On many a Sunday, I realize that people have looked at the stories they've seen throughout the week with different lenses. I have my own personal take on some of these trending issues and I will share them with you. Welcome to #INCASEYOUMISSEDIT the 2021 edition with Mariah

 

Kobe Bryant’s legacy is alive and well.

On Tuesday, it will be one year since the news broke that Laker legend Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna, six other passengers and the pilot were passengers in a helicopter that crashed in the hills of Calabasas, California, killing everyone on board.  For so many, Bryant was an influential presence ripped away from his family and the world just as he was making a mark post-basketball career.

Bryant was an icon who won five NBA championships and two NBA Finals MVPs during his a 20-year career.  I was a child when I first saw Kobe play. I was utterly impressed. The other children I was around would launch paper balls at bins yelling “Kobe!”.  Everyone wanted to be him.

As a sports journalist his I was fascinated by his work ethic. The way he knew what he wanted and went about ensuring that he got it.  Even now, I find myself turning to old Kobe interviews and listening to him for self-motivation. I hope his family and loved ones continue to find the inner strength to deal with his tragic passing.

 

West Indies can take a page out of India’s book.

It is true that the West Indies’ poor form did not start with this Bangladesh tour. However, they can take a page out of India’s book following a second disastrous batting display losing to Bangladesh by seven wickets in the second ODI at the Mirpur Stadium in Dhaka on Friday.

A few days before this latest Windies defeat, India ended Australia’s record of being unbeaten at the Gabba since 1988 with a team that lacked key senior players.

Like India, coming into the Bangladesh series the Windies were not favourites. What worked for India was its ability to capitalize on their strengths. Much of their success can be attributed to the system that in place to allow new cricketers to emerge and thrive.

 Every successful team needs good structure and foundation. India’s “A” team programme has reaped its intended benefits. Take the case of Thangarasu Natarajan, who is the first Indian to make this international debut in all three formats on the same tour. He ended the Australia series as the highest wicket-taker.

There was also the case of 21-year-old Shubman Gill, who had been on the fringes of the Test side patiently awaiting his call and took his chance when it came

 He would go on to finish his maiden Test series with an average of 51.81. Rishabh Pant was another player that came through the Indian development system and is now reaping the rewards. The 23-year-old was left out of the first Test but in the series-decider was unbeaten on 89 and hit the winning runs that also won the series.

 

No Kohli, no problem.

Leadership is another area of India’s game where the Windies can look to India for inspiration. Like the Windies when Kieron Pollard opted not to tour due to Covid 19, India’s captain Virat Kohli returned home to witness the birth of his first daughter.

However, Ajinkya Rahane stepped up to the task at hand. Again, this reiterated the work being done behind the scenes to allow for ease of transition. I was impressed by how Rahane handled the resources at hand and worked with the team to unlock their full potential.

 

REDS-

 It is not too late for a Premier League turnaround. Liverpool has now gone four matches in a row in the Premier League without a goal. They are now six points away from league leaders Manchester United.  Despite struggling in the Premier League this season it is not too late for a turnaround.

Liverpool is a club that knows how to win and do so in style. Despite this, they have been lacking in confidence this season and it is evident in the errors that they are making on the field. There is a major lack of efficiency and energy. Once the club can find the rhythm that everyone admired last season they can get back to their winning ways.

It is evident that Jurgen Klopp is frustrated and not handling the pressure. Klopp’s frustration has been filtering to the players and emboldening the opposition. It is wise that the manager sticks to his principles and steers his players in the right direction. At this point, there is absolutely no need to make rash decisions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The list of Kobe Bryant's accomplishments during his 20 NBA seasons is almost too long to recount.  

Yet among his All-Star selections, championships and signature moments, his 81-point game stands out both for its historical significance and its representation of Bryant's personality and career.  

Friday marks the 15th anniversary of this astounding feat, the closest anyone has ever come to Wilt Chamberlain's NBA scoring record, a seemingly impossible 100 points.  

Chamberlain reached triple digits on March 2, 1962, in a much different NBA than the one Bryant faced. Chamberlain averaged 50.4 points per game that season while playing every minute of every game. In scoring 100 points, he led the Philadelphia Warriors to a 169-147 win over the New York Knicks.  

Bryant's feat, while falling short of the century mark, remains the gold standard for scoring in the modern game.  

