Kobe Talks Retirement; O.J. Mayo Finds A Team

07.17.12 5 years ago
Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant (photo. Chris Sembrot)

It wasn’t easy, but a W is a W. Team USA struggled early against Brazil and were down by as many as 10. A struggle? They were having problems just converting layups. Russell Westbrook was missing breakaway lay ins; the rest of the team couldn’t make a shot in the lane. At the end of the first quarter, it was 27-17 Brazil, and we thought Coach K might break a blood vessel. Everything was going wrong for the USA early, even the Kiss Cam. Barack Obama and Michelle were in the building, and they were put on the Kiss Cam. Michelle refused the president twice, even after he went in for the kill, and the crowd wasn’t feeling it. Obama was swagging out all night in Under Armour – at a Nike event – but it took him a second try at the Kiss Cam to give his woman a smooch. Meanwhile, the USA Team pulled off a 13-2 run, and then followed it up with a 20-5 run to end any conversation about the game being up for grabs. LeBron dropped 30 points, and the USA defense was incredible in the middle quarters. They held Brazil to five third quarter points, and created another game-deciding run in the third … After the game, the Brazilian women were stopping the American stars to take pictures in the hallway. In fact, Kobe got stopped by some girl who wanted one of those Facebook “look at me!” snap shoots. Hilarious … Part of the perks of being in this industry is the gear, and yesterday our man Sean Sweeney got hooked up hardcore. As most of the readers know, he’s been in Washington, D.C. all weekend for the World Basketball Festival, and yesterday was the icing on the cake. First in the morning, all of the media brought in by Nike got a chance to head over to the Armory – the site of most of the weekend’s action – and wear test the new Nike Lunar Hyperdunk 2012. The sneaker features a chip system and phone syncing system that tracks all of your physical stats while playing and wearing the shoes. When we say everything, we mean it. Vertical and quickness are incredibly easy to detect, but there’s even more than that. You can track your time spent sprinting, walking and moving laterally in-game, and the percentages. You can track how often you use hyper quickness and how often you’re moving at a steady pace. All of your jumping is tracked, analyzed and charted for averages. You can also see how much energy you’ve used, and pretty much all of this info is put into easy-to-use bar charts. It really is insane; Sweeney can’t even recall all of it because it’s so engrossing. We went through specific testing for vertical and quickness, as well as on-court statistical measures. But what was probably coolest was the dunk station, where the rim was placed at varying heights, Nike employees filmed and the media were given the chance to dunk, see themselves on a big screen and see their statistics. On top of that, the sneaker is super dope and has the potential to work on-court or off of it. Check back here later for a full recap and full review of the shoe … Keep reading to hear about Kobe’s retirement …

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O.J. Mayo

O.J. Mayo (photo. John Sturdy)

Kobe Bryant never opens up about that fateful night in the summer of 2003. But he has now, and the Olympian contends the charges somehow made him a better man. It definitely changed him, from his attitude to his endorsements to perhaps most importantly, his image. What we knew Kobe as before then – high-character, fun-loving, intelligent – were replaced by cold-hearted, driven, unflinching and aggressive. Bryant never had a problem with it, and it only took a championship or two with Shaq to bring the public to his side. Now we go into Team USA practices, and no one gets chants like Kobe does. He’ll miss seven or eight shots in a row and yet the eyes never waver from him. LeBron is the best player but Kobe is the most popular. Yet who knows what would’ve happened had Bryant never been charged with sexual assault. He says it taught him how to manage his stress levels better, and said this to Graham Bensinger of Yahoo! for part of the In Depth series: “The challenge is who you are as a person, not only individually but as a family…. There’s times where it just seems like days are just endless, like this is never going to end. This feeling, this dark time is just never going to be over. Once you go through something like that, you can’t help but be different. You can’t help but have a better sense of who you are.” … Bryant also surprisingly spoke on retirement in the same interview, saying it’s still probably accurate that he will retire at the end of his contract when he’s 35 years old. Shocking. We’ve said in the past, the dude is like a basketball robot. We can’t envision him giving the game up, at least not before he hits 38-40 years old. Too much at stake: too many rings to chase, too many records to break, too much money to make. Of course, he’s already embraced his inner old man by rocking the goatee and shaved dome (or maybe that’s just a salute to MJ‘s ’92 Barcelona look) … NBA offseason news: the Raptors traded James Johnson to Sacramento for just a 2014 second rounder, but Toronto will sign stud foreigner Jonas Valanciunas in the next few days, according to Doug Smith of the Toronto Star … Alex Kennedy reports the Magic and Jameer Nelson have agreed to a three-year deal … And Grant Hill is leaning towards signing with the Lakers while Antawn Jamison is down to the Lakers, Bobcats or Nets … O.J. Mayo announced on Twitter last night that he was signing with Dallas. A little surprising, but we should’ve figured that considering Mayo was in a weird spot. Now, let’s all hope he can lock down that starting gig and start dropping 20 a night like he was meant to do … We might’ve seen the inevitable coming, but the Titanic has finally gone under. Sources say the Knicks won’t bring Jeremy Lin back. And you thought the Season of Lin would’ve made for a great movie, this entire summer has only added to this unbelievably unique run. Carmelo Anthony has tackled the “ridiculous” issue. So have we, breaking down why the Knicks really should KEEP perhaps the NBA’s most popular player. Even the New York fans have spoken, starting a petition to keep Lin in the Big Apple. So there’s no need for us to fan the fire any longer here. But the aftermath effects this year will be interesting to watch. Lin was in the perfect position in New York. He had talent around him, and veterans to help take the baton when needed while also allowing him the freedom to make mistakes. Lin had immense pressure on him, but not basketball pressure, which is different. Now with the Rockets, he’ll have both, as well as the keys to the franchise. Unless the Rockets get Dwight Howard, we’ll be seeing some 10-turnover games from Lin this year, and long stretches where he struggles going against defenses every game that are geared to stop him. The inside story hasn’t been fully revealed as to what happened between Lin and the Knicks, but we can’t be the only ones who think he’s going to struggle flying that plane in Houston …

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