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Relentless and revered: How I will remember Kobe Bryant

To young basketball fans who came of age in Southern California in the mid-1990s, Kobe Bryant was not a basketball player, but a young god. Our prince. We watched him grow up with the Los Angeles Lakers, as sure of his potential as we were of our own. When h
Yardbarker: Rumors and Gossip

Relentless and revered: How I will remember Kobe Bryant

To young basketball fans who came of age in Southern California in the mid-1990s, Kobe Bryant was not a basketball player, but a young god. Our prince. We watched him grow up with the Los Angeles Lakers, as sure of his potential as we were of our own. When he won, we won. Now he’s gone, and with him, our childhoods. Dead at 41 in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, Calif., along with eight others, including his precious 13-year-old daughter Gianna. He died on the way to a girls basketball tournament at his namesake Mamba Academy, in my hometown of Thousand Oaks, Calif., roughly an hour’s drive from the Great Western Forum, Bryant’s first professional home. The tragedy has taken on added meaning for those I know best. After the news broke, I almost immediately received texts as well as anguished phone calls. Our hero, gone, and so close to our home. Part of his future was in Thousand Oaks, where the next generation of Kobe acolytes were to be infused with the Mamba Mentality. He also was involved in creative end

Michael Jordan releases statement on Kobe Bryant's death

Kobe Bryant came to the NBA with dreams of being like Michael Jordan and becoming one of the NBA’s all-time greats. Following Bryant’s tragic death, Michael Jordan became the latest to speak about Bryant’s legacy. In a statement, Jordan expressed his ut
Yardbarker: Rumors and Gossip

Michael Jordan releases statement on Kobe Bryant's death

Kobe Bryant came to the NBA with dreams of being like Michael Jordan and becoming one of the NBA’s all-time greats. Following Bryant’s tragic death, Michael Jordan became the latest to speak about Bryant’s legacy. In a statement, Jordan expressed his utter shock and pain at the news of Bryant's death. He highlighted his close relationship with Bryant, the memories he had with him and shared all of the things that made Bryant one of the all-time greats. Jordan joins Barack Obama, Doc Rivers and Shaquille O’Neal in sharing their memories of Bryant and paying tribute to his incredible legacy. Many other NBA players also weighed in with their tributes to Bryant following his death. This is an incredibly difficult day for athletes, sports fans and everyone who either knew Bryant or got to watch him play. Our condolences go out to the friends and families of the victims in Sunday’s tragic crash.

Kobe Bryant dies in helicopter crash

Lakers legend Kobe Bryant was killed in a helicopter crash on Sunday morning in Calabasas, California, according to a report from TMZ. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski is among those who have confirmed the report. Bryant and four other people are dead after his
Yardbarker: Rumors and Gossip

Kobe Bryant dies in helicopter crash

Lakers legend Kobe Bryant was killed in a helicopter crash on Sunday morning in Calabasas, California, according to a report from TMZ. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski is among those who have confirmed the report. Bryant and four other people are dead after his private helicopter crashed and caught fire on a hillside in the Calabasas area, per TMZ and Sydney Kalich of NBC Los Angeles. TMZ’s report, which suggests the cause of the crash is unclear at this time, says that Kobe’s wife Vanessa Bryant wasn’t among the passengers on board. It’s a shocking and devastating development for the NBA community. Bryant, who was just 41 years old, is considered one of the league’s greatest players of all-time and is only four years removed from appearing in his final All-Star Game. Although Bryant was a Laker for his entire career, he’s connected in various ways to a number of franchises around the NBA, as Anthony Slater of The Athletic observes. Many of today’s stars also grew up idolizing Kobe, a five-time NBA champion who ear

Russell Wilson gives his Pro Bowl start to Drew Brees

Russell Wilson is doing a pretty cool thing for Drew Brees in what could be the New Orleans Saints quarterback’s final Pro Bowl. According to Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times, Wilson had been selected as the NFC’s starting quarterback in Sunday’s Pro
Yardbarker: Rumors and Gossip

Russell Wilson gives his Pro Bowl start to Drew Brees

Russell Wilson is doing a pretty cool thing for Drew Brees in what could be the New Orleans Saints quarterback’s final Pro Bowl. According to Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times, Wilson had been selected as the NFC’s starting quarterback in Sunday’s Pro Bowl, but he is giving up the start in favor of Brees. Brees is now 41 and might not be back here again. He has openly admitted that he’s considering retirement and will have a decision by the start of free agency. Wilson will certainly be aware of this, and while a Pro Bowl start is far from the biggest honor for a professional football player, it is a nice gesture all the same. It’s one that Brees will likely appreciate, whether it turns out to be the end for him or not.

