NBA Update – The LA Lakers and Orlando.

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Basketball fans are keenly awaiting the resumption of the 2019-20 season at the ESPN complex at Disneyworld located in Orlando Florida.

Here’s a complete rundown from Head Coach Frank Vogel dated July 1st 2020…

Frank Vogel Addresses Lakers Roster Updates for Orlando

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When Frank Vogel became the head coach of the Lakers over a year ago, he knew there would be plenty of challenges, and plenty of pressure.

But there’s no way he could have predicted a truly unprecedented 2019-20 season including the events surrounding the team’s preseason trip to China, the tragic death of Kobe Bryant, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the racial and social justice movement that continues to evolve.

Amidst all of that, Vogel is trying to lead his players and staff through never-traveled terrain as the team’s first game in the Walt Disney World bubble is exactly one month away.

As players continue individual workouts at the UCLA Health Training Center, ramping up towards the planned departure of the team charter on July 9, Vogel acknowledged that JR Smith would replace Avery Bradley on the roster, though it would take a team effort to replace Bradley’s role.

The other question mark on the roster is about Dwight Howard, who’s dealing with a unique family situation that he described to us in May, in addition to his focus on social justice.

Vogel offered an update on Howard’s status.

“We’ve been in communication with Dwight the whole way,” he said. “We don’t know what the level of participation is yet. He wants to play. We’re hopeful he’s able to join us. We’re hopeful and optimistic that he’ll be able to join us in Orlando.”

Howard is one of 10 Lakers to average at least 16.8 minutes per game this season: LeBron James (34.9); Anthony Davis (34.3); Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (25.4); Danny Green (25.1); Kyle Kuzma (24.6); Bradley (24.2); Rajon Rondo (20.5); Howard (19.2), Alex Caruso (17.8); and JaVale McGee (16.8). Markieff Morris had also entered the rotation, earning 14.8 minutes in his eight appearances.

Meanwhile, Quinn Cook and Jared Dudley got spot minutes and filled in admirably when needed, and Vogel said repeatedly that he’d trust them in any game situation. One could surmise that both Smith and playoff-roster-deadline acquisition Dion Waiters would fit in with Cook and Dudley as veterans who could be called upon for specific reasons and matchups, i.e., the need for a guy who can get his own bucket off the bench (Waiters) or floor spacing (Smith, who’s a 37.3 percent 3-point shooter who ranks 9th all-time in postseason 3’s made, and 4th in the NBA Finals).

Vogel has yet to work with Smith on the court, but he did have a welcome-to-the-team chat with the 34-year-old veteran.

“The experience factor,” said Vogel about what Smith brings. “This guy’s a big-time player, he’s proven it over the course of his career. We know he can help us. We almost added him earlier in the year when we added Dion Waiters, and now we have the luxury of having both. We’re not going to ask him to come in and be Avery Bradley, he’s going to come in and be JR Smith.”

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And while Smith provides depth on the wing, the bulk of Bradley’s 24.2 minutes could be split amongst KCP, Caruso and Rondo, depending upon the game situation.

“Avery’s loss is obviously a huge loss for us, but we’re a next-man-up team,” Vogel continued. “Alex is an elite defender in his own right in a different way than Avery, as is KCP. Offensively, clearly we wouldn’t run plays that Avery uses for Alex, we’d run plays that put Alex in the best position to succeed.”

On his own Zoom call with reporters earlier on Wednesday, Caruso offered a similar sentiment.

“It might not be with one person (filling Bradley’s role), but this team has done a great job this year when guys have been out, of stepping up and filling a role or a need,” he said. “I don’t know if I’ll be the sole provider of everything that Avery did, that’s a lot to ask for because of how good he is at what he does, but I’m definitely going to be ready to fill part of that gap and that need.”

Caruso mentioned Bradley’s skills as a supplementary ballhandler and defender who took open threes as things he thinks he replicate. On the other hand, Caruso acknowledged Bradley’s strength with mid-range pullups and floaters out of the sets Vogel was asked about as things with which he is less comfortable. Fortunately, those are sets that KCP can replicate.

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In fact, KCP started all 18 games for Bradley from Nov. 15 – Dec. 22 after Bradley suffered a hairline fracture in November. The Lakers went 15-1 before back-to-back losses at Indiana and Milwaukee at the end of a difficult road stretch. LAL also won games at Chicago (Nov. 5) and at OKC (Jan. 11) with KCP starting for Bradley, bringing the total mark to 17-3.

One benefit to those KCP lineups is the increased floor spacing he provides. Caldwell-Pope has hit 87 3’s this season on an impressive 39.4 percent from the field, compared to Bradley’s 63 makes on 36.4 percent. With LeBron as the primary ballhandler with the starters, Rondo could remain in his playmaking role off the bench.

Fortunately for Vogel, his squad has a 5.5 game lead in the West, meaning he can use the eight seeding games to iron out such rotation questions ahead of the start of the playoffs. Vogel was asked how having that lead might impact his approach in Orlando.

“We do have a different type of perspective from some teams that are playing for their playoff lives, but it doesn’t mean we’re not going to go out and – like we always would if these were the last eight games of the regular season – we would compete to win,” said Vogel. “That’s how your habits are built the best … Does that mean we’re going to play certain guys 47 minutes? Obviously no.

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“We’ll be intelligent with the whole process of trying to find the right pace to bring our group along from a conditioning standpoint and evaluating on a daily basis what we feel they can handle and what they’re ready for without compromising their bodies and putting them at risk to injury. We will be cautious with those eight games, but we will compete to win.”

Then it’s time for the playoffs, a unique challenge given the circumstances, and one for which Caruso is ready.

“This is something personally that I relish,” he said. “I’m looking forward to the challenge of lasting, of being the team that can be the mentally toughest, the mentally strongest and saying ‘Yeah, we may be on this isolated campus for three months, but we have a goal, we have a mission and it’s not going to affect us trying to get to that end goal and finish the job.’”