On January 22, 2006, the Toronto Raptors travelled to Los Angeles to face the Lakers and were gaining confidence. After a desperate 1-15 start, Toronto's season had stabilised, and the Raptors entered Staples Center having won 10 of their previous 16 games. But Toronto had just allowed 113 points in a win against Seattle and entered the game giving up 102.2 points per game, third-most in the NBA.  

Bryant went on to make history, making 28 of his 46 field goal attempts – including 7-for-12 shooting from beyond the arc – and hitting 18 of 20 free throws.  

Perhaps the greatest testament to Bryant's achievement is that no player over the 15 years since has come particularly close to scoring 81 points in a game, despite several factors working in their favor.  

In 2005-06, a team got 79.0 field goal attempts per game on average, the fourth-slowest pace of all time. Almost any other season in NBA history would have been more likely to have an astounding scoring outburst.  

In the 1961-62 season, when Chamberlain made history, teams averaged 107.7 shots per game and attempted 37.1 free throws per game, nearly 11 more than in 2005-06.  

The league has picked up its pace since Bryant's feat as well, with teams attempting 88.8 field goals last season, giving the modern player more opportunities than Bryant had.  

The other advantage that current players have in piling up stats is the three-point shot.  

Bryant's 7-for-13 performance from deep was dynamic in 2006. Twice in the 2005-06 season, Chicago Bulls guard Ben Gordon made nine three-pointers in a game to lead the league. Only four players made more than seven threes in a game that season. The average team attempted 16.0 threes per game.  

Teams are launching an average of 35.1 three-point attempts during this young season, on pace to be the 10th in a row with an increase in long-range shooting. Ten players have already made eight or more threes in a game this season, despite most teams having played about 15 games.  

Even with a faster pace and increased frequency of long-distance barrages in the modern game, Bryant's 81-point mark still appears virtually unobtainable.  

Since that date, Devin Booker's 70 points are the high mark. There have been 19 games in which a player scored 60 or more, four by Bryant himself.  

One integral element to Bryant's scoring explosion was the composition of that Lakers team. Bryant did have Lamar Odom, but LA's other starters on that historic night were Kwame Brown, Chris Mihm and Smush Parker. The Lakers finished that season 45-37, far from a bad team, but Bryant scored 35.4 points per game as the Lakers relied on him almost entirely for scoring.  

Bryant scored 34.7 percent of the Lakers' points that season, the fourth-highest scoring share of all time. Only Chamberlain and Michael Jordan have scored a higher percentage of a team's points in a season.  

Given that profile, there are a few players who stand out as possible candidates to make a run at a historical scoring game in the foreseeable future.  

Booker, James Harden and Kemba Walker all have at least one 60-point game in their careers but now find themselves on teams with better supporting casts, making it unlikely they could get enough shots to chase history.  

Damian Lillard, however, could fit the mould perfectly. Team-mates CJ McCollum and Jusuf Nurkic will both miss significant time due to injuries, and Lillard has crossed the 60-point barrier three times, all within the past 15 months. Add his 36.2 minutes per game – top 10 in the league – and 10.1 three-point attempts per game, and Lillard seems as likely as anyone to produce a dazzling scoring total.  

Stephen Curry scored a career-high 62 points on January 3 and will be a constant centerpiece in the Golden State Warriors' offense without Klay Thompson. While Curry is 25th in the league at 34.4 minutes per game, his historic three-point shooting makes him a constant threat.  

League scoring leader Bradley Beal remains in the mix, despite the Washington Wizards acquiring ball-hungry Russell Westbrook in the offseason. Westbrook has often taken games off due to rest, and Beal scored 60 on January 6. He also carries the advantage of getting to the free throw line 9.5 times per game, fourth in the NBA this season.  

That list ignores perennial MVP candidates Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kevin Durant and LeBron James, as well as young dynamos like Trae Young and Luka Doncic.  

The fact that there are so many candidates to make a run at 81 points without anyone coming close in the past 15 years indicates just how phenomenal Bryant's accomplishment was.  

Whether Bryant's mark lasts forever or is eventually bested, it will always be a brilliant snapshot of an all-time great player. He won championships before and after his 81-point game, but Bryant's legacy is as a scorer and a relentless competitor, perfectly represented by that gaudy scoring total 15 years ago.  

Bryant wore number eight and number 24 during his decorated career, but 81 is just as important to his legacy.

The Los Angeles Lakers set the benchmark last season and look likely to be the NBA team to beat again in 2020-21.

An outstanding offseason saw the Lakers bring in Marc Gasol, Dennis Schroder and Montrezl Harrell to boost a championship team.