Kobe Bryant dies in helicopter crash at 41

Legendary NBA star Kobe Bryant has died. Bryant was among five people on a helicopter that crashed in Southern California. The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department confirmed that five people died in a helicopter crash in Calabasas on Sunday morning, thou
Yardbarker: Rumors and Gossip

Kobe Bryant dies in helicopter crash at 41

Legendary NBA star Kobe Bryant has died. Bryant was among five people on a helicopter that crashed in Southern California. The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department confirmed that five people died in a helicopter crash in Calabasas on Sunday morning, though they did not mention Kobe’s name. There were no survivors in the crash. Bryant was just 41. The former Los Angeles Lakers star was known for taking a helicopter as his method of transportation going from his home in Orange County to Staples Center in Los Angeles when he played.

Russell Wilson reportedly giving his Pro Bowl start to Drew Brees

Russell Wilson is doing a pretty cool thing for Drew Brees in what could be the New Orleans Saints quarterback’s final Pro Bowl. According to Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times, Wilson had been selected as the NFC’s starting quarterback in Sunday’s Pro
Yardbarker: Rumors and Gossip

Russell Wilson reportedly giving his Pro Bowl start to Drew Brees

Russell Wilson is doing a pretty cool thing for Drew Brees in what could be the New Orleans Saints quarterback’s final Pro Bowl. According to Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times, Wilson had been selected as the NFC’s starting quarterback in Sunday’s Pro Bowl, but he is giving up the start in favor of Brees. Brees is now 41 and might not be back here again. He has openly admitted that he’s considering retirement and will have a decision by the start of free agency. Wilson will certainly be aware of this, and while a Pro Bowl start is far from the biggest honor for a professional football player, it is a nice gesture all the same. It’s one that Brees will likely appreciate, whether it turns out to be the end for him or not.

Drew Brees still undecided if he will play in 2020

If Drew Brees decides to play in 2020, it will only be for the Saints. However, it’s still unclear whether he will be returning for his age-41 season. The New Orleans legend will wait about a month before making that decision, as Amie Just of NOLA.com write
Yardbarker: Rumors and Gossip

Drew Brees still undecided if he will play in 2020

If Drew Brees decides to play in 2020, it will only be for the Saints. However, it’s still unclear whether he will be returning for his age-41 season. The New Orleans legend will wait about a month before making that decision, as Amie Just of NOLA.com writes. “I’m really waiting until football is totally done,” Brees said on Saturday. “Obviously being [at the Pro Bowl], I’m just very much focused on my family and this opportunity to be be around the guys, playing the game. Then, I’ll kind of lay low for a little bit, get away and then assess. I kind of have a process in mind. And I’ll give it a month or so.” The Saints will obviously give their future Hall-of-Famer all the time he wants, but as Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk points out, the process could be somewhat complicated by the presence of Taysom Hill, a restricted free agent. The Saints love what Hill brings to the field and do not want another club poaching him by giving him an offer that New Orleans cannot match because of its financial commitmen

LeBron wrote tribute to Kobe Bryant on shoes night he passed him in scoring

LeBron James delivered a tribute to Kobe Bryant on the night that he passed the retired star on the NBA’s all-time scoring list. Saturday night in Philadlephia, LeBron needed 18 points to pass Kobe on the career scoring list. He hit that mark in the second
Yardbarker: Rumors and Gossip

