Kobe Bryant: Los Angeles Forever Hero

NBA Finals Game 7: Boston Celtics v Los Angeles Lakers

(Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images)

Los Angeles wasn’t ready for the joy, the heart, and the determination a 17 year old kid from Lower Merion High School was going to bring into their lives. The only person ready at the time…Kobe Bryant. While Lakers GM Jerry West believed in him, most people probably thought he should be in college studying. The funny thing is, Kobe was a student of the game and had been studying not only basketball but the NBA his entire life.

The son of former NBA player, Joe “Jellybean” Bryant, Kobe had a love for the game that was unmatched from an early age. Bryant’s youngest years were during his fathers basketball career transitioning from the NBA to International ball. Even though the young Bryant was growing up in Italy that only fueled his love for the game as he would study NBA games his family would send to him from America.

Kid Kobe

Nobody knew that a kid growing up in Italy was going to take America by storm. As Kobe mentioned in his Showtime documentary “Kobe Bryant’s Muse”, he hated his new life back in Philadelphia. He ate his lunches alone, he was the outcast, but he let his game do the talking in the process. He used all his pent up anger, all the discomfort and turned it into greatness. Just one of the lessons Kobe would teach us in his lifetime.

After an amazing senior season where he would lead his team to a state championship and be awarded the Naismith National Player of the Year, Kobe would enter the NBA Draft. The Lakers would trade up for Bryant, and were ready to build a franchise on the back of a 17 year old kid who needed his parents to sign his first contract.

Rookie Kobe

The Lakers paired their young star with another superstar in the making Shaquille O’neal who had signed a monster contract in free agency. Kobe’s first couple of years weren’t as easy as he had hoped. One game that changed his career and helped create the Kobe we know today was a playoff game against the Utah Jazz. Kobe would air ball four shots in crucial moments late in the game, which the Lakers would lose the series to the Jazz. That moment would eat Kobe up as he would once again use adversity to fuel his fire and love for the game.

The fire lit by adversity, the pairing with Shaq, the hiring of coaching legend in Phil Jackson all led to an amazing dynasty that would bring the Lakers and Los Angeles three straight championships. It was a new era in Laker land, all led by a 21 year old star who dreamed of being a Laker his whole life.

Shaq KobeKobe Chip

Shaq would later go to the Heat and there were many tough losing seasons that followed. Kobe stayed loyal to the Lakers and Los Angeles stayed loyal to him. He showed us that tough times don’t last, tough people do. He got us through the tough times and brought us two more championships with a new and improved team.

Even later in his career, he taught us to never give up. After tearing his achilles, he knew his team needed him so he stepped up and knocked down two free throws like only Kobe could. In his last game against Utah he did the unthinkable and dropped 60 points leading the Lakers to victory and giving us one last amazing moment to cherish.

Kobe’s work ethic was unmatched, his drive to win was insane, he was a hero and a villain. These characteristics would bring happiness to fans, get under the skin of his rivals and push his teammates to be better than they ever thought they could be. No matter what character he portrayed, he had the respect of everyone in the room.

Respect was very important to Kobe. The respect he had for the game, for his teammates, for his opponents, and for himself taught us that relationships are everything. While Michael Jordan’s career was ending as his was beginning, he soaked up as much as he could from the greatest of all time. Their game had so much in common, their drive was the same but they were two different beasts.

Jordan Kobe

Kobe was definitely the student, but soon he became the teacher. Not only was he showing the league what he was capable of, but he would show another teenager in LeBron James how to become great in a grown man’s league just like he once did. The entire basketball world, would pin Kobe & Lebron against each other for years but that only made their bond stronger. So strong that once Kobe would hang his Nike’s up for good, LeBron would join the Lakers and try to carry on the legacy that Kobe built but respecting his greatness in the process.