It’s that mental side of the game where Caruso thinks the Lakers will have an edge, with everybody dealing with a similar physical challenge.

“The hardest part for us is getting back to doing physically what we were able to do, as far as being early on assignments, being physically ready to box out, to play as physically as it takes to beat teams like the Clippers, Bucks, Rockets and Nuggets, all the good teams that are competing for championships and are going to be in the playoffs,” he explained. “Just getting back to that physical form of being able to do it night in, take a day off, night out, keep going and going and going for a month and a half. The mental part I feel like for our team is going to be easier just because we have such a heady and basketball-smart team, basketball-IQ led team and coaching staff.”

Source: nba.com

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The NBA – Will it resume as scheduled in Florida?

Just when it appeared there would be a return to something resembling normalcy in the world’s premiere basketball competition, the NBA, it appears the Covid-19 situation in Florida has arced up somewhat. Combine this with an almost certain number of positive cases amongst players now being tested and again there is some concern over this year’s series returning.

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We would stress the USA is in a very different situation to Australia with the number of positive identifications here being much lower. However, it points to the need for people to be vigilant and not squander the good work of the current lockdown in Australia. Local competitions here in both Basketball and Netball are looking to resume playing in late July.

Here’s a full report on the current NBA dilemma.

Florida’s Virus Spike Gives N.B.A. Players One More Reason to Hesitate

Concerns over dampening activism, injuries and now a drastic rise in coronavirus cases near Orlando could complicate the league’s plan to restart at Walt Disney World next month.

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[The entrance to the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex near Orlando, Fla., this month. The N.B.A. is set to restart its season at the campus in July.]

Robert A. Iger, the executive chairman of the Walt Disney Company, introduced the phrase into the N.B.A. lexicon. Adam Silver, the league’s commissioner, passed it on to the news media.

In a virtual meeting with N.B.A. team owners on April 17, Iger counseled his audience to make “data and not the date” the focus of the league’s comeback efforts.

Some two months later, as 22 teams ramp up activities in practice facilities and prepare to begin regular coronavirus testing for players and staff members on Tuesday, fretting about the data is suddenly one of the most popular pastimes in the N.B.A. universe.

The main reason: Since Tuesday night, when the league began distributing a 113-page guide of health and safety protocols to govern its planned restart of the 2019-20 season at Walt Disney World next month, the rate of confirmed coronavirus cases in Orange County, Fla., has risen dramatically.

Last Tuesday through Saturday, according to state data, 17 percent of coronavirus tests in the county returned positive results. That was a significant jump from the 10-day period before that, from June 6 to 15, when the positive rate was 5 percent.

The spike is yet another source of apprehension to manage for league and union officials, who just emerged from weeks of complicated discussions to come to terms on all the health and safety restrictions for its restart beginning July 7.

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As a Wednesday deadline approaches for players to notify their teams whether they wish to withdraw from participation, for whatever reason, there are three main sources of anxiety among the players and executives in the league:

– The location of the contained campus for the restart is a fresh source of unease. The N.B.A. chose Disney World for its single-site resumption of play for many reasons — business reasons among them given Disney’s status as the league’s top media partner. But Orange County’s increase in positive tests over the past two weeks has made it an “infection hotbed,” as described by Perry Halkitis, dean of the Rutgers School of Public Health.

– As Lou Williams of the Los Angeles Clippers said last week in a video chat with fans, some players are wrestling with fears that returning to full-time basketball may divert momentum from the Black Lives Matter movement, which has surged worldwide since the May 25 death of George Floyd while in police custody in Minneapolis.

– “In six weeks, the world may need some healing, they may need us to be on the floor,” Williams said. “But if more black kids or more black adults or any adults dealing with police brutality are getting killed and we’re still outraged, I don’t know if it’s in our best interests to suit up, because it looks like we don’t care.”

– A third prime worry that has been routinely overlooked with so much else happening is the injury risk players will face after what has been, for many, the longest layoff of their career from full-speed, five-on-five play.

– There are certainly several players who have been participating for weeks in unauthorized workouts and pickup games — a photo of LeBron James and Ben Simmons training together was posted on Instagram last week by the Klutch Sports Group, the agency that represents both players — but there are likewise many players who struggled in the initial stages of the pandemic to find places to get shots up.

– Through June 29, there will be a maximum of four players allowed in team practice facilities. The next week, until teams begin arriving at Disney World on July 7, up to eight players will be allowed. Players can thus only count on roughly 20 days of full practices and scrimmages with five-on-five work in Florida before the season resumes — considerably less than the norm. A month’s worth of pickup games in team practice facilities every September typically precede the start of N.B.A. training camps.

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[Bradley Beal of the Wizards at a rally in Washington to mark Juneteenth on Friday.]

Regarding the first (and perhaps foremost) concern, Halkitis, like many in his field, has praised the scope of the N.B.A.’s plans to combat the coronavirus at the Disney campus near Orlando.

“It is very, very, very well structured,” Halkitis said of the 113-page document in a telephone interview. “My reaction is that it makes the best use of the science we have to date, knowing perfectly well that things can change tomorrow.”

The main weakness in the N.B.A.’s approach, Halkitis said, is the prospect of players or team staff members leaving the campus without authorization and exposing themselves to the coronavirus — or “workers who are not staying on the grounds” bringing it in.

“Do I 100 percent believe that people aren’t going to leave?” Halkitis said. “I mean, these are adults, right? Human behavior is really hard to control.”

Yet he also acknowledged that the worrying trajectory of the testing data, at the very least, is bound to prompt questions about whether even the N.B.A.’s strict protocols will be sufficient. The Florida Department of Health has seemed to acknowledge the shifting situation, issuing a lengthy health advisory on Saturday that included a reminder to “wear masks in any setting where social distancing is not possible,” and a recommendation that “all individuals should refrain from participation in social or recreational gatherings of more than 50 people.”