LeBron wrote tribute to Kobe Bryant on shoes night he passed him in scoring

LeBron James delivered a tribute to Kobe Bryant on the night that he passed the retired star on the NBA’s all-time scoring list. Saturday night in Philadlephia, LeBron needed 18 points to pass Kobe on the career scoring list. He hit that mark in the second half of the game and got a standing ovation during a timeout afterwards. What was cool is that LeBron wrote a message on his shoes to honor Kobe. James wrote “Mamba 4 Life” and had the numbers 8 and 24, along with Kobe’s initials, written on the shoe. Kobe wore both 8 and 24 during his playing career. James also surpassed Kobe while a member of the Los Angeles Lakers, which is another cool twist. Passing Kobe had to be special for James considering LeBron’s history. In high school, James got the opportunity to meet Kobe and actually wore a pair of the former Lakers legend’s shoes during a game. James called that his “most fond moment” with Kobe. Though Kobe and LeBron competed against each other for several years prior to Kobe’s retirement, Bryant was ecst

Eric Berry intentionally took year off from football, plans to return next season

On every Chiefs 2010s roster except for the edition that has voyaged to the Super Bowl, Eric Berry does not plan to retire. The former All-Pro safety opted to sit out in 2019 but not for lack of interest, according to NFL.com’s Mike Garafolo.  Berry was o
Yardbarker: Rumors and Gossip

Eric Berry intentionally took year off from football, plans to return next season

On every Chiefs 2010s roster except for the edition that has voyaged to the Super Bowl, Eric Berry does not plan to retire. The former All-Pro safety opted to sit out in 2019 but not for lack of interest, according to NFL.com’s Mike Garafolo.  Berry was on a few teams’ radars last summer but wanted to make sure he was sufficiently recovered from the injuries that led to his Chiefs release. Following what Garafolo categorizes as an “intentional sabbatical,” the fifth overall draft pick plans to play in 2020. After the Chiefs released Berry in March, he visited the Cowboys and popped up on the Browns’ radar. We heard nothing from the potential All-Decade teamer during the season, however. Berry’s six-year, $78M Chiefs extension — a then-record safety contract — in 2017 preceded a torn Achilles tendon in Week 1 of the 2017 season and a nagging heel injury that cost him most of the 2018 campaign. The Chiefs ate $14.95M in dead money because of Berry’s release — $8M of which will be attached to their 2020 payroll

Should the Panthers tank for Trevor Lawrence?

The Carolina Panthers were seemingly having themselves a nice month of January.  Doling out big bucks to former Baylor head coach Matt Rhule added another layer to that, as did hiring former LSU passing game coordinator Joe Brady to be the team’s offensiv
Yardbarker: Rumors and Gossip

Should the Panthers tank for Trevor Lawrence?

The Carolina Panthers were seemingly having themselves a nice month of January.  Doling out big bucks to former Baylor head coach Matt Rhule added another layer to that, as did hiring former LSU passing game coordinator Joe Brady to be the team’s offensive coordinator.  Unfortunately, Luke Kuechly’s shocking retirement immediately after the end of the regular season changed the landscape here. Without their team leader and with Cam Newton likely headed out of town, the Panthers are in the midst of dramatic change. It leads us to this theory. Is it time for the Panthers to tank for Trevor Lawrence? The idea: It might seem a bit ridiculous on the surface. Give up on an entire season to target a quarterback in the draft one year later. But there’s certainly something to this. We will lay it out below. The Matt Rhule impact: Baylor’s former head coach signed a seven-year contract to replace Ron Rivera in Carolina. It’s a long-term strategy. Carolina made sure that Rhule knew it was not expecting a quick fix when

Rest assured, Kawhi is tremendous, but Clippers have issues

Midway through the second quarter against Dallas on Tuesday night, Kawhi Leonard went out of bounds contesting a corner three. Recovering, he sprinted down the court, grabbed an outlet pass, and threw down a vicious dunk. Although his three-point shot wasn't
Yardbarker: Rumors and Gossip

Rest assured, Kawhi is tremendous, but Clippers have issues

Midway through the second quarter against Dallas on Tuesday night, Kawhi Leonard went out of bounds contesting a corner three. Recovering, he sprinted down the court, grabbed an outlet pass, and threw down a vicious dunk. Although his three-point shot wasn't falling, the Clippers' superstar finished with 36 points as L.A. eked out a 110-107 win on the road. What a game! What a great effort by Leonard and his teammates! Second-place Los Angeles (32-14) is only 4.5 games behind the first-place Lakers in the West. Kawhi averages 27.3 points, 7.5 rebounds and 5.1 assists -- stats similar to last season's. In a win over Miami on Friday, he had the first triple-double of his career. And yet, something feels off with the Clips, who have somehow lost to the awful Bulls and Hawks. The Clippers seem to follow their quiet superstar’s lead by taking possessions and even full quarters off, like when they barely held off a terrible Knicks team at home.  Could a laissez-faire  attitude derail the Clippers and Board Man...

