Nadal Cruises Past Fritz To Win Acapulco Title

 

 

World number two Rafael Nadal captured his first ATP Tour title of 2020, easily defeating unseeded Taylor Fritz in straight sets, 6-3, 6-2, in the final of the Mexico Open on Saturday.

The 33-year-old Nadal, playing in his first tournament since losing in the quarter-finals at the Australian Open last month, didn’t drop a set all week and improved to 19-2 all-time at this event.

He nabbed his third Mexico Open title to go with victories in 2013 and 2005.

“I couldn’t be happier. I played a great event from the beginning to the end,” Nadal said. “Acapulco was the first big title that I won in my career, so to be able to stay here after 15 years is amazing.

“I can’t thank enough the people who make me feel at home every single time.”

READ ALSO: Wilder Exercises Rematch Clause For Third Fight With Fury – Reports

Nadal wasted no time figuring out Fritz’s game in the first career meeting between the two.

The 19-time Grand Slam winner made eight unforced errors and needed just one ace but it came in the final game of the second set to get to championship point.

Nadal closed it out with a blistering serve that handcuffed Fritz and gave Nadal his 85th career title.

Nadal ceded the world number one ranking to Novak Djokovic after the Australian Open, where the Serb won a record eighth title.

Nadal could have regained the top spot with a win in Acapulco, but he also needed Djokovic to fail to reach the final in this week’s Dubai event.

Djokovic extended his win streak to 21 matches by beating Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-3, 6-4 earlier Saturday to lift the Dubai trophy.

Nadal won the final eight points to take the first set. He seized control by breaking Fritz’s serve in the ninth game to go up 5-4. He then served for the set, winning four straight points.

On set point, he hammered a serve which Fritz barely got back. That set up an overhead smash for Nadal which he put away nicely.

Nadal broke Fritz twice in the second set, including the fifth game to go up 3-2. He broke Fritz again to take a 5-4 lead and then served out the match.

Nadal has now won a title for 17 consecutive years.

In the women’s final, seventh-seeded Heather Watson captured her first WTA title in three years by grinding out a 6-4, 6-7 (6/8), 6-1 win over Canadian teen Leylah Fernandez.

The persistent Fernandez, of Filipino and Ecuadorean descent, survived nine championship points before finally succumbing to Britain’s Watson in a two hour, 46-minute marathon.

Wilder Exercises Rematch Clause For Third Fight With Fury – Reports

Tyson Fury (L) punches Deontay Wilder during their Heavyweight bout for Wilder’s WBC and Fury’s lineal heavyweight title on February 22, 2020 at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. Al Bello/Getty Images/AFP

Dethroned world heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder has exercised his rematch clause and will fight Tyson Fury a third time, according to media reports on Saturday.

BT Sport, citing promoters Bob Arum and Frank Warren, and Yahoo Sports, reported Wilder had officially exercised his contractual rematch clause and will take on Fury for a third time later this year.

The news comes a week after Britain’s Fury stopped Wilder in the seventh round of their heavyweight title rematch in Las Vegas.

READ ALSO: PHOTOS: Watford’s Moments In 3-0 Triumph Over Liverpool

Despite clamour for a unification fight between Fury and fellow Briton Anthony Joshua, Wilder was widely expected to exercise his contractual right for a rematch — likely to take place by July.

In a video message posted on social media on late Friday, Wilder promised to return “in a few months.”

“I will rise again,” Wilder stated. “I will be back. We will rise like a phoenix from the ashes and regain the title.

“I’ll see you in a few months. For the war has just begun.”

Wilder also said Friday that he would keep co-trainer Mark Breland in his corner, despite earlier hints that he was ready to part company with Breland, who threw in the towel in the seventh round of the loss to Fury.

“I’m a warrior. I feel the same way I felt on fight night — if I have to go out, I want to go out on my shield,” Wilder said.

“But I understand that my corner and my team has my best interest at heart. Mark Breland is still a part of Team Wilder and our team looks forward to preparing for the rematch.”

Breland, a former Olympic and world champion, called a halt to last week’s fight at the MGM Grand Garden Arena after Wilder had been knocked down twice and pummelled relentlessly by Fury.

Fury seized the World Boxing Council heavyweight title from Wilder, 14 months after the two fought to a dramatic split-decision draw in their first meeting in Los Angeles.