Another concerning development in the state from the weekend: Major League Baseball, while still searching for the labor agreement it needs to salvage some semblance of a 2020 season, ordered all team facilities in Florida and Arizona to shut down after players in both locations tested positive for the coronavirus.

“If the numbers were staying stable or they were going down, I’d have lots of confidence in the plan,” Halkitis said of the N.B.A.’s restart. “The numbers going up mean you have a different circumstance now, which increases the probability of transmission and makes the plan — which is excellent but not foolproof — more susceptible to infiltration by the virus.

“I keep using the flood and the dam example: A dam holds water, but if there’s a lot of pressure on the dam, like lots of infections, it’s more likely to crack. And that’s the problem here. They have to keep an eye on what’s going on.”

As players and coaches begin to reunite in earnest, with only two weeks to go before charter planes are revved up to take them straight to Disney World, one suspects that no one on the N.B.A. map will have to hear that advice twice.

Source: nytimes.com

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The NBA – It’s ON – Season to be completed by Mid October.

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Last week, the NBA officially announced that the season was to be completed by mid October at a hub established at Disney World in orlando Florida.

Here’s the full report…

NBA to restart season in Disney World hub as top 22 teams aim to complete season by mid-October

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The NBA is aiming to resume in less than two months at a Disney World hub

The NBA has approved a plan to restart the suspended 2019-20 season at a designated hub at Disney World in Florida, with a tentative start date of July 31.

Key points:

  • NBA franchises voted near-unanimously to restart the season at Disney World in Florida
  • The 16 teams currently in playoff positions and the six teams closest to breaking in will see out the season
  • The league is hoping to be able to start the 2020-21 season on December 1

The plan would see 22 of the NBA’s 30 teams play eight seeding games to determine a 16-team playoff field that would follow the traditional post-season format, with four best-of-seven series that would crown a champion no later than October 12.

“While the COVID-19 pandemic presents formidable challenges, we are hopeful of finishing the season in a safe and responsible manner based on strict protocols now being finalised with public health officials and medical experts,” NBA commissioner Adam Silver said.

The league said approval from its board of governors, which came on the day originally scheduled for the start of the NBA Finals, is the first formal step among the many required to resume the season.

According to ESPN, the vote on the format was 29-1, with the Portland Trail Blazers voting against the proposal.

All games, practices and housing would be at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, which is inside Disney’s Orlando resort and has multiple hotels and arenas and would allow the league to limit outside exposure.

The NBA was the first North American sports league to suspend its season due to the COVID-19 pandemic after one of its players tested positive for the new coronavirus in mid-March with five weeks remaining in the 82-game regular season.

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Twenty-two of the league’s 30 teams will compete to finish the season.

The 22 returning teams would be comprised of the eight teams from each of the two conferences currently in playoff positions plus the six clubs that are six games or fewer behind the eighth seed in their respective conferences.

At the conclusion of the seeding games, the seven teams in each conference with the best combined records across regular-season games and seeding games would qualify for the playoffs.

A play-in tournament would be used to determine the final playoff seed in each conference if the team with the eighth-best combined record is four games or fewer ahead of the team with the ninth-best combined record in the same conference.

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The NBA season was suspended in March after Jazz player Rudy Gobert tested positive to COVID-19.

The Minnesota Timberwolves, one of the teams excluded from the NBA’s return-to-play plan because of their record, expressed disappointment at not being able to play more games but said they understood and accepted the decision.

“It is important that we be a good teammate not only to the NBA, but to the other 29 teams to support the efforts to complete this season and prepare for next season in a healthy and safe manner,” the Timberwolves said in a statement.

If everything goes according to plan, the NBA said the 2020-21 season would begin on December 1.

The league also said it planned to hold its 2020 NBA Draft Lottery to determine the order of the first 14 selections on August 25. Lottery teams would be comprised of the eight clubs that do not participate in the restart and the six that go to Florida but do not qualify for the playoffs.

The actual NBA Draft, typically held in June, is now scheduled for October 15.

Source: abc.net.au

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NBA planning possible ‘Play Ins’ to complete the 2020 Season

Up until now the fans have been left wondering what may happen with the NBA playoffs this year. Well it seems there is some action stirring at the games upper echelon executive.

Disney World in Orlando Florida may well host the finals this year but before that is confirmed here’s an article of interest from ‘The Bleachers’

NBA Reportedly Considering Play-in Restart for Pelicans, Blazers, Spurs, Kings

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As the NBA examines all of the possibilities for restarting the 2019-20 season, the league might open the door for the teams narrowly on the outside of the Western Conference playoff picture to slide into the postseason.

The Memphis Grizzlies are eighth in the West at 32-33. The Portland Trail Blazers, New Orleans Pelicans and Sacramento Kings are all 3.5 games back of Memphis, while the San Antonio Spurs are four games behind the eighth seed.

According to ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne and Adrian Wojnarowski, the NBA is weighing a possible play-in scenario involving those four teams.

The play-in format may extend to the Eastern Conference as well, with Shelburne and Wojnarowski reporting a “playoffs-plus idea” is being considered in which 20 to 24 teams would be involved.

The Athletic’s Sam Amick added that “momentum seems to be going against a 30-team approach.”

While nothing is finalized, NBA spokesperson Mike Bass confirmed the league is looking into moving games to the Walt Disney Resort in Orlando, Florida.

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Some will reasonably argue that it wouldn’t be fair to end the regular season now and start the playoffs with the top eight teams from each conference. Plus, 70 games is the number at which franchises fulfill their local television contracts.

Given all of the logistics the NBA would need to have in place, having all 30 teams travel to Orlando might be unfeasible, though, since it would increase the possible exposure of COVID-19.

