Kevin Durant marveled at Kobe Bryant’s willingness to outwork everybody

OKLAHOMA CITY — The private conversations will always stay that way. Kevin Durant does not seem like one to wax nostalgia. Neither does Kobe Bryant.

So, the Oklahoma City forward always preferred “learning more from just watching” the Lakers’ star and “figuring out why he’s like this.” After all, those moments told Durant more about Bryant than anything Bryant could ever say. And what Durant saw from Bryant in the Las Vegas during the 2008 offseason.

Then, Durant had just completed his NBA rookie season and began training for the U.S. Olympic trials in Las Vegas. Bryant was also there to train for the U.S. Olympics later that summer in Beijing.

“Jeff Green and I are only ones on the first bus. Right as we’re about to leave, we see Kobe getting on walking by himself when everybody else took the day off,” Durant said. “He worked out on one end. We worked out on the other.”

Then, Durant saw Bryant make 50 shots in seven different spots from behind the 3-point line. As Bryant dripped in sweat, Green and Durant remarked to each other, “He’s the best player in the league.”

“He took a bus to a high school gym to put some work in,” Durant said. “He’s old school. That’s exactly what I wanted to be like.”
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Kobe Bryant’s Apple TV ad pokes fun at his struggles with Father Time

Kobe Bryant once scoffed surrounding questions on his demise.

He took offense when the media suggested his game went on the decline. Or that his remaining seasons have become numbered. Or that he could not overcome his latest injury.

As Bryant has gone on his farewell tour in his 20th and final NBA season, however, he has embraced it. Bryant has lamented with humor the never-ending recovery process just to step on the court. He has acknowledged his physical limitations. Bryant laughed when Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul and Dwyane Wade hosted a dinner for him during All-Star Weekend where the pair of friends gave him gifts poking fun at his age. And in his Bryant’s latest ad for Apple TV, the theme surrounds how the old man can no longer do what he once could.


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Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter and on Facebook. E-mail him at mark.medina@langnews.com

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Kobe Bryant says “you should hate me” in latest Nike commercial

On the surface, the adoring crowds, endless gifts and infinite farewell videos suggested Kobe Bryant became this revered figure that smiled, laughed and shook everyone’s hands in sight.

Throughout Bryant’s 20-year NBA career with the Lakers, he often played the villain. He clashed with teammates over their work ethic. He butted heads with coaches at time over his role. He once grew impatient with the Lakers over their rebuilding plan. Yet, Bryant maintained he behaved that way amid his endless desire to win.

Hence, the theme around Bryant’s latest Nike commercial involves the juxtaposition between the Lakers’ star both being loved and hated. It sounds like Bryant would not want it any other way.


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Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter and on Facebook. E-mail him at mark.medina@langnews.com

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Nick Young did not travel with Lakers to New Orleans, plans to rejoin team on Friday

Nick Young, seen briefly addressing last week’s controversy involving rookie teammate D’Angelo Russell, was on the inactive roster for Sunday’s game against Boston. John McCoy — Staff Photographer

Nick Young, seen briefly addressing last week’s controversy involving rookie teammate D’Angelo Russell, was on the inactive roster for Sunday’s game against Boston. John McCoy — Staff Photographer

NEW ORLEANS — Lakers forward Nick Young did not travel with the team on Thursday to New Orleans, according to sources familiar with the situation.

Young plans to join the team here sometime on Friday before the Lakers (16-62) play the New Orleans Pelicans (26-52) at Smoothie King Center, sources said. But it’s not clear why Young did not fly with the Lakers on Thursday. The Lakers declined to comment on the situation.

Young has missed the past 13 games, including two the Lakers attributed to a stomach bug. Lakers coach Byron Scott also recently said that Young’s “not here with us mentally.” Lakers rookie point guard D’Angelo Russell secretly recorded a video earlier this year that was somehow leaked to a gossip website two weeks ago that showed Young admitting adultery to his fiance, Iggy Azalea.

With the incident causing issues in the Lakers’ locker room, Russell publicly apologized and expressed remorse prior to last week’s game against Miami. Russell also apologized to the team before that game.

Russell reported he has apologized to Young. But Young chose not to be present when Russell addressed his teammates about the incident prior to the Miami game. Young also has not spoken to reporters since the video became public, other than offering a brief statement that he and Russell needed to resolve the issue privately.

