It’s hard to win back-to-back titles in the NBA; so much has to go your way, including staying healthy. Last season, LeBron James and Anthony Davis were healthy, which led to an NBA title for the Los Angeles Lakers. This season, both Davis and James miss extended time due to injuries, and both Davis and James were not completely healthy in the playoffs.
James battled an ankle injury, while Davis battled a groin injury that occurred in Game 4, which forced him to miss Game 5 and led to him leaving in early in the first quarter and not coming back after trying to give it a go in Game 6 on Wednesday night.
All that aside, this game was about the greatness of Devin Booker, who scored 22 of his playoff career-high 47 points in the first quarter as the Suns defeated the Lakers 113-100 at Staples Center.
Phoenix led by as many as 22 points in the first quarter and by as many as 29 points in the game.
The Suns, who won the series 4-2 to capture their first playoff series victory in 11 years, move on to the Western Conference semifinals to battle the Denver Nuggets, while the defending- champion Lakers go home.
Booker, who’s making his playoff debut after missing the postseason in the first four years of his career, shot 8-10 from the field in the first quarter and was 6/6 from three-point range(six threes is his regular-season career-high). He finished the game shooting 15/22 from the field and made a career-high eight threes.
Booker was ready for this game, which he discussed after the victory.
“I was just locked in, to be completely honest with you,” Booker said. “I had a tough time taking my pregame nap, all out of excitement. We treated this game like a Game 7. We were stressing since we won the last game that we wanted to end it here on their home court.”
Booker is a huge fan of Laker great, the late Kobe Bryant, and he brought that “Mamba Mentality” in Game 6. Bryant once gave Booker a pair of his sneakers and wrote ‘Be Legendary’ on them. Booker would later get that phrase tattooed on him. The two-time All-Star felt Bryant’s presence when he saw Kobe’s 8 and 24 resting in the rafters at Staples Center, which he discussed post-game.
“Honestly, I was thinking about Kobe and the conversations that we had, kind of about what we just went through, the postseason and being legendary and taking the steps to get there,” Booker said. “So, seeing that 8 and that 24 up there, with the way that the lighting at Staples has right here, it feels like it’s shining down on you.”
Booker has star potential and talent, and now the world gets the see how good of a player he is and can be on the playoff stage.
James, who led the Lakers with 29 points on Thursday night, lost for the first time in the first round of the playoffs. Coming into this series, James was 14-0.
Chris Paul, who appeared to hurt his shoulder again in the first quarter, but would return, finished the game with eight points and 12 assists.
One of the greatest classes in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame history will be honored on Saturday night. Headlined by the late Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, and Kevin Garnett, the Hall of Fame class of 2020 will be inducted at Mohegan Sun Arena in Connecticut.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the ceremony was postponed and rescheduled for this year.
Garnett, who was a 15-time All-Star and will be presented by Hall of Famer Isiah Thomas, was one of the best power forwards in his era. He had a lot of battles with many great power forwards at that time. In the late 90s and early 2000s, in the NBA, especially in the Western Conference, you had guys like Dirk Nowitzki, Duncan, Chris Webber, Charles Barkley, Karl Malone, and more. Hence, it was not easy to make your mark in the league at the power forward position.
As the position evolved, instead of post-ups, players started to face-up and became more perimeter-oriented.
On Friday, at the Hall of Fame press conference, the former MVP, discussed how he wanted to be different and the challenges of being a power forward at that time in the league.
“The competition was real, night in and night out, you had a challenge every night,” Garnett said. “It wasn’t like an easy night at the four at the time. I think you had Chris Webber; you had Dirk(Nowitzki), you had Dice(Antonio McDyess), you had Joe Smith, you had Sheed(Rasheed Wallace), you had Timmy(Duncan), you had Chuck(Charles Barkley), you had Karl(Malone). The list goes on and on.
“From day one, I wanted to be able to be different. I wanted to face-up. When I first came into the league in 95′, a lot of the bigs had the back to the basket. You didn’t see a lot of face-ups. Through the glory of working with Kevin McHale, I started to change the narrative of what a four looks like. I wanted to be a lot more versatile.”
Anything is possible, and coming from South Carolina, going to high school in Chicago, starting his NBA career in Minnesota, going to Boston, and finally winning an NBA title with the Celtics. Garnett has seen and done a lot in the NBA. Now, he is in basketball heaven.
The Class of 2020 inductees will also include Patrick Baumann, 18-time NBA All-Star 10-time WNBA All-Star and four-time Olympic gold medalist Tamika Catchings, three-time NCAA National Championship Coach Kim Mulkey, five-time Division II National Coach of the Year Barbara Stevens, four-time collegiate National Coach of the Year Eddie Sutton and two-time NBA Champion coach Rudy Tomjanovich.