Blazers star Damian Lillard may have spoken for some of his colleagues, too, when he told Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes he wouldn’t want to play without some hope of reaching the postseason:

“If we come back and they’re just like, ‘We’re adding a few games to finish the regular season,’ and they’re throwing us out there for meaningless games and we don’t have a true opportunity to get into the playoffs, I’m going to be with my team because I’m a part of the team. But I’m not going to be participating. I’m telling you that right now. And you can put that in there.”

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver is holding a conference call with general managers on Thursday and the board of governors on Friday. Some had hoped that a final plan would be revealed by the end of the week.

However, Shelburne and Wojnarowski wrote that the NBA “has no current expectation that a decision on a finalized plan will emerge” as an immediate result of the calls.

Source: bleacherreport.com

Here in Australia, local competition is beginning to gear up for a return after lockdown.

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Nellakir have been working on several iconic projects on major stadiums, both public and private. As well, work continues on the Netball Victoria HQ’s new courts at the Royal Park complex.

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So as things return to normal, call Nellakir now on 03 9467 6126 and arrange an obligation-free consultation on all your premium Sports Flooring needs.

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It’s simply the best.

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Nellakir helps young athletes reach their goals by providing the highest quality Sprung Timber Sports Floor playing surfaces.

Resumption of Play? Finish the Season? (NBA) or Start the Pre-Season? (NBL)

Right now, the pressure is ramping up both in the USA with the NBA and here with the NBL for teams to get on the boards and resume hostilities. In Australia, the pre-season for the NBL would normally commence in mid to late June. In the US, the NBA must complete the current season.

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In the US, the situation looks muddled. Lockdown just hasn’t been as effective as in other places, a very high infection and mortality rate being the result. There is a fair bit of white noise emanating from various sectors of the game and its commentators, however many states are still in severe lockdown and are unlikely to approve any such activities in sport or public gatherings.

From the Bleacher Report…

LeBron, Giannis, Steph Curry, More Stars in Favour of NBA Resuming Season

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LeBron James and the biggest stars in the NBA have reportedly “formed a united front to resume the 2019-20 season,” which has been on hiatus because of the coronavirus, according to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports.

NBPA President and Oklahoma City Thunder guard Chris Paul arranged a private conference call Monday that reportedly included James, Anthony Davis, Kevin Durant, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kawhi Leonard, Stephen Curry, Damian Lillard and Russell Westbrook.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported Tuesday the NBPA was polling players about whether they wanted the season to continue.

The players’ association denied the report and said it “has not authorized any formal poll of its players,” per Shams Charania of Stadium and The Athletic.

The league has been patient about a potential return, with Commissioner Adam Silver reportedly saying a decision didn’t need to be made in May, per Wojnarowski.

Teams were allowed to reopen facilities last week, though some organizations must remain closed for at least several more weeks based on local restrictions.

Some team executives and agents have reportedly called for the NBA to cancel the remainder of the season, according to Jabari Young of CNBC.

However, there is at least some support among players to return and determine a champion.

The stars on the call carry a lot of weight with 71 combined All-Star appearances and nine MVP awards among the nine players Hayes listed.

Though James and Antetokounmpo would have a lot to gain with a return—the Los Angeles Lakers and Milwaukee Bucks would be expected to contend for the title—that’s not the case with all the others. Curry and Lillard are on teams that would not currently land in the playoff field, while Durant hasn’t played all season while recovering from an Achilles injury.

As Haynes noted, a canceled season could have lasting effects regarding the collective bargaining agreement.

This group of high-profile players could help push the league toward a restart.

Source: bleacherreport.com

Here in Australia, there is some likelihood of a return to the courts for the NBL on time. However, it’s likely to see televised games only with no public attendance permitted.

From the NBL…

NBL Looks at Start Date for 2020/21 Season

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The NBL has commenced work on identifying a start date for the 2020-21 Hungry Jack’s NBL Season as it works with the clubs and other key stakeholders for the return of basketball in Australia.

NBL Owner and Executive Chairman Larry Kestelman said: “It’s very pleasing to see Australia leading the way when it comes to bringing COVID-19 under control and hopefully we are all going to return to some sort of more normal life over the coming weeks and months.

“We are also encouraged by the progress other professional sporting leagues are making as they seek to return and we will monitor them and work with the relevant health authorities and government as we look to bring basketball back.

“We are also talking with the clubs about plans for next season including identifying a start date. We also want to do everything we can to be able to accommodate fans at games even if it means ramping up attendances as the season progresses.

“We are taking a positive and proactive approach and will continue to assess options and hope to be in a position by mid-year to be able to confirm plans for the coming season.

“We believe the NBL will remain a highly attractive option for players from both Australia and New Zealand and around the world should borders be re-opened. The NBL is one of the best leagues in the world outside of the NBA and Australia will without doubt be one of the safest places in the world to play in.

“We respect the rights of players to test the market. The agreement with the Australian Basketball Players’ Association was done by the NBL on behalf of the clubs who were unanimous in their support of the players and wanted to avoid stand downs as they managed the impact of the virus.

“Those players who choose to explore their options can still opt back in to their NBL contracts and we believe there will be a number who do so as the situation in regards to COVID-19 and its impact on various basketball leagues around the world becomes clearer.

“We are very encouraged by the large number of players who have indicated their desire to play in the NBL and we have no doubt the league will remain of a very high standard, attracting top players and enjoyed by fans across Australia, New Zealand and the rest of the world.”

Source: nbl.com.au

The prolonged ban on local sporting competitions and public attendance has seen many stadiums opt for overdue maintenance and repairs to Timber Sports Flooring ensuring premium performance on the return to competition.

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The NBA – Looking to the Future

At Nellakir the work continues with new courts being installed at the State Netball and Hockey Centre, the Twin Rivers Echuca Primary School and Sirius College in Keysborough. Ongoing annual maintenance projects have continued through the school holiday break.

So during the lockdown here’s a bit of interesting news on the NBA for avid fans of the hoop.

