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Bryant says he didn’t know Thomas well before he shared a cordial conversation with him during his final appearance as a Laker in Boston on Dec. 30, 2015. Thomas congratulated him on his decorated career and Bryant encouraged Thomas to keep expanding his game.

Thomas said he emailed game clips to Bryant after Boston fell into a 2-0 hole against the Chicago Bulls. The two chatted via FaceTime while Thomas was back home in Tacoma, Washington, during a break before Game 3 of Boston’s first-round series against the Bulls and Bryant dispensed advice on how Thomas could elevate his postseason play.

Bryant says he will watch the NBA postseason when time allows. He can’t understand why some believe a potential Warriors versus Cavaliers Finals matchup for the third time is a negative.

Thomas’ father, James, was a fervent Lakers fan, having grown up in the Los Angeles area. Thomas has joked in the past how he was brainwashed to be a Lakers fan as a child but always admired Kobe Bryant.

“It was someone that I always knew I had to be in the gym,” James said. “I knew I had to be better because of Kobe Bryant. I knew he was in the gym, and I knew he was working on his game. And I knew he was great. So every day that I didn’t want to work out or every day I felt like I couldn’t give more, I always thought of Kobe. Because I knew that he was getting better and I was like, ‘Man, if you take a day off, he’s going to take advantage of it. You cannot take a day off. You cannot take a day off.’ And I used him for my motivation throughout my career because I always knew that he was working on something. So that part will be missed a little bit.”

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There has been a lot of speculation regarding George’s future with the Pacers for several months. He can become a free agent in 2018 by declining his 2018-19 player option worth $20.7 million. If George tells Kevin Pritchard that he’s planning to leave in 2018, the Pacers’ new president of basketball operations will likely deal George by the nba jerseys cheap 2018 February trade deadline.

Los Angeles city leaders have declared this Wednesday as “Kobe Bryant Day,” honoring the Los Angeles Lakers icon who played 20 seasons in purple and gold before retiring in April.

Bryant, a five-time NBA champion and the third all-time leading scorer in NBA history, laughed when asked whether he’d heard such comments from fans defending him. 

“When we played together in every All-Star Game, we never f—– around,” Bryant said. “It was like, ‘Listen, the guys have their fun, but now let’s do what we do.’ I knew how competitive he was, and I knew it would be a perfect fit. We just kind of talked about what we’re going to do, how we’re going to scheme to get things done. Unfortunately, it never happened.”

“I got a real good sense that we’re going to try to get him the ball as much as possible. And we’re going to try to compete as best as we can tonight. We don’t know, and neither does Utah know their fate right now, by the start of this game they could be playing for their playoff lives. So we don’t know. All we know is we got to come out here and we’ve got to play as hard as we can against this team and we’ve got to try to enjoy this moment, because this is something that a lot of these guys will never go through again.”

Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant is expected to be in the starting lineup Wednesday when his team opens its regular season against the Minnesota Timberwolves at Staples Center. The game will kick off Bryant’s NBA-record 20th season in purple and gold.

The Lakers and the NBA had declined more than 200 credential requests by Tuesday afternoon, Black said, though he added that requests were still pouring in for the game, the last of Bryant’s 20-season NBA career. For a regular-season game at Staples Center, the Lakers can at most accommodate between 225 and 250 media members, Black said, meaning that many will have to cover Wednesday’s game from the arena’s press room.

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The rest of Bryant’s brief outing wasn’t much better, with the longtime Laker finishing with five points on 1-of-5 shooting in 12 minutes, all of them coming in the first quarter before a Lakers-heavy crowd at the Stan Sheriff Center at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

With Kobe Bryant continuing to deal with nagging injuries, longtime Lakers trainer Gary Vitti suggested to coach Byron Scott on Tuesday night that they “shut down” Bryant for one to two weeks during what is his 20th and final NBA season.

“He’s been 20 years in the NBA, and now the Black Mamba is going home to be with his family, and I’m happy for him,” World Peace said. “I’m excited that he’s going home after a 20-year career and going home to be with his family and his children and his wife and just do good things, family things, like wake up in the morning, cook breakfast, take the kids to school, go watch the kids play soccer, go to the movies and just do regular stuff. That’s what I am excited for.”

James was 22 years old at that time. He’d just led a team with limited talent to the Finals before losing to the Spurs. He’d averaged 25 points, 8 rebounds and 8 assists during the Cavs’ playoff run, including a 48-point game in Detroit in the conference finals when he scored 29 of his team’s final 30 points. He’d win his first MVP award two years later. James was under contract for three more seasons, determined to be better the next time he made the Finals.

Bryant started at the small forward position, as Lakers rookie and 2015 No. 2 overall draft pick D’Angelo Russell and 2014 second-round pick Jordan Clarkson started at the other two guard positions. Scott also started power forward and 2014 No. 7 overall pick Julius Randle and center Roy Hibbert, whom the Lakers acquired from the Indiana Pacers this offseason.

Immediately after Heat-Lakers games the past few seasons, Wade often sought out Bryant for both advice on his mental approach to the game as well as to check on his injury rehab. After the Heat’s win in Los Angeles in January, Wade sent word from the Heat’s locker room to make sure Bryant didn’t leave Staples Center until the two had time to talk. A year earlier, Bryant hung out at the Heat’s arena long after the game for photos with Wade’s family.