SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle told a story after Monday morning’s shootaround at Sleep Train Arena revealing just what type of impact Kobe Bryant has had on his household.
"My daughter (Abby) is now 11, and when we first got (to Dallas) she was seven and one day she asked me, ‘Daddy, who you playing tomorrow?,’ ‘’ Carlisle said. "I said the Lakers. She said, ‘That’s Kobe Bryant, right?’
"That was the first player she ever mentioned by name like that. I said, yeah. She goes, ‘That’s trouble.’ When your eight-year old utters those words the first time she ever mentions the name of an NBA player other than Dirk (Nowitzki) or Jason Kidd, that’s respect.’’
Carlisle and the Mavs were paying their own respect to Bryant, who announced Sunday that he’s going to retire after this season following 20 years in the NBA. And what a spectacular career it’s been, including five world titles and 17 All-Star appearances.
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"It’s been such an impactful career,’’ Carlisle said. "Impactful from the standpoint of re-defining the game in many ways from the two-guard position.
"My take on the whole thing is this is an ending in one respect, but he’s preparing for world dominance in some other area of the game, I’m quite certain of that. I have as much respect for him as an opposing player as any player that I’ve ever either played against or coached against in this league.’’
Forward Dirk Nowitzki, who, like Bryant, is 37 years old, said "it’s disappointing’’ to see Bryant go off into retirement.
"A lot of us warriors were drafted in the 90s are slowly fading away and it’s obviously towards the end for us all,’’ Nowitzki said. "It’s a little sad, but I’m happy for him that he made that decision for himself.
"It could lift a little weight off his shoulders.’’
Nowitzki reminisced about all the terrific battles he had against Bryant and the Lakers.
"To me he’s probably the greatest player that I faced, and I’ve faced some great players with Tim Duncan and Shaq and all these guys,’’ Nowitzki said. "But he was something else.
"His scoring-wise and his shot-making ability was incredible. I was always a big fan, but it’s disappointing that we’re all getting old.’’
Small forward Chandler Parsons is also disappointed to see Bryant retire.
"He’s one of the best to ever do it,’’ Parsons said. "He’s one of my favorite players of all-time – a good dude – and it’s his work ethic and what he accomplished.
"It truly is an honor to share the court and I’m coming to play against him these first five years that I’ve had. Like I said he’s one of the best and it won’t be the same without him.’’
Bryant has already played his last game at American Airlines Center. That happened on Nov. 13.
But the Mavs will play the Lakers one more time this season –Jan. 26 in Los Angeles – where the emotions will likely be a bit high for the Mavs players.
"I was worried when he walked in the building with those sunglasses on every day,’’ Carlisle said. "Right then you knew you had many problems to deal with.
"When that guy walks in the building, you’ve got a lot of problems to deal with and you’ve got a guy that’s a cold-blooded killer when it comes to winning time. We all wish him the best, but I don’t really think he’s going to go anywhere. I think he’ll be around doing something -- either owning a team or running a team.’’
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