NBA spends more than $500K to keep prospect Jalen Green from facing actual competition

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If you want to drill right to the core of the NBA’s new deal with California high school prospect Jalen Green, the league is going to pay him a half-million dollars to not play in the G League because it might be too hard for him.

Green will have no concerns about learning the campus map, no freshman English papers to write and no high-pressure March Madness games to worry about losing. And neither will he have to worry about joining a team such as the Erie Bayhawks or Maine Red Claws and coping with the jealousy of teammates who would be earning about 1/14th his salary.

ESPN reported Thursday that Green will enter a program in which he will be coached and join with other top prospects and professional players for exhibition games against G League teams, national teams from other countries and teams from worldwide NBA academies. Isaiah Todd, who decommitted from Michigan earlier this week to turn pro, is another who might join this program. Green is a 6-5 guard from Prolific Prep in California and is ranked the No. 3 prospect in the 2020 senior class by 247 Sports.

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After years of pushing to have the NBA age limit raised to 20 years and two years out of high school, NBA commissioner Adam Silver reversed course a few years back and now wants it down to 18 years with players eligible upon completion of their senior years. But the Players Association has yet to agree, and agents are pushing hard to convince teens to eschew NCAA basketball for that year they must wait to enter the draft and instead turn professional immediately.

A few did last year, but not here in the States. Wing R.J. Hampton and point guard LaMelo Ball chose to play in Australia rather than in NCAA basketball this past season, which led to Silver encouraging the development of an alternative to American teens joining the NBL.

In October 2018, the NBA had introduced a program for high school prospects that would have paid them $125,000 to compete in the G League for a year, before they were eligible for the draft. The typical G League salary is closer to $35,000.

But there had been no takers. That six-figure offer was not as lucrative as what Australia was paying. The prospect of playing in the G League — which lacks glamour but suffers from no shortage of hungry, talented players who would eagerly use an under-prepared teenager as a backdrop for their own resume tape — was not appealing.

G League president Shareef Abdur-Rahim told ESPN that it was “counterintuitive” for NBA scouts to travel Down Under to scout those players.

“The NBA is the best development system in the world, and those players shouldn’t have to go somewhere else to develop for a year,” he said. “They should be in our development system.”

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This is interesting, because it never seemed like the NBA was a development system. It seemed like the highest level of competition in the world.

If the G League itself were an ideal development system, teenage players would not be fearful of entering. But that’s what was apparent in 2018, when Cincinnati forward Darius Bazley decommitted from Syracuse, announced he would play his post-high school year in the G League and then opted, instead, to serve an internship with an athletic apparel company and then enter the 2019 NBA Draft. He was chosen with the 23rd pick last June and averaged 17 minutes in 53 games with the Thunder before the league suspended its season March 11.

So instead the league is concocting this alternative, which seems like an awful lot of gymnastics to accommodate a few prospects and whose merit is a complete unknown.

Eleven of the 15 players on last year’s three All-NBA teams were products of NCAA colleges, including three who were “one-and-done” collegians. If the NBA thinks it is wise to compete with that success and it’s worth $1 million or more to try — hey, it’s the league’s money.

“This trend has been coming. It’s going to happen. And it’s going to be more and more prevalent,” Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said in a teleconference Wednesday. “We’re just going to have to deal with it.

“But you know what? Here’s my attitude: We’ll have kids take their place. There’s so many good players out there. If a guy wants to go, go to the G League or go to Europe instead of giving us a year, go. Go do your thing. We’ll fill in behind with kids that want the opportunity and are good players.”

Source: sportingnews.com

For all Construction, Installation, Maintenance and Scheduled Cleaning of premium Timber Sports Flooring, call Victoria and Tasmania’s leading experts on 03 9467 6126 for a free, no-obligation quotation. Or visit our website and leave your details here for a prompt reply.

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Last year the Toronto Raptors started their campaign with this play-off game.

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Around about now the NBA would be winding up to the crescendo of the playoffs. Last year the Toronto Raptors lost their first play-off against the Milwaukee Bucks but recovered to eventually ‘steal’ the coveted NBA champions title for Canada – for the first time ever. Makes us wonder whether Australia might eventually field on the NBA side?

Here’s the video and the report.

Milwaukee Bucks rally late to defeat Toronto Raptors in Game 1

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Usually a big game from Kyle Lowry equals a Toronto Raptors win, but the Milwaukee Bucks held on to win Game 1 of their Eastern Conference Finals series.

Brook Lopez scored 13 of his 29 points in the fourth quarter, Giannis Antetokounmpo added 24 and the Bucks rallied in the final minutes to beat the Raptors 108-100 on Thursday (AEST).

Lopez had a dunk with 2:20 left to put the Bucks ahead for good, added a 3-pointer on the next Milwaukee possession to push the lead to four and the team that finished the regular season with the NBA’s best record — after trailing for the overwhelming majority of the game — did just enough in the final minutes to grab the series lead.

Kawhi Leonard scored 31 points and Kyle Lowry added 30 for the Raptors, who couldn’t make the most of a big game from their point guard, as well as an 11-of-44 shooting night from beyond the arc from the Bucks.

Malcolm Brogdon scored 15 and Nikola Mirotic had 13 for Milwaukee, which closed the game on a 10-0 run.

Lopez added 11 rebounds for the Bucks, who had three players post double-doubles.

Antetokounmpo had 14 rebounds and Khris Middleton finished with 11 points and 10 rebounds for Milwaukee, which is now 9-1 in this postseason. The Bucks trailed for 37 of the game’s 48 minutes.

Didn’t matter. They stayed just close enough until they could finish with a serious kick. The Raptors missed their last eight shots and were outscored 32-17 in the fourth quarter.

Pascal Siakam scored 15 for Toronto, including a 3-pointer over Antetokounmpo to end the third quarter and give the Raptors a seven-point lead with 12 minutes left.

It unraveled quickly from there.

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“Total team effort,” Lopez said.

