NBA

LeBron James surpasses Kobe Bryant in All-Star milestone

By Sports Desk February 16, 2020

LeBron James moved up to second on the all-time list for NBA All-Star Game appearances on Sunday.

James – leading Team LeBron against Team Giannis in Chicago – surpassed Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant with his 16th appearance.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar holds the All-Star record with 18.

Lakers superstar James also eclipsed Bryant for third on the NBA's all-time scoring list last month, a day before the five-time champion's tragic death.

Bryant, 41, and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna were killed in a helicopter crash, along with seven others in Calabasas, California.

Magic Johnson led tributes for Bryant, the Lakers great making a speech at the United Center as the lights went down.

"We'll never see another basketball player quite like Kobe," said Johnson, who led an eight-second moment of silence for Bryant – the number the 2008 MVP wore during the early stages of his illustrious career. "Scoring 81 points in one game. Scoring 60 points in his last game. And then winning five NBA championships.

"But what I'm really proud about when we think about Kobe Bryant, there's millions of people in Los Angeles that don't have a home. Kobe was fighting to get them homes and shelter every single day. He was passionate about that.

"He was also passionate about being a great father, husband, filmmaker. Young man won an Oscar. So we all are hurting. This is a tough time for the whole NBA family."

Related items

  • Coronavirus: LeBron James remaining optimistic over NBA season Coronavirus: LeBron James remaining optimistic over NBA season

    LeBron James is optimistic the coronavirus-hit NBA season can resume, though the Los Angeles Lakers superstar would struggle to find closure if the campaign did not conclude.

    The NBA has been on hiatus since March 11 amid the COVID-19 pandemic, with over 88,500 deaths worldwide and more than 1,518,700 confirmed cases.

    NBA commissioner Adam Silver said the league will not be able to make any decisions regarding the season until at least May.

    Asked how he would feel if the season could not be finished, James – whose Lakers were top of the Western Conference at the time of the postponement – told reporters on Wednesday: "I don't know if I will be able to have any closure."

    Initially against the idea of playing games without fans if and when the season restarts, three-time NBA champion James added: "If it comes to a point if we're playing without our fans, we still know that we have Laker faithful with us in spirit.

    "We know they'll be home cheering us on, online, on their phones, on their tablets watching us playing so hopefully we can bottle that energy that we know we're getting from them.

    "Bottle that loyalty that they've had for not only this year but since the Lakers have been in Los Angeles. So hopefully we're able to channel that. Channel that energy, channel that focus and bring them with us if we're either at Staples without fans or we're somewhere in an isolated location playing the game of basketball."

    The NBA is reportedly exploring the possibility of holding the entire postseason in one location – Las Vegas. The Lakers had played 63 of the 82-game regular season when the campaign was halted.

    "I believe once [the pandemic is] under control and they allow us to resume some type of activity, I would love to get the season back going," James, 35, continued. "I feel like we're in a position where we can get back and start to compete for a championship, get back to doing what we love to do, making our Laker faithful proud of us, of being back on the floor.

    "And if it's in one single isolated destination ... if it's Las Vegas or somewhere else that can hold us and keep us in the best possible chance to be safe, not only on the floor but also off the floor as well, then those conversations will be had. Just figuring out a way."

    After a difficult first season in Los Angeles, James had returned to his brilliant best for the Lakers in 2019-20 – the veteran's performances catapulting him into the mix for a fifth MVP award.

    At the time of the NBA suspending the league, James had been averaging 25.7 points, 10.6 assists and 7.9 rebounds per game for the Western Conference-leading Lakers.

    "I can have some satisfaction on what our team has been able to do this year, having a first-year coach, first-year system, a whole new coaching staff, bringing on so many new pieces to our team this year," James said.

    "Doing the things that I honestly -- like I told you guys all year -- I honestly didn't think that we would be able to come together as fast as we did. I thought it would take us a lot longer than it did. But I was wrong. I was very wrong about that."

  • Coronavirus: Kawhi Leonard would return in 'phenomenal shape' – Rivers Coronavirus: Kawhi Leonard would return in 'phenomenal shape' – Rivers

    Kawhi Leonard would be in "phenomenal shape" if the NBA season resumes, according to Los Angeles Clippers head coach Doc Rivers.

