Kevin Love Authentic Jersey

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. — New Cleveland Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue says Kevin Love(Kevin Love Jersey)’s All-Star snub is unprecedented for a first-place team.

“I just thought, in this league it’s always been about winning and winning has always been rewarded,” Lue said before the Cavs’ shootaround Friday morning in preparation for their game against the Detroit Pistons. “Being No. 1 in the East and Kevin being one of four guys in the NBA to average a double-double on a winning team, I’ve just never seen being a first-place team and getting one guy in. I’ve never seen that before.”

Lue’s stat supporting Love was a little off. There are actually seven players on winning teams averaging a double-double this season — Love, Hassan Whiteside, DeAndre Jordan, Andre Drummond, Dwight Howard, Pau Gasol and Zaza Pachulia. Only one of them, Drummond, made the All-Star team, as a reserve, voted in by the coaches.

LeBron James was asked whether he thought coach David Blatt’s firing — a move that coaches universally panned throughout the league — could have affected their voting process when it came to Love’s candidacy.

“I haven’t seen any of the coaches speak out on it, so I really haven’t noticed it much,” James said. “But, we got to earn our respect, as a team and as a franchise we got to continue to earn our respect. It’s just another notion of that.”

Love is averaging 15.7 points, 10.8 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.0 steals this season. His rebounds, assists and steals are all slightly up from a season ago, but his scoring has taken a dip, as have his shooting percentages (41.8 percent from the floor, 35.8 percent from 3).

“I think there’s a lot of good players in the East,” Love said when asked about being left off the team for the second straight year after making the February festivities three out of his final four seasons in Minnesota. “I’ve said that all along, especially at the forward position, too, with the starters. I think it’s a good team on both sides.”

Love finished eighth in voting among all frontcourt players in the East. Chris Bosh, playing for the seventh-place Heat; Paul Millsap, playing for the third-place Hawks; and Drummond, playing for the sixth-place Pistons, were selected as frontcourt reserves ahead of Love.

James, set to play in his 12th straight All-Star game, said the Cavs should feel misrepresented without Love and Kyrie Irving suiting up with the league’s best.

“It’s definitely a kick in the rear end for our team for sure, knowing all the work we put into it and knowing the two other guys,” James said. “You know, Kyrie’s games being limited like that, I figured the coaches wouldn’t give him the nod, but you know he’s an All-Star. And then with Kev, I think Kev has played great basketball for the first half of the season. He could’ve been awarded, but hopefully those guys use it as motivation for the rest of the season and the team will as well.”

Back in October, after the Cavs’ second game of the season, James declared of Love, “He’s going to have a hell of a season. He’s going to get back to that All-Star status.”

It looked that way for a while, with Love averaging 19.9 points on 47.1 percent shooting (41.2 percent from 3) and 11.8 rebounds in 14 games in November. But his season then went on the decline, averaging 12.7 points on 37.3 percent shooting (27.1 percent from 3) and 9.2 rebounds in 13 games in December and 13.4 points on 39.4 percent shooting (34.8 percent from 3) and 10.9 rebounds in 14 games in January so far.

Is Love disappointed, considering how promising of a start he got off to?

“Yeah,” Love said, “but you knew that everybody getting back there would be a couple things that changed. Now just finding a way to adapt to Coach Lue’s style and go from there.”

He was also asked whether the snub could be used as motivation for him and Irving, as James suggested.

“Uh, sure,” Loves said. “I don’t know if Kyrie or myself need more added motivation, but we’ll take anything we can get.”

Kobe Bryant Authentic Jersey

OAKLAND, Calif. — As the Lakers’ general manager who helped engineer a trade that brought Kobe Bryant(Kobe Bryant Jersey) to Los Angeles, Jerry West had a daily firsthand view of a budding 17-year-old who would extend the good fortune of a legendary franchise and help rekindle a post-Michael Jordan NBA.

West, now an executive board member for the Golden State Warriors, reflected Thursday night on Bryant’s career, calling him a one-of-a-kind player with a global appeal who would be nearly impossible for the league to replace.

“He was a showman, but he also was a winner,” West said. “And he has [left] a legacy throughout the world. Millions of people love this guy, and millions of people will miss what he was able to accomplish in his career.”