With the chants of Milwaukee’s motto – “Fear the deer! Fear the deer!” – bouncing throughout the building, the Bucks predictably came out flying. The flurry was brief.

The Bucks missed seven consecutive shots, the Raptors made four 3-pointers in a span of three minutes, and that all helped become a 16-0 run by Toronto that turned an early 8-3 deficit into a 19-8 edge. The lead got as big as 13 later in the quarter on a fadeaway jumper by Leonard, and the Raptors held the lead the rest of the half.

Milwaukee had a chance to take its first lead since the opening minutes when Antetokounmpo went to the line for a pair of free throws with 8:17 left in the third and the Bucks down by only one.

He missed both and the Raptors peeled off the next nine points to rebuild what then was a 10-point lead again. But Toronto shot 5 for 22 in the fourth, the Bucks finally reclaimed the lead, and the Raptors’ chance to steal home-court went awry.

Source: foxsports.com.au

Nellakir are the premium supplier and installer of Sprung Timber Sports Flooring in Victoria and Tasmania, supplying the ASF Horner Sports Flooring Systems exclusively.

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Premium flooring requires premium maintenance and cleaning to ensure maximum performance and durability.

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Call Nellakir now on 03 9467 6126 for a free, no-obligation consultation with one of our trained technicians on the care and cleaning of your valuable Timber Sports Flooring and stadium seating. Or leave your details here for a prompt reply.

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Nellakir – The Sports Flooring for Champions.

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NBA – Suspended

Coronavirus live updates: NBA suspends season after Utah Jazz player tests positive for COVID-19

The coronavirus is causing sports cancellations and postponements all across the world

The rapid spread of the coronavirus is causing cancellations and postponements of sporting events around the globe. As of Tuesday afternoon, there have been at least 116,000 coronavirus cases worldwide, according to CBS News. While 64,000 people have recovered, more than 4,000 have died. In America, multiple states are under a state of emergency and some politicians and public health officials are recommending large gatherings of people — including sporting events — in coronavirus hotspots be canceled or closed to the public.

As college basketball’s postseason, MLB Opening Day and the NBA and NHL stretch runs approach, the coronavirus is set to have a serious effect on American sports. Abroad, soccer games in Europe are already being played in empty arenas without fans in certain countries.

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The NBA has suspended the 2019-20 season after a Utah Jazz player, reportedly Rudy Gobert, tested positive for COVID-19. Games in progress on the night of March 11 will be completed.

The league postpone Wednesday’s game between the Thunder and the Jazz. Players and officials were told to walk off the floor while awaiting a decision from the league, and then the announcement was made to a jeering Oklahoma City crowd. Prior to the game on Wednesday, the team announced that Gobert and Emmanuel Mudiay were both out for the game due to an illness.

The Warriors announced the team would play home games without fans in attendance, in accordance with the San Francisco Health Office’s order prohibiting groups of 1,000 people at events.

The league has advised the players on how to avoid the potential spread of the coronavirus while playing a contact-friendly sport. Among the suggestions was for players to avoid the postgame handshake and instead stick with fist bumps.

The NBA announced on Monday it was limiting locker room access over coronavirus concerns.

Source: cbssports.com

So it appears that here in Australia, many sporting codes will be forced to follow suit and modify local competitions to slow the spread of the Coronavirus.

Let’s hope that the pandemic passes quickly without causing too much angst and damage. Nellakir encourages all participants in Basketball, Netball and other indoor sports activities to take precautions and maintain hygiene.

Nellakir are the leading experts in Timber Sports Flooring in Victoria and Tasmania. They are the exclusive agents for ASF/Horner Sports Flooring systems. As well as installation, Nellakir are expert providers of annual and cyclical maintenance such as resurfacing, re-lining and as required re-sanding. Nellakir provide a fully scheduled Court Cleaning Service to keep your Timber Sports Flooring in premium condition, week in week out, over the entire year.

Call 03 9467 6126 for a free, no-obligation consultation on your Timber Flooring requirements or leave your details here for a prompt reply

Nellakir – Premium Timber Sports Flooring for present and future Champions.

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Nellakir helps young athletes reach their goals by providing the highest quality Sprung Timber Sports Floor playing surfaces.

Ben Simmons – All Star 2020 – From Melbourne to Chicago.

From Box Hill Secondary College to the NBA. Born in Fitzroy, now playing for the Philadelphia 76’s. He could have been a sharp on-baller for the bombers in the AFL after playing A-Grade for Whitefriars College as a youth, but instead he chose Basketball. Now from humble beginnings at the Knox Raiders he’s lining up with LeBron’s All Stars in Chicago this coming weekend.

Here’s the lowdown on his career development and progress this year…

By The Numbers: Ben Simmons

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Ben Simmons is set to compete in his second All-Star Game in Chicago as he’ll take the floor as part of Team LeBron.

In his first All-Star appearance last season, the Aussie finished with 10 points, seven assists and six rebounds on a perfect 5-for-5 shooting in just under 17 minutes of action.

Despite the relative turmoil in Philadelphia for a 76ers team that has thus far underachieved, it’s impossible to deny that Simmons has once again performed at an All-Star level and is deserving of the All-Star honour.

Let’s go by the numbers to help articulate just how good Simmons has been so far this season.

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216 – Deflections

The biggest leap that Simmons has made this season has come on the defensive end, where he’s emerged as a legitimate Defensive Player of the Year candidate.

Not only does he lead the league in steals, he’s also first in deflections, which further illustrates his ability to disrupt anything and everything. The fact that at 6’10” he has the ability to cause so much chaos shouldn’t go understated.

Only three other players in NBA history 6’10” or taller have ever averaged over two steals per game. Simmons could become the first player that tall to lead the entire league in steals.

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His development into a versatile stopper capable of legitimately guarding all five positions could further elevate the ceiling for a player still just scratching the surface of his potential.

