Alexander: Kobe’s death a gut punch to L.A. fans

first_imgMy personal interaction began before all of that, with a phone call to the house.Bryant, who had just turned 18 and was still a month away from his first NBA training camp, fractured his wrist in a pick-up game at Venice Beach in early September of 1996. When he returned a phone call for a story about that injury and the fact he would miss the start of training camp, our daughter – 19 at the time – picked up the phone. She still marvels at the idea she talked to Kobe Bryant before he was somebody.What he said in that subsequent conversation probably was a glimpse of what we were going to get for the next two decades: “It happened, and now it’s time to move on. I’m still working out, still keeping myself in shape. I’m just minus a left wrist right now.”He was supremely confident from the beginning. Sometimes it backfired, as in the case of that series-deciding game in Utah. He took the last shot in regulation and missed. Then, with the Lakers down three at the end of overtime, Bryant attempted two deep 3-pointers from the left wing, missed both, and after the Lakers had lost and been eliminated said this:“If we play this game again, I want the ball again. Tonight I just didn’t come through, but there will be plenty more chances down the line.”The Lakers’ Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant share a laugh during the final minutes of the the Lakers’ 117-103 victory over the New York Knick at the Staples Center Sunday March 10, 2002. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)There were. Bryant’s confidence never wavered, and neither did his discipline or work ethic, combined with a drive to be great. Thus, the three-peat of 2000-01-02 with Shaq. Or the 81-point game against Toronto in January, 2006. Or, in another way, the days in the summer of 2007 when, distraught that the Lakers weren’t making enough moves to return to championship level, he asked for a trade and declared that he’d just as soon play on Pluto.That worked, too. The Lakers didn’t dare trade him, but eventually, they acquired Pau Gasol as his wingman and won championships in 2009 against Orlando and 2010 against the Celtics. That last title gave us the iconic image of Bryant, standing on the Staples Center scorer’s table, the game ball in his left hand as the confetti fell and the fans rejoiced.“Nobody works harder,” Lakers trainer Gary Vitti told us in 2008, the day Bryant received his only league MVP trophy. “Nobody’s tougher. Nobody’s more talented, and nobody’s more competitive. When you’ve got those four things, if you can’t win an MVP, something’s wrong.”That might have had something to do with his occasional friction with certain teammates. He couldn’t understand why they didn’t work as hard as he did. And when Bryant ripped his Achilles tendon in April of 2013 against the Warriors and still dragged himself to the line to take his two free throws before going to the locker room … that, too, was iconic Kobe.All of those memories will be revisited in the days to come. The Lakers are next scheduled to play Tuesday at home against the Clippers. Imagine what that will be like.PreviousFans mourn the loss of Kobe Bryant in front of La Live across from Staples Center, home of the Los Angeles Lakers in Los Angeles on Sunday, January 26, 2020. Kobe Bryant and 8 others died in an helicopter crash in Calabasas. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG)Thousands of fans mourn the loss of Kobe Bryant in front of La Live across from Staples Center, home of the Los Angeles Lakers in Los Angeles on Sunday, January 26, 2020. Kobe Bryant and 8 others died in an helicopter crash in Calabasas. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG)Thousands of fans mourn the loss of Kobe Bryant in front of La Live across from Staples Center, home of the Los Angeles Lakers in Los Angeles on Sunday, January 26, 2020. Kobe Bryant and 8 others died in an helicopter crash in Calabasas. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG) SoundThe gallery will resume insecondsFan gather around make shift memorials as they mourn the loss of Kobe Bryant in front of La Live across from Staples Center, home of the Los Angeles Lakers in Los Angeles on Sunday, January 26, 2020. Kobe Bryant and 8 others died in an helicopter crash in Calabasas. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG)Thousands of Kobe Bryant fans converge outside Staples Center to honor the former Lakers player who died Sunday, January 26, 2020 in a helicopter crash near Calabasas, Calif. He was 41. (Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)Fans mourn the loss of Kobe Bryant in front of La Live across from Staples Center, home of the Los Angeles Lakers in Los Angeles on Sunday, January 26, 2020. Kobe Bryant and 8 others died in an helicopter crash in Calabasas. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG)Fans mourn the loss of Kobe Bryant in front of La Live across from Staples Center, home of the Los Angeles Lakers in Los Angeles on Sunday, January 26, 2020. Kobe Bryant and 8 others died in an helicopter crash in Calabasas. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG)Make shift memorials as fans mourn the loss of Kobe Bryant with make shift memorials in front of La Live across from Staples Center, home of the Los Angeles Lakers in Los Angeles on Sunday, January 26, 2020. Kobe Bryant and 8 others died in an helicopter crash in Calabasas. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG)Thousands of fans mourn the loss of Kobe Bryant with make shift memorials in front of La Live across from Staples Center, home of the Los Angeles Lakers in Los Angeles on Sunday, January 26, 2020. Kobe Bryant and 8 others died in an helicopter crash in Calabasas. