Brooklyn Nets' All-Star Kevin Durant has showered praise on upcoming opponent Ja Morant comparing him to Hall of Famers Michael Jordan and Allen Iverson.

The Nets take on Morant's Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday, with Durant describing the first-time All-Star as a combination of Jordan, Iverson, Russell Westbrook and Derrick Rose.

Morant has enjoyed a breakout year after being pick two in the 2019 NBA Draft and leading the Grizzlies to the playoffs last season.

The 22-year-old Memphis guard is averaging 27.6 points up from 19.1 points in the 2020-21 season along with 5.7 rebounds, 6.7 assists and 1.2 steals this season for the playoffs-bound Grizzlies who have a 49-23 record.

"He's a combination of players, I feel," Durant told reporters after the Nets' 114-106 win over the Utah Jazz on Monday.

"I think the greatest players in our game can transform into anybody at any given point, and I think Ja is on the way to that. I mean when he's playing I see like two or three or four different hall-of-famers in his game.

"From Iverson, he might make a Jordan-like lay-up, he might run down the court like a Westbrook or a D-Rose. His float game is up there with some of the best that's ever played.

"I don't wanna gas him up too much since we're playing against him, but I think the sky is the limit for him. His future is obviously bright, and he makes everybody better playing against him."

On the Grizzlies, Durant added: "When you got a future Hall of Famer at the head of the snake, it just makes everybody better."

Durant scored 37 points with nine rebounds and eight assists in Monday's win as the Nets improved to 38-34.

The Nets forward surpassed close friend Jerry West (25,192 points) into 22nd on the NBA's all-time scoring charts with his 37-point haul on Monday.

"Winning the championship with Jerry, having conversations with him, knowing the history of who he is, he helped kickstart the NBA basically, it's an honour," Durant said.

"He's a legend in the game. He's almost like the godfather of our sport. Good to see him back around our game but it's even better to pass him. He's one of the all-time great players in this league."

Durant moves to 25,213 points, with Indiana Pacers legend Reggie Miller next above him on 25,279 points.

All-Star Ja Morant scored a career-high 46 points as the Memphis Grizzlies beat the Chicago Bulls at United Center, and later attributed his achievement in part to Bulls legend Michael Jordan.

Saturday's encounter saw the Grizzlies win 116-110 to move to 42-20, while the Bulls are 39-22.

Steven Adams also hit 12 points with a season-high 21 rebounds for Memphis, while DeMar DeRozan extended his 30-point streak to 10 games with a 31-point haul as the Bulls' six-game win streak came to an end.

After the game, Morant was asked if he had seen the highlights video played in the arena of Jordan's most memorable moments.

"I did watch it," he said. "And then, I did start scoring a lot. It probably played a part in it."

The 22-year-old made 15 of 28 field goal attempts, sank three shots from beyond the arc and made 13 out of 15 free throws.

His 46-point haul comes just 10 days after he racked up 44 against the Portland Trail Blazers, and makes it 16 games in a row in which he has scored at least 20 points.

"I've seen too many [incredible performances]. Kinda boring now," Grizzlies team-mate Adams said jokingly. "He's such an amazing player."

Morant also went on to praise the effort of his team, saying: "They gotta be recognised for the job they do for us on the floor. Obviously we had a lot of guys who contributed big for us tonight.

"[Desmond Bane] hit a big-time three, Kyle [Anderson] with the stops on the defensive end, Steve being the man inside the paint, Tyus [Jones] stepping up and hitting big free throws, and so on down the line.

"Obviously without them, we probably wouldn't have been in that position, so a lot of credit has to go to my team-mates."

DeMar DeRozan vowed to remain grounded after breaking a 60-year NBA record held by Wilt Chamberlain in the Chicago Bulls' win against the Sacramento Kings.

The five-time All-Star scored a game-high 38 points in Wednesday's 125-118 victory at United Center as the Bulls won for a fifth game running to go 38-21 for the season.

In doing so, DeRozan became the first player to score 35 points or more and shoot 50 per cent or better in seven straight games.

That is a record previously held by legendary figure Chamberlain, who achieved the feat on separate occasions in 1960-61 and in 1962-63.

