Kobe Bryant

Eagles learn about Kobe Bryant's 'Mamba mentality'

Eagles learn about Kobe Bryant's 'Mamba mentality'

ANAHEIM, Calif. — Rodney McLeod broke into a huge grin as he passed along the explanation from Kobe Bryant.

Bryant, an Eagles fan who grew up in Lower Merion, Pennsylvania, spoke to the entire Eagles team Friday morning at their hotel in Costa Mesa, California.

How did Kobe explain his "Mamba mentality?" 

"A killer mentality," McLeod said. "He said literally every time he stepped on that court, he wanted to be the best. He wanted to go out there and kill the guy lining up across from them and make him feel like he didn't deserve to be on the court. Like literally, those were his words. 

"He wanted to make them feel like they shouldn't be a basketball player, they should be an accountant. That's what he said. And you see it when you watch him play. When you have that mindset, it's hard to beat a guy like that."

It takes someone truly great to leave a group of 63 professional athletes and their coaches in awe. Bryant is one of them. McLeod also said Michael Jordan, LeBron James and Derek Jeter would make the list. 

McLeod brought in a pen and pad of paper to take notes, but he ended up recording Bryant's talk and Q&A session in his brain. He didn't get an autograph, but he did get a photo with Bryant, which was good enough for him. 

"It's a dream come true, really," McLeod said. "Electric feeling for me. You just feel the energy and his presence as soon as he came in and talked to us." 

In the Eagles' media guide, McLeod lists Bryant as his favorite childhood athlete. Even though McLeod grew up in Maryland, Bryant's play and mentality won him over at a young age. McLeod considers Bryant to be the greatest basketball player of all time. 

A few thousand miles away from McLeod's childhood home, Kenjon Barner and Joe Walker grew up near Los Angeles, where Bryant was one of the best and most famous players in the NBA with the Lakers.

"It was really cool to see him walk in," said Walker, who, like Barner and McLeod, has Bryant listed as his favorite childhood athlete in the Eagles' media guide. "Growing up a little kid in L.A., I mean, he pretty much built this city."

Friday was the first time Walker had ever been around his childhood hero. But it wasn't the first time for Barner, who had actually met Bryant a few times before. 

Because Barner's cousin is former NBA player Andre Miller, he has been around NBA players for a long time. He doesn't really get starstruck, but the first time he met Bryant, it was something special: "It just makes you say, 'damn!'"

Upon overhearing Barner talk about all the times he had met Bryant before, fellow running back Wendell Smallwood gave him some grief in the overflow locker room at Angel Stadium. 

"He's so cool, Kobe isn't cool to him," Smallwood said. 

Barner stepped in. 

"It's still cool, man," he said. "It doesn't change."

Head coach Doug Pederson said there wasn't really an interesting story about how the Eagles got Bryant to their team hotel. The Eagles simply checked in with him to see if he was available. Bryant was, so he showed up. 

Pederson said a lot of Bryant's message was about focusing and paying attention to details.

That was the part of Bryant's talk that really seemed to stand out to Nelson Agholor, who is recognized as one of the hardest-working members on the team. 

"He's also a guy that has that dog in him when it's time to step on somebody's throat, he'll do that," Agholor said. "I think that was something I'll never forget." 

Kobe Bryant gives Eagles pep talk in Los Angeles

Kobe Bryant gives Eagles pep talk in Los Angeles

Los Angeles Dodgers fan Kobe Bryant visited the Philadelphia Eagles on Friday at their hotel outside of L.A. to chat with the team ahead of their contest on Sunday against the Los Angeles Rams.

The pride of Lower Merion, Bryant says he grew up cheering for the Birds and still gets nervous every time they play. He received a special gift during his visit, an official No. 8 Eagles jersey which you can watch him put on in the below video.

Bryant said he thinks the character of this current Eagles team is special. No word yet on what he told the Eagles players, but our Dave Zangaro is in Cali and will follow up with them later today.

NBA Notes: Lakers to retire Kobe Bryant's Nos. 8, 24 next season

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NBA Notes: Lakers to retire Kobe Bryant's Nos. 8, 24 next season

LOS ANGELES -- One retired jersey number just isn't enough for Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers.

The Lakers will retire Bryant's No. 8 and No. 24 in a ceremony Dec. 18 during their game against Golden State, the franchise announced Tuesday.

Bryant wore No. 8 from 1996 to 2006, when he switched to No. 24 for the remainder of a 20-year career spent entirely with the Lakers. He will be the 10th player honored by the Lakers with a retired number hung high on the Staples Center wall, but the first in NBA history to have two numbers retired by the same team.

"Kobe's jerseys are taking their rightful home next to the greatest Lakers of all time," Lakers owner Jeanie Buss said. "There was never any doubt this day would come. The only question was when. Once again, Lakers fans will celebrate our hero, and once again, our foes will envy the legendary Kobe Bryant."

The five-time NBA champion and 18-time All-Star selection is the Lakers' franchise leader in points (33,643), games played (1,346), 3-pointers (1,827), steals (1,944) and free throws (8,378), among countless superlatives.

Bryant is the third-leading scorer in NBA history after becoming the first player to spend at least 20 seasons with one franchise. He retired in 2016 with a bravura 60-point performance in his farewell game against Utah.

"As a kid growing up in Italy, I always dreamed of my jersey hanging in the Lakers rafters, but I certainly never imagined two of them," Bryant said in a statement. "The Lakers have bestowed a huge honor on me, and I'm grateful for the fans' enthusiasm around this game" (see full story).

Timberwolves: Muhammad reportedly returning to team
MINNEAPOLIS -- A person with knowledge of the situation tells The Associated Press that Shabazz Muhammad has agreed to return to the Minnesota Timberwolves on a one-year deal.

The Wolves and Muhammad agreed to terms on the veteran minimum deal on Tuesday. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the contract has not been signed.

Muhammad has spent all four of his NBA seasons with the Timberwolves. He averaged 9.9 points last season and was a restricted free agent when the summer began. The Wolves eventually rescinded their rights to him to make him an unrestricted free agent. He never got the long-term offer for which he was hoping.

It was an important move the Wolves, who were thin on the wing behind starters Andrew Wiggins and Jimmy Butler.

ESPN first reported the agreement.

Knicks: Oakley sues team owners for defamation
NEW YORK -- Former New York Knicks star Charles Oakley sued the team's owners Tuesday, saying he was defamed when they claimed he committed assault and was an alcoholic after his February arrest at a game.

The lawsuit details how Oakley was treated before and after he was forcefully removed from Madison Square Garden during the first quarter of a Feb. 8 Knicks' loss to the Los Angeles Clippers. It seeks unspecified damages.

Oakley was a Knicks fan favorite from 1988 to 1998. He was accused of striking a security guard during the February fracas.

Last month, prosecutors agreed to dismiss charges after six months of good behavior.

Many of the lawsuit's more venomous claims are directed at team owner James Dolan, who was near Oakley when the popular power forward was seen shoving security guards before they pulled him away from his seat.

The lawsuit says that long before the game, Dolan had "constantly disrespected" Oakley, refusing to make eye contact or shake his hand during meetings, denying him fan appreciation nights and making him pay for his own tickets to games.

The lawsuit blames Dolan for Oakley's removal from the game, saying Oakley "was treated like a common criminal" after Dolan directed security to "forcibly remove Mr. Oakley from the Garden and publicly embarrass him on live television" (see full story).