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Looking Back On Kobe Bryant’s NBA Highlights

  

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Unexpectedly ending his legendary 20-year NBA career, Kobe Bryant’s passing was undoubtedly a hard hit to the world. In honoring the “Black Mamba”, we look back on his greatest moments inside and outside the court.

 

 

Legendary 81-point outburst

Back on January 22, 2006, Kobe made history with his iconic 81-point game that rallied the Los Angeles Lakers against the Toronto Raptors, making it the second highest-scoring performance behind Wilt Chamberlain’s remarkable 100-point game in 1962.

Out of 46 shots in 42 minutes, Kobe made 28 with a dash of 18 free throws. He totaled 27 points in the third quarter, 28 points in the final period, and had two assists. Kobe averaged a league-best 35.4 points per game on that season, yet came through with an 81-point drop on the Toronto Raptors in a 122-104 win.

 

 

Three quarters, 62 points

In December 2005, Kobe’s 62-point performance against the Dallas Mavericks made a mark of its own even before his 81-point game.

32 minutes of gameplay later and Kobe scored 62 points on 31 shots. Leaving the Dallas far behind gave Kobe the entire fourth quarter for bench time.

To give more context, Kobe’s total points alone surpassed the whole Dallas Mavericks’ 61 at the end of the third quarter.

 

 

The Game 7 alley-oop and the Boston dunk

One of Kobe’s legendary court moments wasn’t a score but a pass.

With under a minute spared for the Lakers, then up by four and locked against the Portland Trailblazers during Game 7 of the 2000 Western Conference Finals, Kobe dribbled the ball and skied an alley-oop, which Shaquille O’Neal single-handedly grabbed and dunked into the ring. Yet another Lakers-triumph, Bryant and O’Neal went on winning three straight titles from 2000 to 2002.

Additionally, averaging 28.6 points per game during Game 7 of the 2010 NBA Finals, Kobe clawed his second straight NBA Finals MVP after scoring 23 points on 6 of 24 shooting, with 15 rebounds, sealing the Lakers’ championship against the Boston Celtics.

 

 

Kobe’s free throws while injured

At 34, Kobe was seen limping after falling to the ground during a tight battle against the Golden State Warriors in April 2013. With a devastatingly torn Achilles tendon in his left leg, Kobe still managed to stay in the game and score two free throws, drawing the game to a tie at 109.

The Achilles injury was a hard blow to the Lakers, for Kobe’s final seasons displayed a drastic drop in his performances, taking a toll on the team’s eligibility to finish the playoffs. His low seasons brought about his announcement of his retirement after the 2016 season.

When his final sold-out game at the Staples Center came, Kobe saved the best for his last as he scored 60 points – his highest total in 2016. Truly a defined NBA player, Kobe ended his performance with the legendary “Mamba out!” remark, trailed by a flying kiss.

 

 

The Unflinching Kobe

After a heated exchange with Orlando Magic’s Matt Barnes in 2010, Bryant stood on firm defense as Barnes bossed the ball from a referee and passed it inbounds. When Barnes fake-threw the ball into Bryant’s face, he was seen in the same position, no flinches recorded.

Just Kobe being Kobe, always putting his head in the game.

‘Dear Basketball’ Oscar

In winning his Oscar for Best Animated Short Film for “Dear Basketball” during the 90th Annual Academy Awards in 2018, Kobe accepted the award with Glen Keane (director and animator) and claimed in his speech, “As basketball players, we’re really supposed to shut up and dribble. But I’m glad we do a little bit more than that.”

Based on his own poem for The Players’ Tribune in 2015, Kobe outpoured his passion for playing, expressed his genuine farewell, and swore by his eternal dedication to being a player in the film.


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Basketball

#BLM: Why the NBA Strike Matters to America’s Labor Movement

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The August 26 strike illustrated the power of striking and the influence of athletes advocating for a cause beyond their leagues. The world of sports blew up in protest as teams, and sports stars took a stand against the police shooting incident of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

Among all athlete protesters, the Milwaukee Bucks’ players were the first to announce that they would not compete in their scheduled playoff game against Orlando Magic just before the first-round match. Soon after, all other NBA teams joined the wildcat strike.

Starting from a powerful league such as the NBA advocating for #BLM, more influential athletes and clubs followed suit, including some MLS, NHL, NFL, MLB, and WNBA teams. Among other Major League Baseball teams, the New York Mets and the Miami Marlins staged a silent protest as they placed a #BLM shirt on the home plate. Even the tennis icon, Naomi Osaka, announced that she would not be playing her game in the Western & Southern Open, which caused the league to suspend the match.

The NBA officials provided some compromises, including establishing a social injustice union in the league and the use of numerous basketball courts around the country as voting locations. Playoff games resumed two days after these terms were put into place. This just goes to show how the NBA players were able to successfully demand concessions from the league’s management as an effect of temporarily folding the playoff season.

Beyond promoting awareness on the #BLM movement, the NBA strike has brought about the idea that striking could result in changes beneficial for employees experiencing injustices from their employers. During the Trump administration, the number of strikes rose radically through union-led workplace walkouts. This includes the teacher’s strikes in the course of 2018 to 2019, the New York taxi drivers’ strike in 2017, and the longshore workers’ strike in 2020. 

These unionized workers not only rally for improvements in their own workplaces, but also for causes that go beyond their personal benefit. Among these are campaigns against the Muslim ban on cab drivers and the Black Lives Matter movement. 

Unionized workers have more confidence in participating in activism because they are protected by national labor laws that extend to strikes and work stoppages. They are part of organizations strengthened by solidarity in an aim to protect workers from the oppression of employers. However, studies show that unions have been going more political in terms of mobilizing their workers to vote, encouraging them to gain more knowledge in politics, and even moderate their sentiments on racial resentment. 