AFP

Thousands Attend LA Memorial For Kobe Bryant, Daughter

People arrive to attend the “Celebration of Life for Kobe and Gianna Bryant” service at Staples Center in Downtown Los Angeles on February 24, 2020. – Kobe Bryant, 41, and 13-year-old Gianna were among nine people killed in a helicopter crash in the rugged hills west of Los Angeles on January 26. Frederic J. BROWN / AFP

 

Thousands of celebrities, athletes, family members and fans poured into the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Monday to honor basketball great Kobe Bryant, who died last month in a helicopter crash that also killed his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others.

The public memorial — dubbed “A Celebration of Life for Kobe and Gianna Bryant” — is being held in the arena where Bryant wowed fans for nearly two decades while playing for the Los Angeles Lakers.

The 2/24 date for the memorial carries special significance as it coincides with Bryant’s jersey number — “24” — and Gianna’s “2” jersey number.

Fellow Laker legend Magic Johnson was among those attending the memorial, which is taking place just hours after the Lakers 114-112 win over the Boston Celtics at Staples Center on Sunday.

“It’s hard in a two-minute, five-minute time to say everything he meant to the world, to the NBA and to basketball fans. He’s bigger than life,” Johnson said ahead of the game on Sunday. “And it will take years to get over his passing and his daughter and the seven other people who lost their lives as well.”

Among other celebrities attending were filmmaker Spike Lee — who was close friends with Bryant and directed a documentary on his life — and rapper Snoop Dogg, an avid Lakers fan.

Many of the fans lucky enough to nab one of the much-sought after 20,000 tickets for the memorial wore the gold and purple colors of the Lakers as they headed for the two-and-a-half hour ceremony scheduled to start at 10 am (1800 GMT) amid tight security.

“Kobe meant everything for this city, for this team and for me,” said Karen Sanchez, 41, as she waited with friends to enter the arena. “I watched him play from the beginning.”

Marcos Rojas, 23, another ticketholder, said Bryant’s January 26 death near Los Angeles had been devastating to fans like him who worshipped the player.

“For me, it was like losing a friend,” said Rojas who wore a Lakers jersey with Kobe’s number.

“I always watched him playing with my friends,” he told AFP. “I always picked Kobe to play in my video games. I couldn’t leave home the day of his passing.”

Those attending the memorial were being given a 24-page program with pictures of Bryant and his family as well as a pin and black T-shirt featuring images of Kobe and his daughter on the back.

Some of the fans paid up to $224 a ticket.

AFP

Hollywood Mourns Legendary Actor Kirk Douglas

 

 

Hollywood mourned the death of legendary actor Kirk Douglas on Wednesday, one of the last giants of Hollywood’s golden age and the star of such classics as “Spartacus” and “Ace in the Hole.”

As news of the 103-year-old actor’s death broke, celebrities took to social media to honor his legacy.

“Kirk retained his movie star charisma right to the end of his wonderful life and I’m honored to have been a small part of his last 45 years,” director Steven Spielberg said in a statement. “I will miss his handwritten notes, letters and fatherly advice, and his wisdom and courage — even beyond such a breathtaking body of work — are enough to inspire me for the rest of mine.”

Ron Meyer, the vice chairman of NBCUniversal, the studio behind “Spartacus,” said the screen icon will always hold a special place for his contribution to cinema.

“I’ve personally known the Douglas family for over 40 years,” Meyer said. “Kirk was an extraordinary man, dedicated husband and father, a loving grandfather, and one of the most iconic actors of his time.”

Filmmaker and actor Rob Reiner remembered Douglas for his courage in helping to end the Hollywood blacklist — drawn up in the 1940s and 50s to target entertainment professionals suspected of communist ties.

Douglas memorably insisted after the filming of Spartacus that screenwriter Dalton Trumbo — one of those targeted by the communist witch hunts and who had written for years under an alias — use his real name in the film credits.

“Kirk Douglas will always be an icon in the pantheon of Hollywood,” Reiner wrote on Twitter. “He put himself on the line to break the blacklist. My love goes out to my friend Michael and the whole family.”

Star Trek’s William Shatner tweeted: “Condolences to the family of Kirk Douglas. What an incredible icon he was in this industry!”

‘Brilliant actor’

“Kirk Douglas. The inspirational Scalawag,” wrote actor Danny DeVito, in reference to the 1973 movie of the same name — the first film Douglas directed.

“103 years on this earth. That’s got a nice ring to it! Great hanging with you man,” he added.

Actress Jamie Lee Curtis, whose father Tony Curtis also starred in “Spartacus,” used a line from her dad’s character Antoninus in the movie to remember Douglas.

