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Scott Brooks ready to compete with Warriors' Kevin Durant for the first time

Scott Brooks ready to compete with Warriors' Kevin Durant for the first time

On Tuesday night at the Verizon Center, Scott Brooks will for the first time in his coaching career be on the opposite bench of Kevin Durant, a former MVP and Brooks' best player during the seven years he coached the Oklahoma City Thunder. It is not an enviable task coaching, against Durant. Brooks knows what he is capable of and is looking forward to the challenge.

Well, sort of.

"You have to hope that Coach [Steve] Kerr will sit him out. That's a good start. They have three in four nights coming up, so I think he should rest," Brooks joked ahead of the Wizards' matchup with the Warriors [6:30 p.m. on CSN].

In all seriousness, Brooks will enjoy catching up with Durant. The two have remained in touch ever since Brooks was fired by OKC following the 2014-15 season.

"We text throughout the season. I don't know if that's illegal. I just lost some money, I guess," Brooks said with a smile. "It's just 'how are you doing Kevin, how's the family?' That's it. We went through a lot together and I appreciate what he's gone through and the way he's always handled himself... I've been with him through some very tough times. We've had some great moments together. Conference finals after conference finals, the NBA Finals while being a young team, his MVP year; we've just had so many moments. He's just a great person."

It's easy to tell that Brooks admires the man Durant has become. Brooks has known the eight-time All-Star ever since his rookie year when he was just 19 years old and playing for the Seattle Supersonics. In the 10 years since, he's watched Durant grow up, deal with both success and failure, and then ultimately make the decision to leave Oklahoma City in free agency. All of that came after a rough childhood growing up in Prince George's County in Maryland.

"I like the progress that he's made as a man. We all saw a young man grow up in front of our eyes and not only meet all the expectations, but he's overcome a lot. I know his story as a child with his mom and grandma, they did a great job of instilling important values that are going to continue to carry him throughout his life. I feel like I was a part of helping raise him as a good pro. That's what you want to do as a coach is teach these guys how to be pros. That's to me the No. 1 job as a coach," Brooks explained.

[RELATED: Durant reveals why he didn't even talk to Wizards]

"You have to understand that they are going through some trying times and you have to understand how to help them through it. Get them through it and also understand that when you do get through it, and when you have some success, how do you handle that? The thing I like is how he handed it when he got through it. He was the MVP and the next day you would have never known. You would have never known he was MVP. You could probably not talk to me this day if I won MVP."

On Monday at Wizards practice, Brooks recalled the early days of Durant in Seattle and OKC, how he was just a kid who couldn't bench press 200 pounds and never washed his face.

"The talk [before the draft] was that he wasn't strong enough. That's [so] overrated… I don't know if every team does that, the bench press. If we are in the strongman competition, then you don't want Kevin on your team, but the ball is not that heavy. He can pick that up pretty good. I knew he was a natural. He's just a natural talent. He just had a good feel for the game. The thing that really stood out was his work ethic. That guy, it just doesn't happen overnight. He didn't become MVP overnight. He didn't become one of the best players overnight. He's put a lot of time and work in. I was fortunate enough to be around him for seven years," Brooks said.

"He's going to go down as one of the best players ever. But the thing that [Golden State] didn't realize they were getting is a great guy and a great teammate. That takes you a lot longer down the road than just having a great player. He's as good as advertised off the court... they got an incredible person that always wants to do the right thing. Sometimes it's not easy to do the right thing, but he doesn't choose the easy path. He goes down the path that you would be proud of."

[RELATED: Beal on Durant: 'I didn't think he was going to come here']

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Elena Delle Donne has successful surgery, should be ready for 2020 season

Elena Delle Donne has successful surgery, should be ready for 2020 season

Elena Delle Donne had successful surgery to repair three herniated discs in her back, the team announced on Wednesday.

The "minor surgery" took place on Friday, Jan. 24 and was performed by Dr. Andrew Dossett in Dallas, Texas. Delle Donne's timetable is unknown but will be reevaluated around the Mystics training camp in May. She is anticipated to be available for the season opener on May 16.

The Mystics forward suffered the injury during the WNBA Finals. After only playing in the opening minutes of Game 2, she missed the rest of the game. An MRI revealed that she had a herniated disc in her back. It was her third injury in all of her three WNBA Finals appearances.

Still, through the pain, the 2019 WNBA MVP helped her team win their first title. 

Once the Mystics won the WNBA Championship, Natasha Cloud proudly announced that Delle Donne actually had three herniated discs

This surgery will likely limit her availability for playing with the U.S. Women's National Team as they begin their pre-Olympic training, exhibitions and qualifying events. She has yet to appear in any of the 2019-20 events due to her injury.

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Quinn Cook changes his jersey number to honor Kobe, Gigi Bryant

Quinn Cook changes his jersey number to honor Kobe, Gigi Bryant

Los Angeles Lakers guard, and former DeMatha Catholic star, Quinn Cook is changing his jersey number from No. 2 to No. 28 to honor the late Kobe and Gigi Bryant. 

For Cook, the No. 28 symbolizes the combination of Gigi's No. 2 and Kobe's No. 8.

"No. 2 is Gianna's number, I feel it should be retired. It's hers," Cook told Shams Charania of the Athletic. 

View this post on Instagram

💔💔my hero man. I’m completely crushed. I haven’t cried this much or been in this much pain since I lost my dad in 2008. Yesterday I lost my hero, my idol, & the main reason my love for this game is where it is today. Can’t really process this but we all are devastated and heartbroken about what happened to my hero Kobe & his beautiful daughter Gianna. You taught us all so much on and off the court. Anyone who knows me knows what Kobe means to me and to the entire world. We need to give all of our energy and prayers to the Bryant family and all the families involved in the tragic event yesterday. I will never get over this, I don’t know what’s going to happen going forward but one thing I know is that Kobe and Gianna are up there in heaven TOGETHER smiling down on us all. You were the greatest I’ve ever seen on the court but you were an even better Father to all four of your daughters man. Wow Bean I’m really writing this right now 💔💔. I will cherish our relationship and everything you told me forever. We are already missing you Kobe and Gigi🙏🏽🙏🏽! RiP DAD!

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Kobe and Gianna were two of the nine passengers that passed Sunday morning in a tragic helicopter crash. Since the incident, players, coaches, and organizations league-wide have honored the passings in their own manner. 

Dallas Mavericks owner, Mark Cuban, decided to retire the No. 24 within the organization.

“Kobe’s legacy transcends basketball," Cuban said in a statement Sunday. "Our organization has decided that the number 24 will never again be worn by a Dallas Maverick."

After that move, players began to informally retire their own jersey numbers -- Detroit Pistons forward Markieff Morris will change his jersey from No. 8 to 88. Spencer Dinwiddie of the Brooklyn Nets will change his jersey from No. 8 to No. 26 and Terrence Ross of the Orlando Magic will change his jersey number from No. 8 to No. 31.

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