DeMarcus Cousins' ACL injury has Draymond Green 'at a loss for words'


DeMarcus Cousins' ACL injury has Draymond Green 'at a loss for words'

The emotion Draymond Green felt when he heard former Warriors teammate DeMarcus Cousins had torn his left ACL likely is the same emotion you felt Thursday morning.

"Really just sadness," Green told ESPN's Marc J. Spears

Cousins signed a one-year contract with the Los Angeles Lakers this offseason, and he was looking to bounce back after he ruptured Achilles in Feb. 2018 and tore a quad muscle in Game 2 of the Warriors' first-round NBA playoff series against the Clippers in April.

Instead, Cousins is looking at missing a full season as he recovers from another devastating injury.

"One of my goals coming into this season was for DeMarcus to just destroy everybody," Green told Spears. "And come back and show how great of a player he really is and get what I think he deserves. Obviously to have this injury ... I'm really at a loss for words about it. It's one that really hurt me for sure."

As Warriors coach Steve Kerr said Thursday, the NBA is a small community. Green and Cousins are brothers. Just last week, the two players, along with Wizards guard John Wall and Milwaukee's Eric Bledsoe, crashed a pick-up basketball game in the Bahamas.

"I saw DeMarcus last week, looking very slim [and] in shape," Green told Spears. "I said, 'Wow, you're like Kentucky Boogie!' Just to see the work that he's been putting in and obviously to have this injury, like ... like what's next? You go through that same process again, eventually it becomes tedious. Obviously wishing him all the best, and [I will] offer all the support that I can."

[RELATED: Cousins needs a lot of support after latest injury]

Cousins made it back from both the Achilles and quad injuries, but he's got a long road ahead of him now. Three serious leg injuries in 18 months is crushing. But Green believes Cousins' background will help him overcome this battle.

"He made it out of Mobile, Alabama," Green said. "The NBA is tough. It's very tough to get to. It's very tough to stay in. But he made it out of Mobile, Alabama. If he can do that, he can do anything."

How Kobe Bryant's presence transcended past NBA games into life itself

How Kobe Bryant's presence transcended past NBA games into life itself

SAN FRANCISCO -- When the news filtered out that the most vigorous of earthly creatures, a man whose spirit and deeds insinuated that Superman is indeed possible, had died so suddenly in the prime of life, shock hit the NBA and the planet like a sledgehammer to the gut.

Not Kobe.

Can’t be Kobe. His first name alone had become a synonym for imperishable.

And please, no, one of his daughters, 13-year-old Gianna, too?

A helicopter crash Sunday morning, in foggy conditions near Calabasas, 45 minutes northwest of Los Angeles. There were no survivors.

Kobe Bryant was 41 years old. He was four years removed from the NBA -- and about one year into a post-career that was defrosting millions of hearts outside the cocoon that is Laker Nation, where he always was and forever will exceed mere legend.

Those of us outside Laker Nation, beyond this generation of greater LA, can’t comprehend that region’s fixation with Kobe. He was, to them, all things. The one-word summation to end to all arguments about basketball and, well, life. He was the greatest of the greats that have passed through the franchise -- and infinitely superior to the great currently and wearing the colors.

LeBron never will come close to the space occupied by Kobe.

“Kobe Bryant was a giant who inspired, amazed, and thrilled people everywhere with his incomparable skill on the court -- and awed us with his intellect and humility as a father, husband, creative genius, and ambassador for the game he loved,” Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti said in a statement.

“He will live forever in the heart of Los Angeles and will be remembered through the ages as one of our greatest heroes.”

The NBA, as a league and a business, was knocked off its feet. The Warriors were practicing at Chase Center when they were informed, and coach Steve Kerr immediately halted the workout.

“We were incredibly saddened and shocked to learn about the tragic passing of Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, earlier today in the Los Angeles area,” a Warriors statement issued in the afternoon. “Kobe was one of the iconic players in the history of the NBA and touched fans in every market, including the Bay Area, for 20 years. His unquenchable desire and drive to be the best elevated him to a level that few have ever reached and enabled him to leave a legacy that will be celebrated for generations. "We extend our thoughts and prayers to his family, the entire Lakers organization and his legion of fans around the world.”