After writing his name in the NBA record books, DeRozan struggled to sum up his feelings.

"I can't. I'll be honest with you, I can't. I can't describe it," he said. "It's one of those things where I'm completely locked in as soon as I come to work."

DeRozan's run of at least 30 points in eight straight games is also the longest streak by a Bulls player since Michael Jordan in 1996.

"As a kid, as a fan of the history of the game, being in the league as long as I've been in this league – things like that continue to make me even more humble," he said. 

"Being an NBA player and being able to have the privilege to be able to play this long and have these opportunities, it's something I never take for granted. 

"And the crazy thing is I felt like I missed eight easy shots [against Sacramento] I normally would have made."

 

DeRozan is level with the Philadelphia 76ers' Joel Embiid for the longest streak of 30 or more points by a player this season.

He leads the Bulls this season with 1,547 points at an average of 28.1 through 55 games, which is the fourth-best tally of any player in NBA behind LeBron James (29.1), Embiid (29.3) and Giannis Antetokounmpo (29.4).

The Bulls are now guaranteed at least a share of first place in the Eastern Conference heading into the All-Star break, with the Miami Heat able to draw level when they face the Charlotte Hornets on Thursday.

While DeRozan has played a vital role in what has been an impressive campaign to date, head coach Billy Donovan has been pleased with the input from every player.

"I'm just really appreciative of this group of guys from top to bottom," Donovan said. 

"The way they come to work every day, how professional they are, how they try to keep themselves ready, how it's all about the team, all about winning and what each individual can do to impact and help in winning."

Chicago Bulls star DeMar DeRozan surpassed the great Michael Jordan with a 40-point haul against the San Antonio Spurs, and took heed from another sporting legend.

DeRozan has been in sensational form for the Bulls this season and was their key player as they ran out 120-109 winners over the Spurs on Monday.

The 32-year-old finished witih 40 points, three rebounds and seven assists. He has the most points in the NBA this season, having amassed 1,509 across 54 appearances at an average of 27.9 per game (the fourth best in the NBA).

Trae Young, of the Atlanta Hawks, ranks second for points on 1,412 – 97 behind DeRozan.

The Bulls talisman has now put himself into the team record books, too, with his showing against the Spurs marking his sixth consecutive 35-point game.

That passes the previous record of five, set by Jordan, who achieved that feat four times across his illustrious career, last doing so in the 1996-97 season.

After writing his name into Bulls folklore, DeRozan revealed he channelled the advice of boxing great Floyd Mayweather Jr.

"I'm not a knockout puncher. I want to wear you down because I know I can go the length, however long I need to go," DeRozan said, recalling a conversation he had with Mayweather several years ago. 

"Every shot that I take is a shot that I work on. I'm just not shooting a shot just to be shooting it. I just try to lock in every time it's time to score."

 

The Bulls needed DeRozan to be at his best, with Chicago trailing by six points heading into the final quarter.

DeRozan scored 13 of the Bulls' next 15 points to inspire the comeback.

"It's not only the scoring piece, which is absolutely incredible what he does, the other piece of it is just his basketball IQ, his experience, how savvy he is," Bulls coach Billy Donovan told reporters.

The Bulls (37-21) are second in the Eastern Conference with a 63.8 win percentage. 

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich bemoaned mistakes from his team, but conceded DeRozan was just too good.

"The combination of him being super and us not executing very well was a big contributor to losing the game," he said.

Giannis Antetokounmpo declared his place in history will take care of itself as he closes in on matching Michael Jordan's NBA triple-double haul.

The Milwaukee Bucks star nudged ahead of Lakers great Elgin Baylor and up to 19th on the NBA all-time list as he tallied 35 points, 16 rebounds and 10 assists in a 136-113 win over the New Orleans Pelicans.

Jordan Nwora weighed in with 23 points in 19 minutes, while Jrue Holiday grabbed 21 as the Bucks delivered a 400th career win for coach Mike Budenholzer.

Greek maestro Antetokounmpo takes pride in his achievements but says there is little time to stand still and appreciate where his career has taken him – because there is always another game around the corner.

He now has 27 triple-doubles, one shy of all-time great Jordan, who sits 18th on the list.

