Kawhi Leonard wins inaugural Kobe Bryant All-Star MVP Award



CLOSE


SportsPulse: We’re now past the NBA All-Star Game and focus turns to the stretch run. USA TODAY Sports’ Mackenzie Salmon, Jeff Zillgitt and Mark Medina break down what expect heading into the playoffs.

USA TODAY

CHICAGO – As he clutched the trophy in his hands, Kawhi Leonard stared at it. He struggled to explain what it meant to win the NBA’s first Kobe Bryant MVP Award in Sunday’s All-Star game. But Leonard told the whole story with his body language. 

“Words can’t explain how happy I am for it,” Leonard said after leading Team LeBron to a 157-155 win over Team Giannis on Sunday at United Center. “I’m able to put that trophy in my room, in my trophy room. Just to see Kobe’s name on there, it just means a lot to me. He’s a big inspiration in my life. He did a lot for me.” 

Like with many other NBA players, Bryant worked out informally with Leonard and gave him countless strategic tips.

Despite that history, the Clippers forward did not enter Sunday’s game with the intent on winning the All-Star Game MVP award that the league renamed to honor the late Bryant, who died in a helicopter crash at 41 in January. After Leonard made his first two shots, though, he changed his mind, telling himself, “I’m going to try to get it.”  

NBA All-Star Game winners and losers: Best from Team LeBron’s win over Team Giannis

Leonard boosted his chances by finishing with 30 points while shooting 11-of-18 from the field, and 8-of-14 from 3-point range. That marked Leonard’s first All-Star MVP after winning Finals MVP with San Antonio (2014) and Toronto (2019). Leonard is not considered a favorite to win this year’s regular-season award, though.

Despite averaging 27.2 points on 46.3% shooting, 7.5 rebounds and 5.3 assists, he has missed a combined 13 games this season because of injury maintenance on his left knee. That partly explains why the Clippers (37-18) rank third in the Western Conference behind Denver (38-17) and the Lakers (41-12).

“My mindset is always just to try to make my team the best team at the end of the season,” Leonard said. “If I’m fortunate enou

Read More

LeBron doubtful vs. Nuggets; Kuzma probable

LeBron doubtful vs. Nuggets; Kuzma probable

Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James is doubtful for Sunday’s home game against the Nuggets with a thoracic muscle strain, coach Frank Vogel announced Saturday.

James first sustained the injury, a pull in the rib cage area, against the Indiana Pacers on Tuesday and played through it during Thursday’s loss to the Milwaukee Bucks. James didn’t require an MRI, but this is a significant issue and not just a load management situation, sources told ESPN.

Earlier this week, James said he didn’t plan to miss any games this season for rest. James has also been dealing with a nagging groin issue recently, sources said. Last season a groin strain on Christmas Day derailed James and the Lakers’ season.

Although he has yet to miss a game, th

Read More

The ESPN Daily: The best scorer since Jordan, the hype around Bronny James is unprecedented, and get you a quarterback who can do both…

The ESPN Daily: The best scorer since Jordan, the hype around Bronny James is unprecedented, and get you a quarterback who can do both…

GOOD MORNING!

In the grand scheme of the work week, Tuesday can seem rather bland and unenticing — still days to go before the weekend is within reach and yet devoid of the “new week, new opportunity” enthusiasm we mustered yesterday. Luckily, that is not the case in sports. So let’s get to the good stuff: James Harden is putting up ridiculous numbers (weird), Josh McCown has been flying back to Charlotte, North Carolina, from Philadelphia twice a week to coach high school ball while playing for the Eagles this season, and the Seahawks’ wide receivers continue to raise the bar on end zone performances. Here’s today’s ESPN Daily:


LISTEN UP

So long Carolina for Cam? Earlier this season, Cam Newton — who has served as the leader and face of the Carolina Panthers franchise for much of the past eight seasons — was placed on season-ending injured reserve because the Lisfranc injury to his left foot was not responding to treatment. Now, the quarterback’s future with the Panthers seems far from certain. For all the great things he has done over his career (winning NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2011, being named NFL MVP in 2015, and redefining the league record book for running quarterbacks), many factors suggest we might have seen the last of “Superman” in a Carolina jersey.

But there are plenty of teams that could benefit from Newton’s unique blend of athleticism and leadership. On today’s episode of the ESPN Daily podcast, ESPN senior NFL writer Jeremy Fowler joins host Mina Kimes to explore Newton’s memorable football life and what the Panthers could gain or lose without him. Listen here.


THINGS TO CARE ABOUT

Best scorer since Jordan … That’s right, good people — it’s time we put some respect on James Harden’s name. Nope, we’re not talking about awarding him another MVP title to add to his 2018 hardware. The recognition in question is arguably more prestigious and is a greater testament to The Beard’s entire body of work: Harden is the best scorer since Michael Jordan. Before you dismiss this statement (hi haters), let’s look at some facts:

  • Scored a season-high 60 points in 31 minutes against the Hawks on Saturday night — joining Klay Thompson and Kobe Bryant as the only players in the past 25 seasons to drop 60 points in just three quarters

  • Averaging an astounding 38.9 points per game

  • On pace to win third consecutive NBA scoring title His style is a rarity in pro basketball (the return of hero ball, anyone?)

  • He’s doing all this while paired with ball-dominant Russell Westbrook

If you’re still not convinced, Kirk Goldsberry’s got plenty more evidence where that came from. Read more.

Get you a QB who can do both …

Josh McCown is

Read More

WATCH: Disney will reboot ‘Home Alone’

WATCH: Disney will reboot ‘Home Alone’

Disney CEO Bob Iger announced Tuesday during the company’s financial quarterly investors conference call that it will create “re-imagined versions” of “Home Alone” and “Diary of the Wimpy Kid.”
Read More