“I ain’t got the fans in the crowd. That’s who I play for,” James continued. “I play for my teammates. I play for the fans. That’s what it’s all about. If I show up to an arena and there are no fans in there, I ain’t playing. They can do what they want to do.
Waiters, 28, played in just three games with the Heat this season as he served three suspensions handed down by the team.
The Heat suspended him on Dec. 12, citing “failure to adhere to team policies, violation of team rules and continued insubordination.” He was also suspended at the beginning of the season for complaining about his role during the preseason and again in November after he reportedly ate a THC-laced gummy candy and had a panic attack on a team flight.
What he brings to the Lakers
Waiters has averaged 13.2 points, 2.7 rebounds and 2.8 assists while shooting 34.8 percent from 3-point distance over the course of his career. If he can stay on the court, he’ll provide the Lakers with a scoring threat as they look to surround LeBron James and Anthony Davis with shooters.
Besides his suspensions, Waiters had trouble remaining on the court in his three previous seasons in Miami, where he never played more than 46 games in a season. He drew criticism for gaining weight after signing a four-year $52 million deal with the Heat in 2017 and was also troubled by nagging foot and ankle injuries.
The Lakers missed out on adding the guard they need when Darren Collision opted not to come out of retirement earlier this month, but it was reported on Friday that the Lakers are expected to add depth to its frontcourt and sign Markieff Morris, who agreed to a contract buyout from the Pistons.
With a full roster of 15 players, the Lakers would need to waive a player to make room for Morris should he clear waivers, and that player will be four-time NBA All-Star DeMarcus Cousins, according to a report by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Ramona Shelburne.
Cousins’ departure brings an end to what was primed to be one of the NBA’s most exciting experiments when it came together last summer. Cousins was limited in the 2018-19 season due to injuries, but the Lakers hoped that he could rediscover his All-NBA form alongside former Pelicans teammate Anthony Davis in LA. We never got to see Cousins take the floor with the Lakers, though, after he suffered a torn ACL last August.
The Lakers had no timetable for Cousins’ return, but had not ruled out a possible comeback in the playoffs this year. Coach Frank Vogel said during the All-Star break that Cousins was “on track” for a playoff return, but backtracked earlier this week, telling reporters that Cousins was “not close” to being ready.
After postponing Tuesday’s game against the Los Angeles Clippers, the Los Angeles Lakers are moving forward with basketball in the wake of Kobe Bryant’s death.
They’ll start Friday night at home against the Portland Trail Blazers, which promises to be an ode to Bryant as much as it is a basketball game.
New Kobe logo
Prior to tip-off, the Lakers revealed new logos honoring Bryant, who died along with his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, and seven others in a helicopter crash Sunday outside of Los Angeles.
The logo will also be placed as a patch on Lakers uniforms. The Lakers revealed the patch logo on a No. 28 Lakers jersey, a nod to the No. 2 that Gianna wore on her youth basketball team and the No. 8 Kobe wore during his early days with the Lakers.
Fans in attendance on Friday will find T-shirts at their seats emblazoned with Bryant’s jersey number. Half of the fans will receive No. 8 T-shirts and the other half will find No. 24 T-shirts, representing the number Bryant wore late in his career.
Each number has also been placed on the floor on the sideline.
Fans without tickets asked to stay home
Staples Center officials have asked fans without tickets to stay home to watch the tribute on TV. The arena became a hub of mourning and celebration of Bryant’s life almost immediately after his death on Sunday as fans flocked to pay tribute.
The big screens at the adjacent entertainment complex L.A. Live will not be showing the game or the tribute, according to a Staples Center statement.
“If you do not have a ticket tonight for the Lakers game, do not come down to L.A. Live,” Staples Center president Lee Zeidman said, per ESPN. “Stay home with your loved ones. It’s going to be a tremendous emotional tribute to Kobe, Gianna and the seven others and you don’t want to miss it. We’re not showing it on any LED screens here in downtown Los Angeles.”
Zeidman estimates that hundreds of thousands of fans have visited Staples Center since Bryant’s death to pay tribute and leave mementos such as letters, stuffed animals and toys. He said that Staples Center will box up the items and deliver them to Bryant’s widow, Vanessa Bryant, and his three surviving daughters.
Watch LeBron James’ moving speech before Lakers-Blazers game
“The first thing that comes to mind is all about family. And as I look around this arena, we’re all grieving. We’re all hurt. We’re all heartbroken. When we’re going through things like this, the best thing you can do is lean on the shoulders of your family.