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Toronto Raptors center Serge Ibaka (9) charges Philadelphia 76ers guard Ben Simmons (25) during the second half of an NBA Eastern Conference semifinal basketball game in Toronto on Sunday, May 12, 2019. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP)

+7.0 – Scoring increase

In Philadelphia’s first game after the calendar flipped to 2020, Simmons poured in 29 points on what at the time was a season-high 20 shots. Although the 76ers lost that game to the Houston Rockets, it proved to be a turning point of sorts for Simmons, who has looked like a completely different player since.

Over his first 34 games, Simmons averaged just 14.5 points per game, which was over two fewer than last season when he earned his first trip to the All-Star Game. Over that span, he had just one 25-point game, which ranked fifth on the team and was fewer than the likes of Nemanja Bjelica, Ish Smith, Jordan McRae and Garrett Temple to name a few.

Scoring isn’t everything, particularly in the case of Simmons, but that’s not great.

Then came that game against Houston which ignited a torrid stretch. In 19 games since, he’s averaging 21.5 points per game, an increase of 7.0 PPG from before the calendar flipped to 2020. While 10 of those games came without Joel Embiid in the lineup, he also has three 25-point games over that span alongside his fellow All-Star teammate.

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He’s actively playing a larger role in the offense, shooting more often and getting to the line more frequently.

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60 – Secondary assists

He’s long been one of the best passers in the league and this year is no exception.

While Simmons ranks fifth in the NBA in assists per game, he actually ranks third in potential assists per game as the 76ers take over 16 shots per game directly off his passes, a figure which trails only LeBron James and Trae Young.

One of the beautiful aspects of Ben’s passing is that he sees the pass before the pass like few others.

The secondary assist – or hockey assist – is a pass that leads to a pass which leads to a made shot. They don’t show up in the box score, but they’re indicative of a player knowing how to move the ball quickly and find teammates in positions where they can then exploit the D.

So far this season, he has 60 of them, which leads the entire league and is nearly twice as many as anyone else on the 76ers.

The unselfish playmaking is a major reason why Simmons should be a desirable teammate this upcoming weekend in Chicago as he’s a threat to wrack up the dimes.

Source: sportingnews.com

It’s not surprising Australia is now producing such prodigious stars of the NBA competition. Australia-wide since 2007 there has been an explosion of high quality FIBA approved Sprung Timber Sports Flooring, enabling real professional progress for players and the game.

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Nellakir are proud to be associated with the sport and its expansion. Nellakir are Victoria and Tasmania’s premier Timber Sports Flooring experts, installing and maintaining ASF/Horner FIBA approved Timber Sports Flooring systems exclusively.

Whether you play at the VBA headquarters in Wantirna, Eagle Stadium in Werribee, the Bendigo Stadium or the Casey Stadium in Cranbourne (plus a host of others) you will be enjoying a quality Nellakir installation.

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In fact, even if your competition is using a school facility constructed under the State Government’s PPP (Public Private Partnership) program, there is a 9/10 chance you are competing a quality Timber Sports Floor from Nellakir.

Nellakir provide expert annual maintenance programs for all Timber Sports Flooring, including Re-coating, Linemarking and when required Re-sanding and Re-surfacing.

Nellakir now also offer professional scheduled cleaning of all Timber Sports Flooring as part of an overall care program for your valuable Sports Flooring.

Don’t delay, call now on 03 9467 6126 and book a free, no-obligation consultation with one of our professional technicians to ensure premium performance and longevity for your stadium’s Sprung Timber Sports Flooring. Or it may be that it’s time to completely replace your current stadium flooring – Nellakir can provide a detailed quotation for all such works upon request.

Alternatively leave your details here for a prompt reply.

Always select Nellakir for expert professional service and advice.

Nellakir – Championship flooring for present and future Champions.

Vale Kobe Bryant.

Simply a champion of the highest level in the sport of Basketball. It would be remiss of us not to acknowledge what a giant of the NBA and the US Basketball team Kobe was.

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From CNN, we reprint this acknowledgement of his status from Jill Martin’s article of Jan 27th 2020.

Kobe Bryant, NBA superstar and future Hall of Famer, is dead at 41

It’s hard to believe NBA superstar Kobe Bryant, whose prodigious talent and win-at-all-costs spirit made him one of the most famous and decorated athletes in history, is gone.

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He was the rare celebrity who didn’t need a last name. Oprah. LeBron. Beyonce. Kobe. Everyone knew who you were talking about.

Still youthful at 41, Bryant — who died in a helicopter crash Sunday in California — looked like he could suit up and drop 30 points on a rival NBA team. It doesn’t seem that long ago that he was scoring 60 points in his final NBA game, soaking up the cheers of Los Angeles Lakers fans who worshiped him for two decades as one of the city’s favorite sons.

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After his 20-year NBA career — all with the Lakers — Bryant is all but assured of being a first-ballot inductee into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame later this year.

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“He was a fierce competitor, one of the greats of the game and a creative force,” said fellow NBA icon Michael Jordan.

An 18-time All-Star, Bryant was known for his remarkable scoring ability — his turnaround jumper was nearly unstoppable — and his championship pedigree. He teamed with fellow All-Star Shaquille O’Neal to win three consecutive NBA titles from 2000 to 2002 and later won two more rings, in 2009 and 2010.

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Known as the Black Mamba — a nickname he gave himself — Bryant twice led the NBA in scoring and won the league’s Most Valuable Player award in 2008.

Bryant’s daughter Gianna, 13, was with her father on the helicopter and was also killed in the crash, a source with knowledge of the situation told CNN.

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“Kobe was so much more than an athlete, he was a family man. That was what we had most in common,” O’Neal wrote on Twitter Sunday. “We love our families. Whenever we got together I would hug his children like they were my own and he would embrace my kids like they were his.”

“The NBA family is devastated by the tragic passing of Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna,” said NBA Commissioner Adam Silver in a statement.