West took in Bryant’s final game against Golden State from an Oracle Arena luxury suite 20 years after trading center Vlade Divac to the Charlotte Hornets for Bryant, whom the Hornets had just drafted out of Lower Merion High School in suburban Philadelphia.

“I’ve always had a fondness for him as a player,” West said. “Sometimes he would disappoint me with some of the things he would say, in particular with regards to players who would not play as hard as him. Number one, they couldn’t play as hard as him, but number two, they didn’t have the skill to play as hard as him.

“But I think on the balance, this has been a remarkable player, a player for the decades, simply one of the greatest players that ever played the game. And I’m talking about a handful of guys that ever played the game.”

West called Bryant an “incredibly gifted all-around player.”

“But I think you should look farther than that,” West said. “I think in the NBA he will be one of those players that will be perceived as one of the 10 top players of all time, probably higher, because I don’t want to demean anyone that’s played this game at eye level. I don’t.

“But for a franchise to have someone that long, for 20 years, it’s pretty amazing. He’s left a lot of big footprints there. I don’t see anyone there now that’s going to be able to step into those footprints. I’m hopeful they will find one one day.”

The Lakers’ swap for Bryant has long been considered lopsided, given that Bryant went on to become one of the best Lakers in franchise history, helping them to five NBA championships.

Yet West said the deal wasn’t as uneven as people believe.

“It was not a one-sided trade,” he said. “Charlotte won over 50 games that year with Vlade as a starter. So I think it’s almost demeaning to Vlade and to Charlotte to even think that that was something that was an error for them.”

West called Divac an “All-Star center and a starting center for a lot of teams in this league.”

“We offered Vlade Divac from the No. 1 pick in the draft all the way down to [the 13th overall pick], and finally Charlotte, who needed a center desperately, agreed to do this,” he said.

Of Bryant’s draft position, West said, “Frankly, I thought he should have been taken No. 1, but that was my thought.

“He was special. I’m surprised other people did not draft him. I’m really surprised, because he was really special.”

West also credited Bryant’s agent at the time, Arn Tellem, with helping steer Bryant to the Lakers.

“His agent, Arn Tellem, told the New Jersey Nets … [that Bryant] didn’t want to play there,” West said. “It was too close to Philadelphia. Other teams talked about drafting him, and we didn’t hear much talk about it at all.

“Then Kobe’s parents got involved, and he would really basically try to tell people that he didn’t want to play so close to his hometown. So to say that we did this on our own would be fiction. We had a lot of help along the way.”

The Nets had the eighth overall pick that year and worked out Bryant, but they selected guard Kerry Kittles out of Villanova instead.

West has long regarded Bryant’s draft workout with the Lakers, held in Inglewood, California, as the best workout he has ever seen.

“I think the one thing that was very evident to me right away was this was a player that, from my perspective at 17 years old, I’d never seen anyone with the skill level that he had,” West said. “He was really unique.”

Now 37, Bryant, who is planning to retire this summer after 20 years in the NBA, said he remembered being “extremely excited” for that workout.

“Jerry, I had grown up watching for so many years,” he said before the Lakers’ 116-98 loss to the Warriors on Thursday. “I had a great opportunity to talk to him beforehand and then to have him watching me was pretty sweet.”

Bryant, who grew up a Lakers fan, recalled how he had wanted to show West and the other members of the Lakers who were there that day how much he enjoyed the game, enjoyed competing and physical challenges.

“And all the while having to prove that 17 [years old] is, ‘You know, listen, I’m fine,’ ” Bryant said. “You don’t have to worry about me. You don’t have to give me a bib. No pacifier. You don’t have to have somebody tuck me in. I’m ready to go. If I get knocked down, I will be fine. Those were some of the main things, really.”

Bryant teared up as a taped video tribute from West aired before the game.

“That was a tough one for me to get through,” Bryant said afterward. “That got me a little bit.”

Bryant called West “the man that believed in me from the beginning.”

“The conversation that I had with him sitting in the Forum locker room and just being in awe of sitting in Magic’s locker and sitting next to Jerry West talking about basketball,” Bryant said. “That’s before anybody knew anything. That was special.”

The Lakers ultimately acquired Bryant, and moving Divac allowed them to clear cap room so they could offer more money to Shaquille O’Neal, then a free agent.

Those two moves, as West said, “changed the course of a franchise that had been very good, but put it on a track to have incredible success for so many years.” Bryant would go on to win five championships, three of them alongside O’Neal.