“‘I love you Spartacus, like the father I never had.’ Antoninus,” she wrote in a message on Twitter accompanied by a photo of the two men. “I did have a father and he LOVED you as the world loved you. Your Passion. Talent. Politics. Family. Art. Strength. I grew up with the Douglas boys. My love to Anne and all his family from mine.”

Star Wars actor Mark Hamill described Douglas in a tweet as “one of the biggest stars of all time & a brilliant actor with an unforgettable, blazing charisma.”

“The last great giant of my cinema heroes has passed on to Infinite glory,” wrote “Rocky” and “Rambo” star Sylvester Stallone on Instagram. “Amazing artist … the likes of which we will never see again!”

The late actor’s son, Michael Douglas wrote a moving tribute on Instagram, saying his father’s legacy will endure for generations to come.

“Let me end with the words I told him on his last birthday and which will always remain true,” he added. “Dad- I love you so much and I am so proud to be your son.”

Nike Unveils New Footwear For Sprints, Distance Races

 

 

A retail version of Nike’s Zoom Alphafly NEXT% footwear was unveiled Wednesday by the shoemaker, only days after new World Athletics rules-tightening on prototype shoes.

The Air Zoom Viperfly is aimed for the 100-meter sprint crowd, while Nike’s Air Zoom Victory is designed for 800m to 10-kilometer races, with sales expected to begin this summer.

Just five days earlier, the global track and field governing body introduced tougher rules on footwear for competitors.

Nike’s controversial Alphafly prototype shoes were worn by Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge when he broke the two-hour marathon barrier in Vienna last October.

“For runners, records like the four-minute mile and two-hour marathon are barometers of progress. These are barriers that have tested human potential. When someone like Eliud breaks them, our collective belief about what’s possible changes,” says Tony Bignell, Nike’s vice president of Footwear Innovation.

“Barriers are inspiring to innovators. Like athletes, when a barrier is in front of us, we are challenged to think differently and push game-changing progress in footwear design.”

The NEXT% designs are aimed at maximizing sports science with design to boost body performance through technological enhancement.

The latest version adds air pods in the forefoot and foam in the heel.

“The groundbreaking research that led to the original Vaporfly unlocked an entirely new way of thinking about marathon shoes,” said Carrie Dimoff, an elite marathoner and member of Nike’s Advanced Innovation Team.

“Once we understood the plate and foam as a system, we started thinking about ways to make the system even more effective.”

“That’s when we struck upon the idea of adding Nike Air to store and return even more of a runner’s energy and provide even more cushioning.”

Viperfly incorporates an innovative new carbon plate in the shoe sole designed to provide responsiveness and energy, following deep study of race strategy and performance and runner’s needs over the final 20 meters of a sprint.

Victory has foam, a carbon fiber plate and a unique welded sole that divides the unit into two separate pockets provides impact protection and allows for a smooth transition without sacrificing control.

AFP

Hollywood Legend Kirk Douglas Dies At 103

In this file photo taken on March 1, 2011 actor Kirk Douglas attends the ceremony to honor Indian conductor Zubin Mehta with a Star on the Walk of Fame in Hollywood, California. GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP

 

 

US silver screen legend Kirk Douglas, the son of Jewish Russian immigrants who rose through the ranks to become one of Hollywood’s biggest-ever stars, has died, his family said Wednesday. He was 103.

One of the last survivors of the golden age of cinema and the father of Oscar-winning actor and filmmaker Michael Douglas, the “Spartacus” actor was renowned for the macho tough guy roles he took on in around 90 movies over a six-decade career.

“It is with tremendous sadness that my brothers and I announce that Kirk Douglas left us today at the age of 103,” Michael Douglas said in a statement posted to Facebook.

“To the world he was a legend, an actor from the golden age of movies who lived well into his golden years, a humanitarian whose commitment to justice and the causes he believed in set a standard for all of us to aspire to.”

Douglas was Oscar-nominated for his roles as a double-crossing and womanizing boxer in “Champion” (1949), a ruthless movie producer in “The Bad and the Beautiful” (1952) and tortured artist Vincent Van Gogh in “Lust for Life” (1956).

But his only Academy Award came in 1995 — an honorary lifetime achievement statuette “for 50 years as a creative and moral force in the motion picture community.”

Douglas is survived by second wife Anne Buydens, 100, and three sons. A fourth child, Eric, died of a drug overdose in his 40s, in 2004.

“(To) me and my brothers Joel and Peter he was simply Dad, to Catherine (Zeta-Jones), a wonderful father-in-law, to his grandchildren and great grandchild their loving grandfather, and to his wife Anne, a wonderful husband,” said Michael.

