Kobe Bryant Reveals His Mentor: Michael Jackson

Today Yahoo NBA writer Adrian Wojnarowski has a truly epic blindside today from a recent interview he did with Kobe Bryant.

Kobe Bryant Magic Johnson at Michael Jackson's funeral

Wojnarowski:

Out of nowhere one afternoon, Michael Jackson made a call to the irrepressible and isolated (then-18-year-old) Kobe Bryant, and so much changed for him.

… They would talk for hours and hours, visiting at Neverland Ranch, and Bryant has long been fortified by the lessons Jackson instilled about the burden of honoring true talent, about the ways to open your mind to be smarter, sharper and insatiable in the chase

“It sounds weird, I guess, but it’s true: I was really mentored by the preparation of Michael Jackson,” Bryant told Yahoo! Sports.

Sounds weird?

More from Wojnarowski:

“We would always talk about how he prepared to make his music, how he prepared for concerts,” Bryant said. “He would teach me what he did: How to make a ‘Thriller’ album, a ‘Bad’ album, all the details that went into it.

“It was all the validation that I needed – to know that I had to focus on my craft and never waver. Because what he did – and how he did it – was psychotic. He helped me get to a level where I was able to win three titles playing with Shaq because of my preparation, my study. And it’s only all grown.

“That’s the mentality that I have – it’s not an athletic one. It’s not from [Michael] Jordan. It’s not from other athletes.

“It’s from Michael Jackson.”

After reading Wojnarowski’s lengthy piece on the inner workings of Bryant, I think I may finally have a clue why we all know so little about #24’s personal life. Read more…

Week In Review: McNair Shot & Killed By Mistress

• Police have determined that 20-year-old Sahel Kazemi shot & killed ex-Titans QB Steve McNair, ruling the deaths a murder-suicide.

Sahel Kazemi Thong Bikini Photo Steve McNair Mistress

• Seems sadly ironic that McNair had filmed a PSA about suicide prevention just a few weeks before. And Steve’s wife was reportedly “blindsided” by her husband’s affair.

• Interesting that Sahel had recently put up all her furniture for sale. More interesting that her ex-boyfriend performed a rap about shooting someone.

• During Michael Jackson’s memorial service, Magic Johnson recalls his fondest memory of the “King of Pop” - sittin’ on the floor & eatin’ KFC.

• FIU’s cheerleading squad is saved. Thank you, bikini car wash!

Read more…

Ozzie: Colon Likely Crying Over Michael Jackson

Bartolo Colon is still scheduled to pitch in a rehab assignment tonight for the White Sox Triple-A affiliate in Charlotte, but there’s a problem. No one’s still quite sure he’s going to show up. Colon was completely AWOL until late Tuesday, when the White Sox said that they finally got in touch with him. What’s going on with the big man, who’s supposed to be back on the big club by July 24 — if he gets his rehab work in. Manager Ozzie Guillen thinks he knows what the problem is.

Bartolo Colon Michael Jackson

In a report by the CHICAGO TRIBUNE today, Guillen said that he thinks Colon might be emotionally scarred by the death of Michael Jackson. Oh Ozzie, you old bull****er. Um, you are kidding, right? Ozzie …? Read more…

Speed Read: Manny Being Manny Being Ejected

The Manny Ramirez Traveling Salvation Show hit a snag last night in New York, thanks to an umpire with a hair trigger. Well, it’s hard to call anything about John Hirschbeck’s fifth-inning ejection of Ramirez “hair trigger,” since it took roughly 15 minutes seconds from when Hirschbeck rung Ramirez up on a called third strike to when he tossed Ramirez from the game for throwing his helmet, bat, elbow guard, cleats, socks and jock strap into the air in disgust.

Manny didn’t seem to think it was that big of a deal, since “I was playing only five innings, so I was leaving anyway.” Which came as news to Dodgers manager Joe Torre. Not that it mattered much - with Ramirez going 2 for 4 with three RBI and Clayton Kershaw throwing six shutout innings, the Dodgers cruised to an 8-0 win over the Mets. But it did give Los Angeles residents driven nutty by the Michael Jackson Circus a chance to remember the other, ridiculously overblown media circus in town.

