#IMHO: Greatest NBA Speeches of All-Time (Michael Jordan, Vanessa Bryant, Kevin Durant + More!)

#IMHO: Greatest NBA Speeches of All-Time (Michael Jordan, Vanessa Bryant, Kevin Durant + More!)

Following Chris Bosh’s Hall of Fame Enshrinement speech this week, Grind City Media’s Kelcey Wright Johnson and Lang Whitaker discuss the best speeches ranging from ceremonies and awards, to press conferences, rants, and movies from notable figures like Michael Jordan, Vanessa Bryant, Monty Williams, Kevin Durant & more!

#IMHO: Best Playoff Performances in NBA History!

With the NBA Playoffs in full swing, Grind City Media’s Kelcey Wright Johnson and Jon Roser reminisce on the greatest NBA Playoff Performances of All-Time including Michael Jordan’s Flu Game, Magic Johnson’s rookie year explosion, LeBron James coming back from down 3-1 to defeat Steph Curry’s Warriors, Zach Randolph’s Game 6 sending the Memphis Grizzlies to the NBA Western Conference Finals, Kawhi Leonard ending LeBron James Miami HEAT run in 2014, Kobe Bryant’s 28 points on a sprained ankle game, Charles Barley, Luka Doncic, and many more!

#IMHO: Best NBA/Rap Collabs (Re: Moneybagg Yo's Rookie of the Year)

#IMHO: Best NBA Rap Collabs

With the release of Moneybagg Yo’s Rookie Of The Year in conjunction with the upcoming Ja Morant documentary, Promiseland, Grind City Media’s Kelcey Wright Johnson and Lang Whitaker discuss their favorite NBA collaborations in music like Shaq & Kobe, Jaren Jackson Jr. & Justise Winslow, Joe Smith, and Jason Kidd.

#IMHO: Mamba Forever

Grind City Media’s Lang Whitaker and Kelcey Wright Johnson weigh in on the most pertinent news from around the NBA. What’s lit? What’s lame? Find out each week right here.

From: Lang Whitaker

Sent: Monday, January 25, 2021 10:49 AM

To: Kelcey Wright Johnson

Subject: IMHO

Kelcey,

Tomorrow will mark one year since we lost Kobe Bryant.

I know it’s been a full year and we’ve had time to think about and process the loss, but it still feels weird to even write that first sentence. Kobe, gone? Kobe was a warrior who was supposed to live forever. But that’s not how things worked out.

But instead of dwelling on the loss, let’s start this week by thinking about some of the good moments: What was your favorite Kobe moment? For me, it was probably being at Madison Square Garden the night Kobe scored 61 points. I’ve seen a lot of great performances in person over the years, but there was something really special about getting to see KB turn into unstoppable mode there in the World’s Most Famous Arena.

What about you? When you think of Kobe, what memories come to mind?


From: Kelcey Wright Johnson

Sent: Monday, January 25, 2021 9:12 PM

To: Lang Whitaker

Subject: Re: IMHO

Gosh Lang, has it really already been a year? What a year.

I remember January 26, 2020 like it was yesterday — walking to FedExForum to see the Grizz play the Suns, when I got the news on my phone. And then walking into the arena, everyone was so sad. No music. No warm-ups. It was so horrible. But you’re right; let’s not dwell on the loss, let’s talk about our memories!

Although, one of my favorite memories includes a loss (for me, at least). January 22, 2006 — I was 15 years old, innocently watching the Raptors game in Toronto with my father and my older brother. We were all pretty happy about the game too—Raptors up by almost 20 points at half. Until Mr. Bryant TAKES OVER and finishes with a career-high 81 points to pull the victory right out from underneath us.

That memory stings, but as a basketball fan, it was really incredible to watch live. I remember my older brother losing his mind and yelling at the refs through the TV.

My last memory of Kobe was when I was in Beijing China in the fall of 2019, and Kobe was one of the ambassadors for the World Cup tournament. Not many people got to see the human side of Kobe — everyone saw the intense competitor side — but at the World Cup, I was privileged to be able to just see him be a regular guy. I remember he was just sitting laughing with Manu Ginobili at a table in the back before the gold medal game, laughing and (probably) telling old stories from the hardwood. It was cool to see him kick-back, and that smile, the last time I saw him, will always be how I remember him.

Now, that I’m tearing up… I’m going to throw it back to you. Do you have a favorite Kobe quote? I have a few that live in my head rent free.

Kobe Bryant and Manu Ginobili

From: Lang Whitaker

Sent: Tuesday, January 26, 2021 9:55 AM

To: Kelcey Wright Johnson

Subject: RE: IMHO

Well, as an editor at SLAM magazine forever, I was lucky enough to get to spend some time around Kobe, so I don’t have quotes that live in my head as much as I do moments.

When we did the cover with Kobe holding the snake, for instance, I remember the snake pooping on Kobe just as we went to shoot the cover, and Kobe jumping into the air and blurting out a curse word, the same way you or I might react if something similar happened. (That snake, by the way, was not a black mamba. When we were setting up the shoot we called a snake handler, and they said there was no way we could get an actual black mamba, because they were just too dangerous to have around. I don’t recall exactly what kind of snake we ended up using, but it was something completely safe. Kobe was OK with that concession.)

I also remember when we were setting up this cover shoot in Hawaii, where the Lakers were having training camp. I drew the lucky straw and got to fly to Honolulu to be on site for the shoot and interview. But before I left to go out there, someone from Kobe’s team asked if we could fly Kobe’s barber out from L.A. for the shoot. Now, big time magazines routinely do stuff like this. But SLAM was not a big-time magazine – we could barely afford to fly me out there, much less a barber. So, we said no, we couldn’t fly the barber out, but as a compromise we offered to hire the best barber in Honolulu and have him on set for the afternoon. Kobe’s folks agreed to this, so we were all set.

