The Kobe-Wade connection was always strong

They shared a trainer, Tim Grover, and sometimes quarreled over his time.

They shared a position, shooting guard, though Kobe Bryant was at least three inches taller.

They shared a legacy, of championships, glamour, travails and more.

They shared a willingness to explore the globe, especially China, to expand their brands.

They shared an intense love of their children.

But mostly, Bryant — who passed away Sunday in a helicopter crash — and Dwyane Wade shared respect.

I wrote about their mutual admiration in 2016, during Bryant’s last season, via an lengthy interview with Wade for 

This was the passage I found most interesting:

You’ve talked about Kobe being the ‘bar’ for you. In what ways do you feel like you’ve reached it?

DW: I don’t know. I mean, how I look at it is this: when I came into the league, obviously [Michael] Jordan was my idol, and he was gone. But Kobe was that bar for me, to say, OK, he’s the ultimate two-guard in this league, and I need to get there. And I felt at some point in my career, I reached that, where I was battling him. Any given night, I could be the best two-guard in the league, or he could be the best two-guard in the league, but we were going at it. And from the standpoint of his success and what he did before I came in, and winning all the championships, etc., he had me on that. But season to season, I felt like I was looking at him eye to eye some nights, and some years. And so I don’t know at the end of the day how it shakes out from that standpoint. Obviously, to me, and I haven’t seen all the players play live — but biased, I think he’s the second-best two-guard to ever play. And I think I’ve been in conversations to be from three to five. And to me, I’ve reached my bar from that standpoint, of trying to get to where he is, as one of the all-time greats at that position.

Whatever anyone else thought of Kobe — for whom petulance could be part of the package — his peers thought he was an all-timer, someone to emulate. Wade never, ever put himself above Bryant in the rankings, even though he outplayed Bryant in many of their encounters, including the breakout Christmas Day game in 2005, after Shaquille O’Neal had pushed himself away from Bryant to Wade.

That is Bryant’s basketball legacy, even if the family legacy is more important.

The basketball legacy is the way those in the game reacted to him.

Even those who weren’t in the game yet, like Wade’s heir apparent at two-guard in Miami, Tyler Herro::

Here are some tweets that brought back memories:

And here’s a tribute from South Florida, which is supposed to be celebrating Super Bowl LIV:

Sports world reacts to death of Lakers legend Kobe Bryant

Basketball legend Kobe Bryant has died.

The basketball world is mourning the passing of a legend. Los Angeles Lakers shooting guard Kobe Bryant has died in a helicopter crash according to multiple media reports. According to a report from Adrian Wojnarowski, he was on his way to a travel basketball game with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna. Nine people were killed in total per a report from the Associated Press.

Bryant was just 41 years of age.

Several NBA players and personalities reacted upon hearing the news.



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Heroes come and go LEGENDS live forever‼️#8 #24

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Kobe Bryant had numbers to match incredible play

Kobe Bryant was a player that transcended the game of basketball. He truly embraced the “Mamba Mentality” and worked hard for everything he had on the court. He was the ultimate competitor, and a clutch playoff performer.  A five-time champion and two-time NBA Finals MVP were just some of the things on his resume. He also won an MVP award in 2008. That year, he was a huge reason why the Lakers went on a strong postseason run that culminated in a championship.

An eight-time All-Star, Bryant had both No. 8 and 24 retired by the team. A six-time NBA champion, he embodied what it means to be a competitor. This is a very sad day for not only the entire NBA, but all of sports. He will most certainly be inducted into the Hall of Fame, and will forever go down as one of the greatest players ever to play the game of basketball. Even in his final NBA game on April 13, 2016, he competed until the very end. Scoring 60 points in his finale, it was one of the most impressive feats in the history of the NBA.

As you can see from the tweets above, this is a gigantic loss for the sports world. He will forever be a player that others inspire to be. He will always be remembered as a fearless and tough competitor. Bryant leaves behind a wife and four daughters. This is a historic day and one that will be forever remembered throughout the sports world.

Miami Heat need to be ready for balance of Clippers

As the Miami Heat get ready to take on the Los Angeles Clippers Friday night, they have to be ready for the multi-faceted attack Los Angeles brings to the table. They are a balanced team, and succeed well in all areas.

