Kobe officially back for tonight’s game

Kobe Bryant went through a complete shootaround practice with the Lakers this morning at the ATT Center and will be ready to play tonight against the Spurs.

and Los Angeles Times beat writerboth report that Bryant will return to the Lakers’ lineup for the first time after missing seven games with a bruised shin. The Lakers have notched a 5-2 record since he left the lineup, including splitting two games with the Spurs.

It will be interesting to see how quickly it takes the NBA’s leading scorer to get his bearings in the Lakers’ rotation.

Just a guess from here. But I’m betting it will take less than a quarter.

Clipper Darrell cries after being kicked out of ‘Lob City’

There’s something about live television that brings out the rawest of emotions.

Take this of a broadcast of Los Angeles television station KABC’s Sports Zone interview of “Clipper Darrell” Bailey, perhaps the most notable fan of the Los Angeles Clippers during their struggling era.

It must have been hard for Bailey to support the team during its moribund past.

But Bill Plaschke’s indicates that Bailey might have gotten too big for his blue-and-red performing suit as he attempted to become a paid spokesman for the team.

The Clippers have told Bailey they would not stop him from representing them, but would simply insist that he follow the same rules that apply to every other employee in his appearances.

“Like any company, we would need control over him and his message,” Clippers vice president of marketing and sales Carl Lahr told the Los Angeles Times. “He is using our name and our colors, and we would like control over how that is done.”

When the Clippers got hot, apparently “Clipper Darrell” decided to change his message and capitalize on the team’s sizzle.

“Somewhere along the line, he stopped being a super fan and became a marketer,” Lahr said. “He got to the point where he wanted this to be a commercial enterprise.”

The Clippers told Plaschke they they actually offered Bailey a chance to be treated exactly like a Clippers cheerleader, with a $70 nightly salary but no unsanctioned interviews or appearances, and he refused.

“He’s a really good person, but he told us he’s in this to make money,” Lahr said. “Once that happens, that changes the whole fan dynamic.”

The Clippers return home next week. It will be interesting to see if their superfan is rooting for  them in the arena.

But it wouldn’t suprise me if we saw “Laker Darrell” at other games at the Staples Center in the not-too-distant future.

Here’s a look at “Clipper Darrell’s” recent appearance on KABC. Bailey’s emotion gets the best of him when he starts crying at about the 2:10 mark of the video.

Buck Harvey: The luck of Horry came with a price

Robert Horry was lucky. Everyone saw it.

He kept moving from Hall of Fame big man to Hall of Fame big man, until he had won more championships than anyone except for the 1960s Boston Celtics.

Dirk Nowitzki is six rings behind him. LeBron James is seven.

But that’s just what everyone saw. In his private life, Horry faced the kind of misfortune that makes people ask, “Why me?” Along the way, he learned about sorrow, and he learned about what mattered.

No one would call this luck — but maybe this impacted his NBA career more than anything.

This week should remind everyone of the frailties of the rich and tall. There will be a memorial service today for another former Spur, Mike Mitchell, who passed away at the age of 55. And Horry’s 17-year-old daughter, Ashlyn, died Tuesday after a lifelong struggle with a rare genetic condition.

“People forget this sometimes,” Avery Johnson said Wednesday, “but we aren’t exempt. We go to weddings; we go to funerals. Maybe because we play a game, fans don’t think our lives are just like theirs.”

Avery knew Mitchell, but he was closer to Horry. Their families lived in the same Houston neighborhood, and Avery had a close-up view of Horry’s challenge.

“Heartbreaking,” is how Avery termed it.

Ashlyn struggled to talk, eat and breathe. She was in and out of hospitals from birth. Horry missed most of the Spurs’ preseason in the fall of 2007, for example, because her condition was life threatening.

But the Horrys customized their Houston home for her, and they arranged three-hour daily rehab sessions. Being away bothered Horry so much that he considered opting out of his Lakers contract in 2001 to play for the Rockets. At the time, he was merely winning three consecutive titles with the league’s glamour team.

From a 2001 Los Angeles Times article:

When he talks to Ashlyn on the phone, she holds the receiver to her ear. He tells her about his day, and about the Lakers, and how he loves her. And then he speaks to Keba, his wife, who describes Ashlyn’s expressions when he spoke to her.

If that sounds sad, it is, Horry said, “some days.”

“But you get used to it,” he said. “Well, you tell yourself that, anyway.”

Then there’s this from Horry in another story: “There are bad days, like on the Fourth of July, when we have my brother’s kids and her sister’s kids. You can tell she wants to do what they’re doing, but can’t. Those are the days I feel bad for her.”

Ashlyn was a reason he signed with the Spurs. He wanted to be nearer to Houston. On rare occasions, his daughter came to a game in San Antonio.

On rarer ones, Horry talked about her condition. Even those closest to him on the Spurs staff don’t remember him dwelling on his pain.

Through it all, Horry called Ashlyn “my little angel.” And maybe she was exactly that for him when he walked on a basketball court. His daughter was born, after all, just months before his first championship with the Rockets.

But she wasn’t a good luck charm, exactly. She changed the way he mixed anxiety and pressure.

“From the moment my daughter almost didn’t even make it,” Horry told an ESPN reporter in 2002, “I realized you can’t control what life hands you. I used to get nervous before that. Excited nervous, like gimmetheball-gimmetheball-gimmetheball. Hey, I love what I do, and it’s important in a sense, but not compared to my family. It’s just a game.”

So there he was in Detroit in 2005, with Rasheed Wallace diving at him, calm when most wouldn’t have been.


To Horry, it didn’t come easy.