Anthony Davis is coming back, too, as expected, aiming to build on a hugely successful first year in LA.

Crucially, fellow superstar LeBron James also agreed a new contract, ensuring the coming campaign's title defence will not be impacted by speculation around the veteran's future.

James was back to his best in 2019-20 as he led the Lakers to Finals glory and earned his fourth Finals MVP award.

He became only the fourth player to claim that honour after his 35th birthday - joining fellow greats Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Michael Jordan - and the first across the NBA, NFL, MLB and NHL to be named the star performer of the postseason with three different teams.

There are plenty more milestones on the horizon for the former Cleveland Cavaliers and Miami Heat man, however.

The draining nature of the previous season may mean LeBron sees less regular season action than he normally would; indeed, his 34.6 minutes per game last time out were already a career low and the Lakers have recruited the league's best two bench scorers in Schroder and Harrell.

But James has already proven just how effective he can be while managing minutes, that average of 34.6 the fewest in league history while scoring 25.0 points and 10.0 assists.

The 35-year-old, who turns 36 next week, has every chance of reaching 10,000 career assists before the coming season is out.

His 10.2 per game last term, taking on a new role next to Davis, were the most of LeBron's career, yet he has laid on more than the 654 required for the landmark in two of his past three campaigns.

James needs 125 more threes for 2,000, meanwhile, having made 148 last year. He would become the 10th player all-time to reach that mark.

Of course, between his playmaking and scoring, LeBron is still regularly posting triple-doubles - at least eight in four straight seasons, including 13 in 2019-20 and a career-high 18 in 2017-18.

Another six are required for 100 in his regular season career.

But James might have to make the most of the length of his contract, which runs through 2022-23, to make any further progress on the all-time points list.

He surpassed Michael Jordan in his first year as a Laker and then LA great Kobe Bryant last season, reaching third behind Karl Malone (36,928) and Abdul-Jabbar (38,387).

LeBron (34,241) is 2,687 shy of Malone, a total he has never previously come close to in a single campaign - top-scoring in 2005-06 with 2,478.

Do not write James off, though, bolstered by the Lakers' impressive moves and fired by his frustration at missing out on the MVP award last year. He responded spectacularly to that setback and will be gunning for honours again this time.

Tuesday marks 24 years to the day since the late Kobe Bryant made his NBA debut with the Los Angeles Lakers.

While that first appearance against the Minnesota Timberwolves at the age of 18 was nothing to write home about, Bryant went on to enjoy a legendary career.

He won five NBA championships with the Lakers in the space of a decade and was selected to the All-Star Game 18 times, placing him behind only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (19).

Bryant tragically died aged 41 in a helicopter crash alongside his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others in January but his legacy will live on for generations.

Here we look back at where it all began for one of sport's most iconic figures and pick out some other statistics from his incredible career with the help of Stats Perform data.


STEADY IMPACT IN ROOKIE SEASON

The Charlotte Hornets drafted Bryant 13th overall in 1996 and traded him to the Lakers for Vlade Divac.

It was a move that would have a lasting impact on the sport, although it took Bryant a few seasons to really start to make his mark.

He played six minutes off the bench against the Timberwolves on his debut, failing to register a point during his short cameo; he did get a rebound, a block and a steal, though.

That appearance made him the youngest player to feature in NBA, aged 18 years and 72 days old, but he was supplanted by Jermaine O'Neal (18 years, 53 days) the following month Andrew Bynum (18 years, six days) took the record in 2005.

 

"Rest In Peace to the late, great Kobe Bryant." pic.twitter.com/jmqQMVC2UO

— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) February 1, 2020 BEHIND ONLY LEBRON

Bryant steadily became more involved and made the All-Rookie second team at the end of his debut campaign.

The Philadelphia-born star scored a combined 613 points in the regular season and playoffs before turning 19, which only LeBron James (625) can better.

One record James could not take from Bryant, though, is for the youngest player in NBA history with at least 20 points in a postseason game.

Aged 18 years and 250 days, Bryant registered 22 points in Game 3 against the Portland Trail Blazers in the Western Conference first-round series.

Bryant averaged 7.6 points, 1.9 rebounds and 1.3 assists in 15.5 minutes on the floor during his rookie season.

To put that in some context, James averaged 20.9 points, 5.5 rebounds and 5.9 assists, albeit with far more minutes (39.5).

That is still some way below the levels of Michael Jordan in his breakthrough season, with the Bulls great averaging 28.2 points, 6.5 rebounds and 5.9 assists in his first year in the league.