“Kirk’s life was well lived, and he leaves a legacy in film that will endure for generations to come, and a history as a renowned philanthropist who worked to aid the public and bring peace to the planet.”

Kobe Bryant’s Achievements Before Tragic Helicopter Crash

 

 

Factfile on 18-time NBA All-Star Kobe Bryant, who died in a helicopter crash Sunday at age 41 after playing his entire 20-season career with the Los Angeles Lakers:

Name: Kobe Bryant

Former Team: Los Angeles Lakers (1996-2016)

Position: Guard

Birthplace: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

Born: August 23, 1978

Died January 26, 2020

Height: 6feet, 6inches, 1.98m

Weight: 212lbs, 96kg

– Bryant was the son of Joe “Jelly Bean” Bryant, who played eight seasons in the NBA

– Bryant spent eight years of his childhood with his family in Italy

– Bryant married Vanessa Laine, April 18, 2001. Daughter Natalia was born in January, 2003; daughter Gianna was born May, 2006; daughter Bianka was born December, 2016 and daughter Capri was born June, 2019

Awards/career highlights

– Bryant won five NBA championships — 2000, 2001, 2002, 2009, 2010

– Named NBA Finals Most Valuable Player in leading Lakers to titles in 2009 and 2010

– Earned Olympic gold medals with USA at 2008 Beijing Olympics and 2012 London Olympics

– Named NBA regular-season MVP in 2007-08 season and a record-tying four-time NBA All-Star Game MVP — 2002, 2007, 2009 and 2011

– On January 22, 2006 scored a career-high 81 points in Lakers’ 122-104 victory over Toronto, second-most points in a game in NBA history

– In 2018, his movie “Dear Basketball” won the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film.

– Selected with 13th overall choice by Charlotte Hornets in 1996 NBA draft, becoming the 27th player to join NBA straight from high school.

– Acquired by Lakers shortly after draft

– Named an NBA All-Star 18 times – 1998 and 2000-2016

– Two-time NBA scoring champion – 2006 and 2007

– 1997 NBA Slam Dunk Contest winner

– Had both his jersey numbers, 8 and 24, retired by the Lakers, an unprecedented move

– Scored 33,643 points, grabbed 7,047 rebounds and passed off 6,306 assists over 1,346 career NBA games

– Scored a season-high 60 points in his last NBA game on April 13, 2016 in a 101-96 Lakers’ victory over Utah, becoming the oldest player in NBA history to score 60 points at 37 years and 234 days

Some of the significant injuries that affected Bryant during his career:

– Broken metacarpal bone in right hand, 1999-00 season

– Right index finger laceration, sprained right shoulder, 2003-04

– Severely sprained right ankle, 2004-05

– Index finger avulsion fracture, right knee swelling, sprained left ankle, 2009-10

– Torn left Achilles tendon requiring surgery, 2012-13

– Broken bone in left knee, 2013-14

– Torn right shoulder rotator cuff, 2015

Grammys Kick Off As Kobe Death Stuns Los Angeles

 

 

 

The Grammy awards got underway Sunday with superstars Lizzo, Billie Eilish and Lil Nas X primed for glory — as grief over the death of NBA legend Kobe Bryant cast a pall on music’s marquee night in Los Angeles.

Sorrow casts a shadow over the show held at the Staples Center — the same venue where the basketball icon led the city’s Lakers to multiple championships.

Dozens of people, many of them in tears, gathered near the arena to mourn the 41-year-old Bryant, who died Sunday in a helicopter crash in the hills west of the California metropolis. Flags were flying at half-mast.

The evening nevertheless still promises rollicking performances from the trio of Grammy frontrunners, as well as tributes to the veteran rockers Aerosmith and the late rapper Nipsey Hussle.

Early prizes handed out at the pre-gala event went to Lady Gaga, who won two for her soundtrack for the hit film “A Star Is Born,” and Beyonce, who nabbed the prize for best music film for “Homecoming.”

“Rest in peace Kobe, we love you,” Steve Pamon, a “Homecoming” director, said in accepting the trophy.

Overnight country-rap sensation Lil Nas X, up for six awards, snagged his first Grammy for the music video of his smash earworm “Old Town Road.”

“Um, thank you!” the bubbly 20-year-old told the audience with a wide smile glimmering below his white 10-gallon hat.

Eilish’s debut studio album won its first award of the night in the engineering categories.

Pop’s new guard is poised to usher in a new era — but scandal backstage has threatened to tarnish the glitz.