Young has also been on the team’s inactive roster in the past three contests and watched the games in the locker room instead of on the bench. Scott insisted earlier this week that Young’s lack of playing time had nothing to do with any lingering tension with Russell. Young has averaged 7.3 points on a career-low 33.9 percent clip.

Young has two years left on a contract worth $11.1 million. He is not expected to stay with the Lakers after the 2015-16 season, though the team’s attempts to trade him for the past two years remained unsuccessful.

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Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter and on Facebook. E-mail him at mark.medina@langnews.com

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Jabari Brown to miss rest of D-Fenders’ season with patellar tendinitis in left leg

Jabari Brown will miss the rest of the D-Fenders season with a XXX Photo by Brad Graverson/The Daily Breeze/03-10-16 Jabari Brown will miss the rest of the D-Fenders season with a XXX Photo by Brad Graverson/The Daily Breeze/03-10-16[/caption

Former Lakers guard Jabari Brown will miss the Development League playoffs with the D-Fenders after recently suffering patellar tendinitis in his left leg, according to various team sources.

It is not currently clear how the injury occurred. But this marks another moment of adversity for Brown, whose father died of cancer on Feb. 27, 2016. After a season-long stint with the Foshan Long Lions of the Chinese Basketball Association, Brown signed with the D-Fenders in early February. Brown averaged 16.8 points albeit on 36.4 percent shooting in 27.4 minutes through eight games.

Various league sources have expressed optimism about Brown’s ability to land an NBA gig and eventually cope with his father’s passing after serving two training camp stints with the Lakers. In a a wide-ranging interview last month, however, Brown admitted he has struggled with grieving over his loss.

The D-Fenders have acquired Jamal Branch, who will be available for Thursday’s playoff game against the Reno Bighorns at the Lakers’ practice facility in El Segundo. Branch played 10 games with the D-Fenders, averaging 1.1 points and .8 assists in 6.4 minutes.

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Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter and on Facebook. E-mail him at mark.medina@langnews.com

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AEG unveils exclusive line of Kobe Bryant merchandise

Lakers guard Kobe Bryant interacts with some fans in Wednesday's game against the Clippers at Staples Center. Photo by John McCoy/Southern California News Group

Lakers guard Kobe Bryant interacts with some fans in Wednesday’s game against the Clippers at Staples Center. Photo by John McCoy/Southern California News Group

His jersey fills up Staples Center, every opposing venue and sporting goods stores around the world. His shoes squeak on NBA hardwoods, outdoor blacktops and indoor gyms everywhere, too.

With Kobe Bryant less than a week away from playing in his career finale on April 13 against the Utah Jazz at Staples Center, AEG has released exclusive Bryant merchandise that go beyond the normal apparel any fan can wear in the stands or on the court.
For $38,024, you can buy an 18-karat gold black lambs leather cap through Lakersstore.com. Or if you would like to save some money, you can purchase a purple diamond cashmere cap for $24,008.

Or perhaps you’d like to use that money elsewhere, like on your house, your car or paying off bills. So instead, you can buy a jacket (priced from $724-$5,824), a boxed jersey ($824) or an “81” cap ($248.24). Some more relatively economical items include hats (priced from $72.48 to $82.48), long sleeve T-Shirts ($42.48) or T-shirts versions of a boxed and retailed jersey ($32.48).

“The vision and creation of the “24 Collection” started more than a year ago when we challenged the New Era Cap design team to create items to commemorate one of the Lakers’ all-time greats and most popular player in team history. After sharing our vision with our partners, the “24 Collection” was created,” Vice President of AEG Merchanise Sean Ryan said in a statement. “An athlete like Kobe Bryant only comes along once in a generation and to celebrate his incredible twenty year career we feel we have really captured it with the over forty five exclusive items available for fans who want to celebrate the history that they have witnessed.”

Fans can purchase any of those items at Lakersstore.com, which will begin shipping on April 13. The Team LA Store at Staples Center will sell those that merchandise when they from 8:24 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. PDT on April 13.

