Looking back

Some unique memories of covering Kobe Bryant

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I first met Kobe Bryant in person during NBA All-Star Weekend in NYC in February 1998. The hype surrounding a potential matchup up between Kobe and Michael Jordan was at a fever pitch back then. The matchup dominated news coverage.

February 8th, 1998 was the first of Kobe's 17 All-Star Selections. Even way back then, the stories were circulating about how serious Kobe took preparation, from film study to practice was taking on an iconic status. Some teammates had to actually calm Kobe down during a bus ride during an NBA preseason contest as he was too intense and hyped up on the bus ride.

At a ripe age of 19, Kobe was the youngest All-Star in the History of the League. Throughout the game, you had a sense that a torch was being passed. Much like Dr. J in his farewell tour in 1987 was passing off the baton to Michael Jordan, MJ some twenty years later on that stage while collecting his 3rd All-Star MVP award, was laying the path for the young 19 year old phenom at MSG.

I went from covering the Jordan Bulls in Chicago in the 90's, to then relocating with our radio network to Los Angeles, just in time to witness the Kobe/Shaq "three-peat" from 2000-2002. The debates of "which combo" were more explosive, MJ and Pippen or Kobe and Shaq reigned the sports airwaves. It was rare to ever catch Kobe where he didn't want to do anything except talk about basketball. For me, after dozens and dozens of exchanges, there was only one distinct time, as we got into a conversation about his love for a movie Breakin 2 Electric Boogaloo. This was a passionate, spirited debate and one of Kobe's favorite movies. He talked about how one day his was going to make a follow up to that movie. Instead, he captured an Oscar for his animated masterpiece "Dear Basketball" two years ago.

As I sit here reflecting on Kobe, it's remarkable how quickly those years all went by, and how tragically the events transpired today. I have no doubt up in Heaven, there's a rack of basketballs and Kobe is in a gym somewhere, outworking everyone, staying and shooting for two hours after a practice.


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Houston drops the game to Arizona

D-backs outslug Greinke and Astros to take series opener

Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images

With the series win over the Rangers by taking two of three games in the middle of the week, the Astros welcomed the Diamondbacks to Minute Maid Park for a three-game weekend series, Houston's final three regular-season home games. Here is how the opener unfolded:

Final Score: Diamondbacks 6, Astros 3.

Record: 25-26, second in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Zac Gallen (2-2, 3.00 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Luis Garcia (0-1, 2.53 ERA).

Houston scores first, but Arizona grabs a lead against Greinke

Houston would get on the board first on Friday night, with George Springer reaching base in the bottom of the first on an error, moving to second on a walk, then to third on a single, as the Astros loaded the bases with no out to threaten a big inning. Instead, they would come away with just one run, with Springer taking home on a wild pitch, grabbing the 1-0 lead, but leaving runs on the table.

They doubled their lead in the bottom of the third, getting a two-out RBI-double by Kyle Tucker to make it a 2-0 Houston lead. The D-backs responded in the top of the fourth, getting back-to-back singles to lead off the inning before a three-run homer by Kole Calhoun off of Zack Greinke would put Arizona in front, 3-2. Greinke would finish one more inning before Houston would move to their bullpen, striking out the side to bring his total to nine on the night, making the bad fourth inning the one blemish on his night. His final line: 5.0 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 9 K, 1 HR, 89 P.

Astros tie it, but D-backs take the opener

George Springer would get Greinke off the hook in the bottom of the fifth, leading off the half-inning with a solo bomb to tie the game at 3-3. Luis Garcia was first out of Houston's bullpen and retired Arizona in order for a 1-2-3 inning in the top of the sixth. He returned for the top of the seventh but would allow a leadoff single, RBI-triple, and wild pitch to bring in two runs. He would face two more batters, allowing a double and getting a strikeout, before Dusty Baker would come out to get him, now down 5-3.

Blake Taylor would make his return from the IL after Garcia, getting back-to-back outs to finish the inning. He continued on in the 5-3 game in the top of the eighth, but allowed a one-out solo homer to Calhoun, his second of the night and fourth RBI. That made it a 6-3 D-backs lead, which would go final as Houston would go scoreless after Springer's home run back in the fifth.

Up Next: The middle game of this three-game set will start Saturday at 6:10 PM Central. The pitching matchup will be Luke Weaver (1-7, 6.70 ERA) for Arizona and Cristian Javier (4-2, 3.22 ERA) for Houston.

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