with enshrinement to follow in September.
It’s safe to assume that the top two spots on the NBA’s all-time scoring list will remain safe at least for another year.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is No. 1 with 38,387 points in 1,560 career games. “The Mailman” Karl Malone ranks No. 2 with 36,928 points in 1,476 appearances.
Where is Michael Jordan? He’s fifth on the list.
* * *
The King and the Greek Freak, the meal tickets for the No. 1 teams in their respective NBA conferences, are at it once more.
LA Laker LeBron James (West) and Milwaukee Buck Giannis Antetokuonmpo will again be the NBA All-Star Game captains in the 2020 mid-season spectacle on Feb. 17 (Manila time) in Chicago.
The two will be doing the drafting of the remaining eight starters and 14 reserves (chosen through a vote of the head coaches in each conference; announcement of names will be on Jan. 31 Manila Time) of their respective 12-man teams.
Being the top vote-collector of the fan balloting, LeBron will draft first among the starters then it will be Giannis selecting first among the reserves in the second round.
The fans comprised only 50 percent of the entire voting process. The players and media members each owned 25 percent. Weighted score was based on the ranking of a player in each of the three categories with a formula of (Fan Rank X 2, plus Player Rank plus Media Rank) divided by 4.
The starters picked in the combined fan-player-media balloting are as follows:
FC-Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokuonmpo (No. 1 in all three categories)
FC-Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid (No. 3 in fan balloting but second in both player and media votes to snare the No. 2 frontcourt slot with 2.5 WS)
FC-Toronto’s Pascal Siakam (No. 2 in fan voting and third and fourth in player and media rankings to snare the No. 3 frontline spot with a 2.75 weighted score that beat out Miami’s Jimmy Butler (4.25 WS)
G-Atlanta’s Trae Young (No. 1 in fan voting, second in media and third in player rankings for a weighted score of 1.75 in securing the No. 1 guard spot)
G-Boston’s Kemba Walker (No. 3 in fan voting but first in both player and media rankings for a weighted score of 2.0 to snare the No. 2 guard spot over Brooklyn’s Kyrie Irving, who was second in fan voting but finished just sixth in both the player and media rankings for a weighted score of 4.0),
FC-LA Lakers’ LeBron James (No. 1 in the frontcourt in all three categories)
FC-LA Lakers’ Anthony Davis (No. 2 in the frontcourt in all three categories)
FC-LA Clippers’ Kawhi Leonard (No. 3 in the frontcourt in all three categories)
G-Dallas’ Luka Doncic (No. 1 in the backcourt in all three categories)
G-Houston’s James Harden (No. 2 in the backcourt in all three categories to beat Portland’s Damian Lillard who missed the cut as he finished No. 3 in the backline in all three categories)
LeBron and Giannis are allowed to select any player on his team regardless of conference affiliations.
James was the No. 1 vote collector overall among the fans with 6,275,459 votes and beat out Doncic for top honors in the entire West starting-five voting process to secure the conference’s captaincy. Doncic ranked second overall with 6,111,735 fan votes and Antetokuonmpo finished third with 5,902,286.
Barring any health issues, Antetokuonmpo, the reigning NBA MVP, will become the first player in Milwaukee Bucks history to start in four consecutive NBA All-Star Games when The Greek Freak suits up in the 2020 midseason showcase in Chicago on Monday, February 17, Manila time.
The All-Star coaches will be determined by whose teams own the best records in their respective conferences by the cutoff date of February 2. However, a ruling also prohibits a coach from mentoring in the midseason showcase for two consecutive years, which automatically disqualifies league-leading and East-best Milwaukee’s Mike Budenholzer, who mentored Team Giannis a year ago.
The LA Lakers’ Frank Vogel is assured of piloting Team LeBron this year but the Team Giannis coaching slot is still up for grabs, with the coach of the second-leading team in the East eventually getting it.
Angling for the job are Miami’s Eric Spoelstra, defending NBA champion Toronto’s Nick Nurse and Boston’s Brad Stevens.
* * *
Fourteen years ago on January 22, Hall of Fame-bound Kobe Bryant scored 81 points (57 of them in the second half) in the LA Lakers’ come-from-behind 122-104 victory over the visiting Toronto Raptors at the Staples Center.
It was the second-highest individual score in NBA history, trailing only the late Wilt Chamberlain’s mind-boggling 100-point performance for the Philadelphia (now Golden State) Warriors against the New York Knicks on March 2, 1962 in Hershey, Pennsylvania.
Bryant, who is expected to enter the Hall this year in his first year of eligibility, shot 28-for-46 from the field, including 7-for-13 from the three-point area, and made 18 of 20 free-throw attempts.
Disclaimer: The comments uploaded on this site do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of management and owner of Bandera. We reserve the right to exclude comments that we deem to be inconsistent with our editorial standards.