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Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter and on Facebook. E-mail him at mark.medina@langnews.com

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Kobe Bryant shows his competitive & humorous side in ‘American Express Teamed Up’ event

"LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - MARCH 29: American Express Teamed Up With Kobe Bryant at Conga Room on March 29, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Bernstein Associates/Getty Images for American Express )"

“LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – MARCH 29: American Express Teamed Up With Kobe Bryant at Conga Room on March 29, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Bernstein Associates/Getty Images for American Express )”

The laughs kept coming as Kobe Bryant, Rick Fox and Robert Horry reflected on their three NBA championships they wont together. So much that Bryant once remarked tongue in cheek that the Lakers somehow collected those rings from 2000 to 2002 despite their goofy personalities.

But at a recent event titled “American Express Teamed Up” all three players showed their competitive side as well. In a conversation moderated by NBA Inside Stuff’s Kristen Ledlow, Bryant, Fox and Horry explained how they never became satisfied with their riches. They shared what drove them. And they shared illuminating stories along the way.

Below is an edited portion of the nearly hour-long conversation.

Ledlow:
“Kobe, how long have you played basketball?”

Bryant: “As far back as I can remember. I remember two years old and three years old when I started playing. I would take rolled up tube socks and shoot them on the wall. The sport consumed me at an early age.”

Ledlow:
“How have you taken those lessons from an early age to now? How old are you now?”

Bryant: “I’m 37. I think I get confused. I think I’m 37 or 38. I will be 38.”

Ledlow:
“Those basketball lessons you were taught at an early age. How did you apply them?”

Bryant:
“It’s understanding that it’s all connected. The things you go through with life, you try to figure things out constantly and now it’s about how you navigate them doesn’t change. The industry may change. But how you navigate a sense of self can change.”

Ledlow:
“These people are some of the biggest fans in the world. They want to know and I want to know some of your friends and family know you that maybe some of your teammates have known along the way.”

Bryant:
“When I don’t play, I’m not the Black Mamba. I’m laid back. I’m a pretty chill, human jungle gym for my kids. I love movies, fantasy movies. I love reading children’s books and novels and things of that sort.”

Ledlow:
“What’s so odd for this season is that everywhere you go, people want to hug you. That probably was not the case earlier.”

Bryant:
“It was uncomfortable at first. You’re so used to going to these arenas and being the villain for all these years. The first time I had gotten an ovation, it’s like woah. This is weird. But it’s great.”
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Lakers’ Byron Scott, Kobe Bryant frustrated with team’s lack of intensity

The Los Angeles Laker Kobe Bryant ,24, Laker coach Byron Scott against the Boston Celtics, at the Staples Center. Lakers lost 100-107. Los Angeles Calif., Sunday, April ,3, 2016. (Photo by Stephen Carr / Daily Breeze)

The Los Angeles Laker Kobe Bryant ,24, Laker coach Byron Scott against the Boston Celtics, at the Staples Center. Lakers lost 100-107. Los Angeles Calif., Sunday, April ,3, 2016.
(Photo by Stephen Carr / Daily Breeze)

The moments usually elicit nostalgia for Byron Scott as he watches Kobe Bryant days before his basketball mortality becomes official.

Scott has felt like a proud father as he watches the tribute videos Bryant has received in most road games. Scott has gushed over any instant Bryant shows flashes of his former self. Scott has expressed appreciation for Bryant to grind through his 20th and last NBA season even when it requires endless maintenance on his 37-year-old body.

Yet, something bothered Scott about Bryant’s presence in the Lakers’ 103-81 loss to the Clippers in a designated road game on Tuesday at Staples Center. It had very little to do with Bryant’s six-point effort on 2-of-12 shooting in 22 minutes. It had everything to do with his teammates around him as the Lakers tied last season’s record for the worst record in franchise history.

“It bothers me that his last five, six, seven, eight games are going to be with the way we’re playing as a team,” Scott said. “That bothers me, because you’re talking about a champion. That bothers me, because he is a champion. And I hate to see him go out this way. Unfortunately this is the way it’s going to be. It bothers the hell out of me that somebody who’s given 20 years to this league and has played through broken fingers, comes back from the Achilles, comes back from the shoulder surgery, and he still goes out there and gives it everything he has, that bothers me.”

Scott did not see that from most of his other players.