    The NBA was suspended on March 11 amid the coronavirus pandemic, which has claimed at least 88,200 lives globally.

    It remains to be seen when and if the 2019-20 season will restart amid the coronavirus crisis, with commissioner Adam Silver saying the league will not be able to make any decisions regarding the campaign until at least May.

    Clippers superstar Leonard – who moved to Los Angeles in the offseason after leading the Toronto Raptors to the title last season – has been the subject of load management this term to deal with a knee problem.

    But Rivers told reporters on Wednesday: "I know Kawhi's overworking, I can guarantee you that. And the difference is, during the summer, Kawhi couldn't work, you know, so now he's got this break and he's able to train.

    "So the Kawhi we'll see will be in phenomenal shape. PG [Paul George] is another guy that's gonna be in phenomenal shape."

    "If this gets started, you can tell our players are invested in the season," Rivers said. "And they don't want this season to go away. And they're working like it is not going to go away."

    The Clippers (44-20) had won seven of their last eight games to be second in the Western Conference, behind city rivals the Los Angeles Lakers (49-14), before the NBA was shut down.

    Various options are being discussed, including playing behind closed doors and the season heading straight into the playoffs if the campaign resumes.

    "If it means we get to play and continue our pursuit for the goal that we want, I feel like Dr. Seuss: 'I will play anywhere. I will play in a house, I will play in a mouse,'" Rivers said. "I think that's how our team feels. We don't care where, when, why, what. We just want to go after our goal. I'm speaking by myself on that."

    On the Clippers' season up until the postponement, Rivers added: "We're really good. What I know for real was the last 10 games, we were turning into the Clippers. You could literally feel it... We started understanding each other... we were playing seamlessly through Kawhi and PG -- it wasn't forced anymore. Guys weren't trying to stay out of each other's way.

    "You could feel the rhythm. Even the Lakers loss [on March 8] where we, in my opinion, played horrendous in that game, and that was one of our step-back games... we still had a chance and it was our D game, you know?"

    "I really thought we were about to make a crazy run down the stretch. And unfortunately, bam, it stopped. ... I love where we were at. And seeing the way we play and how we were coming together, this team's good, I think we could beat anybody."

  • Coronavirus: Lakers staying connected via virtual workouts Coronavirus: Lakers staying connected via virtual workouts

    Los Angeles Lakers vice-president of basketball operations and general manager Rob Pelinka said the team are staying connected and fit via virtual workouts amid the coronavirus pandemic.

    The NBA, like many sports around the world, has been postponed due to COVID-19, which has killed more than 88,200 people globally, with over 1,508,500 confirmed cases.

    It remains to be seen when and if the 2019-20 NBA season – which was suspended last month – will resume amid the coronavirus crisis.

    NBA commissioner Adam Silver said the league will not be able to make any decisions regarding the season until at least May.

    In the meantime, LeBron James and the Lakers – who were top of the Western Conference prior to the postponement – remain close while social distancing.

    "For the guys, we work hard with our strength and conditioning staff to make sure they have fitness bundles delivered to them where we can do Zoom workouts," Pelinka told reporters on a conference call on Wednesday.

    "This is a team that just loved being together whether it was on the bench, on the bus, in the locker room. These guys just have a great chemistry of being together.

    "So they've tried to stay as connected as possible in the ways they can, working out together virtually."

    Pelinka added: "I think all of us right now have to live with hope, and we have to live with faith and trust and courage and those attributes because it's a really, really hard and dark time for the world.

    "And so I'm going to choose to fix most of my thoughts on that we will have a chance to finish the season. I think that would be a great thing for us.

    "But we also know that this situation is so much bigger than basketball. The reason I have that hope is not for personal accomplishment. Just, it's more that I think it could be the best thing for the world, going back to that Nelson Mandela quote: I think sports can really be powerful."

    Only the NBA-leading Milwaukee Bucks (53-12) had a better record than the Lakers (49-14) at the time of the league shutting down on March 11 and Pelinka said: "It's almost like I look at our season like a series of tests and we got a lot of As. And we got some A-pluses and some A-minuses. And I think there has been a lot of success in that.

    "We haven't had the chance to take a final exam yet. But that doesn't mean we're not going to celebrate the As that we've gotten so far."

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.