It was some way to start 2022 for the 27-year-old, who posted on Twitter: "New year, same me."

“To be honest with you, obviously we're so locked in and so focused on what we gotta do, that those moments go, not unnoticed – obviously it’s a great compliment to be with those guys – but you kind of brush it off and just focus on the next game which is Detroit," he said in a post-game news conference.

"But as I get older I gotta take a moment and live in the moment and enjoy this moment. Having 27 triple-doubles, it's insane. I remember getting my first one.

"It's been a long journey, and I've got a long way to go. I'll just keep enjoying every moment, and if you keep playing the right way, good things happen.

"I believe that as long as I am enjoying the game and live in the moment, I keep creating special moments. You've got to appreciate the moments but continue moving forward. That's what I've done my whole life and that's what I'm going to continue doing. It's been working."

He spoke of how his approach had brought rich reward, stating: "I'm just trying to stay aggressive. I feel I'm at my best when I'm aggressive.

"My mindset through the whole game is to be aggressive, make the right decisions, put my team in the right spot."

Wednesday marks 24 years to the day since the late Kobe Bryant made his NBA debut with the Los Angeles Lakers.

While that first appearance against the Minnesota Timberwolves at the age of 18 was nothing to write home about, Bryant went on to enjoy a legendary career.

He won five NBA championships with the Lakers in the space of a decade and was selected to the All-Star Game 18 times, placing him behind only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (19).

Bryant tragically died in a helicopter crash last year, aged 41, but his legacy will live on for generations.

Here we look back at where it all began for one of sport's most iconic figures and pick out some other statistics from his incredible career.


STEADY IMPACT IN ROOKIE SEASON

The Charlotte Hornets drafted Bryant 13th overall in 1996 and traded him to the Lakers for Vlade Divac.

It was a move that would have a lasting impact on the sport, although it took Bryant a few seasons to really start to make his mark.

He played six minutes off the bench against the Timberwolves on his debut, failing to register a point during his short cameo; he did get a rebound, a block and a steal, though.

That appearance made him the youngest player to feature in NBA, aged 18 years and 72 days old, but he was supplanted by Jermaine O'Neal (18 years, 53 days) the following month. Andrew Bynum (18 years, six days) took the record in 2005.

 

"Rest In Peace to the late, great Kobe Bryant." pic.twitter.com/jmqQMVC2UO

— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) February 1, 2020 BEHIND ONLY LEBRON

Bryant steadily became more involved and made the All-Rookie second team at the end of his debut campaign.

The Philadelphia-born star scored a combined 613 points in the regular season and playoffs before turning 19, which only LeBron James (625) can better.

One record James could not take from Bryant, though, is for the youngest player in NBA history with at least 20 points in a postseason game.

Aged 18 years and 250 days, Bryant registered 22 points in Game 3 against the Portland Trail Blazers in the Western Conference first-round series.

Bryant averaged 7.6 points, 1.9 rebounds and 1.3 assists in 15.5 minutes on the floor during his rookie season.

To put that in some context, James averaged 20.9 points, 5.5 rebounds and 5.9 assists, albeit with far more minutes (39.5).

That is still some way below the levels of Michael Jordan in his breakthrough season, with the Bulls great averaging 28.2 points, 6.5 rebounds and 5.9 assists in his first year in the league.


THE SCARCELY BELIEVABLE STATS

Bryant still went on to carve out a place as one of the greatest players of all time, receiving All-NBA honours in 15 seasons, being named in the first team on 11 occasions. Only James, with 13 appearances in the first team, beats Bryant's total.

He was also named nine times to the NBA All-Defensive First Team, matching the all-time high; Kevin Garnett, Gary Payton and Jordan achieved the same total.

In the 2005-06 season, Bryant recorded his highest points-per-game average for a single campaign, with 35.4. He led the NBA in scoring in that season and in 2006-07.

In January 2006, he scored 81 points in a 122-104 victory over the Toronto Raptors – the second highest individual score in an NBA game, behind Wilt Chamberlain's 100 points for the Philadelphia Warriors against the New York Knicks in 1962.

Bryant received his lone NBA MVP award in 2008, having become the youngest player to reach 20,000 career points aged 29 years and 122 days.