THE SCARCELY BELIEVABLE STATS

Bryant still went on to carve out a place as one of the greatest players of all time, receiving All-NBA honours in 15 seasons, being named in the first team on 11 occasions. Only LeBron James, with 13 appearances in the first team, beats Bryant's total.

He was also named nine times to the NBA All-Defensive First Team, matching the all-time high; Kevin Garnett, Gary Payton and Jordan achieved the same total.

In the 2005-06 season, Bryant recorded his highest points-per-game average for a single campaign, with 35.4. He led the NBA in scoring in that season and in 2006-07.

In January 2006, he scored 81 points in a 122-104 victory over the Toronto Raptors - the second highest individual score in an NBA game, behind Wilt Chamberlain's 100 points for the Philadelphia Warriors against the New York Knicks in 1962.

Bryant received his lone NBA MVP award in 2008, having become the youngest player to reach 20,000 career points aged 29 years and 122 days.

In his final game, on April 13, 2016, Bryant scored 60 points for the Lakers in a 101-96 win over the Utah Jazz. A fitting farewell after a phenomenal career.

The Los Angeles Lakers are closing in on their first championship since 2010, but Anthony Davis insisted he is not looking too far ahead following another stellar performance against the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals.

Davis posted 32 points on 15-of-20 shooting from the field as the Lakers defeated the short-handed Heat 124-114 in Game 2 for a commanding 2-0 series lead at Walt Disney World Resort on Friday.

The Lakers star joined Kevin Durant (2012), Michael Jordan (1991), Rick Barry (1967) and Hal Greer (1967) as the only players in NBA Finals history to score 30-plus points in their first two career games in the league's showpiece decider.

Davis – a high-profile recruit from the New Orleans Pelicans at the start of the season – also became the first Lakers player with back-to-back 30-plus point games in the Finals since Kobe Bryant in 2010.

But as the top-seeded Lakers near a first title in a decade, Davis is remaining grounded inside the Orlando bubble.

"It's huge," Davis told reporters when asked how important is it to stay in the moment. "This team [Miami] have shown in both games that they are able to fight back. Even when they are down 20, 30, whatever it is, they are able to fight back and make plays.

"So we can't get too high, especially with this team. They didn't even have two of their top scorers, two of their best players. They always have that next-man-up mentality. They come every night, they play hard, they play physical, they play aggressive.

"We came in tonight and said this is a must-win for us. We're going to come in the next game and say it's a must-win, and the next game it's a must-win and so on and so forth.

"We know what this team is capable of. I think they had four guys or five guys with 15-plus. Guys coming off the bench scoring and playing well. We have to lock in on those guys and show them respect, as well, which we do. But this team can play. We have to be wary of that and make sure we come in and be better in our defensive schemes, which is going to help us win."

Lakers team-mate LeBron James also dominated, finishing with a game-high 33 points, nine rebounds and nine assists.

James and Davis became the first Lakers duo to score at least 32 points in a Finals game since Kobe Bryant – who died in a helicopter crash in January – and Shaquille O'Neal in 2002.

Amid comparisons to Lakers greats Bryant and O'Neal, Davis said: "Those two guys are obviously special. They are a duo that's special together. They are the best duo we've seen. Multiple championships. They both were so dominant.

"I know they had a little sit-down and they were talking about they were arguing because they both wanted to be so dominant, they both wanted to be great and they both wanted to win, and that's why they jelled together outside of everything else that you might have heard that they were going through.

"But you know, those two guys were selfless. They both had a competitive spirit with themselves to will their teams to win. I think me and Bron are the same way.

"We are two guys who want to win no matter the circumstance. We both want to make sure that we do whatever it takes to help our team win. When you have two guys that are selfless ...

"It's not always going to be pretty. Sometimes we are going to argue and have disagreements, but we know it's coming from the right place. When you have two guys who want to win as bad as we do and want to be dominant every single game, you have games like tonight where two guys, we're able to score the basketball and able to rebound and able to find guys.

"It's rare you see it. We know we have something special with us two and this team, and just trying to capitalise on it."

LeBron James said he was humbled after the Los Angeles Lakers superstar and team-mate Anthony Davis were compared to franchise greats Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal following Game 2 of the NBA Finals.

James and Davis produced another dominant performance as the Lakers topped the injury-hit Miami Heat 124-114 for a 2-0 series lead at Walt Disney World Resort on Friday.

Three-time champion James had 33 points, nine rebounds and nine assists, while fellow All-Star Davis finished with 32 points in Orlando, where the Lakers are eyeing their first title since 2010.

