Entertainment

Neymar, Paul Rodriguez And Other Elite Athletes Open Up About The Influence Of Kobe Bryant

Credit: Nike Basketball / YouTube

“He’s always trying to take your heart out. And you’ve gotta be ready for that.”

After 20 seasons in the NBA, Kobe Bryant is finally hanging up his sneakers. Throughout his two-decade tenure with the Los Angeles Lakers, Bryant built a reputation for being a fierce – borderline homicidal – competitor. Bryant wanted to be the very best, and if you weren’t down with it, he set out to destroy you, whether you were a friend or foe. After all, that’s why Kobe started comparing himself to the Black Mamba, a deadly snake whose bite can potentially kill someone in less than an hour. (Apparently no one had the courage to tell Bryant that it’s lame to give yourself a nickname.) Nike rounded up some of the greatest athletes of the last decade to describe Kobe’s impact on their lives, including Brazilian soccer star Neymar, pro skateboarder Paul “P-Rod” Rodriguez and Argentine soccer player Javier Mascherano.

READ: This Baller Proved Mexicans Don’t Just Excel At Baseball, Boxing And Soccer

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Taylor Swift Gave Kobe Bryant’s Daughter A Special Gift From Her ‘Folklore’ Music Video And It’s A Reminder That He Was A Big Fan Too

Entertainment

Taylor Swift Gave Kobe Bryant’s Daughter A Special Gift From Her ‘Folklore’ Music Video And It’s A Reminder That He Was A Big Fan Too

Christopher Polk / Getty

In her latest music video for “Cardigan”, Taylor Swift wore a cream cable-knit sweater that had gray stars on the elbows. Soon after she revealed that she was selling copies of the sweater on her website, fans went crazy. As part of the promotion for her new album “Folklore” Swift has been sending out replicas of the sweater to celebrities like Jennifer Hudson to promote its release. The album launched last Friday and has already sold more than 1.3 million copies worldwide according to Variety.

And while the replica cardigans might be selling fast, Swift made sure to send a very special one to Kobe Bryant’s eldest daughter Natalia.

Swift gave Natalia a replica of the cardigan she wore in the music video.

Instagram

“Thank you SO much @taylorswift,” Natalia wrote in a post to her Instagram story over the weekend with a photo of her wearing the cardigan. “I am OBSESSED with ‘folklore’!!!”

The Bryants have long been supporters of Swift over the years.

Kobe Bryant joined Swift onstage during two of her Staples Center performances. Once for her “1989” tour in 2015 and another time in 2018. Back when the singer went on her “Reputation” tour, she posed alongside the Bryants including (Kobe’s late daughter Gigi) backstage.

“My heart is in pieces hearing the news of this unimaginable tragedy,” Swift wrote in response to the crash that killed Bryant in January. “Kobe meant so much to me and to us all. Sending my prayers, love, and endless condolences to Vanessa and the family and anyone who lost someone on that flight.”

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Nets Player Kyrie Irving Commits $1.5 Million To Help Pay The Salaries Of WNBA Players Opting Out Of The 2020 Season

Entertainment

Nets Player Kyrie Irving Commits $1.5 Million To Help Pay The Salaries Of WNBA Players Opting Out Of The 2020 Season

Rob Carr / Getty

While WNBA players were able to receive a modest salary increase in the 2019-20 season, the bump up has yet to give way to the opportunity of true equity. This has proven to be particularly true when their male counterparts of the NBA are thrown into the mix.

Today, the average salary of a WNBA player starts at around $50,000 and caps off at $110,000. On the other hand, a player starting out in the NBA starts out with a salary that averages around $560,000. Currently, amid COVID-19 shutdowns, this massive gap in salary is heavily affecting the WNBA players who are being paid less and opting to forgo playing during the 2020 season.

According to NBC Sports, WNBA executives and athletes have agreed that players who are considered “at-risk” for the COVID-19 virus can opt-out of playing this season and still receive a full paycheck. Meanwhile, those who are not “at-risk” but make the decision not to play will not receive compensation.

Fortunately, many NBA players are aware of the ways in which this disparity affects them differently and are working to support the women who play the game as well.

Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving is leading the charge to ensure that WNBA athletes who opt out of playing this season can do so without worrying about finances. 

The Nets point guard announced in a statement made via his KAI Empowerment Initiative, that he pledges to commit $1.5 million to cover the salaries of WNBA players who have opted out of playing in the 2020 season. As part of his effort, Irving has also partnered with the investment banking company UBS to offer financial literacy programs to each of the players in the WNBA.

“This platform was created to provide support for all WNBA players in hopes to relieve some of the financial strain imposed during these challenging times,” Irving explained in a statement. “Whether a person decided to fight for social justice, play basketball, focus on physical or mental health, or simply connect with their families, this initiative can hopefully support their priorities and decisions.”

Players must provide the reasons behind their decision to not participate in the 2020 season to qualify.

In order to qualify, WNBA players cannot receive any additional financial support from other organizations.

According to CNBC, Irving makes an annual average salary of roughly $34 million and said that he was inspired to start the fund “after WNBA players Natasha Cloud of the Washington Mystics and Jewell Loyd of the Seattle Storm connected him with several of their WNBA peers who discussed some of the challenges they would face if they opted not to play when the season started on July 25.”

Cloud recently announced that she will be committing her time during the season to fight for racial and social justice instead of playing.

Players Renee Montgomery and Tiffany Hayes of the Atlanta Dream, have also confirmed their decision to take part in the fight. In addition, ten other WNBA athletes have also confirmed that they will not be playing this year because of health concerns or other reasons related to the fight for social justice.

Speaking with ESPN’s The Undefeated, Cloud explained, “It’s hard to think about basketball with the climate of what we’re in right now socially after George Floyd was murdered.” 

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