“Kobe, we tried everything, he was just – you couldn’t stop him. Unguardable. So one time we had him in the corner and the shot clock was going down and he was right in front of our bench. Somebody played him from the top side, so he couldn’t turn around over his left shoulder and shoot with the right so he’s kind of like stuck, then he sees the shot clock and he turns around, shoots it with the left, 3-pointer from the corner. We’re all like ‘what?’
“His skill level was unbelievable, there was not one shot that he didn’t have in his repertoire, so to me, in my 20 years, he was probably the best offensive or the best player I’ve faced.”
Watching Dirk telling these stories just makes you see how great Kobe was and the impact he had on the game not only for fans but for players. He had some good duels with Dirk throughout their careers, and now we learned that there was no better, or worse rival for the German big man than the Black Mamba.
In case anybody’s wondering what shot Dirk is talking about, take a look:
Former NBA commissioner David Stern died on Wednesday after suffering a brain hemorrhage on Dec. 12 and spending three weeks hospitalized in serious condition following emergency surgery. He was 77 years old.
According to a league statement, Stern died with his family along his side.
Stern served as league commissioner for 30 years — from 1984 to 2014 — and was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2014. And during his tenure, the league exploded in popularity.
Following the news of Stern’s death, many NBA players, media members and fans took to social media to pay their respects.
The 10 things that will define David Stern’s legacy
Michael Jordan may have been mostly responsible for the exploding popularity of the NBA in the 1990s.
But even Jordan summed it up perfectly with the opening words of his statement in tribute to the late league commissioner David Stern, who died on Wednesday at 77 years old after suffering a brain hemorrhage last month.
“Without David Stern,” Jordan said, “the NBA would not be what it is today.”
That’s pretty much it. Stern was the engine that drove the popularity and growth that made the NBA the most beloved league in the United States (don’t give me the NFL, you may enjoy the game, but it’s marred by so much controversy) and an international hit.
If you take away anything from Stern’s legacy, it’s these 10 things, even though the list could be at least three times as long.
1. The understanding that the NBA was players first
It’s probably the most important part of his legacy: Stern understood so much about marketing and saw what would sell tickets. It was Magic Johnson and Larry Bird, Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley, and so on. That meant getting big-name sponsors, finding ways to feature those big names on television, getting their stories on and off the court told and focusing on the high-flying highlights.
In 1984, his first year as commissioner, Stern welcomed a South American basketball and soccer analyst named Adrian Paenza into his Manhattan office and offered his Argentina Channel 9 the rights to air weekly NBA highlights. The price: $2,000 a year. So every Sunday at midnight, there was Magic and Michael and Bird arriving in a faraway land where children had mostly dreamed of soccer stardom.
Manu Ginobili watched those highlights every week, rushing outside the next day to try those moves for himself.
That kind of strategic thinking started a cycle — international audiences grew to love the game, players from outside the United States played it more and then those stars would fuel more fandom.
3. The salary cap
Before he was commissioner, he helped the league shape the collective bargaining agreement that would be instrumental in labor peace for a while, giving both the owners and players — who got the bigger piece of the revenue pie — what they wanted in the early 1980s.
4. The draft lottery
The idea that all the teams who didn’t make the playoffs had a shot at the No. 1 pick was revolutionary and made for must-see television (and some conspiracy theories).
5. The Dream Team
Maybe this should be included in the international section, but let’s throw it here anyway given how important it was to exploding the game all over the world. NBA players were allowed to compete in the Olympics beginning at the 1992 Games in Barcelona. And it was Stern who pushed for the best of the best to play. They did and won a gold medal.
6. Handling labor strife
He was at the helm while there were four lockouts, which isn’t great, but look at where the league is at now.
7. The dress code
This is a controversial part of his legacy. In 2005, he forced players to dress more formally, with some players citing it as a slap in the face and responding that it didn’t allow them to express themselves. It was Stern’s attempt to change the image of the league after …
8. The way he handled controversy
I’m referring above to the Pacers and Pistons fight that spilled into the stands at The Palace in 2004. Stern came down hard on the players involved, as he did on Latrell Sprewell after he choked his coach P.J. Carlisimo. Stern also had to handle referee Tim Donaghy’s betting scandal.
9. The Chris Paul trade
The league was the owner of the New Orleans Hornets while waiting to find a buyer for the team, and when the front office tried to trade Chris Paul to the Los Angeles Lakers, Stern vetoed the deal.
10. The rules that ushered in the new NBA
No more hand-checking or illegal defense helped speed up the game and make it less one-on-one and more team-oriented.