If you are a college football fan who hates the current BCS system, you had reason to celebrate yesterday as Sen. Orrin Hatch ordered up a can of whoop-ass with a side of hash on the football elite during a congressional hearing about the college football playoff system, and the Senate cafeteria was all out of hash. Specifically, he said that “the Justice Department ought to be looking at this” because he believes the system violates antitrust laws.

(Play the BCS off, Keyboard Hatch.)

Which is great, until you realize that Hatch was the only member of the subcommittee on antitrust, competition policy and consumer rights to actually attend any significant portion of the hearing. But there were plenty of junior staffers there, fresh out of college and probably the only people outside of Hatch and Barack Obama who care about college football in Washington D.C.

Also, you have to understand that Hatch is from Utah, where the majority of the state is still steaming about the undefeated Utes being left out of the BCS Title Game last season, so there’s certainly an element of “playing it up for the home constituants” going on here. So you basically had Hatch grilling the President of Nebraska University, who was acting on behalf of the BCS Backers, which is kind of sad when you realize that Nebraska is roughly one zillion percent less likely to play in a BCS Title Game in our lifetimes than Utah.

Meanwhile, you might remember a small link we had yesterday about U.S. National Soccer Team midfielder Michael Bradley being suspended following a red card and subsequent confrontation with a referee at the end of the team’s shocking 2-0 win over Spain in the Confederations Cup. And it turns out that he will be suspended for three games, although it’s perhaps the weakest three-game suspension in sports history.

Michael Bradley

Ever get mad when a pitcher receives a five-game suspension for his part in a brawl, which only means that his next start gets pushed back one game? This one is even worse. FIFA has suspended Bradley for three games, all right - three games that he was never going to play in. The suspension will be served during the group play stage of the CONCACAF Gold Cup, which is convenient for Bradley since he’s not on the roster for the tournament.

Which means that Bradley will be available for the U.S. next game that matters, a World Cup qualifying match at Mexico on August 12. Somewhere in Mexico City, a Mexican senator is preparing a special committee hearing.

Other sports news that happened while you were fighting for the rights of busty mannequins everywhere, especially if they turn into Kim Catrall:

  • DEUCE OF DAVENPORT knows that the only thing better than Erik Estrada drunkenly butchering “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” during a Cubs game is him giving an interview in the booth during the game that somehow works in child porn and Ron Jeremy. A master class in awkwardness in two parts: First the singing…
  • …and then the interview:

  • Lance Armstrong has moved to within a second of the yellow jersey after his Astana team cleaned up during a team stage during the Tour de France. Which I’m sure no one in America cares about, but it has to be irritating the French more than a canceled Jerry Lewis movie marathon, and that’s always a good thing.
  • When playing for Russian side CSKA three years ago, Yuri Zhirkov didn’t take the advice of Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich to learn English. Which is a problem, since Abramovich signed Zhirkov to a a huge deal on Monday, and the winger will have to deal with struggling to communicate with his teammates.
  • When GM Joe Dumars fired Michael Curry as head coach of the Detroit Pistons, he claimed that the team needed a more experienced hand at the helm. Which makes it curious why he eventually decided to give Cavaliers assistant John Kuester his first crack at an NBA head coaching job. Couldn’t have anything to do with both Doug Collins and Avery Johnson bailing from the gig? But Kuester has been a head coach at Boston…University, which is close to the Celtics, right?
  • Another depressing sign of the economic times: the NBA salary cap will decrease next year for only the second time in 26 years. The cap number next year is $57.7 million, down almost one million dollars from last year. So when Dwayne Wade lashes out at the Miami Heat for failing to land a big free agent again, they have a ready-made excuse.
  • Reports are circulating that Mike Krzyzewski is going to be coming back to coach Team USA at the 2010 World Championships and the 2012 Summer Olympics. Because as he showed in Beijing, he clearly could handle coaching with limited talent.
  • If you had forgotten about it in the wake of the Michael Jackson Media Overload, just a gentle reminder about swine flu: IT’S GOING TO KILL US ALL! Swimmer Kate Ziegler had to pull out of the U.S. Nationals with swine flu, which is also sweeping through the World University Games in Belgrade. If Ron Weasley can’t use his Muggle magic to stave off the swine flu, no one is safe.
  • In case you were wondering if there was any bad blood between Brock Lesnar and Frank Mir ahead of their heavyweight title unification rematch, CAGEWRITER answers with a resounding “yep” after watching the two trade barbs during the “Countdown to UFC 100″ on SPIKE. Also, Lesnar thinks the referee of the first match is an idiot, and really, really hates doors.