…. I want to continue along with my teammates and continue his legacy, not only for this year, for as long as we can play this game of basketball that we love, because that’s what Kobe Bryant would want.”
The Lakers played a emotional tribute video to Bryant during the pregame ceremonies.
See Usher’s incredible performance of ‘Amazing Grace’ & Boyz II Men sing national anthem before Lakers-Blazers game
The Lakers celebrated the lives of Kobe and Gianna Bryant on Friday night before their first game since the tragic accident that claimed nine lives last weekend. The team arranged a special musical performance during a tribute video on the scoreboard, and LeBron James delivered a moving speech prior to tipoff. Usher opened the ceremonies with an unforgettable performance of “Amazing Grace.”
See LeBron James’ new Black Mamba tattoo in honor of Kobe Bryant
NBA players across the league have been paying tribute to Kobe Bryant and Bryant’s family this week after the horrible tragedy that claimed nine lives last weekend. Lakers stars LeBron James and Anthony Davis revealed on social media that they were both getting tattoos in honor of Bryant, and James showed off his new ink on Friday.
Before taking the floor at Staples Center for the Lakers’ first game since Bryant’s passing, James shared a photo of his new tattoo on Instagram. The tattoo, an illustration of a black mamba, features Bryant’s two numbers with the Lakers, and the words “Mamba 4 Life.”
Lillard dropped 48 points and used a massive third-quarter showing to lead the Portland Trail Blazers past the Lakers 127-119, marking their third win in four games.
“It was hard. I think everybody had a lot of emotions coming in, and then the videos, the music, it was just one of those moments,” Lillard said on ESPN after the win. “One of our legends, icons of the world, not just our game, passing away, really tough night. I think the game started off slow because of that. It’s hard to be excited about the game when you have this type of situation.”
Lillard’s huge third quarter
Lillard has been on an impressive hot streak over the past few weeks.
The Trail Blazers star had averaged more than 48 points per game in their last four contests headed into Friday night, and was fresh off his first career triple-double. Nobody in the league seems to have an answer for him.
That didn’t change at the Staples Center, either.
Lillard, who put up 19 in a very tight first half, dropped 23 points in the third quarter alone — and shot an outstanding 6-of-7 from the 3-point line. He was simply unstoppable.
Yet even with his offensive outburst, the Trail Blazers couldn’t separate from the Lakers and entered the fourth quarter up just seven points.
“Kobe!” chant, rally comes up short
The Trail Blazers didn’t let up in the early minutes of the fourth quarter, quickly pushing their lead to 12 — the largest of the night.
That’s when fans at the Staples Center played their part.
A monstrous “Kobe!” chant suddenly rang out, sparking a quick 9-0 Lakers run — which was capped by a deep 3-pointer from LeBron James — to bring them right back within three points.
The chant rang out again at the two-minute mark, too, as Lakers fans were trying to will their team to a win.
It just wasn’t enough.
The Trail Blazers surged ahead in the final minutes while fending off a late Lakers push to secure the eight-point win.
Lillard finished the night with a near-triple-double with 48 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds. He has now hit 40 3-pointers in his last five games, too, setting a new NBA record.
Hassan Whiteside added 30 points and 12 rebounds for Portland, and CJ McCollum finished with 19 points and six rebounds.
Anthony Davis led the Lakers with 37 points, 18 of which came in the first quarter, and 15 rebounds. James finished with a near-triple-double of his own, finishing with 22 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds.
While it wasn’t easy by any means, Lillard said the he felt the best way to honor Bryant was to “come out here and play our hearts out.”
Damian Lillard: Nobody won tonight
“The one thing that we know for sure that we had in common with Kobe is the love of this game,” Lillard said on ESPN. “And we here, so we might as well come out and honor him in that way, and I thought we did that.”
A petition to change the NBA logo to an image of Kobe Bryant has now surpassed more than 2 million signatures in two days. The logo currently bears the silhouette of Hall of Fame basketball player Jerry West, a friend and mentor to Bryant.
Bryant and eight others, including his daughter Gianna died in a helicopter crash Sunday afternoon. Soon after, 16-year-old Nikyar Moghtader, a fan from Vancouver, Canada, felt he needed to “commemorate him for all he’s done.”
“What led me to make the petition was the fact that Kobe Bryant was a role model not only to me but to countless fans,” Moghtader told CBS News on Tuesday. “I thought that making him the NBA logo would be an amazing way to immortalize him in the NBA forever.”
