The Mamba Effect

Sports have this power in our society that allows them to bring people together like nothing else. Whether you’re watching, playing, or even reminiscing, there is a sense of unity that cannot be explained, only experienced, and we must never let this feeling slip away from us.

As fans and supporters, we get lost in the love for our favorite teams and athletes at times, supporting them to the fullest, while also shutting down their rivals and opponents. This is something that comes with the competitive nature sports were born with, there will always be a ranking, there will always be winners and losers. These aspects of sports will, and should, never go away, as they’re what make sports as great as they are. The issue, which many of us forget, is that these athletes are people too. Once they step off their field, court, pitch, or whatever it may be, the athletes go home and live their lives as we do, as people do, so we must always remember to treat them as such.

On January 26th, 2020, Kobe Bryant passed away. I don’t need to get into who Kobe was, what he did on the court, or what he planned on doing, if you know you know, he was a legend in all aspects. I’m here to talk about the legacy Kobe left behind.

Kobe Bryant, in my eyes, is the greatest basketball player to ever step on the court. His will to win and his work ethic were not only unmatched, but they were something to admire. Anyone who had the opportunity to watch him play knew that at any given moment in time, Kobe Bryant had the capacity to singlehandedly win the game for his team. It did not matter who he was playing with or against, if he was on the court, his team had a chance to win. I grew up watching Kobe, and supported him to the fullest throughout his career, and what I came to learn was that Kobe Bryant instilled so much fear into his opponents and his opponents fanbase, that people really didn’t like him. Kobe was the type of athlete you either loved, or you hated, there was no in between, but he was always respected. Growing up, I found myself in countless debates about why Kobe is the G.O.A.T (Greatest of All Time), and countless times I found myself losing those debates, especially to those who give more weight to stats and counting numbers than what actually transpires on the court, and let me tell you, when Kobe Bryant was on the court, he was a sight to see.

What Kobe Bryant did, not only for myself, but for an entire generation of people and kids growing up is something we can only dream of doing. The impact he left on not only basketball, but all sports, is unmatched. From yelling, “KOBE,” while throwing something away, to looking up to him and trying to match his unmatchable work ethic, Kobe Bryant inspired people around the world. It doesn’t matter where you’re from, what you do, or even what you have done, becoming a little bit better everyday is something everyone should strive for. From becoming a better person, to becoming better at your craft, or even just being better at brushing your teeth or washing the dishes, bettering yourself everyday is essential to our personal growth. Kobe Bryant epitomized this. He was the definition of hard work. I could get into the endless stories people have shared about his strive for greatness, but Kobe never did it for the publicity or for the recognition, he simply wanted to be great.

Kobe’s nickname was, “The Black Mamba,” cool as hell, I know, but what made his nickname stick was what came out of his persona along with this nickname. I’m talking about the ,”Mamba Mentality.” The mamba mentality is a phrase Kobe himself termed to describe the approach, focus, and work ethic he applied to his lifestyle. It can be interpreted in different ways by different people, but at its core, mamba mentality is a relentless will to be great and better yourself.

Kobe Bryant inspired people all over the globe to follow his mamba mentality and to be the best version of themselves they can be. It’s not something that is easy to do, it’s not supposed to be. Kobe himself knew that there was no end goal, there was no stopping point he could reach where he could eventually relax, Kobe Bryant knew that every day he was alive was another opportunity for himself to become better.

When Kobe passed and news broke, it was devastating. People all over mourned and remembered him, and what I saw was unity. It didn’t matter if you loved him, if you hated him, if you didn’t even watch basketball, the news hit everyone in some way. People came together, people saw what Kobe Bryant meant to the world, and we may never see a person like him again. In remembrance for Kobe, we must never let his legacy die. Keep yelling “KOBE” whenever you shoot anything, but more importantly, with anything you try to do in life, apply the mamba mentality, go into mamba mode, because that’s what Kobe Bryant would’ve wanted.

Kobe Bryant was not only my favorite athlete of all time, he was a role model. He was someone who we watched grow up in front of our eyes, while we were doing the same. He was someone I looked up too, and will keep looking up to no matter where I go and what I do. I wouldn’t be who I am today without Kobe, I wouldn’t be where I am today without Kobe, and I will never forget what Kobe did for me, without him even knowing me.