  • Meanwhile, if you were curious, UFC fighter Quinton “Rampage” Jackson is still insane. He’s not crashing an SUV with his name and picture on it after a wild car chase this time, but SPORTS RUBBISH says he is dry humping unsuspecting reporters during interviews.

  • Interesting news about “aspiring rapper” Keith Norfleet, the ex-boyfriend of Sahel Kazemi. Not only was he the person who picked her up after she was popped for a DUI in Steve McNair’s car, but he also emailed a local newspaper the following: “Pretty interesting news about our golden boy McNair…You would be pretty amazed at the fact of who he was actually with, which I really don’t think his wife would like it too much either.”

Which story do you want to go away and never hear about again?

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Magic Johnson Eulogizes MJ With KFC (w/Video)

Michael Jackson was laid to rest this afternoon with a star-studded (and taxpayer-funded) memorial service that included Mariah Carey swinging ‘n’ missing and Stevie Wonder hitting a home run. (Seems like kind of a weak analogy, with the blindness and all, but whatever - Stevie was way better.) But there were plenty more stars than just those two, some of whom were thoughtful enough not to sing.

KFC Magic Johnson Michael Jackson

(Ever think that the Colonel’s tie was actually a small body dancing like Michael Jackson? Did I just blow your mind?*)

As we reported earlier, two such stars were Laker greats Kobe Bryant and Magic Johnson, because AEG needed to cynically leverage their Lakers/Staples Center assets in order to maximize exposure and advertising dollars since they’re on the hook for MJ’s lost concert revenue everybody needed to know what Kobe Bryant thinks about the late Michael Jackson. Frankly, any Kobe speech that didn’t include something along the lines of “Can you imagine if I blatantly ripped my act off this MJ instead?!” seems like a waste, but we’re getting greedy.

When it was Magic’s turn to speak, though, he went a route that was at once surprising and, really, not even slightly surprising.

Read more…

Memorial: AEG, Jackos Blackmail LA, City To Sue?

Having lived in Los Angeles for going on 10 years, I can tell you that the people who inhabit this place are the epitome of laissez-faire. For example, we have the worst traffic congestion of any city on earth, yet the citizenry never forces elected leaders to do a damn thing about it. In our recent, sham election for mayor, guess how many times the issue of traffic, our #1 problem in this town, came up?

Jacko Nicholson Courtside At Lakers Game

(I helped pick up the tab for Jacko’s $4M Courtside Seat)

You got it. Zero.

Combine that with L.A.’s obscene obsession with celebrity and you get what we have today: A taxpayer-funded extravaganza for a dubious dead celeb that will reportedly be solely used as a promotional tool for his family and local power broker AEG to launch a massive tribute show or three in London - which could use the elaborate staging at O2 arena that was to be reserved for you-know-who. *Memorial* my a$$.

Celebrity Sighting At Jackson Memorial: Gayby

(Early celeb sighting at Jacko Memorial: Gayby!)

Meanwhile, 2,000(!) LAPD officers will today work the world’s most morbid concert kickoff promotion ever, with most receiving overtime pay. The cost of that staggering, needless show of force? $4 million big ones. As an Angeleno who will help kick in that kitty, I would’ve at least expected a dead Jacko discount coupon at my local Wienerschnitzel.