Take for example Kawhi Leonard. He is third in the league in steals per game with an average of two per contest. He also has 27.1 points per contest. That is seventh in the entire league. He brings to the table a multi—faceted  game that has suited Los Angeles well. With an average of 9.6 field goals made per game, that puts him sixth in the entire league in that category. His 20.6 average field goal attempts per game ranks him fifth in all of basketball.

Montrezl Harrell is a tough defender, but he can also shoot the basketball really well. He ranks 11th in the entire league in field goal percentage. Shooting at a 57.2% clip, he brings both toughness and efficiency to the table.

Paul George brings a multi-level offensive game to the table. He is apt at shooting the basketball . He can also get to the free-throw line and make his chances. With a 90.9 free-throw conversion percentage, George certainly makes the most of his opportunities when he is at the line. The best thing the Miami Heat can do is not foul him. Otherwise, it’s essentially guaranteed free points.

Miami Heat have challenge ahead of them.

With this balance Los Angeles possesses, the Miami Heat certainly have a tough challenge ahead of them. The biggest thing that they should do Friday night is move the basketball offensively. Keeping the Clippers on their toes defensively could be a key to victory.

Defensively, it will be hard to combat the likes of George and Leonard without allowing at least a few baskets. Rotating defensively and not allowing the Clippers to get comfortable will be key. Staying in front of their man will help eliminate drive to the basket. Making Los Angeles work offensively will slow them down. They are going to get their points, it’s just a matter of limiting the damage.

The Miami Heat will be challenged on Friday night. This will  be a good test to see where they stand against the Western Conference. They will certainly have a lot to think about on both sides of the ball. Slowing down the Clippers will certainly not be an easy task. It may be a question of allowing the Clippers to succeed in some areas if it means taking away others.


Heat lineups

Miami Heat: Jimmy Butler Snubbed as All-Star Game starter

The Miami Heat star will not be a starter for the All-Star Game.

Jimmy Butler will almost certainly represent the Miami Heat in the 69th edition of the All-Star Game. Held at the United Center in Chicago Illinois, this will be a homecoming of sorts for him.

However, he will not be a starter. Instead, unless Joel Embiid’s injury keeps him out of the contest — opening a spot in the frontcourt — he will be a reserve.

He played at the United Center frequently as a member of the Chicago Bulls from 2011-2017. Drafted by the Bulls with the 30th overall pick in 2011, he had great success while there.

Butler has been having a career year, and it has shown with how well the Miami Heat have played. In 38 games, he has averaged 20.3 points per game. Averaging seven rebounds and 6.5 assists per contest, he is bringing a multifaceted game to the table.

He is also bringing veteran leadership to a roster full of youth. The Miami Heat have several young players that that could turn out to be cornerstones for the franchise. Right now, it is all about development. Butler has been instrumental in helping the team succeed on the court. The fact that he is not a starter for the All-Star Game is surprising. Charles Barkley was surprised with how voting went.

More Barkley here.

It’s strange to hear him stand up for anyone on the Heat, considering the constant jabs he always took at Dwyane Wade.

For Butler, once he’s selected, it will be his fifth All-Star game. He was selected to be a part of the 2018 All-Star Game while with Philadelphia. However, he elected to rest instead as he was battling with injuries.

The Miami Heat are sitting pretty in the Eastern Conference. They are second in the conference, only to the Milwaukee Bucks. With a 27-12 record they have been one of the biggest surprises in the NBA this season. The fact that he was sixth in player voting was surprising as well. However, Barkley offered a reason for why that occurred.

Butler should have been a starter for this game, in light of the Heat’s success and his role in it. Nevertheless, the fact that that he will be a reserve is at least some sort of silver lining. It’s certainly unfortunate, but Butler could use this as more motivation.

And what about Bam Adebayo joining Butler as a reserve, as he should?

We’ll find out next week.

Miami Heat: Tyler Herro wins duel with Bradley Beal in Heat victory

Wednesday night was a battle between the Miami Heat and Washington Wizards. The Miami Heat and Washington Wizards took the game to overtime where the Heat won 134-129.

Perhaps the biggest subplot in this game was the battle between Bradley Beal and Tyler Herro. It was perhaps one of the best back-and-forth battles of the season. Both players went toe-to-toe, and it made for some great basketball.