Thank you Kobe, your legacy and impact will live through us forever. #MambaOut

How The Lakers Have Gotten Off To A Fast Start

Image via: Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images

It has been a terrific start to the Lakers season so far going 14-2! Since that first loss to the Clippers on opening night the Lakers have gone 14-1 with their only loss coming to the hands of the Raptors. This terrific start isn’t out of nowhere, there are many reasons that his has happened.

The LeBron and AD Duo

With LeBron and Anthony Davis trying to lead the Lakers to the playoffs for the first time in 6 years they’ve done a good job so far. LeBron is averaging 25.2 PPG, 7.6 RPG, and 10.8 APG along with AD averaging 25.5 PPG, 8.8 RPG, 3.0 BPG they’ve handled themselves pretty well and have found the chemistry to work together.

Defense, Defense, and more Defense

The Lakers are one of the best defensive teams in the NBA. They are ranked 2nd in defensive rating and 1st in the league in blocks per game. Leading the way for us is AD with 3.0 BPG. Then Dwight Howard with 1.6 and Javale McGee with 1.3. Out of all their games the Lakers have held their opponents to under 100 points total in the game.  Lastly the Lakers allow the 4th least OPPG with it being 103.1.

Frank Vogel

Don’t say Frank Vogel hasn’t had anything to do with this run. The rotations he’s put in to give us momentum, keeping guys in when they’re hot (unlike Luke Walton), and the plays he runs. For example if we are trying to go fast or we need three pointers he will put in the small line up with AD at the 5. Or if we need help rebounding put Dwight or Javale at the 5, AD at the 4, Kuz at the 3, and LeBron at the 1.

Pitt Basketball:Recap of the Beginning of this Season

Above is just a little snippet of what Pitt PG Trey McGowens is capable of. Pitt defeated Robert Morris University last night in what started out as a close game, but let’s take a moment to go back and look at how this season has started out for second year Panther coach Jeff Capel and his squad (Who in his first year took the Panthers from 8-24 the previous year to a slightly more respectable 14-19)

Exhibition Game and Down-to-the-Wire Season Opener

Pitt cruised through their exhibition game with an easy 98-47 victory vs Slippery Rock University. The offense was firing on all cylinders but it didn’t mean much in an exhibition vs inferior competition. The REAL test came on November 6th at the “Oakland ZOO” vs the Seminoles of Florida State. The fans created a crazy environment, a sellout, including stars in attendance such as Pittsburgh Steelers WR Juju Smith-Schuster. There has been a lot of hype surrounding this years squad as Capel wants to bring Pitt back to be a march madness contender as they were in the Big East days, so everyone was ecstatic for this first game. Pitt also flipped and repositioned the court to better display their renowned student section, the Oakland Zoo on TV (#ZooEra). Some buildup was also created by the exciting “Blue & Gold Game” where Steelers and Former Pitt RB James Conner, and much respected Steelers LB Ryan Shazier were team captains, with Smith-Schuster also in attendance, and an ending concert performed by famous Pittsburgh rapper Wiz Khalifa. Now past the hype, Florida State (who Pitt had upset last season) was a big test as not only a season-opener, but an ACC-Play-opener (A rare opener as usually ACC play doesn’t start till much later). This game was tight till the end, but you could say it was a sloppy performance from both squads. There were many, many fouls (FSU:27, Pitt:16), and free throws definitely helped the Panthers, especially in the closing seconds where Pitt took the lead. It ended in a frenzy with Florida State rushing down the court and Trent Forrest missing the tying shot off the back of the rim. FSU got the offensive board only to get blocked by F/C Terrell Brown Jr.

Overall it was a very defensive game, and as I said before “sloppy” offensively. Some notable performers included Xavier Johnson, Terrell Brown Jr. and IMPACT shooter (JUCO transfer) Ryan Murphy, who all scored 13 points.

The Panthers shot 31.4% from the field and 34.6% from beyond the arc for the game. 

The Seminoles finished shooting 39.6% from the field and 40% from three.

It was a big Test for the Panthers, but they pulled through in a big way, and the ZOO backed them the whole way.

Pitt’s Main Source of Firepower Beyond the Arc

Ryan Murphy (New Mexico JUCO transfer) has been absolutely lighting it up for Pitt in his first season with them, and currently leads the team in points (51) and 3-Pointers made (9). Many times they make sure he gets the ball as he is pretty much money from beyond the arc. He seems to be the only truly reliable shooting option for the Panthers at the moment. He is definitely an impact player and they look to keep feeding him as they find their rhythm as an offense.