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG)Thousands of fans mourn the loss of Kobe Bryant with make shift memorials in front of La Live across from Staples Center, home of the Los Angeles Lakers in Los Angeles on Sunday, January 26, 2020. Kobe Bryant and 8 others died in an helicopter crash in Calabasas. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG)Fans bring flowers as they mourn the loss of Kobe Bryant with make shift memorials in front of La Live across from Staples Center, home of the Los Angeles Lakers in Los Angeles on Sunday, January 26, 2020. Kobe Bryant and 8 others died in an helicopter crash in Calabasas. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG)Fans mourn the loss of Kobe Bryant in front of La Live across from Staples Center, home of the Los Angeles Lakers in Los Angeles on Sunday, January 26, 2020. Kobe Bryant and 8 others died in an helicopter crash in Calabasas. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG)Make shift memorials as fans mourn the loss of Kobe Bryant with make shift memorials in front of La Live across from Staples Center, home of the Los Angeles Lakers in Los Angeles on Sunday, January 26, 2020. Kobe Bryant and 8 others died in an helicopter crash in Calabasas. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG)Thousands of fans mourn the loss of Kobe Bryant with make shift memorials in front of La Live across from Staples Center, home of the Los Angeles Lakers in Los Angeles on Sunday, January 26, 2020. Kobe Bryant and 8 others died in an helicopter crash in Calabasas. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG)Pete Reyna of Paramourn carries a giant picture of Kobe Bryant in front of La Live across from Staples Center, home of the Los Angeles Lakers as fans mourn the loss of Kobe Bryant in Los Angeles on Sunday, January 26, 2020. Kobe Bryant and 8 others died in an helicopter crash in Calabasas. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG)Fans mourn the loss of Kobe Bryant with make shift memorials in front of La Live across from Staples Center, home of the Los Angeles Lakers in Los Angeles on Sunday, January 26, 2020. Kobe Bryant and 8 others died in an helicopter crash in Calabasas. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG)Fans mourn the loss of Kobe Bryant in front of La Live across from Staples Center, home of the Los Angeles Lakers in Los Angeles on Sunday, January 26, 2020. Kobe Bryant and 8 others died in an helicopter crash in Calabasas. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG)Thousands of fans mourn the loss of Kobe Bryant in front of La Live across from Staples Center, home of the Los Angeles Lakers in Los Angeles on Sunday, January 26, 2020. Kobe Bryant and 8 others died in an helicopter crash in Calabasas. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG)NextShow Caption1 of 16Thousands of fans mourn the loss of Kobe Bryant in front of La Live across from Staples Center, home of the Los Angeles Lakers in Los Angeles on Sunday, January 26, 2020. Kobe Bryant and 8 others died in an helicopter crash in Calabasas. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG)Expand AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREUCLA alum Kenny Clark signs four-year contract extension with PackersIt’s because we watched Bryant come in as an 18-year-old prodigy, evolve into a 25-year-old star – immensely talented and just as immensely headstrong – and then into the mid-30s veteran with his intense competitive thirst, and finally into the elder statesman gracious enough and respectful enough to welcome LeBron James into the Lakers’ fold, even when large portions of the team’s fan base resisted embracing James because they felt it downgraded Kobe. Related linksStaples Center, Kobe Bryant’s ‘house,’ becomes a place of mourningKobe Bryant, one of the greatest Lakers ever, dies at 41Map: Kobe Bryant helicopter route from takeoff to deadly crashKobe Bryant and 13-year-old daughter Gianna among 9 killed in helicopter crash in CalabasasLeBron James passes Kobe Bryant for 3rd place on NBA’s career scoring list The news was a gut punch Sunday morning. Kobe Bryant, gone?No. It can’t be.But it was. The helicopter crash that killed nine including Bryant, 41, and his daughter Gianna, 13, en route to her basketball game Sunday morning was grieved nationally, and internationally, at all levels of basketball.It will be felt most intensely in Los Angeles. It already is. People felt they had to go to Staples Center and to L.A. Live Sunday afternoon, to grieve and to share their emotions.center_img It’s a cruel, cruel coincidence that Bryant was back in the news the past few days, as James prepared to pass Bryant as the No. 3 scorer in NBA history. Saturday night, when James surpassed Bryant’s 33,643 career points in the Lakers’ loss in Philadelphia, he reminisced about Bryant – about seeking him out when James the high school superstar considered following Bryant’s direct path to the pros, and about later playing alongside Bryant on U.S. Olympic teams. The timing was haunting.Bryant’s legacy was complicated. The events of 2003 in Eagle, Colo., color some people’s memories of Bryant. Others remember him primarily for that competitive stubbornness that made his early-2000s partnership with Shaquille O’Neal such a devastating combination but also made it ultimately impossible to sustain.But in L.A. he was beloved, unconditionally, largely because he was a Laker for life.Laker fans endured the growing pains – the airballs in overtime at Utah in the 1997 playoffs, the friction with then-coach Del Harris those first couple of years over whether he was ready to start, and the disagreements about whose ball it was, his or Shaq’s. And they celebrated the triumphs: Five championships, an MVP award, two Finals MVPs, two scoring titles. Even an Academy Award, for crying out loud, in a post-basketball career producing kids’ stories and becoming a passionate advocate for girls’ and women’s basketball. Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorlast_img read more