Beal played in 38 minutes, going 16-of-24 from the field. He didn’t perform well shooting from beyond the arc, going two-of-eight. However, he made all four of his to free throws and also contributed nine rebounds. In total, he scored 38 points.

Herro puts on a show for Miami Heat

Herro was extremely successful from beyond the arc. In 33 minutes of play, he went seven-of-nine from three-point range. He also shot two free throws and contributed three rebounds. Herro was a +11 when he was on the floor. He certainly provided a spark coming off the bench. In total, he scored 25 points. He looked comfortable, and he was a major part of the offense.

It was a great night for Herro who has seen his minutes increase steadily. After playing in 17 minutes on Monday against Sacramento, he played in 33 minutes Wednesday night. He had been battling knee issues last week, but those appear to be much better. This  was the Tyler Herro that we have seen throughout the course of the season.

The rookie and the veteran put on a show, and it was a contrast between the present and the future.

For Beal, it was the type of game one would expect from him. He has been on a hot streak as of late, and that continued. Washington is resilient and relentless in their efforts to try and score. That showed on Wednesday night. Beal has been a leader for the Wizards in the scoring department this season, and he certainly assumed that role for Washington on Wednesday.

With Miami moving to 8-0 on the season in overtime games, Tyler Herro won this battle. Seeing him perform this well is just a reaffirmation that the youth movement has a ton of potential for the team moving forward. This team will be a lot of fun to watch come playoff time.

Derrick Jones Jr will participate in All-Star Dunking Contest

Derrick Jones Jr. will finally be at the All-Star Game.

As our Greg Sylvander reported earlier this month, the Miami Heat will have a representative in one of the most exciting features of the NBA All-Star Weekend.

Today, the news were confirmed by Shams Charania, from The Athletic.

With Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo still trying to earn their spot in the roster, Derrick Jones Jr. assures, the Heat, one of the best teams in the league this year, will have a representative in most of the activities that will take place that weekend in Chicago.

Enjoy some of the best Airplane Mode takes and exhibitions this season:

Support Derrick Jones Jr for the All-Star Dunking Contest buying his Airplane Mode Tee here:

Miami Heat: Team needs to be wary of De’Aaron Fox on Monday

The Miami Heat are set to play an early-evening game with the Sacramento Kings, and they will certainly have their hands full. Despite the Kings playing with a 15-27 record, they have players that can shoot the ball really well. One of those players is De’Aaron Fox. He has played well over the past couple of games, and Miami needs to be wary of him.

In Sacramento’s most recent game against the Utah Jazz, Fox was a bright spot in defeat. He had 21 points in 31 minutes of play. Shooting 10-16 from the field, he also recorded eight assists.

The loss against the Jazz marked his third game in a row with at least 20 points scored. He had a 27-point effort against the Dallas Mavericks on January 15. This was following a 31-point effort against the Orlando Magic on January 13.

The last time Miami and Sacramento met was on February 8, 2019. Fox struggled a bit in the game. He went five-of-17 in 29:34 of action. Although he was inefficient, his ability to drive to the basket left other shooters open. He was a key player for Sacramento even when struggling.

As has been documented, Miami  has had trouble keeping players out of the paint. Fox is tricky, he has a multi-faceted game. He can  drive or stop on a dime and shoot a jumper. The way he handles the basketball allows him to keep defenders guessing. His speed when driving into the lane also works in his favor. Measuring in at 6-foot-3, 185 pounds, his size allows him to maintain consistent speed while also allowing him to be a scoring threat.

The Kings have many weapons at their disposal, and Miami has to be cognizant of that. As the point guard, Fox is the one that makes everything go. He should have a big hand in what Sacramento does on Monday, and the Miami Heat need to be ready for him.

Miami Heat: Bench struggles contribute to loss against Spurs

Sunday, while many were watching the AFC Championship game, Miami Heat lost to the San Antonio Spurs by a 107-102 margin. Although it was a close game throughout, a strong second quarter propelled San Antonio to victory. Outscoring the Heat by a 32-23 margin in the second frame, the bench was a huge reason why San Antonio was able to come away with the victory.

Derrick White had 11 points on five-of-11 shooting. Patrick Mills had 18 points on four-of-10 shooting. He was perfect from the free-throw line, making all four of his shots. Marco Belinelli also got into the action. He scored 12 points on two-of-six shooting. He made all six free throws he attempted.

