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Bush might play final game for Dolphins on Sunday

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Bush might play final game for Dolphins on Sunday

DAVIE, Fla. (AP) With an underwhelming offense that needs upgrades to become playoff-worthy, the Miami Dolphins this winter could be eager to reach a deal with a 1,000-yard rusher who can also catch passes and score from anywhere on the field.

Or perhaps they'll deem Reggie Bush too expensive to keep.

On Sunday, Bush might play his final game for the Dolphins (7-8) when they close their season at New England. His two-year contract for nearly $10 million expires after the season, and the team hasn't offered him a new deal.

``I would definitely love to be back,'' Bush said Wednesday. ``There's definitely some unfinished business here, some things we want to accomplish, some things I would love to accomplish.''

Bush needs 40 yards rushing to reach the 1,000 milestone for the second year in a row since joining the Dolphins. He has been their primary playmaker, but he has yet to lead them to the playoffs - or even a winning season.

Because he's 27 at a position where youth is preferred, and because the recent market demand for free-agent running backs has been modest, Bush faces a likely pay cut wherever he plays next year.

And it's unclear how eager the Dolphins will be to join the bidding. They'll have more than $40 million in cap space, but they also have rookie running back Lamar Miller poised to assume a bigger role in 2013. And they have pressing needs at receiver, tight end, cornerback and defensive end.

A seven-year veteran, Bush has never made the Pro Bowl. But he has averaged 4.7 yards per carry with Miami, and he showed Sunday he wouldn't be easy to replace, scoring three touchdowns - two on receptions - in a win over Buffalo.

``He's always a factor in the game,'' Bills coach Chan Gailey said. ``He makes things happen.''

There were doubts about Bush's durability when he joined the Dolphins after five years with New Orleans. But he has missed only one game with Miami while exceeding 250 touches each of the past two seasons.

``He has certainly shown over the last couple years that he can be an every-down back,'' Patriots coach Bill Belichick said. ``He can carry the ball or catch it as much as you want to give it to him. Inside, outside, short passes, long passes, blitz pickup - whatever you want, he can do it all. He's a tough guy to match up against.''

Miami's offensive line is rooting for Bush to reach the 1,000-yard mark again, center Mike Pouncey said.

``It means a lot to us - we'll get presents,'' Pouncey said with a laugh. ``Reggie had a lot of doubters when he came to Miami. But he's everything for this team.''

Bush is the lone quick-strike threat on an offense that lacks speed at receiver and is still evolving with rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill. This year Bush has runs of 65 and 53 yards, and more touchdown catches - two - than either of the Dolphins' starting wideouts.

``Reggie's just a versatile player,'' Tannehill said. ``When you have a guy like that, he's a real weapon.''

Bush said he would like to remain with the Dolphins because he doesn't want to keep bouncing from city to city, and because he likes Miami and is eager to help restore the franchise's winning tradition that dates to the days of Don Shula.

``I want to be able to bring back the passion about Miami football in the city and build a winning franchise here,'' he said.

The genial Bush has become the most popular player on a team battling fan apathy after making the playoffs just once since 2001. On Wednesday he and guard Richie Incognito were chosen co-winners of the annual Good Guy Award for being consistently helpful to the media.

Bush was then informed that the winner of the honor each of the past four years has gone on to play elsewhere the next season. Might that be an omen?

Bush laughed and looked at Incognito.

``One of us has to stay, at least,'' Bush said.

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Online:http://pro32.ap.org/poll andhttp://twitter.com/AP-NFL

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Remembering Kobe Bryant's 55-point game against Michael Jordan, Wizards

Remembering Kobe Bryant's 55-point game against Michael Jordan, Wizards

As the basketball world mourns the death of NBA legend Kobe Bryant, memories of his career and the highlights that made us fall in love with him are surfacing. One of the most well-told narratives of Bryant’s 20-year career was his pursuit of Michael Jordan as the greatest player of all-time. 

Bryant idolized Jordan and was relentless in his pursuit of at least matching Jordan’s six championships. He competed like Jordan, scored like Jordan, berated teammates and opponents alike like Jordan and came up one title short of his idol’s total.

On one night, however, Bryant did get the best of His Airness -- in their last of eight head-to-head matchups. 

