Celtics

Jayson Tatum, NBA All-Stars honor Kobe Bryant with well-played All-Star game

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USA Today Sports Images

Jayson Tatum, NBA All-Stars honor Kobe Bryant with well-played All-Star game

CHICAGO -- The untimely death of Kobe Bryant was the theme leading up to Sunday night’s All-Star game which was won by Team LeBron, 157-155.

The night began with a series of tributes to Bryant which included a stirring speech given by Los Angeles Lakers legend Magic Johnson.

Throughout Johnson’s speech, there was the occasional “Ko-be, Ko-be, Ko-be!” chant from the stands.

And the actual game itself was one of the better-played All-Star games in recent memory courtesy of a new format that seemed to go over well with all involved. 

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The game came down to big shots and big stops by both teams, a fitting end to the night considering how all involved wanted to honor Kobe Bryant and did just that with a brand of basketball that in many ways was part of the Kobe narrative of elite play at both ends of the floor. 

Chris Paul acknowledged the challenge of playing the game at a high level and not think about Bryant who was a major influence for many of today’s All-Star players. 

“It was tough early, especially early,” Paul said. “For a lot of us, it's still surreal. It's not real until you start showing pictures and talking about it. But I think the best way we could honor Kobe, Gigi, and everyone involved was to play like we played, you know what I Mean? Me and Russ (Russell Westbrook) kept talking about it, that's one thing about Kobe, whenever he was on our team in the All-Star Game, there wasn't none of that cool stuff. There wasn't none of that. It was like, as long as they throw the ball up, let's get to it.”

LeBron James added, “You could definitely feel his presence just from the start. From every moment from the fans chanting his name till you seen the numbers. Every time you saw Giannis' team run on the floor, you saw the 2-4. So he was definitely here.”

Former NBA All-Star Richard “Rip” Hamilton was among those in attendance at the game. 

He and Bryant were both prep stars who grew up competing with and against each other in Pennsylvania and were at times roommates during all-star competitions.

Hamilton acknowledged he still hasn’t fully come to grips with what happened to Bryant and the others. 

“It hurt me, man, it hurt me to my core,” Hamiton told NBC Sports Boston. “And I still haven’t fully recovered from it. Him and I go back way before the NBA and the glitz and glamor and everything else. It’s a thing that … it still impacts me to this day.”

And once the current crop of All-Star players stepped on the floor, Team Giannis wore jersey number 24 (Kobe Bryant’s number) while Team LeBron wore jersey number 2 (the number of GiGi Bryant, Kobe’s daughter). 

Boston’s Jayson Tatum is among the many players on the floor whose game was heavily influenced by Bryant who along with his daughter Gigi, was killed along with seven others in a helicopter crash on Jan. 26. 

The relationship between Tatum and Bryant had grown into a friendship strengthened by Bryant’s interest in mentoring Tatum who has never shied away from acknowledging how influential Bryant has been in his life, both on the court as well as off the court since coming into the NBA. 

“He was the reason I started playing basketball,” Tatum said recently. “To have him reach out and try and help me, wanna work with me was something I would never forget.”

Why Doc Rivers blames himself for Ray Allen's rift with 2008 Celtics

Why Doc Rivers blames himself for Ray Allen's rift with 2008 Celtics

Doc Rivers just wishes the "Big Three"-era Boston Celtics would all get along.

The talented group that brought the 2008 NBA title to Boston still hasn't fully reconciled with Ray Allen, who left the Celtics' core of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo in 2012 to join LeBron James and the Miami Heat.

For example, when the Celtics retired Pierce's No. 34 jersey at TD Garden in February 2018, many members of that 2008 championship team were in attendance -- but not Allen.

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In a recent interview with CLNS Media's Jeff Goodman and The Boston Globe's Bob Ryan, Rivers took the blame for the continued coldness between Allen and his former teammates.

"This one I take on myself," the former Celtics coach said. "I really failed with the Paul jersey retirement. I really thought Ray should have come to that, and I tried to get him to, and he just -- he wanted to, he was going to, and then he just didn't."

Rivers said he's tried to convince both sides to get together and let bygones be bygones -- which Pierce and Allen did briefly in 2017 -- and that he'll try again next season when the Celtics raise Garnett's No. 5 to the rafters.

"The last conversation I had with my guys, I said, 'There is no right time. The time is now. Just do it. And it'll be all fine. It'll be great,' " Rivers said.

" ... So, we've got to get this one done. I think it would be magical next year when they retire Kevin's jersey. I think it would be absolutely magical to get (Allen) to come out. He would be shocked by the ovation that he got."

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Rivers admitted he also was upset that Allen left to join the Celtics' "arch-enemy" in Miami, which had just defeated Boston in the 2012 Eastern Conference Finals.

But the Los Angeles Clippers coach sincerely believes both Boston fans and Allen's ex-teammates appreciate his contributions to that 2008 title.

"At the end of the day, the one thing I know about Celtics fans and our players: They all know we don't have a ring without Ray Allen," Rivers said.

Unfortunately for Allen and his former teammates, they won't be reconciling in person anytime soon with the country in a virtual lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Classic Celtics: Larry Bird lifts C's over Rockets in 1986 NBA Finals clincher

Classic Celtics: Larry Bird lifts C's over Rockets in 1986 NBA Finals clincher

Some consider the 1986 Boston Celtics one of the greatest NBA teams of all time.

Here's your chance to watch them finish off that historic season.

NBC Sports Boston's "Classic Celtics" series -- which brought you Kemba Walker's 32-point outburst against the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday -- rolls on Friday with Game 6 of the 1986 NBA Finals between the Celtics and Houston Rockets.

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The Rockets took Game 5 in Houston to send the series back to Boston, but they weren't prepared for Larry Bird, whose magnificent performance in Game 6 (29 points, 11 rebounds, 12 assists) helped the C's earn a 114-97 win and clinch their 16th NBA championship.

Our re-broadcast of Celtics-Rockets airs Friday at 7 p.m. ET, and if watching Bird at the height of his powers wasn't entertaining enough, former Celtics center Bill Walton will join Brian Scalabrine throughout the night to provide color commentary.

Here's when and how to watch:

When: Friday, April 3, 7 p.m. ET
TV: NBC Sports Boston
Streaming: NBCSportsBoston.com and in the MyTeams app

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