San Antonio’s plus-minus numbers were impressive. White was a +21 while Mills was a +17. Belinelli and Jakob Poetl were  +11 and  while Lonnie Walker IV was a +10. Each of the players on the San Antonio bench were assets while they were on the floor.

Miami Heat bench struggles in loss

Miami’s bench had a tougher time getting things going. All five players recorded a minus rating while they were on the floor. Goran Dragic was the big bench scorer for Miami with 19 points in 24 minutes of play. Dragic was a -13 on the floor in this game. Derrick Jones Junior was a -21 in this contest. He finished with six points on the evening.

Kelly Olynyk and Tyler Herro each had zero points in this game. Olynyk played seven minutes while Herro played nine. Both players missed the two shots they attempted. Olynuk and Herro were both -13 respectively. This was Herro’s first game back from injury. He missed the past two contests with a knee bruise. And he appeared rusty.

Miami is going to have to have a better contributions from their bench, particularly as fatigue starts to set in during the remainder of the season. This was a rough night for the bench all-around. Up next, Miami plays host to the Sacramento Kings Monday evening. Tipoff is at 5:00 PM.

Miami Heat: Justise Winslow suffers another injury setback

The Miami Heat will be without Justise Winslow for two weeks.

Another day, another status update on Justise Winslow. According to a tweet from Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald, coach Eric Spolestra indicated Friday that Winslow will be out for the next two weeks. This is stemming from his back injury. Once the two weeks are up, he will be re-evaluated at that point.

This is another setback in what has been a difficult process for Justise Winslow. He was back on the court January 8 against Indiana, but he has not returned sense. In that game, he missed both shots he took. Recording two rebounds, an assist, and a steal, he made a noticeable impact.

Winslow has just not been healthy enough to get on the court consistently this season. Duncan Robinson has filled in for him in his absence. Robinson has averaged 11.8 points in 40 games this season. One of his best games of the year came against Atlanta on December 10. In that contest, he scored 34 points on 12-of-16 shooting. He went 10-of-14 from beyond the arc.

It will be interesting to see what occurs after the two weeks are up. Are the Heat going to trade Winslow at the deadline? The date for the trade deadline is February 6 at 3 PM EST. Five Reasons Sports noted on the Five on the Floor podcast that they don’t think Winslow suits up for the Heat this season. With the trade deadline being so close to that two-week timeframe, that is certainly believable.

Winslow needs to get healthy, and maybe have a fresh start somewhere else. Right now, he is just taking up space for Miami. Obviously, things may be different when he is healthy, but we have yet to see it. A healthy Winslow is great. And oft-injured Winslow is not ideal. We’ll have to see how this plays out.

Miami Heat need to lockdown the paint against Spurs

The Miami Heat need to clean up their play inside the paint.

The Miami Heat are getting ready to take on the San Antonio Spurs. In doing so, they are looking to snap a two-game losing skid. San Antonio will not be an easy test.  Miami needs to clean up one major aspect of their game: points in the paint.

Against the Knicks on Sunday, they struggled mightily with this. Miami gave up 72 points in the paint, compared to only 46 for the Heat. New York’s big men feasted on inside scoring. Taj Gibson and Julius Randle had 14 and 26 points respectively. Miami could just not seem to stop the inside presence New York had.

San Antonio could provide easier challenge for Miami Heat

Against San Antonio on Wednesday, stopping points in the paint needs to be a priority. San Antonio is not a team that scores in volume in the paint. They average 44.4 points per contest from inside. They are tied with two other teams with that number. One of those teams is the New York Knicks.

Bam Adebayo and Myers Leonard are two players that have the potential to stop this. They will have their work cut out for them on Wednesday.

LaMarcus Aldridge scored 11 points on four-of-10 shooting against the Raptors on Sunday. He should be the primary paint presence for San Antonio. Throughout his career, he has established himself as a player that can lower his shoulder and get whatever he wants inside. The Miami Heat will have their hands full with Aldridge.

Miami should focus on playing the paint tightly and not allowing drives in the lane. Stopping the big man is only one half of the problem. The other half is eliminating easy drives to the basket. If Miami can take care of those things, that will put them in a better position to succeed.

The lack of limiting inside baskets is a problem that Miami has been having, and they can rectify it against San Antonio. They need to, or else it could be another long evening.