Bryant: 'I hated Larry, but I loved him'

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Bryant: 'I hated Larry, but I loved him'

BOSTON We know about Kobe Bryant donning jersey No. 8 as well as his current No. 24.

But did you know No. 33 is also dear and near to his heart?

And as Bryant tells you, it had nothing to do with Larry Legend.

Bryant said he used to wear the number because his father, uncle, grandmother and cousin all wore the number.

"My younger cousin that came in after me, he wore 33 as well," Bryant said.

While Larry Bird had nothing to do with Bryant's choice of jersey number as a youth, that doesn't take away from the respect he has for a man that, surprisingly, he says he has never met before.

"I hated Larry, but I loved him," Bryant said. "To this date, I have never met him. Never. Not once."

When asked by Comcast SportsNet's Carolyn Manno if meeting Bird was on his bucket list, Bryant responded, "hell yeah! Absolutely."

Bryant said the closest he came to meeting Bird was during the 1997 NBA All-Star Game in Cleveland when the NBA unveiled its 50 Greatest Players.

Bird was among the players named to the team.

Bryant wasn't an All-Star that year, but he did participate in -- and win -- the Slam Dunk competition.

"Our paths never crossed," Bryant said. "It's crazy."

Bird recently said that Bryant would be the one player in the NBA now that he would want to play with if he was chasing a championship ring.

"It means the world to me, because I looked up to him and his work ethic," Bryant said when told of Bird's comments. "I always viewed him as being a staple of a blue-collar player that's been blessed with a great deal of talent. His determination, his motivation I remember some of the quotes I heard from (Comcast SportsNet analyst and NBA Hall of Famer) Tommy Heinsohn describing Larry Bird, that was very moving to me when I was a kid. I said, 'if I can be that way, I feel I can be pretty good.' So I kind of followed his lead in that regard. To hear him have that kind of praise for me, means a lot."

Bruins cancel practice to 'regroup' after bad loss to Islanders

Bruins cancel practice to 'regroup' after bad loss to Islanders

BRIGHTON, Mass – The Bruins were supposed to hit the ice for the eighth day in a row on Tuesday following their empty 4-0 loss to the New York Islanders on Monday afternoon, but those plans were scrubbed.

The reeling Black and Gold instead cancelled practice, with only Matt Beleskey, Jimmy Hayes and Zane McIntyre taking the ice at Warrior Ice Arena and the rest of the B’s hitting the giant reset button after an embarrassing loss.

“I think it’s one of those [things] where you’ve got to regroup and recharge the batteries, and feel better,” said Patrice Bergeron. “Maybe a little bit of fatigue was part of it [Monday vs. the Isles] and you use a day like today to look forward, look at videos and be better the next day. It happens today and we have another game tomorrow [against Detroit].”

While it is true that the Bruins and Winnipeg Jets have played more games than anybody else in the NHL in this wacky season with a condensed schedule, the B’s leaders weren’t having it as an excuse with both the Maple Leafs and Senators holding an incredible six games in hand on Boston. Blown opportunities against bad opponents are exactly the recipe for missing the playoffs, as they have in each of the past two seasons, and the Bruins are tracking to do that again.

“All of the teams are in the same situation. It’s about managing and finding ways to be at your best every night and in every game. Yes, maybe [the condensed schedule] is part of it, but you can’t just put the blame on that. We’re professionals and we need to show up every game.”

The Bruins didn’t show up against the Islanders on Monday afternoon and basically pulled their second no-show vs. the Isles on home ice this season. There’s no excuse for that given the B’s current situation battling for the postseason. 

Maybe a day off the ice will improve that situation and maybe it’s simply rewarding a team that didn’t earn it on Monday afternoon, but the B’s have to hope it’s much more of the former than the latter. 

Tomlin apologizes for language, calls Brown's actions 'foolish' and 'selfish'

Tomlin apologizes for language, calls Brown's actions 'foolish' and 'selfish'

Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin indicated that stunts like Antonio Brown’s Sunday night video are the kind that get good players shipped out of town.

“He's a great player, respected largely in the locker room but incidents such as this don't help him in that regard,” said Tomlin told Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazzette and others at a Tuesday press conference in Pittsburgh. “That's often why you see great players move from team to team. Don't want that to happen to Antonio Brown.” 

Tomlin, who referred to the Patriots as “a--holes” after the Steelers beat Kansas City in a Divisional Playoff game, apologized for his profanity and the other off-color comments made in the 17-minute broadcast.

“Like to say the language on the video is regrettable, by me and by others,” Tomlin stated.” That's why we go to great lengths to preserve certain moments and interactions between us. As a parent, as a member of the community I take that very seriously. I issue an apology in that regard.”

Tomlin added that he has “absolutely no worries on the video's effect on the game, on the Patriots, on the Steelers. Game is too big.”

Returning to Brown – who has yet to address why he thought this was a great idea – Tomlin said, “It was foolish of him to do that, selfish and inconsiderate. It was violation of our policy, league policy. He has to grow from this. He works extremely hard, he's extremely talented and those things get minimized with incidents like this."