Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle had nothing but praise for Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant, who announced Sunday that he’s retiring at the conclusion of this season.
“It’s been such an impactful career,” Carlisle said. “Impactful from the standpoint of redefining 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 sail off into retirement.
“A lot of us warriors that were drafted in the 90s are slowly fading away, and it’s obviously toward the end for all of us,” 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 [Shaquille O’Neal] and all these guys,” Nowitzki said. “But he was something else.”
Small forward Chandler Parsons also expressed disappointment about Bryant hanging it up.
“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 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 already played his final game at American Airlines Center 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.
“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,” Carlisle said. “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.”
Nancy Lieberman’s first month as an NBA assistant coach has been a joy.
Hired by Sacramento Kings coach George Karl over the summer, Lieberman has been getting used to the hectic travel schedule while also building lasting relationships with players.
“It’s an absolute joy,” Lieberman said prior to Monday’s game at Sleep Train Arena. “I’m learning a lot; it’s humbling. To be around someone as gifted as George has been pretty cool.”
San Antonio’s Becky Hammon and Lieberman are the only female assistant coaches in the NBA. Asked when the NBA will hire its first female head coach, Lieberman couldn’t even guess.
“You can’t win the championship until you make the playoffs, and you can’t get to be a head coach until you become an assistant coach,” she said. “So we have a couple now. Time will tell.
“I don’t think anybody’s in a hurry. I know I go out every day and just understand the game from guys like [Carlisle] and George and the guys that I know around the league, and I’m sure it’s the same is for Becky.”