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The Morning Column: August 25, 2021
Andrew Bernstein's photos are the inspiration for many of the statues outside of Staples Center, but when he thinks of what Kobe Bryant's statue should look like he doesn't think of one of his photos.
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1. 🏀 What will Kobe’s statue look like?
During my interview with hall of fame photographer Andrew Bernstein on The Mightier 1090 AM on Tuesday, I asked him what he thought Kobe Bryant’s statue outside of Staples Center should look like. The Lakers haven’t set a date yet for when the statue will go up but you have to imagine it will be sooner rather than later.
The statues of Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Shaquille O’Neal, Wayne Gretzky, Luc Robitaille, Chick Hearn and Bob Miller outside of Staples Center were largely shaped from the pictures Bernstein took of them over the past 40 years.
Bernstein, who captured some of the more iconic images of Bryant’s 20-year career with the Lakers, smiled and paused as he thought about the answer.
“I would love to see my buddy, Garrett Elwood’s photo as the statue,” Bernstein said. “After the 2010 championship, Kobe is up on the scorer’s table and his arms are out. Looking across the court, Garrett just absolutely captured that with the confetti falling. I would love to see that. That would be an incredible tribute to him. It has a lot of meanings behind. He told me it was his favorite championship of the five.”
I not only agree with Bernstein, I told Bryant as much the last time I talked to him. I said the image of him on the scorer’s table, arms outstretched, after beating the Boston Celtics in Game 7 of the NBA Finals was the image that should be made into a statue one day. When I asked what he wanted his statue to look like, he smiled and shook his head.
“That’s not my job,” Bryant said. “My job is done. My job is trying to create the memories and the moments and it’s somebody else’s job to figure out which one [works for a statue].”
Another possibility is Noah Graham’s photo of Bryant walking off the court with his hand in the air after scoring 81 points against the Toronto Raptors. That’s my favorite image of Bryant wearing No. 8.
I also think a second statue (he has two retired jerseys, after all) featuring Kobe and Gianna would be an incredible addition next to Staples Center at Gilbert Lindsay Plaza. The first image that comes to mine is this one taken by Allen Berezovsky.
2. ⚽️ MLS All-Star Game tonight in Los Angeles
Los Angeles’ seven-year run of being the epicenter of the sports world begins tonight when the MLS All-Star Game takes place at Banc of California Stadium. From now until August 2028, Los Angeles will host the Super Bowl, MLB All-Star Game, College Football National Championship Game, Summer Olympics, FIFA World Cup, U.S. Open, WrestleMania, and other major events but that run starts today at 6:30 p.m. when the MLS All-Stars take on the Liga MX All-Stars at Banc of California Stadium. It’s a match-up of the best players from the top two soccer leagues in North America. Both the U.S. and Mexico are ranked in the top 10 in the latest FIFA world rankings and both countries are optimistic heading into the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. There is already a rivalry between the U.S. and Mexico in soccer but after the U.S. Men’s National Team beat Mexico in the Nations League and the Gold Cup finals this summer, look for tonight’s all-star game to be not so “friendly.”
3. 🏀 Jared Dudley retires, joins Jason Kidd in Dallas
After a 14-year NBA career, Jared Dudley announced his retirement on Tuesday and said he was joining Jason Kidd’s coaching staff in Dallas. Dudley was a fan and media favorite during his career. I covered him during his two stints with the Clippers and Lakers and he was of the few players who always took time out to talk to the media before games and after games whether he was playing or not. Those pregame conversations in the locker room are sorely missed by NBA reporters, who have had to talk to players and coaches via Zoom rather than in-person and in the locker room. Dudley was a locker room leader for the Lakers during their championship season last year and no one knew that more than Kidd, who saw his impact firsthand as an assistant on the Lakers. Dudley was going to succeed in whatever he decided to do post basketball – I still think he will end up being a broadcaster at some point – but the Mavericks will be a better team with Dudley next season.
4. 🏆 Carmelo Hayes wins NXT Breakout Tournament
Congratulations to Carmelo Hayes for winning the 2021 NXT Breakout Tournament on Tuesday. Hayes defeated Odyssey Jones, a former offensive lineman at Syracuse, in the final of the tournament. I was at the WWE Performance Center and the Capitol Wrestling Center in Orlando this week and spent some time with both Hayes and Jones and it’s hard to not envision both becoming major WWE Superstars in the near future. Here are my sit-down interviews with both Hayes and Jones that aired on the USA Network last night.
5. 💵 Odds and Ends Powered by Bovada
Here are some odds on Bovada if you’re thinking about placing a wager today:
6. 📆 Aug. 25, 2012: Dodgers-Red Sox complete blockbuster deal
On this day nine years ago, the Dodgers acquired Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett and Nick Punto in blockbuster deal for James Loney, Rubby De La Rosa, Allen Webster, Ivan DeJesus and Jerry Sands. The Red Sox got rid of $260 million in future salary while the Dodgers added star power with an eye towards competing next season when Crawford returned from Tommy John surgery. While the trade wasn’t as successful as the Dodgers would have hoped, it did help jumpstart the team’s current run of eight straight NL West titles, which began the following season in 2013.
7. 🎂 Happy Birthday Robert Horry
Happy Birthday to Robert Horry. “Big Shot Rob” is turning 50 today. Horry won seven championships during his 16-year career with the Houston Rockets, Los Angeles Lakers and San Antonio Spurs, which are the most by any player in NBA history who didn’t play on the Boston Celtics in the 1960s. Horry is responsible for some of the biggest moments and clutch shots in NBA playoff history. When his former coach Rudy Tomjanovich was inducted into the basketball hall of fame this year, he took a moment to make the case for Horry to one day be in the hall of fame. “I want to speak up for Robert Horry to be inducted into the Hall of Fame,” Tomjanovich said. “He’s truly a legendary player. He made so many clutch shots. He’s got seven rings to prove it. “This is where he belongs.”
8. 🎟 Ticket Time Powered by StubHub
9. 📺 On The Air
⚾️ 4 p.m. – Los Angeles Angels at Baltimore Orioles – Bally Sports West
⚽️ 6:30 p.m. – MLS All-Star Game in Los Angeles – FS1
⚾️ 7 p.m. – Los Angeles Dodgers at San Diego Padres – SportsNet LA, ESPN
10. 📻 The Arash Markazi Show
On Tuesday’s show, we talked to hall of fame photographer Andrew Bernstein about his special relationship with Kobe Bryant on 8/24, which is Kobe Day in L.A.
Listen to The Arash Markazi Show on The Mightier 1090 Monday-Friday from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m., following The Rich Eisen Show. The Mightier 1090 has the second strongest radio signal in North America and can be heard from “Baja to the Canadian Rockies.” You can also listen to the show on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Play and Stitcher.
And please click below to subscribe to The Morning Column at Substack. Please also consider supporting my colleagues at Substack (and former colleagues at ESPN and SI): Marc Stein, Henry Abbott, Chad Ford and Ethan Strauss on the NBA, Molly Knight on MLB, Ariel Helwani on MMA, Dan Rafael on boxing, Grant Wahl and Leander Schaerlaeckens on soccer, Chris Peters on the NHL and Peter Bodo on tennis.
That’s it for today. Talk to you tomorrow!