Warriors

Kobe Bryant gained more influence from being 'girl dad' than NBA star

Kobe Bryant gained more influence from being 'girl dad' than NBA star

LOS ANGELES -- Greater Los Angeles seemed to come to a silent halt for two hours Monday, folks pausing long enough to clear the fog of mourning and gaze at TV screens set to different channels but showing the same program.

The Kobe Channel. Once again, perhaps for the last time, Kobe Bryant was uniting a region infamous for its divisions and cliques.

For a ceremony billed “A Celebration of Life,” speakers lined up to address 20,000 people inside Staples Center, along with millions of viewers in Southern California, across the country and around the world. It became apparent over the last four weeks and on this day that Kobe’s tragic death at 41 had stripped away many of his sharp edges.

But each one of those edges was softened, too, by the fact that he was living and dying alongside his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna.

For as much as Kobe was admired for his unbridled bravado and ability to rise to the moment, he also had detractors. Of course, he did. It’s the lot of all superstars who dare to be so brazen in their desire to crush the spirits of foes. It's what comes with trying to push teammates beyond their self-imposed limits.

A level of antipathy also is a natural outcome for a man who faces sexual assault allegations and later, after charges are dropped, acknowledges his accuser "did not consent to this encounter."

That was Kobe in 2003, three years before the birth of Gianna “Gigi” Bryant. Her death was such a blow that it fractured hearts -- particularly those of mothers sympathizing with Kobe’s widow, Vanessa -- still cool to Kobe.

"Kobe was the MVP of girl dads,” Vanessa Bryant said. “He never left the toilet seat up. He always told the girls how beautiful and smart they are."

The phrase “girl dad,” has been uttered more frequently since Jan. 26 than perhaps the previous 100 years. Kobe used it, was proud of it and now it’s a trend.

A trend that reached Michael Jordan on Monday, a middle-aged man known for ruthlessness. The tides of his tear ducts were rising as he approached the podium. As he started speaking, they were sliding down both sides of his nose and finally over his top lip and into his mouth. But MJ continued on, and he was magnificent.

“I am inspired by what he’s done and what he shared with Vanessa and what he shared with his kids,” Jordan said near the end of his 10-minute speech. “I have a daughter who is 30; I became a grandparent. And I have two twins that are 6. I can’t wait to get home to become a girl dad. And to hug them and to see the love and the smiles that they bring to us as parents.

“He taught me that, just by looking at this tonight. Looking at how he responded and reacted to the people he actually loved. These are the things that we will continue to learn about Kobe Bryant.”

Kobe’s commitment to women goes beyond his wife and their daughters, Natalia, Bianka and Capri. He was coaching Gianna’s team. He followed the WNBA. He took Gianna to Connecticut to see the UConn women’s team play.

The only coach to speak on this day was Geno Auriemma, the leader of the fabled UConn women’s basketball program. The only collegiate player to speak was University of Oregon star Sabrina Ionescu. The only active pro player to speak was Diana Taurasi, who takes particular pride in having the “White Mamba” nickname bestowed upon her by Kobe.

Kobe reached out to women athletes, making them feel special. He might have done it for himself, simply as another of the many layers of his life. He surely did it for his daughter.

“The same passion we all recognized in Kobe, obviously Gigi inherited,” Taurasi said. “Her skill was undeniable at an early age. I mean, who has a turnaround fadeaway jumper at 11?"

[RELATED: How Warriors prepared for emotions of Kobe's memorial]

It was profoundly evident that the man who was sentenced to a measure of time as America’s most polarizing athlete had all these years later become a unifying force, bringing together male and female athletes. He was a bond that connected a region notorious for conflicts between races, ethnic groups and neighborhoods, as well as economic disparity.

Kobe is the reason Boston Celtics legend and Hall of Famer Bill Russell on Sunday put on a Lakers jersey, No. 24, with the name “Bryant” on the back -- and wore it to a Lakers-Celtics game. In LA.

For two hours Monday, Kobe and Gianna had millions riveted to TV screens. That was the power of the man, and it gained authority through the relationship he had with his daughter. Few really knew him, but he now is as immortalized as her father.

Warriors' gutty win over Celtics was banner moment for 73-win team

Warriors' gutty win over Celtics was banner moment for 73-win team

Programming note: The Warriors' 2015 win over the Boston Celtics will re-air on Saturday, April 4 at 4 p.m. on NBC Sports Bay Area.