Regarding taking Bryant, West said, “Again, we weren’t geniuses. Trust me, we weren’t. We had a lot of good fortune in Los Angeles, a lot. … To look at this kid and see the skill he had, and he couldn’t sit still. They show pictures on TV where there’s a storm and electric lines are down, and they’re jumping, going all over the place — he’s jumping, making sparks. That’s who he was. You could see that.”

Yet Bryant still had a long way to go, West said.

“I was fortunate enough to be, frankly, like a father to him for the first couple years in Los Angeles,” he said. “He spent time in my house, interacted with him. Tried to be a father figure to tell him that this is not as easy as you think it’s going to be, regardless of how skilled you are. I said, ‘You’re going to have to learn how to play with your teammates. You’re going to have to learn how to play an NBA game. This is not one against five; it’s five against five.’

“They used to call him ‘Showboat.’ … And I told him, that’s not a becoming name. I said, you don’t want to be a showboat. When somebody looks at you, they want to see the greatness you can attain if you change some of the things you’re doing. And, boy, did he ever do that.”

Peyton Manning Elite Jersey

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Peyton Manning(Peyton Manning Jersey) will be the Denver Broncos’ quarterback in the playoffs, coach Gary Kubiak told the team Thursday morning.

Manning, who missed six consecutive starts because of a tear in his plantar fascia near his left heel, was used for 29 plays in relief of Brock Osweiler in Sunday’s regular-season finale and led the Broncos on four scoring drives in the 27-20 victory.

“I’m just looking forward to being able to contribute,” Manning said Thursday. “No issues coming out of the game Sunday.”

Kubiak said Monday he had “no timeline” to name a starter for the Broncos’ Jan. 17 playoff opener, but many of the players had hoped to hear a decision Thursday, when they returned to work after three days off.

Kubiak told the two quarterbacks of his decision, then told the team in a morning meeting.

“Looking forward to Peyton leading our football team, feel very good about that,” Kubiak said. “Best for our football team, but I also know Brock will be ready to play.”

Osweiler was 4-2 as a starter and a key contributor to the Broncos’ earning home-field advantage in the AFC in Manning’s absence.

“It’s a bit of a disappointment,” Osweiler said Thursday. “It’s hard to hear you’re not going to be the one playing. … However, I’m a big team player.

“You’re going to see the same exact guy out of me that you’ve seen, you know, the whole season. Bottom line: I just care about this football team winning games. And if Coach thinks Peyton gives the team the best chance, then I fully support that.”

Kubiak has said repeatedly that he has conveyed to both quarterbacks that the Broncos “will need everybody” in the postseason.

Earlier this week, Kubiak said “there’s always going to be tough decisions to make” but that he was “going to always go with what’s best for the football team.”

“I feel really good about this,” Kubiak said Thursday. “I feel good about how far Peyton has come, where he’s at physically, mentally, everything. I could see it happening the last two weeks. I’m excited for him to get going.”

Manning was 5-of-9 passing for 69 yards and led the team on four scoring drives — two touchdowns, two field goals — against the San Diego Chargers on Sunday. The Broncos rushed for a season-best 210 yards in the game.

“I wouldn’t have told Coach Kubiak I was ready to dress out last Sunday had I not felt good,” Manning said Thursday. “I felt like I put it through a lot of tests during my rehab and tried to really test it, so I felt good going into the game Sunday, had no issues coming out [of the game].”

The game was Manning’s first action since being removed from the team’s Nov. 15 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, and it was the first time since 1994, when he was a freshman at the University of Tennessee, that he was in uniform as a backup quarterback in a game.

“I knew he still had it,” wide receiver Demaryius Thomas said after Sunday’s game. “It was a matter of giving him an opportunity to get healthy.”

“I’ve just never been through anything like that before,” Manning said. “I’ve played every single game that I’ve been in football except for four years ago [when he missed the 2011 season while recovering from a neck injury]. I don’t really know what can prepare you for something like this. It felt like I hadn’t played in a little bit.”

The Broncos practice Thursday, Friday and Saturday before resuming their usual game-week schedule next week.

Denver plays in the AFC divisional playoffs on Jan. 17 against the lowest remaining seed from Saturday’s wild-card games — either the Pittsburgh Steelers, Chiefs or Houston Texans.