Turning Back the Clock: The Kobe Bryant Experience

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This past Saturday, Dec. 12th, 2015, I attended the Los Angeles Lakers vs. Houston Rockets game in Houston, Texas. Ever since Kobe announced his retirement, I promised myself to see him grace the floor with his legendary presence in his last season. Let’s just say, the experience I received was well more than what I expected.

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Expectations

My expectations were reasonable for this game. I anticipated Mr. Bryant to receive a standing ovation during the starting lineup announcements, play approximately 20 minutes, and wave at the crowd before he took his final seat in the game. As the announcer called out Bryant’s number, the crowd rose to its feet and cheered him on as if he was wearing a Rockets jersey.

ezgif.com-rotateSeeing him walk through the Lakers huddle with an aura of peace was amazing to see. It was as if he was thinking, “I’m really going to miss the game, but it’s time for me to leave it behind.” Before tip-off, Kobe could be seen laughing and talking with former Rockets players, Tracy McGrady and Steve Francis, who were sitting courtside.

The exchanges between Bryant and other members of the Houston Rockets starting five were interesting, as well. James Harden greeted Kobe with a special handshake (Harden also wore the Kobe II shoes to pay homage to Bryant) while Dwight Howard received a cold stare and a backhand pat on the shoulder from the Black Mamba.

The Game

Kobe fired so many 3-pointers in the game! The slot right section of the arc was his go-to spot all night. Even if you were not a Kobe fan, you could not help but enjoy watching someone become so lost in the game that every movement made seemed effortless. For most of Bryant’s time on the floor, he sagged off defenders and even stayed on one end of the court for 5 consecutive possessions. At one point, James Harden crossed over Kobe causing the crowd to roar with excitement. One fan even yelled out, “Take it easy on the old man, James!!”

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Kobe finished the game with 23 points (not bad for the old man). The Black Mamba turned back the clock with his performance. Witnessing Bryant drain 3’s and perform his signature fist-pump was a priceless moment. The Mamba even made a 3-pointer in Harden’s face. Kobe did not hold back at all.

In the final minute of the game, I accepted the fact that Kobe was leaving the game for good.  I became very grateful that I saw him (in person) play during the championship years with Shaquille O’Neal and his final season in LA.

The Experience

After the buzzer sounded, I met with a good friend from college (Tony Davis) who was also at the game (big Kobe fan, too). Unbeknownst to me, my friend had floor access after the Rockets game in which we could mix and mingle with the players. We reached the tunnel outside of the Lakers’ locker room and waited on the players to come out.

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Follow Tony on twitter: @tdavis_doesit

As I sat in the third row of section 105, I met Los Angeles’ Brandon Bass, Jordan Clarkson, Head Coach Byron Scott, Ron Artest, Roy Hibbert, Robert Black, and Houston’s Corey Brewer and Marcus Thornton. Plus, Clyde Drexler walked right in front of us heading into the Lakers’ tunnel. While talking to my friend’s nephew, he received numerous texts and pics of my friend with different players. All we could do was laugh and live in the moment of being surrounded by current and future NBA legends. My friend Tony even grabbed a picture with the Black Mamba, himself. It was a good night.

More pics from the game:

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The Bandwagonner’s Guide to Choosing a NBA Finals Team

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Compelling Stuff

Steph and DaughterLike many NBA fans, I’m gearing up for the Finals that start tomorrow. The finals this year are particularly interesting to me, as the Warriors are my team. Getting a significant other interested in the series isn’t easy though. Here’s your guide to picking a team to ruthlessly back should you be looking for a team to bandwagon, or for a way to get interested in the series.

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NBA Finals Preview

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2015 has seemed to be the year for big sports match-ups: Seattle Seahawks vs. New England Patriots (NFL), Floyd Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquiao (Boxing), and now Golden State Warriors vs. Cleveland Cavaliers (NBA). This is a battle of the best teams when it comes to the NBA. LeBron James and Steph Curry have both, respectively, stepped up for their teams in an eye-opening fashion.

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I recently participated in a debate over the question: “Who has been more impressive during this year’s NBA playoffs? Steph Curry or LeBron James?” This is a very tough one, but I answered in favor of LeBron (I’m on the left):

FANDINGS1 FANDINGS2 FANDINGS3Both teams are well-oiled machines, which provides the needed hype for this Finals series. I’ve taken a rough survey throughout my encounters with NBA fans via Twitter and passersby in Dallas and Fort Worth. So far, the cities of Dallas and Fort Worth are mainly in favor of the Cavaliers (8 for Cleveland; 2 for GS)…while TwoOneFour Manuscript’s Twitter feed is primarily in favor of Golden State (12 for GS; 5 for Cleveland). I’m not a big fan of either team; however, I would choose the Cleveland Cavaliers based on how much they’ve beat the odds over this season.

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My prediction: Cleveland in 6 games. It is expected that the combo of Curry/Thompson and LeBron James will score points. Therefore, this series will come down to the strength of both team’s benches. Golden State and Cleveland have a nice group of backups. This match-up should be a fight to the finish.

If you would like to add your input on this series, place your vote below.

 

‘Til next time.

Follow the blog on Twitter: @214_Manuscript

Klay Thompson Participated In Monday’s Practice And Awaits Clearance For Game 1

NBA

UPROXX

Klay Thompson

The NBA Finals are finally almost here, and it looks increasingly likely Klay Thompson will be available to play in Game 1.

The Golden State Warriors’ sharpshooting All-Star was a full participant in Monday’s practice. Barring concussion-like symptoms gleaned from tomorrow’s session, all signs point to Thompson being cleared to participate in Thursday night’s contest.

The 25 year-old even got some extra shots up following today’s practice, too.

Thompson was diagnosed with a concussion after he took a knee to the head from Trevor Ariza in the Warriors’ conference-clinching Game 5 win over the Houston Rockets last Wednesday. Though medical personnel initially deemed his injury less serious, he experienced symptoms indicative of a concussion immediately following the game and over…

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James Harden Should Party Before Every Game

General Sports, NBA

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James Harden went to a Drake concert over the weekend in Houston, then he went out and dropped 45 points on Golden State in Game 4 and extended the all-but-done Western Conference Finals series.  Then the rains came and flooded Houston to the edge of catastrophe…..coincidence?

hardendrake_fl2iw7The Houston Rockets internet blew up after photos came out of Harden apparently having too much fun (at a Drake concert?):

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This is the most positive press Drake has EVER had, I think he needs James Harden more than James Harden needs Drake.

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