#24 Ryan Murphy Drains a Three from the corner vs FSU

Loss vs Nicholls State

After such a huge victory vs Florida State, you’d expect Pitt to beat Nicholls State (a small, and not well known school from Louisiana), however this was not the case. Pitt came out slow, and the underdog Nicholls St. seemed to want it more. Pitt was plagued with SEVERAL turnovers, and lets just say it wasn’t pretty. Pitt fell 75-70, and honestly could’ve won this game if Nicholls St. wasn’t absolutely lethal from beyond the arc, nailing 11 3-pointers! Pitt brought it within 1 point in the final minute, but the Colonels of Nicholls St. did their job and hit all of their free throws every time Pitt tried to foul. Ryan Murphy carried his squad with 28 points from the field. Pitt simply shot themselves in the foot with a ridiculous number of turnovers, 21 to be exact, which is incredibly hard to overcome.

Victory at Robert Morris University

Pitt Traveled 20 Miles to RMU in Moon, PA. RMU was hyped, Juju Smith-Schuster was in attendance in their student section, “Eat sh*t Pitt” chants were heard, and it was their inaugural game/unveiling of their newly constructed $45M arena (UPMC Arena). Pitt started off with a 7-0 run, but RMU came flying back on an 18-0 run to take an 11 Pitt lead. After those first 7 points, Pitt’s offense looked abysmal. They ended up scrapping by and managed to tie it at 27 to go into halftime. Capel is showing growth in this program where the Panthers actually fight back opposing to the 0-18 (ACC play) team of 2017. The second half was a different story, as Pitt came out cleaner offensively after adjustments, and maintained a 10+ point lead for most of the second half to defeat the Colonials 71-57.

A Growing Panther Team Faces it’s Next Big Test:”The Backyard Brawl”

A former Big-East and storied rivalry (The Backyard Brawl) is taking place this Friday at the “Oakland ZOO” (Petersen Events Center), as the 2-1 Panthers take on the 1-0 West Virginia Mountaineers who are only 70 miles South of Pittsburgh. WVU currently holds the all-time record on Pitt basketball (98-88). WVU has won the last 3 games by a margin of 9 or more, so Pitt looks to get payback on their storied enemy. It’s a sellout and it will be one to watch!

This game along with the Fort Meyers Tip-Off (Nov.25-27) and the ACC/Big 10 Challenge will show us who these Panthers really are as a team, who has truly bought in, and where Capel’s efforts are taking them with his “one brick at a time” mentality.

NBA ROUNDUP 11/12/19

(Game of the Night)

Atlanta Hawks beat Denver Nuggets 125-121

Trae Young was a man on a mission last night. A one man highlight reel, Trae Young was determined to exorcise the demons from his worst loss as a pro, a 45pt loss to Denver last November. Young led the team with a masterful 42pts/11asts/4rbs, including a 15pt outburst in the fourth quarter. Jabari Parker has been on a mini-resurgence for the Hawks, he added 20pts/4asts/9rbs. Alex Len came off the bench to the tune of 17pts/7rbs.

For the Nuggets, WIll Barton led the way with 21pts/4asts/9rbs. Nikola Jokic added 20pts/7asts/6rbs and Jamal Murray chipped in 18pts/8asts/3rbs.

Chicago Bulls blast New York Knicks 120-102

This game was competitive, at times, That’s the problematic theme for this years cast of New York Knicks. They’re competitive, AT TIMES. You would think in the world of professional sports, athletes would know they need to be competitive ALL THE DAMN TIME. But, alas, here we were again, with a rookie as our best, most composed player, being obliterated and torched by another rookie and fellow cellar dwelling team. Coby White was a man possessed. RJ Barrett led the Knicks all the way back into this one, then Fizdale made a few subs, Knicks stopped defending and it was over. White led the way with 27pts off the bench, including 21pts in the fourth off of a ridiculous SEVEN THREES. Zach LaVine added 25pts/5asts and Wendell Carter Jr chipped in a 17pt/12rb double-double.

For the Knicks, RJ Barrett continues to be the lone bright spot on the season. The Knicks rookie finished with 21pts/9asts/6rbs. Marcus “One Thousand Iso’s” Morris added 22pts/9rbs.