In his final game, on April 13, 2016, Bryant scored 60 points for the Lakers in a 101-96 win over the Utah Jazz. A fitting farewell after a phenomenal career.

DeMar DeRozan insisted the Chicago Bulls "want to win now" after opening the season 4-0 for the first time since 1996-97.

The red-hot Bulls preserved their perfect record with a 111-108 victory against the Toronto Raptors in the NBA on Monday.

Chicago – the last remaining unbeaten team in the Eastern Conference – were busy in the offseason, having recruited four-time All-Star DeRozan, former second pick Lonzo Ball and 2020 NBA champion Alex Caruso.

It came after the Bulls traded for two-time All-Star Nikola Vucevic last season.

The last time the Bulls opened with a 4-0 record, Hall of Famer and six-time champion Michael Jordan was on the team in Chicago.

"Part of the reason why I even chose to come to Chicago was everyone was eager to be successful, to want to win," DeRozan said after scoring 26 points against his former team.

"Everybody had that chip on their shoulder, from the city to the organisation to the players that I spoke to.

"That was everybody's mindset, it's all about winning now. We're not in a development stage, we want to win now."

DeRozan added: "We've got a long way to go. We've got a lot more to clean up, to learn. It's a long season, man. [The 4-0 start] is great, but we've got a lot more basketball to go.

"We can't carry this record like it's some kind of badge of honour; we've got to understand that the next game is going to be even harder."

The previous two times the Bulls started 4-0 (1995-96 and 1996-97), they went on to win the NBA championship.

"I think we have a lot of high-character guys, we all want to win and we want to win together," Ball added. "I think when you have a bunch of guys on the same team with the same common goal and the same mindset it makes it easier for the chemistry to click. That's what's going on."

Michael Jordan and Patrick Ewing were in attendance for New York Yankees great Derek Jeter's Hall of Fame induction.

Jeter entered the baseball Hall of Fame on Wednesday, alongside MLB trio Larry Walker, Ted Simmons and Marvin Miller in front of basketball royalty.

NBA Hall of Famer Jordan – a six-time champion, and Ewing were in Cooperstown, New York to celebrate Jeter's illustrious career.

Jeter won five World Series titles with the Yankees, where the 47-year-old spent his entire career from 1995 to 2014.

HE finished with 3,465 hits, 1,923 runs, 260 homers and 1,311 RBIs, with a .310 average, .377 OBP and .817 OPS in 11,195 at-bats.

The 14-time All-Star also earned World Series MVP honours to go with five Gold Glove and Silver Slugger awards.

"It's been a hell of a ride," Jeter said midweek.

Over the Yankees' 13-year playoff streak from 1995 to 2007, shortstop Jeter led the team in games (1,835), runs (1,379) and hits (2,356).

The Yankees claimed four World Series during that run before adding a fifth in 2009.

"For so many years, I represented New York and the Yankee organisation in the best light possible," he said. "Now I represent you. Know that I'm here to support you, guide you, protect you.

"Most importantly, I'm here to love you. I want you to find someone that inspires you, and when the time is right, I want you to inspire others."

Kobe Bryant once called Michael Jordan the ideal candidate to present him into the Basketball Hall of Fame. The late, great Los Angeles Lakers legend will get his wish.

The Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame announced its list of presenters for the 2020 class on Thursday, with Jordan named to present Bryant in a fitting posthumous tribute.

The induction ceremony, delayed by a year due to the coronavirus pandemic, will take place on May 15 in Uncasville, Connecticut. Bryant was selected for induction as a first-year eligible in November, 10 months after he and his daughter, Gianna, died in a helicopter crash in California.

Bryant called Jordan among his biggest influences during his 20-year playing career in which he compiled the fourth-highest points total in NBA history and led the Lakers to five championships, one less than his idol won with the Chicago Bulls. When asked by Complex magazine in a 2017 interview who he would want to enshrine him into the Hall of Fame, the 18-time All-Star quickly mentioned both Jordan and his former Lakers coach, Phil Jackson.

Though their playing careers only overlapped by four years, Jordan and Bryant developed a lasting friendship that was evident when Jordan gave an emotional speech during Bryant's memorial service in February 2020.