James and Davis became the first Lakers duo to score at least 32 points in a Finals game since Bryant – who died in a helicopter crash in January – and O'Neal in 2002.

"Watching the Kobe-Shaq duo was the most dominant duo that I have personally seen in my life from a basketball perspective," James told reporters.

"Obviously we knew the force that Shaq brought to the table, but the elegance and force that Kobe played with, as well. They were very dominant in what they did on the floor, on both sides of the floor. So to be in the conversation with those two guys, myself and Anthony, myself and AD -- he's going to kill me -- myself and AD, is just very humbling, because I know I grew up watching those guys.

"I grew up admiring Kobe; obviously, a kid coming straight out of high school. Admired that, as a kid when I was young, and obviously got the opportunity. And the force that Shaq played with. It's very humbling that we can be even mentioned with those greats."

James moved up to sixth on the all-time Finals list for games played after making his 51st appearance, while the 35-year-old also climbed up to fourth for all-time Finals rebounds.

Pressed on the Bryant-O'Neal comparisons and how he and Davis play, James – who was not satisfied with the team's defensive effort against Miami – added: "I guess if you look in the sense of the size and the power and the speed that Shaq at his size played with, you could look at my game throughout the course of my career and say that.

"And then you look at the elegance and the ability to shoot the ball and the ability to play in the paint as well as post up and get to the perimeter, I guess you can say that you can have some of AD's game that could compare to Kobe's game in that sense.

"Obviously, all four of us are all different positions. Kobe was a natural two-guard. I'm kind of a, I don't know, whatever position. Shaq is a center.

"AD is kind of a hybrid, as well. But I guess all four of us, we have a winning mentality and we just tried to make enough plays out on the floor throughout the course of the game that would benefit not only ourselves individually but for the most important thing, for the better of the team.

"I can't even believe I'm up here talking about myself and AD with Kobe and Shaq."

LeBron James insisted the "job is not done" after guiding the Los Angeles Lakers to the NBA Finals for the first time in 10 years.

James posted a triple-double as the top-seeded Lakers beat the Denver Nuggets 117-107 on Saturday to seal a 4-1 series victory in the Western Conference finals.

The three-time NBA champion had 38 points, 16 rebounds and 10 assists to lead the Lakers back to the Finals, having not featured in the showpiece since winning their last title in 2010.

But as James prepares for his 10th Finals appearance, after missing the playoffs in his first season with the Lakers, the 35-year-old superstar was grounded post-game in Orlando, Florida.

"The job is not done," said James, whose Lakers will face either the Miami Heat or the Boston Celtics. "But it's great to appreciate the moments throughout the course of a journey.

"I am extremely proud to be a part of this franchise getting back to where it belongs, playing and competing for championships. This is what I came here for."

It was James' 27th career playoff triple-double as the four-time MVP eyes a fourth championship ring.

All-Star team-mate Anthony Davis contributed 27 points for the Lakers, who will make their 32nd Finals appearance.

"In a closeout game, I am just as desperate as the team that we are trying to closeout. I don't want to play another game," James said.

"I am not undefeated in closeout games, but if we have the chance to win I don't want to play another game."

James then recalled the legacy of Kobe Bryant, who led the Lakers to their most recent championship a decade ago.

Bryant – the victim of a tragic helicopter crash in January – was crowned MVP as the Lakers beat the Celtics in the 2010 Finals and the NBA legend continues to inspire James and others.

"Every time you put on purple and gold, you think about his legacy, you think about him and what he meant to this franchise for 20-plus years and what he stood for both on the floor and off the floor," James added.

"What he demanded out of his team-mates, what he demanded out of himself. We have some similarities in that sense.

"Our games are different. But as far as our mindset and our drive to want to be the best, and our drive to not lose ... just that drive to always want to be victorious. It stops you from sleeping."

Anthony Davis' game-winner for the Los Angeles Lakers against the Denver Nuggets was a "Mamba shot", head coach Frank Vogel said.

Davis delivered an incredible buzzer-beating three to lift the Lakers to a 105-103 victory over the Nuggets on Sunday as they moved into a 2-0 lead in the Western Conference finals.

Vogel said the Lakers wanted to honour the late Kobe Bryant, the NBA great who died in a helicopter crash in January.

And the Lakers coach believes Davis' game-winner was the type of shot five-time NBA champion and former MVP Bryant would have produced.

"Well, we want to embody what Kobe Bryant stood for and honour his memory," he told reporters.