Just days before the gala, the Recording Academy’s suspended CEO Deborah Dugan — the first woman to lead the embattled institution behind the Grammys — filed an explosive discrimination complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

She says she was suspended after raising concerns over sexual harassment, voting irregularities and other misconduct within the Academy — one of music’s most influential organizations, but one long accused of favoritism and a lack of diversity.

Dugan also alleged that her predecessor, Neil Portnow, had raped a foreign female musician — an allegation he has rejected as “ludicrous and untrue.”

‘We need transparency’

The backstage storm has threatened to cloud the Grammy celebration, despite a diverse slate of nominees that celebrates a mix of established and budding stars.

On Saturday night at the annual pre-Grammy gala hosted by industry legend Clive Davis, hip-hop mogul Sean “Diddy” Combs railed at the Academy.

“Black music has never been respected by the Grammys to the point that it should be,” Combs told a star-studded audience as he was honored as an industry icon, according to Variety.

“We need transparency, we need diversity.”

The magnetic Lizzo, 31, is poised to be this year’s queen bee, leading the Grammy pack with eight nominations, including in all the top four categories (album, record and song of the year plus best new artist).

Lil Nas X, the 18-year-old goth-leaning pop iconoclast Eilish and the enigmatic 22-year-old R&B prodigy H.E.R. are also formidable contenders.

The establishment’s newcomers will square off against veteran powerhouses including Ariana Grande and Beyonce, as well as alt-leaning acts Lana Del Rey, Bon Iver and Vampire Weekend.

Often remembered as much for its performances as its winners, the Grammys will feature Lizzo, Eilish and Grande, along with a genre-blending rendition of “Old Town Road” that will feature K-pop sensation BTS, country star Billy Ray Cyrus and the eclectic DJ Diplo, among others.

Artists including John Legend, Meek Mill and DJ Khaled — all up for Grammys this year — will perform a tribute to Hussle, who was shot dead last year and is up for three posthumous awards.

The British country-soul revivalist Yola, up for four Grammys including the prestigious best new artist prize, said she’s still soaking in all the glamour.

Upon learning of her nominations, the bluesy singer with a big voice told AFP on Friday that she “cried for days.”

“It was hilarious and emotional and I’m just so thrilled to be here,” she said.

How Twitter Reacted To Reports Of Kobe Bryant’s Death

 

 

How people on Twitter reacted to reports of the death of NBA superstar Kobe Bryant on Sunday:

“Just devastated to hear about #KobeBryant. An extraordinary athlete, and a genuinely kind, wonderful man. Sending love, prayers & compassion to his family. To his entire @NBA family as well.”

— Oscar winning actress Reese Witherspoon

“Heart going out to the Bryant family right now. RIP Kobe Bryant.”

— US women’s footballer and World Cup winner Megan Rapinoe

“Kobe – you were a true inspiration to me as an athlete. I always admired your professionalism, drive and dedication. Our thoughts are with your loved ones. RIP.”

— Tennis star Kim Clijsters

“Like everyone, I’m stunned and saddened to hear the horrific news about Kobe Bryant. Thoughts are with his family and loved ones at this terribly sad time #RIPKobeBryant.”

— Australian cricket legend Shane Warne

“@kobebryant Gone much too soon, how devastating to hear of his passing, he gave joy to so many for so long – deep condolences to his family, his friends, his Laker family. RIP Kobe… #lifeistooshort.”

— Tennis great Martina Navratilova

“Heartbreaking news! Hard to fathom @kobebryant is gone. Just had their 4th child. 41 years old. #insane. RIP Kobe.”

— Former US tennis star Tracy Austin

“We miss you already Kobe.”

— NFL Super Bowl winner Tom Brady

“This is unreal.”

— LPGA golfer Cheyenne Woods, the niece of Tiger Woods

“I truly can’t believe this. My heart is so heavy. Rest In Peace Kobe. What an unimaginable loss. All of my prayers to your loved ones.”

— Former US Open tennis champion Sloane Stephens

“Life is so precious man. I was a huge fan. RIP Mamba.”

— US tennis player Mardy Fish

“Kobe Bryant you’re an angel. RIP to you legend. So kind and had time for everyone. The epitome of class and hard work. An Idol. Prayers to his family.”

— US footballer Jozy Altidore

“Hard to believe. RIP #KobeBryant #MambaMentality.”

— US golfer Bryson DeChambeau

“On behalf of myself, the players and staff at AS Roma, we join the rest of the sporting world in mourning the tragic passing of Kobe Bryant. Kobe was a true icon and our thoughts are now with his family and the families of all of the victims aboard that flight.”

