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“Kobe Selfishly Wanted MVP”: Former Teammate Blames Kobe Bryant For the Lakers Losing the 2004 Finals

Evan Lewis

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Kobe Bryant

Former Los Angeles Lakers player Kareem Rush blamed Kobe Bryant for the team losing the 2004 NBA finals against Detroit Pistons.

The Lakers in 2004 had one of the strongest teams in the NBA. Apart from Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal, who were in their prime, they had experienced veterans like Karl Malone and Gary Payton. And there was Phil Jackson as their coach who had just led them to a three-peat and had nine NBA titles to his name. Clearly, when the Lakers faced the Pistons in the 2004 Finals, they had a great opportunity to win a fourth title in five years. But the Pistons beat them in five games.

Kobe Bryant among the reasons for the loss, says Kareem Rush

Talking on The Scoop B Radio with Brandon Robinson, Rush looked back at why they lost the series. He said that Bryant looked for individual accolades that became one of the reasons for the team’s loss. When the Lakers won three consecutive titles in 2000, 2001, and 2002, Shaq was the Finals MVP on all three occasions. Rush said Kobe wanted to win the award at that time.

“I mean, they simply outplayed us. Karl was hurt in that series. And I think Kobe selfishly wanted MVP,” Rush said. “I think that we were favored by everybody to win the series you know, and at the time Shaq had the first three Finals MVPs. So I think Kobe had the mindset with that as the primary focus, but I think he was really itching to get that MVP – and we got caught off guard by a better team.”

Rush went on to say that although the Lakers were a strong unit, the Pistons weren’t far behind. It was over a decade since they had last won a title, but had some quality players capable of lifting the trophy.

“They had a couple of Hall of Famers in Ben Wallace and Chauncey – and maybe even Rip [Hamilton]. So they were definitely a formidable team and they were BETTER than us at the time,” Rush said.

After the loss against Pistons, the Lakers had a few changes to their side. Most significantly, Shaquille O’Neal left the side and Phil Jackson was no longer their coach.

With a knack for storytelling, Evan started News Brig about a year ago. Covering substantial topics under the Sports,, he helps information seep in deeper with creative writing and content management skills.

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On this day: Born June 6, 1944: Tommie Smith, American sprinter

Evan Lewis

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On this day: Born June 6, 1944: Tommie Smith, American sprinter

(Reuters) – Tommie Smith was once among the fastest men on the planet but it is the raised-fist protest he took part in at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City, a gesture that became a symbol of the civil rights era, that he remains most known for.

FILE PHOTO: Born on June 6, 1944: Tommie Smith, American sprinter Tommie Smith poses at the Puma Headquarters in Herzogenaurach, Germany September 18, 2018. REUTERS/Emma Thomasson/File Photo

After breaking the 200 metres world record, Smith and fellow American John Carlos, who finished third, stood on the podium in black socks with their heads bowed and black-gloved fists in the air during the playing of the U.S. national anthem.

The image became an enduring symbol of the turbulent 1960s and the fight for racial equality. It was widely interpreted as a black power salute, but Smith later described it as a “human rights salute.”

Smith and Carlos, who said they wore the black socks to represent black poverty, were suspended from the U.S. Olympic team and sent home, where they received death threats and hate mail.

“I knew it would have an impact but I didn’t know how far it would go,” Smith told Reuters in 2018 ahead of the 50th anniversary of the fist-raising protest.

“It was a calling for me to do it … A lot of people had died for the sake of equality. That was my chance. I had a platform.”

The protest, which occurred not long after the assassination of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., cost Smith and Carlos dearly as they were heroes to their contemporaries but pariahs to the establishment.

For decades the two sprinters were left on the sidelines of the official U.S. Olympic movement. Their 2016 visit to the White House, along with U.S. Olympic committee leaders, marked the first official event they’d been part of since their ouster.

“Without sacrifice, there can be no forward movement,” Smith said in 2018. “You have to give up something before you can receive something and usually that something is much better.”

