The Chicago Cubs are one of the most storied organizations in the history of Major League Baseball, with multiple championships and a legacy that has spanned four decades. In the past three years, the Cubs have been the joke of the league. In 2015, they only won five games during the entire season, and in 2016 they won a total of 12 games. Last season, they won a total of 103 games, a record low for a World Series champion. However, a win in the NLCS against the Cleveland Indians could have been a turning point for the franchise.
A new video has surfaced of the alleged high school student who was pictured in the viral “Free Hugs” video. The new video features what appears to be the same individual, but with the alleged high school student’s voice. The new video also features the same individual in a promotional image for what appears to be a video game. The video has caused a stir on social media, with many taking it to be proof that there is still hope for the youth of America. The video has also prompted many to wonder whether the alleged high school student was in fact a fake.
This past month, the Denver Nuggets have been linked to point guard Monte Morris. It was reported last week that the Nuggets are looking to stash the former Creighton standout in the D-League. Morris played five games for the Nuggets in 2015-16, when he averaged 9.3 points, 2.7 assists, and 2.3 steals per game. But the Nuggets are not the only NBA team that has interest in Morris. A source tells Denver Stiffs that the Utah Jazz are interested in Morris, too.
Kobe Bryant makes a solid argument for becoming the greatest Laker of all time. Bryant leads the franchise in games played, points scored, field goals made, steals made, and win shares. Not to add that his five titles are tied for the most by a single Lakers player.
NBA fans are well aware of the tale of how Bryant, a 1996 Hornets draft choice, was traded to the Lakers in exchange for Vlade Divac. The New Jersey Nets were perilously close to making Kobe Bryant their franchise cornerstone until the Hornets picked up the 18-year-old from Lower Merion High School.
To turn their fortunes around, the New Jersey Nets recruited a young John Calipari.
When John Calipari became the head coach of the New Jersey Nets in 1996, he was just 37 years old. | Photo by MATT CAMPBELL/AFP via Getty Images
The Nets franchise was in desperate need of a boost. Back-to-back 30-52 seasons under Butch Beard weren’t going to cut it. Furthermore, guys like Kenny Anderson and Armen Gilliam were not exactly attracting crowds to the Meadowlands.
After Rick Pitino turned down the Nets’ five-year, $25 million deal, New Jersey signed John Calipari, a 37-year-old assistant coach. Despite having no professional coaching experience, Calipari, who coached UMass from 1988 to 1996, was granted a five-year contract for $15 million. He teamed up with newly recruited general manager John Nash to rebuild a Nets team that hadn’t made the playoffs since 1984.
The draft was one of the initial stages in the rebuilding process. In 1996, New Jersey possessed the eighth overall selection and was very interested in spending it on Bryant. The Nets had invited Kobe in for three different workouts, and word quickly circulated throughout the league that they were Bryant’s most probable landing spot.
Kobe’s camp, on the other hand, was going to throw a kink in their preparations.
The agent for Kobe Bryant wanted his client to play in Los Angeles, so he frightened Calipari and the Nets.
Bryant signed Arn Tellem as his agent before of the draft. Tellem was a personal acquaintance of two powerful individuals in Los Angeles: Lakers general manager Jerry West and business executive Sonny Vaccaro. Michael Jordan’s first shoe contract was signed by Vaccaro, a former Nike executive. However, he now works for Adidas and sees Kobe as the company’s future face.
Tellem began keeping specific clubs away from Bryant after learning that the Lakers and Adidas both wanted him in a large market. Tellem subsequently told Sports Illustrated, “Basically, I prevented clubs from selecting Kobe by not allowing their coaches access to him.” “I anticipated organizations being hesitant to take a risk on a high schooler without first speaking with him and working him out.” The Nets, on the other hand, were undeterred. Nash and Calipari both coveted Bryant, telling his parents Joe and Pam that if he was available, they would take him with the eighth selection.
The drama increased as draft day approached. First, Kobe contacted Calipari to inform him that New Jersey was too near to his parents’ house in Philadelphia, and that he wanted to go somewhere else. Tellem said the same thing to Nash, calling it “a cockamamie tale.” Even if it wasn’t enough to frighten Coach Cal, Tellem was ready to clinch the deal.
Kendall Gill is a writer and a musician., a Nets forward and Tellem’s client, was in his agent’s office when he heard the threat made against his new coach:
“Cal informed Arn Tellem that the Nets were pursuing Kobe Bryant. And Arn said to him, and I quote, ‘John, I promise to God, if you take him, we’ll hold out.’ I already have a contract in place with the Hornets and the Lakers, and you best not screw it up. ‘You’ll have to pay.’
Nash subsequently remembered, “So John rushes into my office and tells me this.” ‘John, come on,’ I urged. Do you think this nonsense is true? It’s all a bunch of nonsense. The household. The operatives. It’s complete nonsense. ‘Believe me.’ “You know we’re not going to win with a high school kid,” Calipari replied, earning a league-high $3 million per year and having ultimate say on all basketball choices. “Are you aware of this?”
Tellem’s fear was enough to sway Calipari’s opinion. Cal stood up on draft night to tell the ownership group, “If Kerry Kittles is on the board, we’re picking him.” And if he isn’t available, we’ll take Kobe Bryant.” That is precisely what occurred. Kittles, a Villanova All-American, was selected ninth overall by the Nets.
In 1998, Kobe told the New York Daily News, “Jersey would’ve been great with me.” “Family and friends are going to the game since it is close to home. There’s no problem.”
While Kobe became a Laker icon, Calipari’s tenure in New Jersey was brief.
With the selection of Kittles by the Nets, there was no one who could stop Kobe from joining the Lakers. When Bryant became available with the 13th selection, Charlotte grabbed him and traded him to the Los Angeles Lakers for Divac. Of course, the rest is history.
Calipari didn’t make it halfway through his deal, while Bryant won five championships and became a Laker icon. Coach Cal was fired following a 3-17 start in his third season, after going 72-112 with 0 postseason victories.
In New Jersey, Calipari’s legacy will be remembered less for the defeats. People will remember him more for the day he was duped by a shady agent and an 18-year-old child.
Nets player Jayson Williams subsequently stated, “I still can’t believe Cal let a high school guy harass him.” Cal, after all, was a bit of a bully. So you’re willing to give away one of the NBA’s top five players because he threatened you? That’s a very poor argument, dude. That’s really pathetic.”
Kobe would have been a Net if Calipari had stayed to his guns and called the bluff. Allow your imaginations to go wild when it comes to how that might alter NBA history.
Unless otherwise indicated, all quotations are from Jeff Pearlman’s Three Ring Circus: Kobe, Shaq, Phil, and the Crazy Years of the Lakers Dynasty.
Basketball Reference provided all statistics.
RELATED: Before LeBron James won his first ring, Jerry West said LeBron James was a better player than Kobe Bryant: ‘It’s a no-brainer for me.’
So we’ve made it to the 100th post. If you’ve been reading for that long, you’re either a nerd or a masochist, because it’s been quite a ride. We’ve taken a lot of flak because we’re writing about high school football, but we’re not high school football writers. If we were, we would be writing about the Michigan State Spartans, because they’re in a dominant position in their conference and in a down year in the Big Ten. But we’re not. We’re a sports website, and we cover high school football in Texas.. Read more about the case against high school sports and let us know what you think.
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