The San Antonio Spurs and Toronto Raptors opened their game with each team taking a 24-second violation -- Kobe wore No. 24 for the second half of his career. Clippers coach Doc Rivers, eyes red and rolling in moisture, struggled to address the media before facing the Magic in Orlando.

There was Kobe the basketball player, an indomitable force whose ferocity was his signature. He embraced the idea of destroying opponents. He gave himself the nickname, The Black Mamba, after the ultra-poisonous snake in the movie “Kill Bill,” in which the name was code for assassin. That’s the on-court mentality Kobe possessed.

In the final game of his 20-year career, Kobe scored 60 points. That he took 50 shots was beside the point on a Lakers team that finished 17-65. It was a relentless and conclusive attack that would leave an indelible, and appropriate, memory.

Kobe entered the NBA as an 18-year-old and over the course of his career also had an 81-point game on 46 shots, a 65-point game on 39 shots, a 62-point game on 31 shots, a 61-point game on 31 shots and a 55-point game on 29 shots.

There were five NBA championships, two NBA Finals MVP awards, 18 consecutive All-Star Games, 15 All-NBA Team selections, 12 All-Defensive Team selections and, surprisingly, only one MVP award.

Yet the numbers and accolades barely graze the persona. Kobe exemplified relentless drive and irrational confidence, and a competitive nature that never rested. Though he holds a few NBA records, the one that best explores his psyche was set in, of all games, the 2011 All-Star Game.

The game was at Staples Center in Los Angeles, which by then was Kobe’s backyard. He scored 37 points, on 26 shots, in 29 minutes. The record he set, as a 6-6 guard mind you, was most offensive rebounds in an All-Star Game. He had 10.

[RELATED: Draymond, others Warriors players react to Kobe's death]

Raiding the offensive glass is the ultimate act of aggression, and Kobe didn’t care that it was an exhibition game. The thought of his death at such a young age, his internal drive still at full flame, is devastating.

This hurts now and will ache forever.

How Lakers legend Kobe Bryant's life influenced Logan Murdock's career

How Lakers legend Kobe Bryant's life influenced Logan Murdock's career

Sixteen years ago, I sat in my mother's house in Sacramento armed with a fandom and no clear direction for my life's path. 

Eleven miles away, my mother, a journalist on assignment at Arco Arena, was covering a matchup between the Kings and Lakers, who employed my favorite player: Kobe Bean Bryant. 

The game was a drag. Kobe took just one shot in the first half, in protest of his coach Phil Jackson's previous criticism of him shooting too much. By the end of the night, the Super Lakers lost handily to the Kings, putting their hopes for a division title in peril. But the highlight of the night came shortly after the game, when mom called equipped with a message: "Just listen." 

At Metro Networks, my mom's primary postgame responsibility was to gather sound from the opposing locker room. Knowing my favorite player occupied the space, she decided to take me along her latest journey via her headset. 

For the next 30 minutes, I heard Shaquille O'Neal complain about the refs and coach Phil Jackson try to ease the tension with Kobe, all the while waiting for my mom to finally interview her 10-year old's hero. Kobe appeared last, blurted out cliché responses, denying any rift with his coach and teammates. Bryant's greatest quote came following the session when my mom broke journalistic code, revealing her baby boy was on the other end of the line and was a huge fan. The man responded, "If he can hear me, tell him I said wassup." 

Floored, I dropped the phone, ran around the house, in disbelief that someone so famous would acknowledge my existence. By the end of the evening, it was clear I wanted to get into my mother's profession and that Bryant's words made the newfound dream tangible. 

However, the events surrounding Kobe in 2004 began the lifelong complication with his on-court greatness. Nine months before Bryant's message, he was accused of raping a woman in Colorado, putting his career in peril. Five months after my afternoon house sprint, he settled with the alleged victim, saying that the two sides didn't see the event in the same light. Now, after his sudden death in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, Calif., I'm forced to reconcile the kinship to a man with a complicated legacy. 

