Barnes mentioned that Bryant once said that he “wanted to sit at the table with MJ,” in terms of getting six championship rings like he did.
Kobe left the NBA with five rings, the last time being in 2010 when the Los Angeles Lakers outlasted the Boston Celtics in seven games.
“Oh, it pissed me off,” said Bryant around the 27:50 mark about falling one ring short of Jordan. “But things are what they are. You push for a goal. My original goal was to try to win eight.”
“You push for it and you try to do the best you can,” he added. “At the end of the day, you can be comfortable with the results and where they landed and where they ended up.”
Elsewhere in the interview, Bryant said he and Jordan are far different from each other, because the retired Chicago Bulls star would compete at everything and anything, while Bryant said he’s the opposite.
“I only compete with things that I really am good at,” he explained.
The former shooting guard also talked about a conversation that he and Jordan had about the 1991 Bulls taking on the 2003 Lakers, since both had powerhouse squads in those years.
“He’ll talk basketball all day long. ‘What would’ve happened if my ’91 against your ’03?’” Bryant said Jordan asked. “What he started the conversation, [was like] well, ‘I would’ve destroyed you.’”
“I just said, ‘Listen, remember who you talking to,’” Bryant continued. “And he just started laughing and said, ‘I’m just messing with you.’ And then we just kind of moved on.”
We all knew Ja Morant could play at Murray State, when we saw the guard lead the Racers to a first-round upset of Marquette in the 2019 NCAA tournament with a triple-double.
But now, nearly halfway through his first NBA season, we know the Memphis Grizzlies rookie can play … AND he’s not afraid of anyone in the league at the age of 20.
Seriously: did you see what he did on Tuesday night? The shocking Grizzlies — the eighth seed in the West at the moment at 19-22 — won their sixth straight by taking down James Harden and the Houston Rockets. And Morant (a team-high 26 points while missing just ONE field goal, eight dimes and three shots from distance) dismantled the Rockets by doing stuff like this:
Look at how he broke down Harden and shot from three when the defense gave him room — as social media pointed out, Morant had something NSFW to say after one of those shots:
Morant doesn’t take a ton of threes — about 2.3 per game — but he hits them at a 40.7 percent clip when he does shoot. So here’s what that clip tells me: he’s overflowing with confidence. Clearly, the Rockets know he prefers to slash, and that there are critics out there worried that he can’t shoot in an NBA world where guards like him need to shoot well:
I should say he’s also proven his basketball IQ is high, which helps:
There are other reasons the Grizzlies are shocking the world. Jaren Jackson Jr. is taking another step forward a year after being the fourth overall pick in 2019. Dillon Brooks learned how to hit from distance and is taking more threes. Brandon Clarke is every bit the sleeper everyone thought he would be out of Gonzaga. Jonas Valanciunas is still Jonas Valanciunas.
But it’s Ja — he’s fast becoming one of those NBA players you refer to by a single name — who’s tying them all together and bringing the confidence that makes him one of the must-watch players in the entire league.
Should Memphis try to bring Andre Iguodala back into the fold for a playoff push?
And while Iguodala is still on the Grizzlies roster, the veteran swingman has yet to appear in a game for Memphis and as of now, doesn’t look like he’s going to unless he is traded. Iguodala was vocally less than happy when he learned he was traded to Memphis since the thought was the Grizzlies were rebuilding, and the 15-year veteran was searching for another championship or at least to play on a playoff team.
Yet, fast forward three months into the season and the Grizzlies are in the midst of their first six-game win streak since 2016 and currently, 19-22, sit as the eighth seed in the Western Conference.
With a salary of over $17 million dollars this season, Memphis ‘ highest-paid player isn’t playing for the team. It isn’t a guarantee that the Grizzlies can keep up this level of success and sneak into the playoffs in a tough Western Conference. Regardless, with young stars such as Ja Morant and Jaren Jackson Jr., Memphis has built itself a solid core and one that could probably use more veteran presence.
At the same time, whether it’s recency bias or not, the Grizzlies are playing great basketball. The team chemistry is great and people are excited about Memphis basketball for the first time in a while. Morant is almost guaranteed the Rookie of the Year award by now and the team can score with the best of them.
Adding back a player like Iguodala, while beneficial in many ways, would likely take away from the development of the many young prospects that Memphis has on the roster. Often times, the best way to improve is to get experience and with one of the youngest rosters in the NBA, the Grizzlies are demonstrating that.
And while the Grizzlies could very well sneak into the playoffs for the first time in three seasons, it’ll likely be as the seventh or eighth seed. The Grizzlies are one of the best up-and-coming teams in the league but that doesn’t mean they’re contenders.
If Iguodala is serious about winning another championship, he should still try to push his way out of Memphis. The team is doing just fine without him and while he is still a great role player in the league, at 35 years old, Iggy simply isn’t what he used to be.
I don’t think it would necessarily hurt the Grizzlies if Iguodala came back and played for the team. In fact, I think his veteran leadership would really help a young team.
But, it seems that’s not what Iguodala wants and the Grizzlies should lean into the youth movement they have going right now because it’s clearly working.
Did you know that 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan has been a fan of the Warriors for years?
During his Wednesday morning press conference, Shanahan was asked if he has picked up anything in particular from observing Golden State.
“I just have always been a fan of them, even before I got here,” he told reporters. “Just watching how they play. I remember saying in Atlanta that I wanted our receiver group to be similar to the Warriors to where, ‘Who knows who the starter is.’
“They all play. Andre Iguodala. I think he wasn’t the starter and then he was the conference finals or whatever it’s called — the NBA championship — MVP. The seven games that mattered at the end (laughter). You think of stuff like that.
“You just got guys who seem really not to care how it gets done. They all just go out there and ball and see where the weakness in the defense is and wherever that ends up, that guy shoots. And that’s a lot how I see offense.”
It’s called the “NBA Finals” coach. The “NBA Finals.”
Good luck in the “game of championship NFC” this Sunday against the Packers of Green Bay! (just having some fun …)
As for Iguodala — in 2014-15, he came off the bench during all 77 of his regular season appearances, and the Warriors’ first 18 playoff games. But he started Games 4 through 6 of the NBA Finals against the Cleveland Cavaliers, as the Dubs captured their first championship in 40 years.
Iguodala averaged 16.3 points, 5.8 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 1.3 steals against the Cavs, while shooting 52 percent overall and 40 percent from deep. He was named NBA Finals MVP.
And just because we’re feeling nostalgic right now, don’t ever forget what happened in Game 2 of the 2019 NBA Finals against the Toronto Raptors:
It’s unclear where the soon-to-be 36-year-old will end up in the coming weeks, but hopefully he gets the opportunity to make some big plays throughout the 2020 playoffs.