"Obviously, there are certain games where we are going to feel it a little bit more than others. When we have that uniform on, I think we feel it more than others.

"That's a shot Kobe Bryant would hit. To me, AD coming off just flying to the wing like that, catch-and-shoot with the biggest game on the line of our season, nothing but net, it's a Mamba shot."

While the Nuggets rallied in Game 2, Davis (31 points and nine rebounds) and LeBron James (26 points and 11 rebounds) led the Lakers to victory.

Vogel was full of praise for Davis and James as the Lakers close in on a first NBA Finals appearance since 2010.

"I keep saying, he [Davis] is a big-time player. He really carried us through a stretch where we were struggling to score late in the third," Vogel said.

"The combo of LeBron James and Anthony Davis is just – if one of them is not going, the other one is. There was a little bit of that tonight.

"When they're both going at the same time, we're near impossible to stop. Those guys both carried each other throughout the game and obviously a big part of the win."

Game 3 between the Lakers and Nuggets is on Tuesday.

Lionel Messi is staying at Barcelona, but will he regret it?

The six-time Ballon d'Or winner last month announced his intention to leave his only senior club after a dismal 2019-20 season.

But with Barca insisting either Messi or any suitor would be required to pay his €700milllion release clause, their captain will instead remain at Camp Nou.

Messi is far from the first sports star to perform a U-turn when considering his future, though...
 

CRISTIANO RONALDO

Messi's great rival similarly tried to force a move in 2008, albeit Ronaldo was on a high after winning the Champions League with Manchester United.

The Portuguese had his heart set on a transfer to Real Madrid and made his desire clear as he publicly agreed with Sepp Blatter's claim keeping a player at a club against his will was like "modern slavery".

United would not budge, though, and Ronaldo stayed for another year and returned to the Champions League final, this time losing to Messi's Barca before finally getting his dream move to Madrid.

LUIS SUAREZ

Suarez, one of Messi's closest friends and a Barca team-mate, followed Ronaldo in attempting to leave a year before getting a big switch.

In 2013, the Liverpool forward announced his intention to depart Anfield, complaining of the media attention he received in England amid racism and biting scandals. Arsenal made a bid which appeared to activate a £40m release clause, but Liverpool insisted Suarez must stay.

As with Ronaldo, Suarez only stuck around for another season but was inspirational as the Reds came agonisingly close to the Premier League title. He then belatedly left to link up with Messi at Camp Nou.

KOBE BRYANT

Messi is not the first one-team man to come close to a move before backtracking. Lakers great Bryant, who would end his career with five titles in Los Angeles, briefly pushed for a trade in 2007.

Bryant had won three championships at that stage, but none since the final year of their three-peat in 2002, and openly discussed his frustration at the direction of the franchise while fuming at claims he was behind Shaquille O'Neal's exit from the team.

These issues came to a head as Bryant told the media he wanted a trade, but his U-turn proved far swifter than Messi's, quickly continuing his historic Lakers career.

BRETT FAVRE

Messi's return to the Barca fold has at least already proven more successful than Favre's attempted U-turn in 2008. After 17 seasons in the NFL, including 16 with the Green Bay Packers, the quarterback announced he was retiring.

But Favre then decided before the start of the new season he wanted to return to the Packers, who had by now been preparing with Aaron Rodgers – previously his understudy – in the role.

Barca may not have a ready-made Messi replacement, but Rodgers was more than capable of stepping up, meaning Favre had no job to return to. The veteran was instead sent to the New York Jets and failed to make the playoffs.

LeBron James felt "blessed" to star on Mamba Day as the Los Angeles Lakers took a grip on their Western Conference first-round series against the Portland Trail Blazers.

As he remembered Kobe Bryant, James also expressed renewed concern about the safety of African-American citizens in the United States following the shooting by police of Jacob Blake.

That incident on Sunday happened in Kenosha, a city close to Milwaukee, and James said his "prayers go to that family".

Wisconsin state investigators are looking into that incident to determine whether action should be taken against the officers involved.

On the court, James was imperious in grabbing a double-double of 30 points and 10 assists for the Lakers in their 135-115 win that established a 3-1 series lead.

He told NBA on TNT: "It's a wide range of emotions. I am extremely proud of my team, the way we played tonight."

Monday was designated Mamba Day in remembrance of Lakers great Bryant, who died in a helicopter crash in January - with the 8/24 date chosen to mark his uniform numbers.