The day of the shoot, we all got to the hotel ballroom and got everything set up, and the barber set up his whole station in the corner, excited to have a chance to cut Kobe’s hair. And then Kobe came strolling in with a fresh haircut. No idea where he got it or if he flew his own guy in, but leave it to Kobe to be totally prepared. At least the photographer (the GOAT Atiba Jefferson) and I got free haircuts that day.

Anyway, it’s been a year, and today feels about as sad at the day did one year ago. I’ve been on TV a lot in my career, talking about all kinds of various things, but having to go on the Grizzlies pregame show last year to talk about Kobe’s legacy, just hours after he passed, was about the closest I’ve ever come to breaking down on live TV.

I just realized I completely veered off your question. Which Kobe quotes live in your head?

Kobe Bryant SLAM Covers

From: Kelcey Wright Johnson

Sent: Tuesday, January 26, 2021 8:54 PM

To: Lang Whitaker

Subject: Re: IMHO

Some of the quotes that I think about when I think about Kobe are:

  • That time he called the ESPN “a bunch of idiots” after ranking him 40th in the league rankings
  • When he was being called a ballhog and in the game, passed the ball off the backboard to himself; “I should get an assist for that. It’s an intentional pass to oneself, so its an assist. That way people can’t say all I do is shoot.”

And the two best ones, in my opinion:

  • “Everything negative — pressure, challenges — is all an opportunity for me to rise.”
  • “I don’t want to be the next Michael Jordan, I only want to be Kobe Bryant.”

So, that being said… Lang, out of all the players in the league right now. Who is “the next Kobe Bryant?” Who embodies the Mamba Mentality the most?

Kobe Bryant on the court during NBA Finals

From: Lang Whitaker

Sent: Wednesday, January 27, 2021 9:23 AM

To: Kelcey Wright Johnson

Subject: RE: IMHO

This is an easy question: There is no next Kobe Bryant.

I feel like we learned this lesson with Michael Jordan. When MJ left (the first time), everyone wanted to know who was going to be the next MJ. This was something that was debated endlessly. Would it be Grant Hill? Tracy McGrady? Vince Carter? Heck, would it be Kobe?

As it turned out, there was no next Michael Jordan. Jordan was Jordan. Grant Hill was Grant Hill. T-Mac was T-Mac. Vince was Vince. And just like Kobe wanted to be, Kobe turned out to be Kobe, which was quite good enough.

I do like the way you posed the question though: As far as that mentality, who has that edge? LeBron? Dame Lillard? Those were the first two players who came to mind for me. And keeping it closer to home, I know it’s still early in his NBA career, but I think Ja has some of that mentality, too.

So maybe that mentality translates in some ways, but I think we can all agree on one thing: There will never be another Kobe Bryant.

'An Icon': Former Kobe Bryant opponent Brevin Knight describes KB's Legacy | Rise & Grind

‘An Icon’: Brevin Knight describes Kobe Bryant’s Legacy | Rise & Grind

Memphis Grizzlies play-by-play analyst and former NBA star Brevin Knight remembers Kobe Bryant’s competitive nature, his infectious leadership on and off the court, discuss his legacy and more with Rise & Grind’s Jessica Benson and Meghan Triplett on the one year anniversary of the tragic helicopter crash that killed Los Angeles Lakers’ legend Kobe Bryant and eight others.

#IMHO: Reacting to NBA 2K21 covers featuring Damian Lillard, Zion Williamson and Kobe Bryant

#IMHO: Reacting to NBA 2K21 covers featuring Damian Lillard, Zion Williamson and Kobe Bryant

Grind City Media’s Kelcey Wright Johnson and Grizz Gaming GM Lang Whitaker of the NBA 2K League react to Damian Lillard, Zion Williamson and Kobe Bryant being featured on this year’s NBA 2K21 covers and what it means for players like Luka Doncic and Vince Carter.

#IMHO: Kobe Bryant's Most Memorable Moments, Impact on Sports and Beyond

#IMHO: Kobe Bryant’s Most Memorable Moments, Impact on Sports and Beyond

Following Sunday’s sudden passing of NBA Legend Kobe Bryant in a fatal helicopter crash killing all nine on board, Grind City Media’s Lang Whitaker and Jon Roser reflect on their favorite Kobe moments and what made him so special.

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Tony Allen recounts the moment he learned about Kobe Bryant's death | Chris Vernon Show - 1/28/20

How Tony Allen learned about Kobe Bryant’s death | Chris Vernon Show – 1/28/20

Memphis Grizzlies’ legend Tony Allen joins Chris Vernon in-studio to talk about where he was and how he learned about a helicopter crash that claimed the lives of fellow NBA superstar Kobe Bryant, his 13 year old daughter, and 7 others in Calabasas, California on Sunday.

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Chris Vernon Show - 1/28/20 | Tony Allen Remembers Kobe Bryant

Chris Vernon Show – 1/28/20 | Tony Allen Remembers Kobe Bryant

On today’s show: More on the tragic loss of Kobe Bryant (3:00) and then Tony Allen joins the show in-studio to talk about the life and legacy of Kobe Bryant (33:42).

Watch LIVE at noon on the Grizzlies App: http://bit.ly/MemGrizzApp
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Chris Vernon Show - 1/27/20 | #MambaForever

Chris Vernon Show – 1/27/20 | #MambaForever

On today’s show:

RIP Kobe Bryant (1978-2020)

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