Rest assured, Kawhi's tremendous, but Clippers have issues

Midway through the second quarter against Dallas on Tuesday night, Kawhi Leonard went out of bounds contesting a corner three. Recovering, he sprinted down the court, grabbed an outlet pass, and threw down a vicious dunk. Although his three-point shot wasn't
Yardbarker: Rumors and Gossip

Rest assured, Kawhi's tremendous, but Clippers have issues

Midway through the second quarter against Dallas on Tuesday night, Kawhi Leonard went out of bounds contesting a corner three. Recovering, he sprinted down the court, grabbed an outlet pass, and threw down a vicious dunk. Although his three-point shot wasn't falling, the Clippers' superstar finished with 36 points as L.A. eked out a 110-107 win on the road. What a game! What a great effort by Leonard and his teammates! Third-place Los Angeles (31-14) is only five games behind the first-place Lakers in the West. Kawhi averages 27.1 points, 7.4 rebounds and five assists -- stats similar to last season's. And yet, something feels a off with the Clips, who have somehow lost to the awful Bulls and Hawks. The Clippers seem to follow their quiet superstar’s lead by taking possessions and even full quarters off, like when they barely held off a terrible Knicks team at home.  Could a laissez-faire  attitude derail the Clippers and Board Man... ah ... Bored Man?   Load management aficionado Leonard, who has missed 11

Vastly underpaid, tight ends Kittle, Kelce should cash in after Super Bowl

Super Bowl LIV will showcase the highest-profile matchup in tight end history: Kansas City's Travis Kelce vs. San Francisco's George Kittle. Each was essential in elevating his team to the NFL’s biggest stage. Although Hall of Famers John Mackey and Mike Di
Yardbarker: Rumors and Gossip

Vastly underpaid, tight ends Kittle, Kelce should cash in after Super Bowl

Super Bowl LIV will showcase the highest-profile matchup in tight end history: Kansas City's Travis Kelce vs. San Francisco's George Kittle. Each was essential in elevating his team to the NFL’s biggest stage. Although Hall of Famers John Mackey and Mike Ditka faced off in Super Bowl V, both were on the downsides of their careers and playing in an era with limited passing volume and less NFL exposure. The only other Super Bowl matchup on this level came two years ago, when Pro Bowlers Rob Gronkowski of New England and Zach Ertz of Philadelphia played in Super Bowl LII. But the Eagles' tight end was not on the Patriots superstar's level. Next Sunday's duel (6:30 ET, FOX) comes at a perfect time for tight ends. In addition to displaying all-world skills, All-Pros Kelce and Kittle can cement cases for market-correcting contracts. Despite presenting some of the NFL’s most difficult coverage assignments, tight ends are second-class citizens, value-wise. Kittle and Kelce claimed three of the past four first-team A

Fabulous or flawed? Debating NBA All-Star Game starters, potential reserves

Yardbarker NBA writers Pat Heery and Sean Keane address the hottest issues in the NBA. This week's topic: All-Star Game starters and reserves.  Heery: The All-Star Game starters were announced Thursday night: East: Giannis Antetokounmpo (Bucks), Kemba Walke
Yardbarker: Rumors and Gossip