One of a sharecropping family of 12 children who grew up in Texas, Smith had the ideal build for a long sprinter along with trademark-accelerations down the stretch that made him one of the most versatile sprinters in history.

Smith set 11 world records, including the 200- and 400-meter marks, and was just 24 when his sprinting career was cut short.

In Mexico City, Smith completed the 200 metres in 19.83, a time that stood for 11 years and one he said could have been even faster if he had not lost speed by raising his arms in triumph over the final strides.

A towering figure with the gift of speed, Smith was even drafted by the National Football League’s Los Angeles Rams in 1967.

He later signed to play for the Cincinnati Bengals of the American Football League and for three years played on their practice squad as a wide receiver. During the 1969 season, he played in two games, catching one pass for 41 yards.

Last November, Smith and Carlos received the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee’s highest honor as they were inducted onto the organisation’s Hall of Fame.

Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto, editing by Pritha Sarkar

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Saints QB Drew Brees apologizes again for comments: ‘I will do better’

Evan Lewis

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Saints QB Drew Brees apologizes again for comments: 'I will do better'

Saints quarterback Drew Brees apologized again Thursday, a day after saying he disagreed with protests when players kneel during the national anthem.

Brees, 41, faced criticism after his comments on Wednesday, although the veteran first apologized Thursday morning.

MORE: Thomas, Kamara among Saints to forgive Brees

His comments came a little more than a week after George Floyd died in police custody in Minneapolis last week, prompting demonstrations across the United States and beyond.

After posting a lengthy apology on Instagram, Brees later produced a video to again say he was sorry.

“I know there’s not much that I can say that would make things any better right now, but I just want you to see in my eyes how sorry I am for the comments that I made (Wednesday),” he said. “I know that it hurt many people, especially friends, teammates, former teammates, loved ones, people that I care and respect deeply. That was never my intention.

“I wish I would’ve laid out what was on my heart in regards to the George Floyd murder, Ahmaud Arbery, the years and years of social injustice, police brutality and the need for so much reform and change in regards to legislation and so many other things to bring equality to our black communities.

“I am sorry and I will do better and I will be part of the solution and I am your ally and I know no words will do that justice.”

Brees’ comments came almost four years after sports stars across the globe kneeled during anthems, echoing Colin Kaepernick’s demonstration during his time in the NFL.

Kaepernick, the former 49ers quarterback, sat and then took a knee during the national anthem in protest against perceived racial injustice and police brutality.

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Court grants Zion Williamson stay on improper-benefits inquiry

Evan Lewis

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Court grants Zion Williamson stay on improper-benefits inquiry

MIAMI — A Florida appeals court has temporarily granted NBA rookie Zion Williamson’s attempt to block his former marketing agent’s effort to have the ex-Duke star answer questions about whether he received improper benefits before playing for the Blue Devils.

The order Thursday granted Williamson a stay and paused proceedings in the lawsuit from Prime Sports Marketing and company president Gina Ford, whose attorneys must respond within 10 days.

That lawsuit filed last summer accused Williamson and the agency now representing him of breach of contract. Williamson had filed his own lawsuit a week earlier in North Carolina to terminate a five-year contract with Prime Sports after moving to Creative Artists Agency LLC.

Ford’s attorneys had submitted questions in filings last month that included whether the New Orleans Pelicans rookie or anyone on his behalf sought or accepted “money, benefits, favors or things of value” to sign with Duke. They sought answers within 30 days to establish facts under oath in the pretrial discovery process.

Attorneys for last year’s No. 1 overall NBA draft pick had argued the questions were “nothing more than a fishing expedition,” but circuit judge David C. Miller denied Williamson’s original stay request Tuesday.

Jeremy Watkins, a spokesman for Williamson attorney Jeffrey Klein, declined to comment to The Associated Press on Thursday night. Larry A. Strauss and Stephen L. Drummond, attorneys on the Prime Sports-Ford legal team, didn’t immediately return emails for comment.

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