Jordan will also be presenting Baylor women's coach Kim Mulkey during next month's ceremonies, while several other of his Hall of Fame contemporaries will be part of the festivities.

Some of the other notable presenters include David Robinson, who will induct former San Antonio Spurs team-mate Tim Duncan. Isiah Thomas will present Kevin Garnett, while Hakeem Olajuwon will be the co-presenter for his former Houston Rockets coach, Rudy Tomjanovich, along with Rockets great Calvin Murphy.

The full class of 2020 inductees consists of Bryant, Mulkey, Duncan, Garnett, Tomjanovich, long-time FIBA executive Patrick Baumann, former WNBA star Tamika Catchings, former Division II national champion coach Barbara Stevens and ex-college coach Eddie Sutton.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady is aiming to surpass "idol" Michael Jordan by winning his seventh Super Bowl ring.

No player has won more Super Bowl titles or appeared in more NFL showpieces than six-time champion Brady, who will lead the Buccaneers against reigning champions the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LV on Sunday.

Chicago Bulls and NBA great Jordan also won six championship rings during his Hall of Fame basketball career.

As Brady stands on the cusp of a seventh Lombardi trophy, the 43-year-old superstar told reporters on Monday: "Michael [Jordan] is one of my sports idols.

"I think he's pretty incredible and for me it's just about being a part of great teams.

"To have the opportunity to play in this game means a lot to me. It's a lot of commitment and sacrifice by a lot of guys.

"Obviously we're one game away from the ultimate goal in this sport. I've been a part of that ultimate goal six other times so they are all different and have all meant something a little different to me. They've all been unique in their own way. 

"It would be cool to accomplish it this time, I don't compare them to the other times, those were all magical moment of my life and no one can ever take those away from me.

"Hopefully we can finish this season strong and win a Super Bowl. That's why we're here, that's why we're playing, to make for a really magical season for us."

Brady – who will go head-to-head with reigning Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes in Super Bowl LV on home soil – has more playoff wins since turning 35 (17) than any other quarterback has in his entire career, per Stats Perform.

Tampa Bay's Brady became the third player all-time with three-plus touchdown passes and three-plus interceptions in a conference championship game, joining Joe Montana (1981 NFC Championship) and Mark Malone (1984 AFC Championship), after the Buccaneers topped the Green Bay Packers in the NFC decider.

The 31-26 win in Green Bay was also the fourth time Brady has thrown three-plus interceptions in a playoff game, and his teams are 3-1 in those matchups (most such wins all-time) – his sides are 0-9 when he has three-plus interceptions in a regular-season game.

It was the 20th occasion Brady has led his team to 30-plus points in a postseason game – no other player has even half that total (second is Troy Aikman with nine). Brady's teams are 18-2 in those games.

Brady will feature in his 10th Super Bowl – the next most by a player is six by Mike Lodish and Stephen Gostkowski, after the Buccaneers became the fifth team all-time to win three road games in a single postseason.

Luka Doncic surpassed Michael Jordan in the NBA history books with a triple-double but he took the blame for the Dallas Mavericks' loss to the Chicago Bulls.

Doncic posted his 29th career triple-double, however, the Mavericks still went down 117-101 against the Bulls on Sunday.

All-Star Doncic moved above Bulls and NBA great Jordan and into 15th position on the all-time triple-double list after finishing with 36 points, 16 rebounds and 15 assists.

Doncic put up the fourth 35-plus point, 15-plus rebound and 15-plus assist game in NBA history, while he joined Oscar Robertson (five times), Wilt Chamberlain (1968) and James Harden (2016) as the only players with that stat line.

However, Dallas star Doncic was not happy after the Mavericks suffered back-to-back defeats.

"The second half, I played terrible… I was being selfish a bit I think, because I had 30 points in the first half," Doncic told reporters.

"That wasn't me in the second half. I've got to do way better than that. That's just on me. I shouldn't be doing this."

Doncic added: "I was just taking some shots I shouldn't be taking. Just have to do way better than this. As a team, we have to step up, especially defensively and bring the energy."

Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle said: "The stats are spectacular. It's phenomenal.

"But without a win, he won't be happy with it either."

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