As of early Tuesday afternoon, the petition on Change.org has more than 2 million signatures and counting –– far more than Moghtader ever anticipated.
“My expectations were to get a mere 100 signatures, I didn’t expect the amount of overwhelming support the amazing NBA and Kobe Bryant community has gave,” he said. CBS News has reached out to the NBA for comment on the petition, but did not immediately hear back.
While the world mourns Bryant, Moghtader expressed hope the NBA will consider the change because of West’s relationship with Bryant. After his Hall of Fame career with the Lakers, West became the team’s general manager, and he brought Bryant to the Lakers in a 1996 trade. The two then forged a lifelong bond.
“Considering his close friend Jerry West (the Logo) said he doesn’t care to be the logo anymore so who better to pass the torch to then Kobe Bryant?” Moghtader said.
West told ESPN’s “The Jump” in a 2017 interview that the logo of his silhouette calls too much attention to himself and openly asked to change it.
“If they would want to change it, I wish they would,” he said. “In many ways I wish they would.”
On Sunday, West had some touching words for Bryant.
“I will love Kobe forever and always cherish the time that I spent with him,” West said in a statement. “I watched him grow from an energetic kid into the man he became, making a difference in so many people’s life. He has left the world a better place. Kobe’s legacy will live forever.”
A brush fire caused by the crash prevented first responders from immediately getting to the site
Bryant will be remembered as one of the greatest players of all time, as his resume pretty much speaks for itself. His accolades include:
Spent 20 seasons in the NBA, all with the Lakers
Fourth-leading scorer in NBA history (33,643 points)
Five-time NBA champion, twice named Finals MVP
11-time All-NBA First Team
Nine-time NBA All-Defensive First Team
Two-time Olympic gold medalist
Youngest player in NBA history at the time of his debut in 1996
Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva: “We have a manifest that indicates there was nine people onboard the aircraft. The pilot plus eight individuals. There is wide speculation as who the identities are. However, it would be entirely inappropriate right now to identify anyone by name until the coroner has made the identification through their very deliberate process and they’ve made the notifications to the next of kin. It would be extremely disrespectful to understand that your loved one has perished and you learn about it from TMZ. That is just wholly inappropriate so we’re not going to be going there. We’re going to wait until the coroner does their job and we’re assisting the families of those who believe they’ve been impacted and it’s a tough process.”
Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said there were nine people on the aircraft total — a pilot and eight passengers. He would not confirm who died until all the next-of-kin are notified, he said.
Los Angeles County Fire Chief Daryl Osby: “The Los Angeles County Fire Department’s initial response was 15 pieces of apparatus and 56 personnel.”
Los Angeles County Fire Chief Daryl Osby: “At 9:47 a.m. the Los Angeles County Fire Department received a 911 call of a potential helicopter down and a brush fire…Upon arrival, our firefighters discovered approximately a quarter-acre brush fire that resulted from a crash on the hillside.”
This one hurt’: NBA stars and public figures grieve after Kobe Bryant’s death
A call for a downed helicopter in Calabasas, California, went out at 10:01 a.m. local time, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. The city of Calabasas later confirmed that Bryant and his daughter Gianna, 13, were among the passengers who died in the crash.
Authorities believe nine bodies were found at the scene.
Current and former NBA players shared their disbelief on social media.
Bryant’s former Lakers teammate Shaquille O’Neal posted to Instagram to say he was sick over the news.
“There’s no words to express the pain I’m going through now with this tragic and sad moment of loosing my friend, my brother, my partner in winning championships, my dude and my homie. I love you brother and you will be missed. My condolences goes out to the Bryant family and the families of the other passengers on board,” O’Neal wrote.
NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, also a former Laker, tweeted a video saying it was hard for him to put his feelings into words.
“Most people will remember Kobe as the magnificent athlete who inspired a whole generation of basketball players. But I will always remember him as a man who was much more than an athlete,” Abdul-Jabbar’s tweet read.
According to video from NBC, James had just landed in Los Angeles with his teammates following a game in Bryant’s hometown of Philadelphia, where James passed Bryant with 33,655 points to become the third highest-scorer in NBA history.
Former Heat star Dwyane Wade tweeted, “Nooooooooooo God please No!”