— Jim Pallotta, the owner of Italian football giants AS Roma

“Shock right now. RIP KOBE.”

— World golf number one Brooks Koepka

“The moment you realise life ain’t something to fuck with! If you feel something tell that person! If you miss someone tell that person.. you never know when your time is up!”

— Australian rugby union international Quade Cooper

“I just found out 5 minutes ago and I still can’t believe it… Another example of how fragile life is, let’s enjoy it while we can. (And avoid helicopters until they are safer). DEP Kobe and the other 5 victims.”

— Spain’s former world motorcycling champion Jorge Lorenzo

“LA has lost one of our true superstars. Stunning to hear about the tragic and untimely death of #KobeBryant My heart goes out to his family and all the fans who will feel this loss so deeply.”

— Hollywood actress Tara Buck

“Speechless and shocked!! REST IN HEAVEN MAMBA.”

— German football international Kevin-Prince Boateng

NBA Legend Kobe Bryant, Daughter Die In Helicopter Crash

Bryant, 41, died in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California on January 26, 2020.Robyn BECK / AFP

 

NBA legend Kobe Bryant died Sunday when a helicopter he was riding in crashed and burst into flames in thick fog, killing all nine people on board including his teenage daughter and plunging the sports world into mourning.

Bryant, 41, was travelling with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven other passengers and crew when their Sikorsky S-76 helicopter slammed into a rugged hillside in Calabasas, west of Los Angeles. There were no survivors.

Bryant, a five-time NBA champion and two-time Olympic gold medallist, is widely regarded as one of the greatest basketball players in history, an iconic figure who became one of the faces of his sport during a glittering two-decade career with the Los Angeles Lakers.

Dozens of firefighters and paramedics battled across steep terrain to reach the flaming wreckage at the crash site but found no survivors, officials said.

The National Transportation Safety Board said an 18-strong team of investigators would be sent to California to probe the causes of the crash.

Investigators work at the scene of a helicopter crash that killed former NBA star Kobe Bryant on January 26, 2020, in Calabasas, California. Photo: David McNew/Getty Images/AFP

 

Bryant’s death sent shockwaves throughout the world, with basketball stars stunned by the news.

“Laker Nation, the game of basketball & our city, will never be the same without Kobe,” former Los Angeles Lakers star Magic Johnson wrote on Twitter.

Chicago Bulls legend Michael Jordan said Bryant was “like a little brother” to him.

“Words can’t describe the pain I’m feeling,” Jordan said. “We used to talk often and I will miss those conversations very much.”

In this file photo taken on April 09, 2014, NBA Los Angeles Laker Kobe Bryant stands on the sideline with his daughter Gianna Maria-Onore Bryant on his shoulders prior to the start of a friendly game between the United States and China at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, California. 
Photo: Kent Horner / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP

Worldwide tributes

Tributes to Bryant flooded in from former US presidents, pop stars and athletes from different sports, a sign of how the man known as the “Black Mamba” had transcended basketball.

“Kobe was a legend on the court and just getting started in what would have been just as meaningful a second act,” former US President Barack Obama wrote on Twitter.

American football star Tom Brady wrote simply: “We miss you already Kobe.”

Brazilian soccer star Neymar paid tribute to Bryant after scoring for his French club side Paris Saint-Germain, making the number 24 — Bryant’s old shirt number — with his fingers.

At the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles, several hundred shocked fans gathered to pay tribute as the venue which witnessed many of Bryant’s career highlights hosted the music industry’s Grammy Awards.

“This dude is everything to me man. It makes no sense,” said distraught Lakers fan Bobby Jimenez, sobbing as he stood outside the venue.

The Grammys got underway with a somber tribute from singer Alicia Keys.

“To be honest with you, we’re all feeling crazy sadness right now,” Keys told the audience. “Los Angeles, America, and the whole wide world lost a hero. And we’re literally standing here heartbroken in the house that Kobe Bryant built.”

Across the NBA, tributes were held at several of the eight games scheduled for Sunday.

Denver Nuggets fans began chants of “Kobe, Kobe” as a minute’s silence was held before their game against the Houston Rockets.

In New York, Madison Square Garden was lit up in purple and gold colors of the Lakers, alongside a giant image of Bryant captioned: “Kobe Bryant, 1978-2020.”

The crash came only hours after Bryant was passed by current Lakers star LeBron James for third on the all-time NBA scoring list in a Saturday game at Philadelphia.

Bryant’s final post on social media had been a tweet congratulating James on surpassing him.