On March 28, 2003, a Friday night in Los Angeles, Bryant put on a show, scoring 55 points in what would stand as his highest scoring total ever against the Washington Wizards.

The Lakers defeated the Wizards, 108-94. Jordan, who had just turned 40 that February and was less than a month from ending his legendary career, finished with a team-high 23 points in over 40 minutes.

Bryant was in a different zone, though, dropping 42 points in the first half alone. Through the first two quarters, he made 14 of 19 shots from the field, including 8 of 11 three-point attempts. While he cooled off in the second half, shooting just 1-for-10, he added to his point total by knocking down 10 free throws. The performance stands as the ninth-highest scoring total of Bryant’s career, and his three-point shooting that night -- 9-of-13 -- is the biggest reason the Wizards are the only team he shot over 40 percent from three against in his career.

Going into that game, Bryant was already a three-time NBA champion at 24 years old and seemed to have gained Jordan’s respect as a player. But Jordan may have inadvertendly fueled Bryant's performance that night. Ex-Wizard Gilbert Arenas told a story on "The No Chill Podcast" of MJ telling Bryant he could never fill his shoes after the Wizards defeated the Lakers earlier in the season. Arenas claims Bryant didn't talk to his teammates for two weeks leading up to the rematch. He internalized the jab from Jordan and turned it into the 55-point game he put up against the Wizards.

After learning of Bryant’s death in a helicopter crash on Sunday, Jordan released a statement through his spokeswoman saying Bryant was like a little brother to him.

“I am in shock over the tragic news of Kobe’s and Gianna’s passing. Words can’t describe the pain I’m feeling. I loved Kobe -- he was like a little brother to me. We used to talk often, and I will miss those conversations very much. He was a fierce competitor, one of the greats of the game and a creative force. Kobe was also an amazing dad who loved his family deeply -- and took pride in his daughter’s love for the game of basketball. Yvette joins me in sending my deepest condolences to to Vanessa, the Lakers organization and basketball fans around the world.”


Jordan and Bryant exchanged some fun and memorable banter in not only that game but in several of their meetings towards the latter part of Jordan’s career. Just a month earlier, the two went head-to-head in the 2003 All-Star Game. Each started and clocked 36 minutes in the double-overtime game, Bryant scoring 22 points for the winning Western Conference, while Jordan scored 20 for the East.

Bryant actually finished his career with a 5-3 record head-to-head against Jordan -- four of those matchups coming against the Wizards. Jordan averaged 24.5 points in those games and Bryant averaged 22.8 points. Whether Bryant actually surpassed Jordan or other legends as the greatest basketball player is debatable, but most agree that Bryant’s style and how he approached the game was as close to Jordan as any other player.

There was no better example than this March night in 2003.

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Rui Hachimura says, 'Kobe was a hero for me'

Rui Hachimura says, 'Kobe was a hero for me'

Kobe Bryant's popularity stretched far beyond the United States. He was a global icon and especially loved in Asia. 

Following the NBA star's shocking death on Sunday, the entire sports world grieved and shared fond memories of Bryant all over social media. 

Rui Hachimura grew up in Japan idolizing Bryant, so he took to Twitter a day after the accident to share his thoughts on his hero.  

"I was very shocked to hear of this incident," Hachimura said. "I really can't believe it. I can't speak. Kobe is also a hero to me, and I've seen [him] a lot since I was little. I have met him only once.

"Three years ago, during [the] Final 4, [Bryant gave] a special pair of shoes as a surprise to the team," he said. "Not only that, he talked about what Mamba Mentality is and what people should be before basketball players. 

"He was more than just a basketball player," he said. "It is really sad that this accident was like this. I wish good luck to his family and those who have been involved in this accident. Thanks, Kobe."

After Michael Jordan retired, Bryant became the most popular player in Japan. Along with Hachimura, he inspired players like Grizzlies forward Yuta Watanabe to play the game of basketball in the first place. 

Similar to what made Bryant so popular in the United States, Japan loved him for his tireless work ethic and killer instinct on the court. That's what earned him 15 All-NBA selections and five NBA titles, and along with his efforts off the court post-retirement, earned him the love and respect of so many people around the world. 

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