As much as the Lakers’ long-term future cements on their young players, D’Angelo Russell, Jordan Clarkson and Julius Randle shot a combined 8-of-36 from the field. Clippers guard Chris Paul had his way with Russell by posting 25 points on 10-of-14 shooting, eight assists and two steals. The Lakers also allowed the Clippers to open the game with a 20-2 run.

Meanwhile, Lakers 36-year-old forward Metta World Peace posted a team-leading 17 points on 5-of-10 shooting and five rebounds in 19 minutes off the bench. He had not led the Lakers in scoring since Jan. 2013.

“It’s a shame that Metta and Kobe, guys up in age like that, come out and play that hard. Our young guys aren’t realizing they have to play that way as well to be successful in this league,” Scott said. “I would love our guys to play like Metta. When he goes out there, he gives everything he has on both ends of the floor, especially on the defensive end.”
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Lakers consider Jordan Clarkson probable to play Wednesday vs. Clippers

Lakers guard Jordan Clarkson had an injury to his right leg during Tuesday's loss to the Clippers. (Photo by Michael Owen Baker/L.A. Daily News)

Lakers guard Jordan Clarkson had an injury to his right leg during Tuesday’s loss to the Clippers. (Photo by Michael Owen Baker/L.A. Daily News)

The Lakers have more injuries to monitor, and it does not just involve Kobe Bryant.

Lakers second-year guard Jordan Clarkson bruised his right fubula after falling on a players’ foot during Tuesday’s 103-81 loss to the Clippers in a designated road game at Staples Center. Considering x-rays came out negative, the Lakers (16-61) consider Clarkson as probable to play against the Clippers (49-28) in a designated home game at Staples Center.

“It’s sore. That’s it,” said Clarkson, who had 10 points on 4-of-13 shooting. “I feel like I’m going to play tomorrow.”

Lakers coach Byron Scott has not played Lou Williams in the past two games as a way to give more playing time to his younger plays. That plan could change if Clarkson cannot play on Wednesday.

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Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter and on Facebook. E-mail him at mark.medina@langnews.com

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Lakers’ Kobe Bryant plans to play in last Clippers road game

Kobe Bryant plans to play in his final "road" game against the Clippers. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht/Los Angeles Daily News)

Kobe Bryant plans to play in his final “road” game against the Clippers. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht/Los Angeles Daily News)

The issue seemingly becomes non-negotiable even if Kobe Bryant’s right shoulder bothers him.

Ever since announcing his retirement, Bryant has never missed a road game that marked his final appearance at an opponent’s venue. Bryant will carry that same mindset when the Lakers (16-60) visit the Clippers (48-28) on Tuesday even if the designated road game takes place in the familiar confines of Staples Center.

“As far as I know, as of right now he is,” Lakers coach Byron Scott said of Bryant’s playing status following morning shootaround on Tuesday. “Unless something changes.”

The Clippers plan to provide a tribute for Bryant as all road opponents have. Currently, Scott has loved the farewells the San Antonio Spurs and Golden State Warriors have given. The Spurs played a video tribute that lasted two minutes and 30 seconds, filled with highlights as well as tributes from Spurs coach Gregg Popovich and veterans Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker. The Warriors featured a tribute from executive and former Lakers general manager Jerry West. The Warriors also gave Bryant a vacation package to Napa Valley as well as a bottle of wine.

Scott said he likely will play Bryant around his season average of 28.4 minutes per game against the Clippers on Tuesday to preserve him for a designated home game against the Clippers on Wednesday. Scott has planned to play Bryant in the 30-minute range in the Lakers’ two remaining home games, including the season finale against the Utah Jazz on April 13.

Earlier this week, Scott said he planned to play Bryant more conservatively in the Lakers’ three-game trip this week in New Orleans (Friday), Houston (Sunday) and Oklahoma City (Monday). Scott has not determined specifics yet so he can see how Bryant will play in the Lakers’ upcoming back-to-back against the Clippers. Yet, Scott said he is mindful about handling Bryant with care so he can play in the Lakers’ season finale in what will mark his last game of his 20-year NBA career.

“That finale is coming closer and closer each day,” Scott said. “We can all see it. I want him to play that game 30 plus minutes, go out there and enjoy it.”

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