Kobe Bryant: Titles no longer automatic for Team USA

Kobe Bryant says USA Basketball domination is OVER.

“It’s not a matter of the rest of the world catching up to the U.S., it’s that the rest of the world has been caught up for quite some time, and it’s to the point now where us in the U.S. are going to win some, we’re going lose some. And that’s just how it goes.”

“You have to remember, on the Redeem Team we needed a hell of a fourth quarter to beat Spain,” Bryant said. “That was a hell of a team we had. We still needed a real late push to beat Spain in that gold-medal match.”

Bryant played with Team USA three times and never lost a game, winning the 2007 FIBA Americas title and then Olympic gold in 2008 and 2012 in London. 

Coach Kobe Bryant after IG post controversy: ‘Don’t misunderstand the message’

Coach Kobe Bryant posted this above pic with the caption:

“Here’s our fourth place “winners” picture lol six of the kids in the picture stayed with me and worked every single day to get better and continue to work to this day. The 7th player (not in pic) missed this game for a dance recital so that should tell you where her focus was at this time, meaning she enjoyed dance more than ball which is fine. Now? She eats sleeps and breaths the game. So from this original group of 7 we have added a player TWO years YOUNGER (6th grade now), a player who’s team in our area folded and a player who’s family moved here from Tennessee. The beauty of coaching is growing the players from the ground up. That journey continues #mambas #2yearsago”

Because of this caption, the media ran with it and construed that he’s been holding a two-year grudge against one of his players for choosing a dance recital over a basketball game.

Bryant offered an explanation after the post drew criticism on social media, tweeting to one user: “Nah fam I was just explaining why she wasn’t in the pic. Most of my kids on the team played and still play other sports including my daughter so it’s all love. Don’t misunderstand the message.”

Bryant also tweeted: “sorry if it came across as a slight, trust me it wasn’t. I was just giving the reason for her not being in the pic. They chose not to smile for the pic I actually followed their lead. Our team has become family and this includes the 7th player.”

Kobe finished any controversy with this video (he posted on Instagram). Regarding this video, he said: “When I was 12, I skipped basketball for two weeks so I could dance in a school show. I’m all about diversifying while young, then locking in on your passion. #neongreen #iceicebaby #mambaout”

Fantasy Basketball: 2019 Los Angeles Lakers Preview

A long-time mainstay on the NBA’s biggest stage, the LeBron-led Lakers failed to make the playoffs last season, although there was much excitement surrounding the team. A young core that was supposed to grow and thrive with LeBron running the show, failed to live up to expectations. Results like these don’t sit well with the King, so out with the youth and in with the veterans. The Lakers roster has seen a complete overhaul, as you can see by the above list. How this team adapts to such change is yet to be known, but one thing is for certain, LA is going to be fun to watch and be chock-full of fantasy goodness.  

Kobe Bryant: Dwight Howard ‘Ready for this Next Time Around’

Kobe Bryant believes his former Lakers teammate Dwight Howard is much more “ready” for the pressure-cooker of Los Angeles.

Bryant says Howard will “do whatever is necessary” to help the Purple and Gold in their NBA title chase.

“I think he’s ready for this next time around to do whatever is necessary to help this team be successful, and I think he’ll do it,” Bryant said.

[…]

“Get better,” Bryant said of his advice to Howard. “I think a lot of times as professionals you start the season without the intention of getting better as the season progresses. You always continue to work on your weaknesses as the season progresses.”

Head coach Frank Vogel says the big man is willing to accept a “role player type of role.”

Per NBA.com:

Where is Dwight Howard at physically and mentally? Do you have a sense for what he wants to accomplish now and for his legacy with however much longer he hopes to play?

Vogel: “I think he’s excited about this opportunity with the Lakers. It’s very different from the first time he came through. Then, he was a mega-star coming in with two other mega-stars [Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash]. This time around, he’s had a few teams where they haven’t had great success. And he’s at a different point, age-wise, in his career. So he’s excited just to be part of something, in any way he can help. He knows it’s going to be more of a role player type of role.”

And that’s acceptable to him?

Vogel: “It’s definitely acceptable. He’s excited about it. And he has the ability to be one of the best at it in the league. He’s going to be concentrating on that. I’ll be defining what we’ll expecting of him, in terms of defending and rebounding and screen-setting and lob-catching and all those things. He’s willing to accept any role that I lay out in front of him. We’ve had a great start to our relationship. He’s in a great place mentally.”

Related Dwight Howard Thanks Kobe Bryant for Calling Him ‘Soft’

The post Kobe Bryant: Dwight Howard ‘Ready for this Next Time Around’ appeared first on SLAM.

Sources: Lakers Apply for Disabled Player Exception for DeMarcus Cousins

The Los Angeles Lakers have applied for a $1.75M disabled player exception from the NBA for their projected season-ending injury to DeMarcus Cousins, league sources tell @TheAthleticNBA @Stadium. The Los Angeles Lakers have applied for a $1.75M disabled player exception from the NBA for their projected season-ending injury to DeMarcus Cousins, league sources tell @TheAthleticNBA […]

Anthony Davis Willing to Play Some Center for the Lakers

Anthony Davis, with some admitted reluctance, is willing to play center for the Lakers next season.

Davis, 26, says he prefers to avoid banging in the paint for 82 games in order to stay healthy for what he hopes is a long playoff run.

AD says he’s ready to show and prove in L.A.

Per Yahoo Sports:

“If we stay healthy, there’s no limit,” Davis told Yahoo Sports. “We have the team to win a championship. We have the coaching staff to win, but we’ve got to come in with the right mindset and that all starts in training camp all the way through preseason and all the way through the regular season. We have to make sure we come in with the same mindset no matter who we’re playing. It should be about us. Not about the opponent, not about anything else outside the locker room. If we’re all about us and all about what we need to do to win, then we’ll be fine.”

Davis, who has averaged 23.7 points, 10.5 rebounds and 2.4 blocks for his career, has never shied away from voicing his reluctance of playing the five.

“Nah, it’s true. I said it. But the thing is, it’s a long season and you want to be smart,” Davis told Yahoo Sports. “Battling [centers] can wear on your body. So I think having JaVale [McGee] and having DeMarcus [Cousins] before he got hurt and now having Dwight [Howard] takes pressure off of me and allows me to play and withstand an 82-game season and going into the playoffs. But obviously, if we have to and we’re playing a big lineup where I’m at the five, then I’m willing to do it. I’m willing to do whatever it takes to win.”

After seven years in New Orleans, the bright lights are finally going to be shining on Davis. And now it’s time for him to produce.

“I’m ready, man,” Davis told Yahoo Sports. “At the end of the day, it’s basketball, and God gave me the ability to play this game at a high level. Obviously, it’s a lot different. The market is a lot different, the media is a lot different, the atmosphere is a lot different. But at the end of the day, when you step between those lines, something I’ve been doing for 23 years of life, it’s just basketball. I’m excited about the challenge, I’m excited for the opportunity and I can’t wait to get started.”

Related LeBron James Told Lakers to Make Anthony Davis ‘Focal Point’ of the Offense

The post Anthony Davis Willing to Play Some Center for the Lakers appeared first on SLAM.