Kobe taught us life on and off the basketball court. He taught us to never give up, that hard work pays off, to motivate each other, to push ourselves beyond comfort, to love the process and to respect one another. As Los Angeles and the world continues to mourn the loss of our hero, we will celebrate him as we celebrated the buzzer beaters, the championships, and all of the moments that we loved. We will continue to live the way Kobe taught us to live, and pass it on to our future generations. We will get through this, we will stand up, walk to the free throw line and make two free throws for Kobe, for Gigi, for us.


3 Kings: Nike, Michael Jordan and Spike Lee

J Mars

It all started in 1984 when Nike signed a high flying rookie out of North Carolina named, Michael Jordan. Jordan fresh off winning back to back NCAA College Player of the Year awards and an NCAA Championship his freshman year seemed to be the unique player the brand needed. Nike released the Air Jordan 1 which got much needed publicity from the NBA due to banning the shoe from game play and fining MJ $5K every time he wore the shoe on the court, which Nike had no problem paying. Nike even used the banning in their commercial to promote the shoe which you can see down below.

The banning of the Air Jordan 1 was just the start of unique and famous ads that brought in millions of dollars in sales for their new superstar’s kicks! Their next move would create a legendary and edgy advertisement that would be remembered for years to come. Nike brought in an up and coming director by the name of Spike Lee, who just released his first feature film, She’s Gotta Have It. In the film, Spike plays a character by the name of Mars Blackmon who is a sports loving, New York Knicks fan much like Lee himself. Nike fell in love with the character and paired him with Michael Jordan in the new Air Jordan 3 commercial. In the commercial Mars introduces himself and the Air Jordan 3 to the world while Michael Jordan silently makes his presence known.

The relationship between the two stars continued as ads for the Air Jordan 4, 5 and 6 kept rolling out year after year.

 Air Jordan 4

Air Jordan 5

Air Jordan 6

Not only did the two have a great relationship on set but they had a great relationship off the set. Jordan being the superstar athlete that he is and Spike being the crazy New York Knicks fan that he is, the two were bound to go at each other during games. Maybe not as intense as the Reggie Miller meeting but still fun and competitive. In 1996, Jordan was back from his baseball retirement, and took out Spike’s Knicks in the playoffs while waving bye bye to Lee in the process.

Spike Lee also had a Jordan plug in his latest film Do The Right Thing when a white guy from Boston stepped on a guy’s “brand new white Air Jordan’s”. The film and scene is a “Spike Lee Joint” classic and shows just how great the Nike, Jordan and Lee relationship was.

Even though the Jordan and Spike commercials were done with, you had to know there would be one last hurrah and that day came when Michael Jordan decided to leave the game of basketball for his 3rd and final time in 2003. Nike created this commercial featuring the dynamic duo with Mars trying convince Jordan to come back to the game.

It was an end of an era but the relationship of Nike, Jordan and Spike Lee continues to grow way after Michael’s playing days. Lee came back to promote the Jordan XX which celebrated the 20th anniversary of the Air Jordan. The commercial tells the legendary tale of Michael Jordan and finishes with a challenge to a young kid becoming the next Air Jordan.

Michael Jordan is now the owner of the Charlotte Hornets but his sneakers continue to fly off the shelves in many retro releases. He also created an army of young superstars such as Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul who have signature shoes under the Jordan Brand. In 2006 Nike and Jordan gave their other king his own shoe, known as the Jordan Spizike. The Spizike has had many releases and even brought about another shoe known as The Son of Mars which released in recent years.

spike and spizike

The relationship between 3 kings, Nike, Jordan and Spike is alive and well. It will be interesting to see how it continues to grow and what other legendary shoes, ads, and events will come about as the 30th year of the Air Jordan approaches. One thing is for sure, it will be something unforgettable.

Nike Unveils Christmas Day KD, Kobe And Lebron Shoes!

3 Christmas

It’s that time of the year again…….Holiday time that is! Nike just let loose the pics for their upcoming “Christmas Day” shoes for Kevin Durant, Kobe Bryant and Lebron James. All three shoes have a great Christmas feel and sneaker heads all over the world will be in line for these the day after Christmas! All three shoes will release December 26th, 2013.