As a youth, Kobe's on-court mentality provided a baseline for how I approached life. Like Bryant, I was a loner, often finding common ground with kids I wouldn't otherwise talk to through sports. Going to predominantly white schools in the Bay Area, I felt a disposition going to a school in Alameda, waiting for the chance to head back to Oakland, pick up my football pads and practice at Brookfield Park with kids that looked like me. All the while, with my mom in Sacramento and my dad working late nights in Oakland, Kobe's basketball examples made me believe I could get out of my circumstance. 

In elementary school, I mimicked his moves on the blacktop, often missing as I attempted his fadeaway jumper. At Berkeley High, I vigorously defended his basketball legacy against LeBron James. My arguments disappointed most of my peers, who argued Kobe was washed and James held the crown of basketball's best player in every conceivable way. Four months into college, his example of work pushed me to drive 90 miles from Oakland to Sacramento for an unpaid internship to attend Kings games. 

One of my first assignments was to drive to Sacramento to attend Lakers shootaround and ask questions to exceptional athletes. At the time, the Kings were putting a promotion called "Blackout" in which the team and its fans wore all black to intimidate the opposition. With that in mind, I planned to ask Lakers staff and presumably Kobe about the crowd noise. When Kobe walked into the scrum, I blurted my question with curious execution. 

"Hey Kobe, there's a blackout in Sacramento, how are you going to handle that?" I asked. 

"Huh?" Kobe asked the 18-year old in front of him, presumably wondering how he got in the building. 

"Yeah, everyone's wearing black, how will you deal with that?" I responded. 

Confused, Kobe followed up with a stock answer about how he and his team were battle-tested and it shouldn't be a problem. Embarrassed, I said thank you, proud of myself for following Kobe's mantra of 'Just shoot,' while acknowledging I had a lot of work ahead of me to be a respectable sports writer. 

Along the way, through the internships and odd freelance jobs, my mythology of Kobe began to wane as I began to read up on the man's biggest alleged transgression. Following the 2002-03 season, a 19-year-old hotel employee accused Bryant of rape at a Colorado resort.

Bryant immediately proclaimed his innocence, saying the encounter was consensual and the only crime he committed was of adultery to his wife. Following pre-trial hearings, the case was dropped after the victim refused to testify on the stand. Bryant's ensuing statement brought more confusion.

"Although I truly believe this encounter between us was consensual, I recognize now that she did not and does not view this incident the same way I did," the statement read. "After months of reviewing discovery, listening to her attorney, and even her testimony in person, I now understand how she feels that she did not consent to this encounter."

Reading the words brought disappointment and confusion. Bryant admitted that the woman didn't give consent, yet still went through with his actions. The declaration hurt to the core. A player I loved seemed to admit to these serious transgressions. Nonetheless, the league I began to cover continued to celebrate the man. He won Academy Awards and became one of the allied faces of the WNBA, often bringing his daughter Gianna, who also died Sunday, courtside to games.

[RELATED: Draymond, Warriors react to Kobe's death]

All the while, Bryant influenced a generation of basketball players. Warriors cornerstones Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green, along with their coach Steve Kerr gushed about his greatness before his final game at Oracle Arena in 2016. The Warriors gave the guard a vacation package to Napa, along with a giant bottle of wine from Amuse Bouche winery.

Twenty months later, the coach and trio, alongside former teammate Kevin Durant stood on the floor at Staples Center as Bryant saw his both his No. 8 and 24 raised to the rafters. I sat on the other side of the gym, watching much of my childhood go up with the garments, trying to the tame the 10-year old from Oakland that adored the man while figuring out where he stood in my current lexicon. 

On Sunday, Jan. 26, I'm left to reconcile Kobe's presence in my life. He was a man whose on-court mentality I tried to mirror, but whose alleged transgressions will forever complicate my celebration of him.