"[I am] extremely blessed and honoured to be able to play on 8/24 and continue to remember Kobe Bryant and Gigi Bryant and all the fallen people that were a part of that tragic incident," James said.

"And at the same time having the emotions with what happened outside of Milwaukee with Jacob Blake. It's what we’ve been talking about and it's what we're going to continue to talk about.

"Having two boys of my own and me being African-American in America, and to see what continues to happen with the police brutality towards my kind, continue to see what goes on with the injustice - it's very troubling.

"We play a beautiful game which brings so many great families together and people should be able to rejoice and enjoy it.

"But at the same never lose track of what’s really happening in our world, especially here in America.

"My prayers go to that family and hopefully we can have some change."

Presidential elections are three months away in the US and James said he believes the time for change "starts in November".

"We have an opportunity to make change but it still doesn't stop there," he said, "even with whoever comes next."

LeBron James passed Kobe Bryant for outright third-most triple-doubles in the history of the Los Angeles Lakers.

James posted his 22nd triple-double for the Lakers during Tuesday's 100-93 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers in Game 1 of the Western Conference first-round series.

The three-time NBA champion moved above the late Bryant (21) and is now behind only Magic Johnson (138) and Elgin Baylor (24) in Lakers history.

The triple-double (23 points, 17 rebounds and a postseason-high 16 assists) was the 24th of James' playoff career.

June 17, 2010 was the date Kobe Bryant got his fifth and final NBA ring.

The Los Angeles Lakers icon, who died in a helicopter crash earlier this year, helped his franchise beat the Boston Celtics in Game 7 of the 2010 NBA Finals.

Two years ago Brooks Koepka became a back-to-back champion at the U.S. Open while in 1999 Australia and South Africa played one of the most thrilling Cricket World Cup contests ever.

We take a look at major sporting events that have happened on June 17 in previous years.

 

1999 - Australia edge past Proteas in dramatic semi

Until England's incredible Super Over win over New Zealand in last year's World Cup final, the 1999 semi-final between Australia and South Africa was perhaps the greatest ODI ever.

Shaun Pollock and Allan Donald managed to restrict Australia to 213 and though Shane Warne (4-29) kept his team in the match, South Africa entered the final over nine down but needing nine more to reach the final.

Successive fours from Lance Klusener (31 not out) tied the scores but, with the Proteas needing only one run from their final four deliveries, a mix-up between Klusener and Donald resulted in the latter being run out.

The game finished as a tie but Australia went through to the final because they had a superior run rate in the Super Six stage, with South Africa left to reflect on some all-too-familiar World Cup heartache.

 

2010 - Kobe leads Lakers past Celtics

Boston, who had beaten Los Angeles in the 2008 Finals, were 3-2 up after Game 5 but knew the series would be closed out in the City of Angels.

The Lakers, who were the defending champions, forced a Game 7 and came out on top 83-79 to clinch the franchise's 16th - and to date most recent - championship.

Bryant was voted Finals MVP for the second time in his career and scored a game-high 23 points in the decider.

 

2018 - Koepka wins U.S. Open again

Twelve months after he won by four strokes to claim his first major, Koepka proved to be unstoppable once more at the U.S. Open.

The American began the day in a four-way tie for the lead and his two-under-par 68 on Sunday was enough to earn him a one-stroke success over Tommy Fleetwood at Shinnecock Hills.

Koepka became just the third man since World War II - after Ben Hogan and Curtis Strange - to successfully defend the U.S. Open title.

June 15 is a momentous sporting date that the Detroit Pistons and their fans will not forget in a hurry.

Sixteen years ago on this day, the team earned an emphatic 4-1 win over favourites the Los Angeles Lakers to seal glory in the NBA Finals.

This date also represents the 40-year anniversary of a famous day in golfing history, when Jack Nicklaus broke a record at the U.S. Open.

We look back at some of the top moments to occur on June 15 in the world of sport.


2004 - Pistons top Lakers 4-1 in NBA Finals

The Pistons sealed a stunning 4-1 series win over the Lakers on this day in 2004, with a 100-87 win in Game 5 ensuring they secured glory in Michigan.

Richard Hamilton top-scored with 21 points, Ben Wallace starred with 22 rebounds and Chauncey Billups had a game-high six assists.

Billups was named Finals MVP as coach Larry Brown savoured his first championship, his underdog team having won three straight after going down to an overtime loss in Game 2.

Game 5 was notable as the last game for Shaquille O'Neal, Karl Malone and Gary Payton for the Lakers, who had won previously three straight titles between 2000 and 2002.