KD Christmas

KD christmas 2


The KD VI Christmas will release on December 26th for a retail price of $130.

kobe christmas

kobe 2

kobe 3

The Kobe 8 System Christmas releases December 26th, for a retail price of $160.


lebron 2

lebron 3

The Nike Lebron 11 Christmas releases December 26th for a retail price of $200.

Happy Shopping!


Nike Unveils The Kobe 9!!



Nike unveiled the new Kobe 9 shoes at The Museum of Contemporary Art on Wednesday, December 4th. The 9 is the first shoe in the Kobe line that is a high top and to feature Nike’s Flyknit to keep it light.

KB 2


Another very cool piece added to the Kobe 9 are red lines on the back of the shoe symbolizing Kobe’s torn Achilles injury. This will mean a lot when Kobe laces his shoes tonight as he returns from his injury against the Toronto Raptors!


The Nike Kobe 9 will release February 8th for a retail price of $225!


Where Are They Now? Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway Edition!


If you were a fan of basketball in the 90’s, then you absolutely know the name, Anfernee Hardaway or maybe you knew him by his nickname, “Penny”. Penny Hardaway was the closest thing to Magic Johnson in the 90’s, as he was a 6’7 point guard, with a beast of a center in Shaquille O’neal. The rookie shined for the Orlando Magic averaging 16 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists while leading them to their first playoff berth and 50 win season. The next year, Hardaway was named to the eastern conference all-star team and the all-NBA team, while taking the Magic to the NBA finals, even though they were swept by the Houston Rockets.

His third year is when the super stardom took off as he made his second all-star game, received his own Nike shoes, starred in his own commercials featuring Chris Rock, was third in MVP voting and won a gold medal with the 1996 Olympic team. Penny Hardaway was starting to take over the NBA as Michael Jordan was slowly on his way out.

The super stardom carried over to the following years, even though injuries slowed down Hardaway’s progress, fans still voted him to third and fourth all-star games. The couple of knee injuries made the Magic trade Penny to the Phoenix Suns where he averaged 17 ppg and 20 ppg during the playoffs. Eventually losing to the Lakers in the semi-finals, another knee surgery kept him out of the next season. A few years later and a career average with the Suns of 12 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists, he was traded to the New York Knicks with Stephon Marbury. The two did their best by getting the Knicks to the playoffs but ended up losing in the first round. Hardaway battled a couple more knee surgeries during the next couple years eventually being traded back to the Magic. The Magic waived him and he signed a minimum deal with the Miami Heat in the off-season. Midway through the season he was waived and his NBA career abruptly ended.

His career lasted 16 years with averages of 15 points, 4 rebounds and 5 assists. The numbers don’t do him justice, as a lot of us remember the good times of Penny Hardaway. It’s sad that 6 knee surgeries didn’t allow him to be the player we all knew he could be.

The Present:

The present brings Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway back home, but in a good way. I recently watched a special on ESPN E:60 about Penny Hardaway and a close friend, Desmond Merriweather, who is battling colon cancer while coaching a middle school basketball team. Hardaway teamed up with Merriweather to lead the boy’s to numerous victories over the next couple of years. This is where I let E:60 tell this amazing story….

Penny Hardaway may have been one of the best basketball players to play the game but this may be his greatest gift to the game of basketball.

Armed Forces Classic Jerseys Revealed


The second annual Armed Forces Classic will be played tonight, featuring Oregon vs Georgetown, which will air at 8PM ET on ESPN. As today kicks off the start to the College Basketball Season it is only fitting that we honor our troops around the world. The game will be played at Army Base, Camp Humphreys in South Korea. The jerseys and shoes made by Nike and Jordan Brand respectably feature camo print, with american flags and the words U.S.A (Oregon) and RESPECT (Georgetown). Hopefully this will be a continued success for the next 3 years as ESPN has a 5 year partnership with the Department of Defense and each branch of the US Armed Forces.