Bryant’s words, according to Green: Ninety-eight percent of people are okay with mediocrity or less. Guys like Bryant and Green, though, they’re out for something different—greatness. So, Green remembers Kobe saying, “as long as you wait for them to understand you, you’re f–ked.”
“It was the best s–t I ever heard,” Green says. “Because it gave me an understanding of why people don’t understand me. I’m so crazy competitive. I put my competitiveness up there with anyone. How could someone understand that? It’s a different level.”
NBA Players, Teams, and More Mourn and Pay Tribute to Kobe Bryant During Sunday’s Games
Column: How can Kobe Bryant be gone? His legend wasn’t supposed to end this way
I’m screaming right now, cursing into the sky, crying into my keyboard, and I don’t care who knows it.
Kobe Bryant is gone, and those are the hardest words I’ve ever had to write for this newspaper, and I still don’t believe them as I’m writing them. I’m still crying, and go ahead, let it out. Don’t be embarrassed, cry with me, weep and wail and shout into the streets, fill a suddenly empty Los Angeles with your pain.
No. No. No, damn it, no!
Bryant, 41, and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, were among nine people who died in a helicopter crash Sunday in Calabasas and how does that happen? Kobe is stronger than any helicopter. He didn’t even need a helicopter. For 20 years he flew into greatness while carrying a breathless city with him.
This can’t be true.
Kobe does not die. Not now. Kobe lives into his golden years, lives long enough to see his statues erected outside Staples Center and his jerseys inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame. He lives long enough to sit courtside at Staples when he’s stooped and gray, keeping alive the memories of two decades of greatness with a wink, maybe even fooling everyone one last time by retiring in a community next to Shaq.
How can Mamba be dead? Mambas don’t die. Why this, why now, why him, why them? Kobe and Gianna leave behind an incredibly strong wife and mother, Vanessa, and daughters Natalia, 17, Bianka, 3, and Capri, who was born last summer. The horror of this is unspeakable. The tragedy of this is immeasurable.
Go ahead and keep crying, you won’t be alone. A huge hole has been cut out of Los Angeles’ heart, and the wound is breathtaking.
Kobe was your childhood hero. He was your adult icon. For 20 years he was on posters in your bedroom, on the television in your living room, in the lunch talk in your school cafeteria, in the smack talk at your office water cooler, and ultimately riding on a truck down Figueroa Street while you cheered and bragged and bathed in his greatness.
You watched him grow up, and this city’s relentless approach to sports grew with him, and soon, even with all of his off-court failings, many people felt they carried a little piece of him.
On your best days, the days you landed a big account or aced a big test or just survived a battle with traffic, you felt like Kobe. You were Kobe. And in the end, as he retired into a life of movies and books and coaching Gianna’s basketball team, he was us.
For me, he not only dominated my professional life, he consumed it. He arrived in Los Angeles two months before I began writing this column. We used to joke that we started our journeys together. But then he would pat me on the back and shake his head at that notion because, well, he always followed his own path.
He was the one Laker who never had an entourage, and many nights after games we would chat as I walked with him to his car. Except when he would get mad at me for what he considered unfair criticism, and then we wouldn’t talk for weeks, because when he was playing, he was that rare fighter who never dropped his fists.
I covered his first game. I covered his last game. I wrote about everything in between, the titles and the sexual assault charges and the trade demands and the titles again and then finally that 60-point career-ending game against Utah.
I screamed from press row that night, just as I’m screaming now, still shaking, still not believing.
Kobe Bryant is gone.
We just talked last week.
I emailed Kobe with a request to speak to him about being passed on the all-time scoring list by LeBron James.
He emailed me back immediately. He always did.
He cleared his calendar and made time to chat on the phone because, as he always said, “You’ve been there for everything with me.”
But then, in our 20-minute conversation, he showed a side of Kobe that I had not seen before.
The edge was gone. The arms were open. He urged acceptance of LeBron. He preached calm for Lakers fans. He said greatness wasn’t worth anything if you couldn’t share it.
After about five minutes the message of this call was clear, the steely-eyed Mamba was purposely moving into a role of a wise, embracing and grateful leader of a community that had shown him so much patience and love.
“It’s crazy, watching this city and growing with it,” he said before hanging up. “I feel such an appreciation, I can never pay the city back for what it’s given me.”
And now he’s gone. Kobe is gone. Kobe is gone.
I’ll say it 81 times and it still won’t make any sense.
Kobe Bryant is gone and, so, too, is a little bit of all of us.
