Mamba Challenges: Western Conference

Kobe Bryant’s #MambaMentality Challenges, Part II

(Nice Kicks)

You know the drill — 15 Western Conference teams, 3 Mamba Challenges per team, challenges are all written in 1st person/Mamba. Let’s go!

Quick update on Kobe’s original challenges:

Isaiah Thomas has accepted his challenge (despite reports that he will miss a significant amount of time this season).

Another update — Ben McLemore is still waiting for his challenge from Kobe:

I will say that I’m impressed with Ben for taking his L like a man and not deleting his tweet — maybe there’s hope for him after all.


Northwest Division

Denver Nuggets

Dear _______________: Kobe challenges you to__________________

Nikola Jokić: Join the 20p/10r/5a Club

It’s a very select group — only 11 players in NBA history have accomplished this feat. (Larry Bird is the leader in the clubhouse — he did it 5 years in a row!!)

Obligatory Jokić pass (youtube.com/NBA)

Paul Millsap: Make the All-Star Team in the West

You played 4 years in the Eastern Conference and made 4 All-Star Teams. Show the Mamba you can do it in the superior Western Conference.

Gary Harris: Make The Leap

You’re one of the best young 2-way guards in the NBA. Hell, the Nuggets balked at the idea of trading you and Jamal Murray for Kyrie Irving. Reward the team by playing at a borderline All-Star level this season.

Minnesota T’Wolves

Dear _______________: Kobe challenges you to__________________

Karl Anthony-Towns: Give us 8 months of post-All Star Break KAT

(basketball-reference.com)

You’re 2nd half of last season — holy hell!! Those are some Hakeem Olajuwon-type numbers. Give me 8 months (yes, 8 — because y’all better still be playing in May) of that production and Adam Silver will give you an MVP trophy.

Tom Thibodeau: Learn from your mistakes

Stop running your best players into the ground! You did it with Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, Luol Deng and Jimmy Butler for the Bulls and are already doing it with Andrew Wiggins and Karl Anthony-Towns (they were №1 & №2 in minutes played last season!). Dial it back just a little, develop your bench, and play for May and June, not November and December.

Jimmy Butler: Average 7 assists per game

Do as I say, not as I have done — your new team needs another playmaker after turning Ricky Rubio into Jeff Teague. You averaged 5.5 assists a night last year — up that to 7 and the T’Wolves are probably a pseudo-contender come playoff time.

Oklahoma City Thunder

Dear _______________: Kobe challenges you to__________________

Russell Westbrook: Lead the NBA in assists, not points

You’ve already proved you could lead the league in points per game while averaging a triple-double — an absurd feat! Now that you actually have another competent offensive player with you (Paul George), you don’t need to score 30+ a game. Lead the league in assists instead!

(Gfycat)

Paul George: Be the best 2-way player in the NBA

Kawhi Leonard has a stranglehold on this crown, but you’re pretty damn close. Playing alongside Russ will give you the opportunity to show off all facets of your game — take advantage!

Andre Roberson: Shoot 30% from 3 and 60% from the line

Dude, you’re a professional basketball player and a could be a damn good one if you could become a below-average shooter (you’re a horrendous shooter at the moment).

(Uproxx)

Portland Trail Blazers

Dear _______________: Kobe challenges you to__________________

Damian Lillard: Join the 50/40/90 Club (FG% / 3FG%/ FT%)

I hope you spent your entire offseason listening to every basketball analyst rave about how great Steph Curry and Kyrie Irving are. You know you’re capable of going toe-to-toe with both of them. You’re a rapper — so give us a “Forgot about Dre” season.

CJ McCollum: Make the All-Star Team

You’re one of the most creative and efficient players in the NBA — keep expanding your game!

(youtube.com/NBA)

Neil Olshey: Go get Carmelo Anthony

Dame and CJ have spent the entire summer working out with and trying to woo Hoodie ‘Melo. Hope you’re ready to pull the trigger if he waives his no-trade clause.

Utah Jazz

Dear _______________: Kobe challenges you to__________________

Derrick Favors: Stop sending impermissible gifts to Sports Illustrated’s Ben Golliver and Rob Mahoney

You averaged 16p/8r in 2015–16. Curiously, the SI guys ranked you as the №28 player in the NBA going into last season. Then, you averaged 9p/6r last season . . . and they still ranked you as the №67 player!!! You deserved to be ranked №267.

Donovan Mitchell: Win Rookie of the Year

We both fell to №13 in the NBA Draft — I didn’t win Rookie of the Year, but I ended up being the best player in my draft class. Can you do one better?

Rodney Hood: Led the team in scoring

Gordon Hayward left for greener (and whiter) pastures in Boston. George Hill signed a nice deal to be De’Aaron Fox’s mentor in SacTown. Rudy Gobert dominates on defense. The Jazz need a go-to scorer. Channel your inner-Mamba and get 20+ a night.

Pacific Division

Golden State Warriors

Dear _______________: Kobe challenges you to__________________

Kevin Durant: 55/40/90 (FG% / 3FG%/ FT%)

You went 53/38/88 in the regular season and 56/44/89 in the postseason . Go for 55/40/90 this year. Then you and Steph can debate who had the best shooting season ever (he went 50/45/91 during his unanimous MVP season).

Steph Curry: Average a career-high in assists (>8.5)

I mean, there ain’t much else for you to improve on ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.

Klay Thompson: Hit 300+ 3-pointers

Your career-high is 276 — only Steph has crossed the 300 mark (he also crossed the 400 mark 2 years ago!)