Indiana Pacers beat Oklahoma City Thunder 111-98

Tuesday came with the news that Victor Oladipo would be mandated to Indiana’s G-League affiliate. While no date has been sent for a return, this is a positive sign. Oladipo will likely begin practicing with the team and getting crucial scrimmage reps. The former Most Improved Player should be back soon. Meanwhile, the Pacers are now comfortably 7-4, and finding out their identity this season. They’ve now won four in a row, and seven of their last eight games. TJ Warren led the way, finishing with 23pts/3asts/3rbs. Malcolm Brogdon added 20pts/5asts/6rbs and Domantas Sabonis chipped in an 18pt/16rb double-double. These three guys consistently give the Pacers quality production. With Oladipo returning, and eventually Myles Turner, this team could be going places and find themselves near the top of the East late into the season.

For the Thunder, Danilo Gallinari led the way with 14pts/4rbs.

Philadelphia Sixers beat Cleveland Cavaliers 98-97

Joel Embiid led the way for the Sixers Tuesday, finishing with 27pts/4asts/16rbs. Josh Richardson added 17pts/5asts against his former team and Ben Simmons chipped in 15pts/6asts/5rbs.

For the Cavs, Kevin Love led the way with 20pts/8rbs. Jordan Clarkson added 20pts/4rbs off the bench.

Miami Heat beat Detroit Pistons 117-108

Jimmy Butler put on his best “Wade in the Fourth” performance, scoring 11 of his 20pts in the final period. He led the way for the Heat, finishing with 20pts/13asts/3rbs. Bam Adebayo added an 18pt/14rb double-double and Kendrick Nunn chipped in 20pts/5asts/3rbs.

For the Pistons, they were without Blake Griffin and Derrick Rose on the second night of a back-to-back. Luke Kennard led the way, finishing with 22pts/5asts. Andre Drummond added 16pts/9rbs and Christian Wood came off the bench to the tune of 16pts/3rbs.

Utah Jazz beat Brooklyn Nets 119-114

Boy, the Nets are lucky they’ll always be little brother in New York. They’ve been downright bad, but they’re not getting nearly the negative press they should be, because the Knicks stink. YOU’RE WELCOME! Donovan Mitchell led the way for the Jazz, finishing with 30pts/6rbs. Rudy Gobert added an 18pt/15rb double-double. Mike Conley chipped in 18pts/5asts/4rbs.

For the Nets, Kyrie irving led the way with 27pts/5asts/3rbs. Spencer Dinwiddie chipped in 21pts/4asts off the bench.

Los Angeles Lakers beat Phoenix Suns 123-115

Anthony Davis led the way for the Lakers Tuesday night, finishing with 24pts/4asts/12rbs. Kyle Kuzma added 23pts/4rbs off the bench and LeBron James contributed an all-around 19pts/11asts/7rbs. For the Lakers, the biggest positive out of this game would have to be Kuzma coming into form. He had been struggling immensely since coming back from injury and finally looked to find his form last night. If the Lakers want to win a championship, they will need him to be their third reliable option on offense.

For the Suns, Devin Booker and Ricky Rubio both poured in 21pts and had almost identical assists and rebounds (Rubio with 10asts/4rbs, Booker with 9asts/3rbs). Aaron Baynes added 20pts/3asts/6rbs.

Sacramento Kings beat Portland Trailblazers 107-99

Somewhere along the way, the Blazers lost something. Most likely their struggles need to be attributed to lack of quality center depth. They brought in the tumultuous Hassan Whiteside, who tends to be a boxscore phenom, but not much else. They desperately need Nurkic back, and to a lesser extent even Zach Collins. Besides that, they usually also have smaller wings playing the three and sometimes the four spot. For a team that used to have Aminu anchoring the defense, Hezonja and Bazemore is like nosediving off a cliff. This team can use a lot of help if it wants to resemble the Blazers of the past few years. Bogdan Bogdanovic came off the bench for the Kings, and poured in 25pts/10asts/3rbs. Buddy Hield added 20pts/4rbs and Nemanja Bjelica chipped in a 19pt/12rb double-double.

For the Blazers, Damian Lillard led the way with 27pts/5asts/4rbs. CJ McCollum added 24pts/5rbs.

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