Kobe Bryant

Derek Carr plans to honor Kobe Bryant by wearing arm sleeve this season

Derek Carr plans to honor Kobe Bryant by wearing arm sleeve this season

Kobe Bryant was a giant in the sports world, and his tragic death left an impact that won't soon be forgotten by athletes, fans and media members alike.

Derek Carr grew up a California kid who idolized the Los Angeles Lakers star, watching all of Bryant's brilliance that he could. Bryant, who died in a helicopter crash along with his daughter Gianna and seven others in January, was Carr's sports hero growing up, and the Raiders quarterback will honor Bryant by wearing an armband on his left arm this season.

"I tried my best to think,' What would be a cool way to honor Kobe?'" Carr told Raiders reporters in a Zoom conference call Tuesday. "This is a personal thing, I don't care what anyone else thinks about it. This is for me. What would be a cool way to honor Kobe Bryant? He always wore an arm sleeve on his arm. I was like, 'Well, I can't wear one on my right arm, so I'll wear one on my left arm.'

"It's really just to honor Kobe. I'm sure you'll see a lot of players doing that with number changes ... I think you'll see a lot of players just wanting to honor him, because as a kid I watched every YouTube video, I watched every game. I would tell my dad by the way he ran down the court, 'This is going to be a post-up fadeaway. He's set him up." And it would happen. I just watched everything.

"He just meant so much to me. Then, when I got to know him. Then, he followed me on Twitter, that blew my mind. That was the day of my life. Just getting to know him, talk to him, have conversations with him, just what he meant to me as an athlete. The Mamba Mentality is trying to be the best version of yourself every day. I have the big old poster in my office, my weight room now with that Mamba Mentality mantra on it. It's just a way to honor him, so I'll wear it all year. The only reason is to honor him and just what he meant to me as a kid growing up."

[RELATED: How Mariota impressed Gruden early in Raiders tenure]

Carr and the Raiders are entering a new chapter after they moved from the Bay Area to Las Vegas this offseason. Now in Year 3 of Jon Gruden's rebuilding project, Carr is hoping he can build off the solid season he had last year and lead the Raiders back to the playoffs.

All while doing so with the spirit of Bryant on his left arm.

[RAIDERS TALK: Listen to the latest episode]

Richard Jefferson claims 2002 Lakers more dominant than 2017 Warriors

Richard Jefferson claims 2002 Lakers more dominant than 2017 Warriors

In his 18-year NBA career, Richard Jefferson faced some of the best teams in NBA history.

Jefferson was on the losing side of NBA Finals matchups against the Shaquille O'Neal-Kobe Bryant Los Angeles Lakers in 2002, the Tim Duncan-David Robinson San Antonio Spurs in 2003 and the Steph Curry-Kevin Durant Warriors in 2017. All three of those squads are in the pantheon of all-time great teams, but to Jefferson one stands above the rest.

No, it's not the Curry-KD Warriors who steamrolled everyone in their path during the 2016-17 run to the title. To Jefferson, the 2001-02 Lakers are the most dominant team he has ever seen.

"Obviously the Spurs team was great with the Twin Towers David Robinson and Tim Duncan and the Warriors team with Kevin Durant," Jefferson said on ESPN's "The Jump." "Obviously, Shaq is the one person -- a lot of times when you watch the Golden State Warriors and you watch how they play that small-ball defense, they'll do what you call a triple switch. They'll switch Steph onto a bigger player and then when that player rolls into the post they will then switch out. They will switch Draymond or KD or Harrison Barnes, they would switch a bigger player onto that post player and then move Steph back outside.

"This is the issue with that. That amazing defense that worked so well because there aren't dominant post players now -- not nearly as much -- you weren't going to be able to do that. They were going to throw that ball into Shaq, he was going to catch it and dunk it and one thing that Shaq made you do, he made you carry two or three centers on your roster because you needed those big bodies, you needed those fouls because he was so dominant.

"So what does that do? That shortens your ability to play small ball because you have to carry two or three bigs on your roster. There isn't carry one, one-and-a-half. This [Mike D'Antoni] situation would have never worked. PJ Tucker would have quit before having to guard Shaq in a seven-game series.

"So, that's why to me that's the best team that I've ever played against, it's the best team that I've seen. Now, the '17 Warriors with Kevin Durant were very close but I still would have needed to something to tell me they would have had a game plan for Shaq."

Now, all that makes sense on its face, and we know O'Neal agrees. But Jefferson doesn't look at the other side of the issue. Would the Warriors have had trouble defending O'Neal? No question. Everyone did.

But O'Neal would have had to go out onto the perimeter on the other end and the Warriors would have pick-and-rolled the Lakers to death, as Draymond Green put it.

[RELATED: Why Steph-KD Warriors would have handled Shaq-Kobe Lakers]

Plus, the Lakers would have been at a severe disadvantage when it comes to the 3-point shot. Klay Thompson (41.4 percent), Curry (41.1) and Durant (37.5) would have had too much firepower for a Lakers team that lacked perimeter scoring outside of Bryant.

Jefferson saw first-hand what all of these teams can do, so it should carry some weight that he believes the 2002 Lakers are more dominant. But his rationale is thin and only takes into account one end of the court.

O'Neal would dominate the paint on one end and then get carved up on the other. It might take years before the Steph-KD Warriors get the universal respect they deserve. They eviscerated teams for the first two seasons and only injuries kept them from securing a three-peat.

It was a display of dominance that rarely has been seen in NBA history.

[RUNNIN' PLAYS PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Klay Thompson shares inspirational Kobe Bryant book signature message

Klay Thompson shares inspirational Kobe Bryant book signature message

Late NBA legend Kobe Bryant was one of the fiercest competitors American sports have ever seen. His unbreakable drive to reach the top of the sport made millions of kids around the world idolize the former Los Angeles Lakers star, including Warriors star and Southern California native Klay Thompson.

On Friday, Klay shared the personalized inscription Kobe included in his copy of Bryant's book, "The Mamba Mentality." 

"Rings, rings, rings, rings," Kobe wrote to Klay.

Kobe won five championships during his time in the NBA, Klay has three (so far). The message brings to mind the iconic clip featuring Bryant interact with a heckling fan, by counting out those five titles.

It always was a simple message from Bryant, do whatever it takes to win, no matter the cost.

Klay also shared a moving tribute to Bryant following his tragic death in a helicopter crash on Jan. 26.

[RUNNIN' PLAYS PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]