The #BLM movement rallied together unionized athletes to participate in protest for a growing social cause. It struck the whole world as a major league halted to challenge political issues surrounding today’s society. This serves as a clear reminder of the significance brought by labor unions towards more progressive and democratic politics. Movement mobilization and partnerships can create a transformative political stand that will pave the way for future proceedings.

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Los Angeles Lakers Lead 2-1 Past Trail Blazers

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Los Angeles superstars Anthony Davis and LeBron James lead the Lakers to another win against the Trail Blazers on Saturday night. Through a stunning performance of dominating defense, the Lakers now lead Portland 2-1.

Power Plays

The Lakers defeated the high-scoring Trail Blazers in two straight games after a roaring James scored 38 points, made 12 rebounds, and eight assists, combined with Davis’ 29 points, 23 of which were scored in the second half. The game ended at 116-108 in favor of LA, who is now starting to look like the best team in the West.

As the Lakers rallied to conquer Game 2, Anthony Davis stepped up to the plate and shared a message to his teammate. “I told LeBron at half I’ve got to take some of the pressure off of him,” said Davis.

Portland has been outstripped of its number one spot after losing Game 1 to Los Angeles. The second game is the Trail Blazers’ highest-scoring game in the series, yet the effort wasn’t enough to overcome the impressive performance of the Lakers.

Scoring Points

Damian Lillard raked in 34 points even with a dislocated finger, and CJ McCollum contributed 28 points for Portland. The Trail Blazers tweaked their lineup, playing a big starting five with Hassan Whiteside and Jusuf Nurkic. This strategy kicked-off a great first quarter for Portland as they managed to ease through the second quarter with a lead. McCollum scored 13 points in the quarter, capped with a three-pointer at the buzzer ending the first half at 57-53.

James continued to execute 5 for 6 for 15 within an eight-minute period in the second quarter, preventing the Trail Blazers from outscoring the Lakers. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and James added a total of 12 consecutive points to pull the lead down to six at 70-64. Davis answered back with three straight jumpers and a dunk, tieing the game at 72. 

Los Angeles went on a shooting spree with a 10 to nothing run that easily ranked up the scoring to 89-78 as they entered the fourth quarter leading by seven points. 

Catching Up

The Trail Blazers quickly caught up and were only down by three in the fourth quarter with nine and a half minutes of playtime. But then, Davis re-entered the game all fired up, making perimeter shots and dunks, closing the period with 12 points.

A pressing defense handled the rest for the Lakers as the Trail Blazers were put off-track, making only three field goals in over seven minutes in the quarter. Los Angeles was able to escalate the lead to 109-98, with only over 2 minutes left in the game.

Everything came down to the fourth quarter, in which Lillard’s dislocated finger started to affect his ball-handling and shooting, causing the veteran to miss all four attempts from the three-point arch at the crucial last quarter. 

Where It Boils Down

Tery Stotts, Portland Trail Blazers’ coach, said, “It came down to a fourth-quarter game. Anthony Davis made his perimeter shots, and we came up empty too often.”

The Trail Blazers will attempt to make a comeback and even the series on Game 4.

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Why The Rockets Are Upset

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The Houston Rockets were completely thrown off postgame by an offensive foul call on Oklahoma City Thunder’s Chris Paul because of a physical incident that happened at overtime. 

Oklahoma was leading by 11 points late into overtime, with 1 minute and 20 seconds left on the clock when an offensive foul was called against Paul for throwing an elbow below the belt of the Rockets’ small forward, Ben McLemore, while he was trying to create some space to make a jump shot.

The Rockets lost Game 3 by 12 points at 119-107. Although further review from the officials would not have changed how the game ended, the Rockets were particularly vocal about their disappointment on how the situation was handled by the officiating crew. 

Review Denied 

After an initial call for an offensive was made, Houston coach Mike D’Antoni requested the game officials to re-evaluate and escalate as necessary since the view from the Rockets bench seemed as if it was a flagrant foul. However, the crew did not submit to his appeal. 

He also did not receive any explanation from the officiating crew on the lack of further review. D’Antoni’s negative reaction towards the call got him a technical, which further added to the outburst happening on the court.

In a postgame interview, D’Antoni was asked if he thought there was any chance the NBA management would intervene to review the sequence and impose disciplinary actions. However, he said that he was not certain. 

D’Antoni claims to have just asked the referee to go over and review it. He accedes that they might have been right. Despite the unclarity, he says he knows his guy got hit in a bad place with an elbow, so management ought to look at it.

Houston star James Harden had a pretty good sight of the incident as he was seated close by from the sideline also expressed his view. “I saw what happened. Any time that happens, it should be reviewed, especially when it’s not around a lot of people.”

Harden pointed out, “Especially if somebody gets hit in their private area. We ain’t got anywhere to go, so it should have been reviewed. It wasn’t, and I don’t know why not.”

Intentional or Unintentional?

Nobody from the Rockets side claims that it was intentional, although they deem it proper for the sequence to be reviewed as it happened during a crucial part of the game.

Paul, on the other hand, clarified that the incident was completely unintentional, and it was just a physicality brought by the game as he was trying to get around McLemore.

Paul claims it was incidental and that it was a long time ago. He claims to have checked on Ben who was doing fine at the time.

What to Expect 

The series between the Houston Rockets vs. Oklahoma City Thunder are getting more heated and unexpectedly full of action. The Rockets currently lead the playoff series 2-1. 

With this new controversy concerning star player Chris Paul, everyone is anticipating the intensity of Game 4 on Monday as Oklahoma is looking to tie the series.

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