With Klay Thompson sidelined by a sprained right ankle and Harrison Barnes out with a sprained left ankle, the Warriors went limping into Boston with a perfect record but light on manpower and heavy on fatigue.

It was enough to give the Celtics, who had won four of their previous five games, reason for optimism on the morning of the game.

“We’re just playing good basketball right now,” Celtics forward Jae Crowder told reporters after shootaround. “I’m excited to keep it going for ourselves and our team. Like Brad [Stevens] said today, we’re just going to focus on ourselves. It comes down to us playing hard and protecting our homecourt.”

With the Celtics motivated to defend their homecourt against the defending champions and blemish their 23-0 mark, the Warriors -- playing under interim coach Luke Walton -- knew they’d have to offset those disadvantages with pride and pluck.

What they could not have known at tipoff on that December night is that these competing forces would produce perhaps the most riveting night of their 73-9 season.

A game compelling enough to be re-aired by NBC Sports Bay Area on Saturday afternoon at 4.

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The Warriors were proud of their perfection and determined to protect it. They were wading, however, into the deep end of treachery, playing the final two games of a seven-game, 14-day road trip on back-to-back nights. Rarely does the NBA inflict such cruelty upon its teams.

They prevailed. It took not one but two overtimes -- with 16 ties and 22 lead changes -- but they left Boston with a 124-119 victory and their 24-0 record still intact.

“Nothing was pretty about this game the whole time,” Stephen Curry told reporters at TD Garden. “We got stops and everybody contributed ... This is a huge win for us.”

Curry played 47 minutes and submitted a game-high 38 points, along with 11 rebounds and eight assists. He had eight turnovers and shot 9-of-27 from the field, including 6-of-13 from beyond the arc.

His teammates were splendid. Draymond Green totaled 24 points, 11 rebounds, eight assists, five steals and five blocks over 50 minutes. Andre Iguodala had 13 points, 10 rebounds, five assists and two steals over 44 minutes. Centers Andrew Bogut and Festus Ezeli produced 14 points, 21 rebounds and four blocks over a combined 51 minutes. Shaun Livingston came up with a crucial late-game block.

Still, it was a 58-minute marathon, with the Warriors outhustling the Celtics to record a 67-51 rebounding advantage and a 10-7 edge in steals.

“Now I can admit I’m tired,” Curry said.

The win was an important moment for those Warriors.

“We will definitely cherish this because it doesn’t happen often,” Bogut said. “The record, the history, the team -- it doesn’t happen often so we will cherish it.

“Who knows? Next year you could be on a different team and nobody’s talking about you.”

Bogut was indeed on another team the following season, part of the roster shakeup in the wake of acquiring coveted free agent Kevin Durant in July 2016

But the big man had a point. Savor these moments that take you to the loftiest of places, where no team has ever gone. Enjoy the ride because it won’t last.

The Warriors had been stacking wins, one after another, for more than five weeks. The schedule was bound to take a physical toll and the winning meant mounting mental pressure. Beating the Celtics put the Warriors nine wins from the NBA’s all-time longest streak of 33 set by the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers.

[RELATED: Remembering the Warriors' five most memorable playoff moments]

It required a Curry triple to give the Warriors the lead late with 46 seconds left in regulation, followed by a crucial Iguodala 3-ball in the first OT and a critical bucket from Livingston in the second OT. Neither team could pull away.

The Warriors kept at it until they found a way to beat a very good team under adverse conditions. Not one of their other 72 victories surpassed this one for pure perseverance.

Remembering Warriors' top playoff moments outside of NBA championships

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Remembering Warriors' top playoff moments outside of NBA championships

The Warriors' six NBA championships are tied with the Chicago Bulls for the third-most in league history behind only the Boston Celtics (17) and Los Angeles Lakers (16). Those six instances obviously mark the pinnacle of Golden State's postseason success.

Duh.

However, there have been numerous playoff moments throughout the franchise's history that didn't directly translate into a title -- or at least not right away.

That doesn't diminish their value. Some of the most memorable Warriors' playoff moments have occurred in non-championship seasons and were crucial in feeding the passion of the fan base. Until recently, so much of Golden State's history consisted of non-competitive seasons. Those occasional playoff memories gave fans hope that the dream of a championship was not unattainable.

From impressive individual performances to massive team achievements, there is no shortage of options to choose from. However, five non-championship moments stand out from the rest throughout Warriors' playoff history.

VIEW WARRIORS TOP FIVE PLAYOFF MOMENTS