If you’ve ever heard Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James break down the X’s and O’s of basketball, you probably noticed how high his IQ is surrounding the game.
The retired point guard and Los Angeles Lakers assistant coach Jason Kidd has been known to have high basketball intelligence as well, which was displayed during his on-the-court play and being the head coach of the Brooklyn Nets and the Milwaukee Bucks.
That’s why it may come at no surprise that according to ESPN, James feels that Kidd is the only person who matches his level of basketball IQ.
“The Lakers felt strongly that the staff should be a collection of former head coaches whose experience could earn instant credibility with a veteran roster,” wrote ESPN’s Kevin Arnovitz.
“One of those primary assistants would be Hall of Fame point guard Jason Kidd, whom two sources have independently said James regards as the only person alive who sees the game of basketball with his level of clarity.”
As it stands, the Frank Vogel-led Lakers are in first place in the Western Conference, with the Denver Nuggets in second place, four games behind.
James is averaging 25.4 points per game, 7.7 rebounds and 10.9 assists. Between James, the newly acquired Anthony Davis, JaVale McGee, Danny Green and a deep bench, some might say the team is a shoo-in for the NBA Finals.
So far James hasn’t confirmed what the ESPN writer wrote about him and Kidd, neither on his Instagram or Twitter pages.
Kidd retired from the NBA in June of 2013 after playing for the Dallas Mavericks, the Phoenix Suns, the New Jersey Nets and the New York Knicks, which is the last NBA team he played for.
The Clippers have checked in on Rose as well, but it was more of a common exploratory talk, sources said.
The Lakers and Sixers are in search of point guard assistance for the stretch run, sources said.
Rose, 31, is garnering considerable interest that wasn’t there when he was a free agent last summer. He has been the Pistons’ most consistent offensive weapon this season and his play has thrust him into consideration for the All-Star Game, which takes place in his hometown of Chicago next month.
With the rash of injuries the Pistons have endured and Rose playing well, the veteran guard last week asked for an extended role with more minutes, sources said.
Entering the game, Rose was averaging 18.3 points and 5.9 assists on 50.3 percent shooting in 25.8 minutes per game this season.
Rose is happy with the Pistons and isn’t looking to be traded, sources said, but the decision is beyond his control. He has one more year at $7.6 million remaining on his contract.
Detroit could opt to retool and restructure around Rose in the short term for a playoff push. The Pistons are currently three games back of the eighth-seeded Brooklyn Nets for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
The Pistons are sellers as the Feb. 6 trade deadline approaches, and that could result in the front office staying pat or undergoing drastic changes.
This summer, the Los Angeles Lakers traded Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart, and three first-round draft picks for superstar Anthony Davis, which is like going to a car dealership and trading in a Dodge Neon for a Cadillac Escalade. That’s quite the come up, right? Until you drive off the lot and the check engine light immediately turns on, or you have to go back to the dealership in a week because the fuel filter started leaking gas.
That’s Anthony Davis: a brilliant player who can elevate a franchise to championship contention, but who’s prone to muscle contusions, torn labrums, and freak injuries like this:
On Tuesday night, the 26-year-old had to leave the game in the third quarter after literally busting his ass on the hardwood against the New York Knicks.
Most would just Kanye shrug and chalk it up to Anthony Davis being Anthony Davis—he was diagnosed with a bruised sacrum after x-rays came back negative—but the timing of this particular injury raised a few eyebrows, considering it was immediately after he declined a lucrative four-year, $146 million contract extension from the Lakers, according to Bleacher Report.
So what would possess a Cadillac Escalade with a defective hot exhaust system to turn down that kind of money? Easy. Because there are even bigger dollars waiting for him this summer no matter how many weekends he spends at an auto repair shop.
This summer, Davis becomes an unrestricted free agent. While under contract, the most the Lakers can offer him is the $146 million he already turned down. But once his contract expires in July, he’s eligible to sign a five-year, $202 million deal—which is about $56 million more than he’d have otherwise. And in what was probably the worst kept secret in the entire league, there wasn’t a chance in hell he was signing the extension that the Lakers offered.
ESPN analysts Rachel Nichols, Brian Windhorst, and Scottie Pippen break it all down beautifully here:
There’s a degree of risk involved for the Lakers because after becoming a free agent, Davis can sign with any team in the league, but the former New Orleans Pelican is expected to remain in Los Angeles until LeBron’s old ass inevitably retires to a nursing home—or until Davis gets traded in for Maserati.