NBA Roundup: Long wait over; Irving donates $1.5M; Eagles pay tribute to Kobe

LeBron James LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers (Joe Murphy / NBAE via Getty Images / AFP)

Lakers rout Wizards minus key players

No LeBron James. No Anthony Davis. No problem.

The Los Angeles Lakers didn't need their two superstars in dealing the Washington Wizards a 123-116 beating in their final scrimmage at the NBA bubble in Orlando.

JR Smith led the Purple and Gold with 20 points. Dion Waiters added 18 while Alex Caruso chipped in 17.

James did not play as he was on a planned absence while Davis is recuperating from a poked eye from their last game.

Also, the Lakers missed two key cogs -- Kyle Kuzma and Dwight Howard due to injuries.

But their services were not necessary as other players stepped up.

The Lakers face the LA Clippers without Lou Williams -- on a 10-day quarantine for a side trip to Atlanta -- at the start of the bubble.


Kyrie Irving of the Brooklyn Nets

Brooklyn Nets superstar comes to aid of WNBA opt-outs

Kyrie Irving is extending a helping hand.

The Brooklyn Nets guard is donating $1.5 million to WNBA players sitting out the season.

A couple of WNBA players have opted not to play due to COVID-19 and various reasons.

The amount coming from the KAI Empowerment Initiative which Irving had earlier launched will complement the income of WNBA players sitting out. It will also ease their worries about a paycheck.


kobe bryant NBA2K Late Lakers legend Kobe Bryant honored in the Current and Next Gen Mamba Forever edition of the NBA 2K21 cover. (NBA2K Images)

Philadelphia Eagles put up Kobe Bryant mural

Add this to the many murals paying tribute to the late Kobe Bryant.

The Philadelphia Eagles have added a memorial wall to their practice facility which has three images of the Philadelphia-born Bryant.

These are Bryant playing for Lower Merion High School in Philadelphia, in a Los Angeles Lakers uniform, and a Philadephia Eagles jersey.

Kobe's 10 Rules can also be seen in the wall.

An ardent Eagles fan, Bryant, daughter Gianna, and several others were killed in a helicopter crash last January.

A mural in honor of Kobe can also be seen in the country, on a basketball court in a tenement in Taguig City.


Safety measures for NBA referees

Safety is a must in this pandemic. And the NBA is taking no chances to make the season restart as safe as it can be.

League referees now have a small cloth bag covering their whistles to contain spittles from their mouths and the object during gameplay.

"Obviously, with health and wellness being in the forefront of everything that we're doing here in the bubble at Disney, we wanted to make sure that we had something in place for the whistles,'' said Monty McCutchen,  NBA vice president monitoring the referee program. ''In what used to be a normal world, we didn't worry about what came out of a whistle ... spittle or moisture or a mist or any combination of those was not a concern for us. It is now, and it needs to be.''

Aside from the NBA, the WNBA is also using cloth bags for the high-tech whistles to catch spittle.


Long wait over. NBA restart kicks off Thursday

Scrimmages have ended and the restart of the NBA season starts Thursday (Friday in Manila).

A double header kicks off the restart with the Lakers squaring off against crosstown rivals the LA Clippers and the Utah Jazz taking on the New Orleans Pelicans.

The status of Pelican Zion Williamson against Rudy Gobert and company is uncertain following  a mandatory four-day quarantine after leaving Orlando.

With no fans watching at the bubble, it will entirely be a new scenario for spectators at home, coaches, venue staff, and the players themselves.

Despite this, the NBA has vowed to bring the real-life arena vibe when the restart goes underway. (Compiled by Tristan Lozano)