This remains the Pistons' most recent NBA title, as they lost a thrilling Finals series 4-3 to the San Antonio Spurs the following year and have not returned since.

The Lakers, meanwhile, reached three straight Finals when coach Phil Jackson returned to the team later in the decade, winning two, including their last triumph in 2010.

Kobe Bryant top-scored with 24 points in a losing effort against the Pistons in Game 5.

He would go on to be named NBA Finals MVP in each of their 2009 and 2010 successes, moving on to five rings in the process.


1980 – Nicklaus sets record in U.S. Open triumph

Jack Nicklaus' fourth and final U.S. Open victory was a special one in 1980.

The American set a new tournament scoring record with an eight-under par score of 272 to win his fourth title at the event, finishing two shots clear of Japanese challenger Isao Aoki.

Nicklaus had started the week with a magnificent 63 to take a share of the first-round lead, and led by two after a more steady effort of 71 on day two.

After moving day, he was in a share of the lead with Aoki while four other players, including Tom Watson, were within two shots.

A thrilling finale was in store for June 15 and Nicklaus delivered with a 68 to claim his 16th major, 18 years after winning his first U.S. Open.

He romped to US PGA glory later that year, before his 18th and final major arrived six years later at the 1986 Masters.
 

1974 - Evert wins first of seven French Opens

American Chris Evert holds the women's singles record with an astonishing seven French Open titles.

She won the first of her Paris crowns on this day in 1974, emphatically defeating the third seed, Russian Olga Morozova, 6-1 6-2.

In the absence of Margaret Court, who had beaten her in a three-set thriller in the previous year's final, top seed Evert thrived.

She went through the whole tournament without losing a set, with German Helga Masthoff, the fourth seed, seen off in the semi-finals in a tougher test than she ended up having in the showpiece.

Evert also won Wimbledon that year as part of a sensational 55-match winning streak.

She successfully defended her French Open title the following year, and her third success in 1979 started a streak of five wins in the space of five years.

The cause of death for all nine victims of the helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna has been ruled as blunt trauma, a post-mortem has confirmed.

The Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-coroner on Friday published the results from examinations of those who lost their lives in the incident in Calabasas, California on January 26.

The crash occurred amid heavy fog but an investigation into the cause is ongoing.

A statement read: "On January 28, the cause of death for all nine decedents was certified as blunt trauma. The manner of death was certified as accident."

Alyssa Altobelli, John Altobelli, Keri Altobelli, Payton Chester, Sarah Chester, Christina Mauser and pilot Ara Zobayan were on board with the Bryants.

A 180-page report also showed that Zobayan tested negative for drugs and alcohol.

Bryant was a five-time NBA champion during a 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers.

He was named the league's MVP in 2008, was selected for the All-Star Game on 18 occasions and received All-NBA First Team honours on 11 occasions.

The two-time Olympic gold medallist's jersey numbers of eight and 24 were retired by the Lakers following his death aged 41.

Giannis Antetokounmpo said a hacker was behind a string of racist and insulting posts on his Twitter account, leaving him "disappointed and disgusted".

A series of controversial tweets from the NBA MVP's official account targeted the Milwaukee Bucks and his team-mate Khris Middleton, as well as LeBron James and Stephen Curry.

Insensitive comments were also published about Kobe Bryant, who died alongside his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others in a helicopter crash in California in January.

All of the incendiary posts have since been deleted.

In a statement published on Twitter, Antetokounmpo said: "Hey everybody! I'm back and would like to address the social media incident from earlier today! I was hacked and the situation is currently being investigated.

"The tweets and posts were extremely inappropriate and I am so disappointed and disgusted that somebody would say the terrible things that were said!

"I feel terrible that the Bucks, Khris, LeBron and the Curry family were included in the malicious and untrue tweets.

"I feel especially terrible for the Bryant family, during their time of grief they should not be subjected to this type of negativity and foul behaviour.

"Thank you all for always supporting my family and I, and please stay safe!"

A statement from the Bucks read: "Giannis Antetokounmpo's social media accounts were hacked this afternoon and have been taken down. An investigation is underway."

Antetokounmpo's brother Kostas, who plays for the Los Angeles Lakers, attempted to make followers aware the Bucks star was not behind the comments as they were published.

He later added: "Giannis' twitter, phone, email and bank accounts were hacked!

"He genuinely apologises for everything that was tweeted and he will be back as soon as possible!

"The things that were said by this hacker were extremely inappropriate and disgusting!"

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