Sunday blog: Talking demolition of property; college football playoffs and ACL tears

first_img2. College Football playoffs…The world came to an end last week. No, we did not get entangled in another ill-begotten war in the Middle East. But something almost as tragic occurred… keeping TCU, Baylor and the Big 12 Conference out of the four-team National Championship College Football playoffs.I most certainly am not happy with the results since I have a son attending TCU and I have this irrational anti-Big 10 hatred stemming from Nebraska Cornhuskers exit from the Big 12 to go there.The “Getting Left Out” Bowl would have been a great matchup this year.But let’s keep things in perspective. The Big 12 doesn’t have to add two, four or eight more teams just to make sure we have a conference championship game and get a team into the playoffs. If TCU would have beaten Baylor during the regular season, then we wouldn’t have been having this debate. And there is no proof had we had the Big 12 Championship game, the committee wouldn’t have picked Ohio State anyway.The solution is to make it an eight team playoff which could easily be done. Just pick four New Years Bowl games with automatic berths of the five major conferences and three wildcards. Then play the semifinals a week later and the championship game during the open date between the NFL Conference Championship games and the Super Bowl.I personally think we should expand it to 16 teams, eliminate all conference championship games for first round games. Wellington resident J.C. Long had a good idea. Why not give an automatic berth to all the conference champions – even the smaller ones like the Mountain West Conference? That would eliminate the need of expanding your conference because the more teams you have in a conference the less likely you have a team get in. And it takes some of the politics out of the equation.3. ACL tear…Last fall, the Wellington football team had three starters go out with ACL tears. The trend seems to be continuing into winter sports.This week Wellington High School senior girls basketball player Catie Williams tore her anterior cruciate ligament. It was her second ACL tear in three years, and came in the first game of the Kingman Tournament. What’s gut wrenching about this is, Williams had spent two years recovering from her first injury and was finally back at full strength when the second tear occurred.Caldwell’s Darin Ward, an all-leaguer in the South-Central Border League his freshman and sophomore year, had an equally heart-breaking story. He will miss his junior and senior years in basketball – his main sport – because of not one but two ACL tears during football. He was thought to be one of the best SCBL players on the hardwood this season and a potential player of the year candidate.Nationwide, the NFL and NBA have seen an epidemic of ACL tears. So much so that the most important letters in sports are not NFL, NBA, MLB or NHL, but ACL. It is estimated that nearly 400,000 ACL repair procedures occur each year. Women are seven or eight times more likely to get an ACL injury than their male counterparts, although the stats in Sumner County lately beg to differ.I could go on forever with ACL horror stories- including my own. Three years ago I suffered a trifecta tear: an ACL, meniscus cartridge damage, and a the posterior cruciate ligament while wrestling around with my kid. I’ll never forget that “pop” sound in the living room, that signaled the next few months of my life was going to stink.My knee still aches, but since nobody is asking for my athletic skills, the world continues to rotate to this day. I can’t imagine what it is like for an athlete – whose career depends on healthy knees.The article “The Nastiest Injury in Sports,” is great reading for anyone wanting to know about ACL tears (see story here). It was written in Dec. 10, 2013 right after Rob Gronkowski tore his ACL as a tight end for the New England Patriots. Gronkowski has returned with flying colors having a Hall of Fame career this season.This quote stood out for me in the article:“The ACL is not only the weakest of the four ligaments that connect the femur and tibia, it is the weakest ligament in the entire body. And professional athletes subject that stub of weak collagen to all sorts of forces it was not designed to withstand…Just about every ACL tear comes about when a player is twisting, trying to avoid contact or to deceive a defender, and then plants his leg in such a way that he has increased the torque on the ACL, bending it as it was not intended to bend. Essentially, it is the juke that will kill you.”But modern science is getting better. A reconstructed knee is only 10 to 12 percent of re-rupturing again as the other healthy one. But the unfortunate thing is, that second knee, is there to be torn – as both Williams and Ward have found out.Follow us on Twitter. by Tracy McCue, Sumner Newscow — Five Cueball thoughts, um… make that three thoughts, on this busy holiday weekend…1. Damage control…Much has been made with a lawsuit against the City of Wellington over the demolishing of property owned by a Burden couple on 806 South Cherry Street in April (see story here).Nothing like a bunch of rubble to raise the ire of the public.While I can’t say that the city of Wellington adhered to proper procedures in this particular case, I will say the demolishing of structures has always been a controversial, dicey proposition that no one at city hall particularly likes. The city is placed in a no-win situation. Do you leave property that is not only a neighborhood nuisance but a potential health hazard? Or do you risk the alienation of not only the property owners but those who have lived in Wellington and view the condemned property through rose-colored memories?There’s a lot of gray manner to the whole ideal. Do you tear down this property, while leaving a similar property standing? How do you define condemned property anyway?  