Watch as Garnett talks Bryant, winning in Boston, and more:
The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame announced today, multi-Grammy Award-winning artist NE-YO will perform at the Class of 2020 Enshrinement Ceremony held at Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Conn. on Saturday, May 15. The ceremony will be hosted by Ahmad Rashad and the television broadcast schedule will be announced on Monday, May 10.
“As we return to live events, we’re excited to elevate the experience by providing our attendees, and fans tuning-in from home, a performance by world-class artist NE-YO,” said John Doleva, President and CEO of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. “We sincerely appreciate the support of the basketball community in making this overdue celebration come to fruition and we look forward to honoring the historic Class of 2020.”
“It’s a privilege and honor to perform for such heroes in the game, including the late Kobe Bryant,” said Motown Records/Compound Entertainment recording artist NE-YO. “I’ve admired and respected these players for years; I’m looking forward to safely performing and celebrating this year’s class.”
The Class of 2020 inductees are longtime FIBA executive Patrick Baumann, 18-time NBA All-Star and five-time NBA champion Kobe Bryant, 10-time WNBA All-Star and four-time Olympic gold medalist Tamika Catchings, 15-time NBA All-Star and three-time NBA Finals MVP Tim Duncan, 15-time NBA All-Star and nine-time NBA All-Defensive First Team selection Kevin Garnett, three-time NCAA National Championship Coach Kim Mulkey, five-time Division II National Coach of the Year Barbara Stevens, four-time collegiate National Coach of the Year Eddie Sutton, and two-time NBA Champion coach Rudy Tomjanovich.
Ex-NBA player Craig Hodges joins the Go4it Podcast! According to Hodges, the NBA shouldn’t return. Hodges believes the NBA players can create their own league.
He discussed Kobe’s 81-point game, career, activism, Stephen A. Smith, and his belief that Scottie Pippen was just as good as Jordan.
On Saturday, it became official. The greatest Hall of Fame class in Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame history was finally assembled.
The late Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett, and six others were selected to the Hall and will be enshrined in August at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts.
This is a great class, which many have had circled on their calendar for years. Sadly, Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, who, along with seven others, died in a helicopter accident in January, will not be there.
Here is the complete list of the class of 2020:
EDDIE SUTTON [Coach]
RUDY TOMJANOVICH [Coach]
KIM MULKEY [Coach]
BARBARA STEVENS [Coach]
After the announcement, Duncan, a 15-time NBA All-Star and five-time NBA champion reacted to making the Hall of Fame.
Here is what he had to say:
We will be talking sports and having fun doing it. We will be joined by Hall of Famer Willie Roaf, who will discuss all things Super Bowl 54. Does Andy Reid finally get it done? Does Kyle Shanahan erase the memories of 28-3?
Also, we will talk about the untimely death of the great Kobe Bryant.
Call 646-727-3070 to join in
Yesterday, was one of the toughest days in NBA history, as NBA legend Kobe Bryant, 41, and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, and seven others died in a helicopter accident in California.
Bryant, who played 20 seasons in the NBA, all with the Lakers, retired from the NBA in 2016.
There were eight games on Sunday in the NBA, and many players, coaches, and media members were visibly upset, including Wizards guard Isaiah Thomas.
Bryant and Thomas had a close relationship, and according to Thomas, the two spoke just last week.
“He meant everything to me,” Thomas said after the Wizards’ 152-133 loss to the Hawks on Sunday. “I started basketball because of Kobe Bryant… 2017, I lose my sister; 2019, I lose one my best friends in Nipsey Hussle, and to lose a mentor of mine, like, that’s bigger than basketball.
“He’s the greatest of all-time, in life, and in basketball. That’s how much I looked up to him, so his legacy gonna live forever, but this was a dent in everybody’s life that he’s touch, for sure.
“I admired him from afar, and then, I think he respects people’s work ethic. I just slowly built a relationship with him on the court, and when I got to Boston, it got a little closer where it was off the court. And then my sister passed away, and that’s when it got real close. He was one of them people that was there for me in my corner, and then I got injured, he was one of those guys who was there for me the whole time, helping me through mentally, so like I said, it’s bigger than basketball. It’s hard to even talk about it. Like, the NBA should have just canceled all the games today, for real…
“My focus was not on the game, really. It’s like, my kids called me and told me he passed away. Let that sink in.”
No one should die at 41, and sadly, we all have to deal with the fact that Kobe Bryant will never grace this earth again.
Listen to Thomas’ thoughts on Bryant below:
— Washington Wizards (@WashWizards) January 27, 2020