LA Clippers

Dear _______________: Kobe challenges you to__________________

Doc Rivers: Overachieve with this roster

You haven’t overachieved with a team since 2012 — when you were a LeBron James masterpiece away from taking an old, raggedy, Rajon Rondo-led Celtics team to an inexplicable Finals appearance. Lead this scrappy, well-rounded Clippers team to the 2nd Round of the Playoffs.

Blake Griffin: RUN!!!

Hollywood’s hottest new celebrity couple — Blendall (HawtCelebs)

What on God’s green earth would make you decide to date a Kardashian/Jenner in a career-defining season? Can your celebrity couple name at least be “Blendall”?

Milos Teodosic: Make at least one “Holy $^&%” pass a game

(youtube.com)

^^These passes — good lord! The NBA is more fast-paced, more pick-n-roll heavy and has better athletes to pass to than the Euro-Leagues. Make a couple insane passes each night and Clippers fans might get over the loss of Chris Paul a lot sooner than expected.

LA Lakers

Dear _______________: Kobe challenges you to__________________

Lonzo Ball: Walk the walk for LaVar

Phew, your pops sure can talk the talk. Funny thing is — you’ve made a habit of making him look like a prophet. Do it again and lead the Baby Lakers to the playoffs.

Brandon Ingram: Win the Most Improved Player Award

Word has it, you’ve grown 2 inches this offseason and are killing it in pickup games. Let’s see that translate to the regular season.

Magic Johnson: Get someone else to run your Twitter account

(Twitter)

Phoenix Suns

Dear _______________: Kobe challenges you to__________________

Devin Booker: Score 70 again

(Hoops Junction)

Josh Jackson: Earn this . . . Earn it

The Suns think so highly of you that they wouldn’t include you in a deal for Kyrie Freaking Irving!! Earn this, kid . . . Earn it.

(Tom McLaughlin/Saving Private Ryan)

Marquese Chriss/Dragan Bender: One of you show some promise

You both are “raw” and full of “potential” . . . yeah whatever. I doubt either of you ever make an impact in this league. Prove me wrong and show some promise this year.

Sacramento Kings

Dear _______________: Kobe challenges you to__________________

Vivek Ranadivé: Be a “hands-off” owner

Everything you’ve touched as owner of the Kings has turned to 💩 — stop micro-managing! Let the people you hired who know basketball make all the basketball decisions.

Vince Carter: Participate in the Dunk Contest

You put on the best dunk performance ever back in 2000, yet you can somehow still do this at age 40:

(youtube.com/NBA)

Make the Dunk Contest great again!

Zach Randolph: Please get yourself a “fall guy”

How many times are you going to get caught with enormous amounts of weed? Stop keeping drugs on your person and, for goodness sake, do like Cris Carter said and have a “fall guy!”


Southwest Division

Dallas Mavericks

Dear _______________: Kobe challenges you to__________________

Dirk Nowitzki: Don’t do what I did

Please don’t announce that this is your last season and do the farewell tour thing — that was excruciating for everyone to watch 😳.

Dennis Smith Jr.: Finish next time!

(youtube.com)

Seth Curry: Out-shoot your brother from 3 again

People forget that you actually shot better than your older bro from 3 last season (42.5% to 41.1%). Do it again!

Houston Rockets

Dear _______________: Kobe challenges you to__________________

James Harden: Get your jersey retired like me

Oh, wait . . . I forgot that you actually beat me to it by getting your J retired in a Houston-area strip club. Alright then, go win MVP instead.

Chris Paul: Make 200 from beyond the arc

Your efficiency from 3 is amongst the best in the league — let’s see you develop more of a catch-and-shoot 3-point game this season so that Harden’s driving lanes remain wide open.

Mike D’Antoni: Make it all work

Naysayers will point out that “there’s only 1 ball” and that Harden and CP3 are too ball-dominant to play together. You’re the offensive genius — find a way to make it work!

Memphis Grizzlies

Dear _______________: Kobe challenges you to__________________

Mike Conley: Make the All-Star Team

You’re already the best player to never had made an All-Star team — much of that can be attributed to untimely injuries, bad luck and playing in the same conference as a handful of some of the most popular and talented point guards ever (CP3, Steph, Russ, Harden, Parker, Dame, etc.). Put an end to it this year.

Coach Fitzdale: Successfully transition the team out of the Grit-N-Grind Era

Gone are the Grindfathers — Z-Bo and Tony Allen — time to embrace a more modern style of play. Can you successfully transition this team without alienating the fan base?

Chandler Parsons: Score more points than Instagram posts by the end of November

It took you all the way until freaking late-January to do so last SZN.

New Orleans Pelicans

Dear _______________: Kobe challenges you to__________________

Anthony Davis: Demand a trade

Get yourself to a better organization — you deserve to play in big games!

(Row 12)

DeMarcus Cousins: Be a model teammate for 1 season

A feat you have yet to accomplish in your 7-year career thus far.

Jrue Holiday: Play all 82 games

A feat you have only accomplished once in your 8-year career thus far.

San Antonio Spurs

Dear _______________: Kobe challenges you to__________________

Kawhi Leonard: Become the best player in the NBA

Michael Jordan said you were the best 2-way player in the league. You’re not that far from being the best player in the league either. I’ll put it this way — you’re the only guy I’ve ever seen make LeBron James do this:

(https://usatftw.files.wordpress.com/2013/06/lebronkawhi.gif)

Greg Popovich: Work another miracle

You’ve won at least 50 games every year since the dawn of time. You’ll do it again this season too, but I just don’t see how this roster can compete for a title — prove us wrong again!

Dejounte Murray: Earn the starting point guard role

Tony Parker is old and injured. Patty Mills is better-suited as a spark plug off the bench. The opportunity is there for ya kid.


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