I do know one thing – in the three decades that I have covered the Wellington City Council off and on, I can’t remember anyone — elected or hired— who were all too eager to tear a house down. At what benefit is it to the city? It’s costly and a public relations nightmare. Usually, if owners come to the council with hat in hand and a hint of a nasally whine, the council will bend over backwards to help them out. Not once can I remember the council acting as if they were driving a car in a Demolition Derby.I hope to publish an article soon outlining what constitutes condemned property and what the procedure the city must go through to eventually demolish a specific structure. There appears to be an educational process we, including myself, need to go through on this topic. Close Forgot password? Please put in your email: Send me my password! Close message Login This blog post All blog posts Subscribe to this blog post’s comments through… RSS Feed Subscribe via email Subscribe Subscribe to this blog’s comments through… RSS Feed Subscribe via email Subscribe Follow the discussion Comments (4) Logging you in… Close Login to IntenseDebate Or create an account Username or Email: Password: Forgot login? Cancel Login Close WordPress.com Username or Email: Password: Lost your password? Cancel Login Dashboard | Edit profile | Logout Logged in as Admin Options Disable comments for this page Save Settings Sort by: Date Rating Last Activity Loading comments… You are about to flag this comment as being inappropriate. Please explain why you are flagging this comment in the text box below and submit your report. The blog admin will be notified. Thank you for your input. +7 Vote up Vote down anonymous · 295 weeks ago You and JC Long have it right. Until we cut the polls out of the business of determining the national title, all we have is a beauty pageant/popularity contest driven by TV and cash. Report Reply 0 replies · active 295 weeks ago -1 Vote up Vote down Thirsty · 295 weeks ago 16 teams is too much. I think the reason they decided with 4 teams is an attempt to make it more fair. On the other hand more injuries are more likely with additional games. A 16 team playoff would have some players participating in potentially 4 more games in a season. All I have to say is ACL tears lol. Report Reply 0 replies · active 295 weeks ago 0 Vote up Vote down credence · 295 weeks ago My question is why the Big 10 deserves preference over the Big 12, especially if you compare strength of schedule and head to head games between the conferences? The Big 10 was 9 and 28 against top 25 ranked teams; the Big 12 was 11 and 32. The Big 12 actually has only 10 teams and the Big 10 has 14 teams, which makes this record much more revelant. The Big 12 was 3 and 1 against the Big 10 in head to head games played on the field, not on some committee member’s score card. Based on this information, the committee put Big 10’s Ohio State in the four team playoff due to politics. Plain and simple. Report Reply 0 replies · active 295 weeks ago 0 Vote up Vote down Monty Schmitz · 295 weeks ago We, the persons who enjoy sports, are all arm chair quarter backs, coaches and in today’s world arm chair sports executives. The top 25 college football teams have always paid their elite players. However, the current situation is a monetary one benefiting their coaches, and school executives. Their income is based on the monies that spectators and television associations are wiling to fork out. In-addition, they are willing to pay for the most athletic players through full ride scholarships. These young folks are also paid well by the alumni associations. Do you recall the 1989 Ohio State football controversy that was caused when a coach making bed checks around 10:15 PM. He found a player who was studying and told him that he, being on a full ride scholarship, was being paid to play football and to get to bed. This young man replied; I am in premed therefore I have to study. The next day he resigned his scholarship and reported the incident to national television. Report Reply 0 replies · active 295 weeks ago Post a new comment Enter text right here! Comment as a Guest, or login: Login to IntenseDebate Login to WordPress.com Login to Twitter Go back Tweet this comment Connected as (Logout) Email (optional) Not displayed publicly. Name Email Website (optional) Displayed next to your comments. Not displayed publicly. If you have a website, link to it here. Posting anonymously. Tweet this comment Submit Comment Subscribe to None Replies All new comments Comments by IntenseDebate Enter text right here! Reply as a Guest, or login: Login to IntenseDebate Login to WordPress.com Login to Twitter Go back Tweet this comment Connected as (Logout) Email (optional) Not displayed publicly. Name Email Website (optional) Displayed next to your comments. Not displayed publicly. If you have a website, link to it here. Posting anonymously. Tweet this comment Cancel Submit Comment Subscribe to None Replies All new commentslast_img read more