Fabulous or flawed? Debating NBA All-Star Game starters, potential reserves

Yardbarker NBA writers Pat Heery and Sean Keane address the hottest issues in the NBA. This week's topic: All-Star Game starters and reserves.  Heery: The All-Star Game starters were announced Thursday night: East: Giannis Antetokounmpo (Bucks), Kemba Walker (Celtics), Trae Young (Hawks), Pascal Siakam (Raptors) and Joel Embiid (76ers) West: LeBron James (Lakers), Luka Doncic (Mavericks), Kawhi Leonard (Clippers), James Harden (Rockets) and Anthony Davis (Lakers) The reserves will be announced January 30, and the captains -- LeBron and Giannis yet again -- will select their squads February 6. There’s not as much recruiting hype surrounding this year’s draft as there was last season with Anthony Davis trade rumors swirling, but as always, there will be puzzling selections, snubs and maybe a few extra chips on the shoulders of some players once the teams are announced.  Heery: Did you have any issues with the starters? I feel like the Western Conference starters were pretty obvious, but the Eastern Conference

Oh, Canada? Imagining a Super Bowl in Toronto, Vegas, London and on an island

Yardbarker NFL writers Michael Tunison and Chris Mueller address some of the hottest issues in the league. This week's topic: ideal host cities for future Super Bowls. Tunison: Super Bowl hosting rights are often used as a way to entice markets to fork over
Yardbarker: Rumors and Gossip

Oh, Canada? Imagining a Super Bowl in Toronto, Vegas, London and on an island

Yardbarker NFL writers Michael Tunison and Chris Mueller address some of the hottest issues in the league. This week's topic: ideal host cities for future Super Bowls. Tunison: Super Bowl hosting rights are often used as a way to entice markets to fork over immense amounts of public money to finance new stadia around the NFL. Two years from now, the game will take place at the new joint Rams-Chargers stadium in Los Angeles. Last Friday, Roger Goodell said Las Vegas has everything necessary to be a Super Bowl city. With states legalizing sports bets, coverage of gambling has become more and more a part of the game-day experience. Super Bowl hosting duties have been assigned through 2024 (Tampa, LA, Glendale, Arizona; New Orleans). It would be hard to imagine that Vegas won't get one of the next few available slots. Tying Super Bowl hosting to new stadiums might be a convincing way for the league to get elected officials to cough up funds, but it also means occasionally the Super Bowl has to be in places like

6 for LIV: Unsung contributors for Chiefs, 49ers

Patrick Mahomes. Nick Bosa. Travis Kelce. George Kittle. These men are superstars — they are among the first names that come to mind for the Super Bowl-bound Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers. But this is the NFL, not the NBA. Stars cannot carry a
Yardbarker: Rumors and Gossip

6 for LIV: Unsung contributors for Chiefs, 49ers

Patrick Mahomes. Nick Bosa. Travis Kelce. George Kittle. These men are superstars — they are among the first names that come to mind for the Super Bowl-bound Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers. But this is the NFL, not the NBA. Stars cannot carry a franchise in the league on their own. Finding success in the NFL requires a collective effort that most other sports do not come close to matching. Sixty-three players took the field for Kansas City this season; 66 players played for San Francisco. Naturally, on rosters that large, there are bound to be contributors whose efforts are unheralded. Here are six unsung players in Super Bowl LIV (Fox, 6:30 ET): KANSAS CITY Damien Williams, Running back Standout skill: Creating yardage after contact The NFL became increasingly pass-heavy throughout the 2010s, but 2019 closed the decade with an antithetical chapter in that story. Many teams found success with a run-heavy approach. Of the eight teams to reach the divisional round, seven ranked in the top half of t

10 things we learned from Zion Williamson's NBA debut

Almost eight months after the New Orleans Pelicans won the lottery and the right to select Duke’s Zion Williamson, the chosen one finally made his NBA debut in a Wednesday night game against the San Antonio Spurs. Media converged on the Smoothie King Arena
Yardbarker: Rumors and Gossip

10 things we learned from Zion Williamson's NBA debut

Almost eight months after the New Orleans Pelicans won the lottery and the right to select Duke’s Zion Williamson, the chosen one finally made his NBA debut in a Wednesday night game against the San Antonio Spurs. Media converged on the Smoothie King Arena, ESPN assigned its grumpiest broadcast team of Jeff Van Gundy and Mark Jackson and Zion was in the starting lineup at power forward. He started slow, and the game the game was sloppy at first — and Van Gundy was ignoring the game and talking about hot dog eating records early on.  But in an electric stretch of the fourth quarter, Zion put up 17 points, three rebounds and two assists to remind everyone exactly why he’s the most hyped NBA prospect since LeBron James. He finished with 22 points, seven rebounds and three assists in just 18 minutes, and while the Spurs held off a furious Pelicans comeback, it felt like Zion was the winner of the night. Here’s 10 things we learned from Zion’s debut: 1. Nine months off makes you rusty: Zion’s last competitive bas

So long, Eli Manning. Your next stop is Hall of Fame.