“Continuing to move the game forward @KingJames,” Bryant wrote. “Much respect my brother #33644”.

Five-time champion

Bryant was a five-time NBA champion in a career that began in 1996 straight out of a high school and lasted until his retirement in 2016.

He also was a two-time Olympic gold medalist, helping spark the US squad of NBA stars to titles in 2008 in Beijing and 2012 in London.

Bryant bowed out of the NBA in 2016, scoring 60 points in his final appearance before his adoring fans at the Staples Center.

It was a fairytale farewell to a sporting career that began two decades earlier.

The son of former NBA player Joe “Jellybean” Bryant, the Lakers legend was born in Philadelphia in 1978 while his father played for the 76ers.

The elder Bryant played from 1984 to 1991 in Italy, giving young Kobe a global worldview as he grew up dreaming of following his dad into the NBA.

He would eventually join the ranks of professionals at the age of 17, jumping directly into the NBA, only the sixth player and first guard to make such a leap.

At 18, Bryant became, at the time, the youngest player or starter in an NBA game and the youngest winner of the NBA Slam Dunk Contest.

With Bryant paired alongside Shaquille O’Neal, the Lakers captured three NBA crowns in a row from 2000-2002, returning the team to glory days unseen since 1988.

Bryant’s career was almost derailed in 2003 when he was arrested in Colorado over a sexual assault complaint filed by a 19-year-old hotel employee where Bryant was staying ahead of knee surgery.

Bryant was accused of rape. He admitted to adultery but said he did not commit rape. The case was dropped in 2004 after the accuser refused to testify in a trial.

A separate civil suit was settled under terms kept private.

Bryant saw out his career with the Lakers, successfully branching out into the entertainment industry following his retirement.

In 2018, he won an Oscar for his animated short film “Dear Basketball”, a love letter to the sport which brought him fame and fortune.

AFP

Key Nominees For The 2020 Grammy Awards

 

Here is a list of nominees in the major categories for the 62nd annual Grammy Awards, which will be handed out on Sunday in Los Angeles:

Album of the Year –

Bon Iver, “i, i”

Lana Del Rey, “Norman Fucking Rockwell!”

Billie Eilish, “When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?”

Ariana Grande, “thank u, next”

H.E.R., “I Used To Know Her”

Lil Nas X, “7”

Lizzo, “Cuz I Love You (Deluxe)”

Vampire Weekend, “Father Of The Bride”

Record of the Year, recognizing overall performance on a song –

Bon Iver, “Hey, Ma”

Billie Eilish, “Bad Guy”

Ariana Grande, “7 Rings”

H.E.R., “Hard Place”

Khalid, “Talk”

Lil Nas X featuring Billy Ray Cyrus, “Old Town Road”

Lizzo, “Truth Hurts”

Post Malone and Swae Lee, “Sunflower”

Read Also: Burna Boy Nominated For 2020 Grammy Awards

Song of the Year, recognizing songwriting –

Lady Gaga, Natalie Hemby, Hillary Lindsey and Lori McKenna, “Always Remember Us This Way” (from “A Star Is Born”)

Billie Eilish and Finneas O’Connell, “Bad Guy”

Brandi Carlile, Phil Hanseroth, Tim Hanseroth and Tanya Tucker, “Bring My Flowers Now”

H.E.R., Ruby Amanfu, Sam Ashworth, D. Arcelious Harris and Rodney Jerkins, “Hard Place”

Taylor Swift, “Lover”

Lana Del Rey and Jack Antonoff, “Norman Fucking Rockwell!”

Lewis Capaldi, Tom Barnes, Pete Kelleher, Benjamin Kohn and Sam Roman, “Someone You Loved”

Lizzo, Steven Cheung, Eric Frederic and Jesse Saint John, “Truth Hurts”

Best New Artist –

Black Pumas

Billie Eilish

Lil Nas X

Lizzo

Maggie Rogers

Rosalia

Tank And The Bangas

Yola

Best Music Video –

The Chemical Brothers, “We’ve Got to Try”

Gary Clark Jr, “This Land”

FKA twigs, “Cellophane”

Lil Nas X and Billy Ray Cyrus, “Old Town Road”

Tove Lo, “Glad He’s Gone”

Best Rap Album –

Dreamville, “Revenge Of The Dreamers III”

Meek Mill, “Championships”

21 Savage, “I Am > I Was”

Tyler, The Creator, “Igor”

YBN Cordae, “The Lost Boy”

Best Rock Album –

Bring Me The Horizon, “Amo”

Cage The Elephant, “Social Cues”

The Cranberries, “In The End”

I Prevail, “Trauma”

Rival Sons, “Feral Roots”

Best Pop Vocal Album –

Beyonce, “The Lion King: The Gift”

Billie Eilish, “When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?”