“For 20 seasons, Kobe showed us what is possible when remarkable talent blends with an absolute devotion to winning. He was one of the most extraordinary players in the history of our game with accomplishments that are legendary … But he will be remembered most for inspiring people around the world to pick up a basketball and compete to the very best of their ability.”

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He entered the NBA at age 17

Bryant was born on August 23, 1978, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. His parents, Joe and Pam Bryant, gave him the namesake after seeing a type of steak on a restaurant menu. Kobe beef is from a species of cattle, Wagyu, raised in the Kobe region of Japan.

He lived in Italy from the age of six to 13 while his father played professional basketball, and he spoke Italian fluently. In one of his final interviews before he died, Bryant told CNN how he developed a love of soccer in Italy but also witnessed racism before moving back to the United States.

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“When I was growing up in Italy, I’ve obviously witnessed it firsthand going to certain soccer matches and things of that nature,” Bryant told CNN’s Andy Scholes. “My parents have taught me and educated me on how to deal with those sorts of things.”

Bryant played high school basketball at Lower Merion in Pennsylvania.

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“This is a difficult day for everyone in our school community,” said Amy Buckman, a spokeswoman for Lower Merion School District.

“Mr. Bryant’s connection to Lower Merion High School, where he played basketball prior to joining the NBA, has raised the profile of our high school and our district throughout the world. Our school community will always be grateful for his ongoing generosity to his alma mater, including his dedication of our Kobe Bryant gymnasium and his support of our girls and boys basketball teams.”

Bryant went straight from high school to the NBA, drafted by the Charlotte Hornets with the 13th overall pick of the 1996 draft, making him the youngest NBA player in history at age 17. Bryant was then traded to the Los Angeles Lakers for veteran center Vlade Divac.

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He soon became one of the most decorated players in NBA history and also won two Olympic gold medals for USA men’s basketball, in 2008 and 2012.

Off the court his dazzling smile sold everything from Nike shoes to McDonald’s hamburgers.

There was controversy, however, when Bryant was accused of sexual assaulting a 19-year-old Colorado hotel worker in 2003. Bryant insisted the encounter was consensual. The criminal sexual assault charge was dropped in 2004, and the accuser agreed to settle her civil lawsuit against Bryant in 2005.

LeBron James: ‘Kobe is a legend, that’s for damn sure’

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At 6 feet, 6 inches, Bryant could run the point or play shooting guard, even though his position was small forward.

One of the most memorable games in NBA history came on January 22, 2006, when Bryant scored 81 points in a Lakers’ 122-104 win over Toronto. Only Wilt Chamberlain’s 100-point game in 1962 tops this performance.

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And in his final game of his career in 2016, the Black Mamba did it his way, dropping 60 points — on 50 shots — in a Lakers win against the Utah Jazz at a frenzied Staples Center in Los Angeles.

Bryant finished his NBA career with 33,643 points. A day before he died, he was passed by another Laker and superstar, LeBron James, on the league’s all-time scoring list. James accomplished the feat in — of all places — Philadelphia, against the 76ers.

Bryant took to Twitter after James passed him, writing, “Continuing to move the game forward @KingJames. Much respect my brother.”

James, who had “Mamba 4 Life” and “8/24 KB” in gold marker on his sneakers before Saturday’s game, talked after the game about Bryant’s influence on him.

“The story is just too much,” James said Saturday night. “It doesn’t make sense. … Now I’m here in a Lakers uniform, in Philadelphia, where he’s from… it’s surreal.”

James — who, like Bryant entered the NBA straight out of high school — said Bryant was someone he looked up to when he was in grade school and high school.

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“Seeing him come straight out of high school, he is someone that I used as inspiration,” James said. “It was like, wow. Seeing a kid, 17 years old, come into the NBA and trying to make an impact on a franchise, I used it as motivation.

“He helped me before he even knew of me because of what he was able to do. So, just to be able to, at this point of my career, to share the same jersey that he wore, be with this historical franchise and just represent the purple and gold, it’s very humbling and it’s dope.

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“Kobe’s a legend, that’s for damn sure.”

Another Lakers legend, Magic Johnson, posted a series of tweets on the loss of Bryant, including one showing a picture of Bryant with his two different jersey numbers — 8 and 24 — being retired.

“Kobe and I shared so many special conversations about life and basketball,” Johnson wrote in one tweet. “We had so much in common off the court. I used to love talking to him about Lakers basketball, being fathers and husbands and how much we loved Italy. I will miss those conversations and him so much.”

He coached his daughter, Gianna

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Bryant married wife Vanessa in 2001. They had four daughters: Natalia (born in 2003), Gianna (2006), Bianka (2016) and Capri (2019).

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He and his daughter Gianna were expected at the Mamba Sports Academy in Thousand Oaks for a basketball game scheduled for Sunday afternoon. Bryant was to coach his daughter’s team in the game.

Bryant said that he had watched little basketball after retiring — in 2018, he won an Oscar for best animated short for “Dear Basketball,” which was based on a poem he wrote — but Gianna’s love of the game sparked his interest in coaching her team.

The two were seen together at numerous NBA games recently, and videos of Gianna’s basketball skills went viral despite her just being 13.

Bryant described Gianna — who had WNBA aspirations — as “hellbent” on going to the University of Connecticut, the alma mater of Diana Taurasi and Maya Moore, two players Bryant recently told CNN “could play in the NBA right now.”

“The best thing that happens is when we go out and fans will come up to me — and she’ll be standing next to me — and be like, ‘Hey you’ve got to have a boy. You and V gotta have a boy and then have somebody carry on the tradition, the legacy,'” Bryant once said in an interview with ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel.

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But, Bryant added, Gianna would then pipe up, saying, “I got this.”

Source: edition.cnn.com

A true champion, an icon of the game. Nellakir note with great sadness his passing.

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Nellakir helps young athletes reach their goals by providing the highest quality Sprung Timber Sports Floor playing surfaces.