Eli Manning’s Hall of Fame debate will be one of the more complicated in pro football history.  Responsible for two of the greatest quarterback runs in playoff history, Manning -- who Wednesday announced his retirement -- ranks seventh in touchdown passes
Yardbarker: Rumors and Gossip

So long, Eli Manning. Your next stop is Hall of Fame.

Eli Manning’s Hall of Fame debate will be one of the more complicated in pro football history.  Responsible for two of the greatest quarterback runs in playoff history, Manning -- who Wednesday announced his retirement -- ranks seventh in touchdown passes (366) and passing yards (57,023). From 2004-17, he started 210 straight games, the third-best QB streak of all time. But Manning, replaced by rookie Daniel Jones as Giants starter in 2019, trails 2004 classmates Ben Roethlisberger and Philip Rivers in accolades (four Pro Bowls to Big Ben’s six and Rivers’ eight). A strong argument also can be made that Manning was never considered a top-five quarterback during his career. That said, an Eli Manning bust will appear in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. His performance during the 2007 and 2011 playoffs should seal his HOF case with voters. We cannot live in an era when fans are flooded with shallow-dive “Tom Brady, six rings, GOAT” proclamations while Manning's postseason success is treated as sec

Five teams that could become Cinderella stories during March Madness

The four days between Selection Sunday and the round of 64 games of the NCAA Tournament is one of the most fun periods for sports fans. Brackets are distributed, analyzed and agonized over. Everyone has a common goal: find the Cinderella team. There are few j
Yardbarker: Rumors and Gossip

Five teams that could become Cinderella stories during March Madness

The four days between Selection Sunday and the round of 64 games of the NCAA Tournament is one of the most fun periods for sports fans. Brackets are distributed, analyzed and agonized over. Everyone has a common goal: find the Cinderella team. There are few joys as sweet as predicting an upset, especially when the team you stood up for makes a run past the first weekend. Finding the teams capable of an upset is certainly easier once the field is set, yet there is some real value to checking in on possible Cinderellas earlier on in the schedule. Let’s take a look at teams with a chance to make waves in March, limiting our search to mid-major teams currently rated no higher than a 11 seed in ESPN’s most recent bracket projection. 5. Duquesne Before this season, the Dukes would not have figured into a list like this one. The program has been in a nearly permanent downturn, winning more than 20 games in a season just twice in the last 40 years. It came as a surprise then when the Dukes started 10-0, with just th

Brawls and pain: Potential ripple effects of Astros' sign-stealing scandal

The Astros' sign-stealing scandal has shaken Major League Baseball to its core.  After a lengthy investigation, MLB came down hard on Houston, suspending manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow for a season, taking away first- and second-round dra
Yardbarker: Rumors and Gossip

Brawls and pain: Potential ripple effects of Astros' sign-stealing scandal

The Astros' sign-stealing scandal has shaken Major League Baseball to its core.  After a lengthy investigation, MLB came down hard on Houston, suspending manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow for a season, taking away first- and second-round draft picks over the next two years, and fining the team $5 million. Subsequently, Astros owner Jim Crane fired Hinch and Luhnow. The fallout wasn't limited to Houston: Managers Alex Cora of the Red Sox and Carlos Beltran of the Mets were fired. Both were with the Astros in 2017 -- Cora as a bench coach and Beltran as a player -- and each was implicated in MLB's investigation. The Astros' illegal scheme raises numerous questions, among them: What's next? Here are potential ripple effects: Veterans Buck Showalter, Dusty Baker may get managing jobs In today's age of analytics, with more game-day decisions coming from upstairs in the front office rather than in the dugout, the job of Major League manager has evolved. Baseball lifers are being phased out, replac

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