So why is L.A. outlaying that kind of cash from a city fund that is normally reserved for emergencies like wildfires, earthquakes and of course, riots? Key members of the City Council have quite obviously been bought off by AEG (wanna get re-elected, babo?), which is the largest land developer in downtown L.A. an landlord to the L.A. Lakers and owner of the Los Angeles Kings.

Jacko MacAuley Culkin Tattoo

(Soon to add: “In Loving Memory”)

AEG also happened to be the corporate monolith that was producing Jackson’s 50 shows in a row in London. And will now reportedly cash in on the subsequent Jackson tribute show(s) in London.

There is though, one significant soul who is protesting L.A. taxpayers getting soaked for $4M so Tito, Jermaine and Marlon can skip the layaway on their next pillowtop purchase. Read more…

Steve McNair’s Wife Unaware of Affair w/20-yr-old?

• A source says that the wife of Steve McNair was “blindsided” by news that the ex-NFL QB was having an affair with 20-year-old Sahel Kazemi.

Sahel Kazemi Photo Steve McNairs Girlfriend Photo

Meanwhile, Nashville police are saying that the gun found at the scene of McNair & Kazemi’s death had been bought by Sahel.

• Sunday was a good day to be a Gillette spokesman. Just ask Roger Federer, Tiger Woods & Derek Jeter.

Chris Cohan may soon not be one of the worst owners in the NBA, as he looks to sell his majority stake in the Golden State Warriors.

• F1 chief Bernie Ecclestone a defender of Hitler? Oh, heavens no - that was just one of those wacky British sitcom-esque misunderstandings.

• How did Ron Artest end up with the Lakers? Would you believe by barging in & setting up a shower summit with Kobe?

Read more…

Kobe Bryant To Be At The Jacko Memorial (Woo!)

Kobe Bryant is bad, he’s bad, you know it (come on). So Bryant is going to be one of the big celebrities at the Michael Jackson Memorial on Tuesday; of course he is. But what I’m unclear on is what his function will be at the big party - will he favor us with a tune? Break out a red leather jacket? Reenact the “Black or White” video with Luke Walton as Macauley Culkin? The answers are shrouded in mystery.

What is known: Magic Johnson will also be there, along with thousands of others who were lucky enough to get tickets by whatever means or form of random drawing they used. And because what this thing needed more of was additional celebrities, let’s throw in Berry Gordy, Brooke Shields, Smokey Robinson, Lionel Richie, Usher, Martin Luther King III, and, in a bit of troubling irony, Shaheen Jafargholi, the 12-year-old who was a finalist on the latest edition of “Britain’s Got Talent” recently. Read more…

Week In Review: So Long, Simona Halep’s Hooters

• Romanian teen tennis player Simona Halep goes through on her threat to get a breast reduction. We’ll never look at her the same way again.

Simona Halep's First Photo After Breast Reduction Surgery

• Chiefs RB Larry Johnson spends his offseason in Las Vegas, where he’s buying large champagne bottles for some thirsty ladies.

• The Ultimate Warrior shares his thoughts on the late Michael Jackson.

• Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers grabs himself a girlfriend in gorgeous grapefruit heiress Julie Henderson.

• Italian swimmer Flavia Zoccari feels more cheeky than usual, as her swimsuit splits at the seat during a meet.

Read more…

71-Yr-Old Ex-Boxer Brutalizes Would-Be Burglar

• A 71-year-old former boxing champ beats & bruises a 23-year-old knife-wielding would-be burglar. The kid should’ve stayed off his lawn.

Frank Corti Gregory McCalium

• The New York Mets get on the bus and stop a 5-game losing streak. Too bad their next bus stop ended up at a Furries convention.

Landon Donovan releasing new book that bashes David Beckham.

• A Cubs fan vows to go on a semi-hunger strike until the Baby Bears win 5 in a row. It was nice knowing ya, pal.

• It’s like the old saying goes: Mexican midget wrestlers & hookers just don’t mix.

Read more…