Ariana Grande, “thank u, next”

Ed Sheeran, “No. 6 Collaborations Project”

Taylor Swift, “Lover”

Best Alternative Music Album –

Big Thief, “U.F.O.F.”

James Blake, “Assume Form”

Bon Iver, “i, i”

Vampire Weekend, “Father of the Bride”

Thom Yorke, “Anima”

Best World Music Album –

Altin Gun, “Gece”

Bokante & Metropole Orkest conducted by Jules Buckley, “What Heat”

Burna Boy, “African Giant”

Nathalie Joachim with Spektral Quartet, “Fanm D’Ayiti”

Angelique Kidjo, “Celia”

Triple-Double History For King James As Lakers Roll Thunder

LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers controls the ball against Chris Paul #3 of the Oklahoma City Thunder during the second half of a game at Staples Center on November 19, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. SEAN M. HAFFEY / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP

 

LeBron James became the first player in NBA history to record a triple-double against every team in the league on Tuesday as the Los Angeles Lakers powered to victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder.

James finished with 25 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists in a hard-fought 112-107 win over the Thunder at the Staples Center.

Anthony Davis led the Lakers scoring with 34 points while adding seven rebounds and four assists.

The win saw the Lakers improve to 12-2 to remain on top of the Western Conference.

But it was James’ 86th career triple-double that grabbed the headlines, the Lakers star sealing the milestone with an assist to Davis with just over four minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.

James said the record would not have been possible without the support of coaches and team-mates over the years.

“I really don’t know what to think about it, to be honest,” James told reporters when asked about the feat.

“I’ve had some great team-mates and great coaches who’ve put me in position to facilitate. My team-mates have made shots for me throughout my career, coaches have put me in position to be successful.

“Hopefully in all those triple-doubles, I’ve got a winning record because that’s what’s most important. But it’s a pretty cool stat and I’m glad it happened.”

Houston’s Russell Westbrook is hard on James’ heels with triple-doubles against 29 of the league’s 30 teams.

Westbrook would complete his set with a triple-double against his former team Oklahoma City, who he left this year.

In New Orleans, Carmelo Anthony made an unsuccessful return to the NBA after more than a year out of the game as the Portland Trail Blazers slumped to a 115-104 loss to the Pelicans.

Anthony, whose move to Portland was confirmed by the team earlier Tuesday, finished with just 10 points after 23 minutes on the court after shooting just 4-of-14 from the field.

‘It was cool’

It was a largely frustrating night for the 35-year-old 10-time All-Star, with Portland giving up 17 turnovers as the Pelicans dominated a shaky Blazers defense.

Anthony, however, was simply happy to have made his return to the league, just over a year after he was released from the Houston Rockets.

“My body felt good, better than what I expected,” Anthony said. “It was cool.

“I just enjoyed being back out there, getting into the flow of things, the routines, putting the uniform on and getting up and down the court.”

Jrue Holiday led the scoring for the Pelicans with 22 points while Brandon Ingram had 21 points off the bench.

In Memphis, the crisis-hit Golden State Warriors ended a seven-game losing streak with a comfortable road victory over the Grizzlies, winning 114-95.

Although the Warriors continue to prop up the Western Conference standings with three wins against 12 defeats, the Dubs’ injury-ravaged line-up drew confidence from a deserved win.

Alec Burks finished with 29 points while Glenn Robinson III had 20 points as the Warriors scored a morale-boosting victory.

“We came in fighting,” Warriors veteran Draymond Green said. “We’ve been talking about improving our defense each and every time we step on this court. Tonight we showed it.”

Warriors coach Steve Kerr, who has seen his roster decimated by injuries, hailed what he called a “great win.”

“I’m just happy for the guys,” Kerr said. “They’ve been playing hard and working hard. It’s good to see them rewarded because they’ve kept their energy up through all this. Losing sucks and losing seven in a row is miserable.”

Elsewhere Tuesday, Bogdan Bogdanovic had 31 points from the bench as the Sacramento Kings downed the Phoenix Suns 120-116.

Bogdanovic led the Sacramento scorers with Richuan Holmes adding 20 points and Nemanja Bjelica 17.

Devin Booker led the Phoenix scoring with 30 points while Kelly Oubre Jr and Mikal Bridges had 20 points apiece.