By Sam Page
February 03, 2016

Little Messi fan to meet his idol

Five-year-old Murtaza Ahmadi, who became famous online for wearing a Messi jersey made out of a plastic bag, may get to meet his favorite player. The Afghanistan Football Federation is working with Messi's people to set up a get-together.

"Murtaza can't hold it," his father, Mohammad Arif Ahmadi told Al Jazeera. "He is so excited by the news of meeting Messi. We don't know when is it going to happen, but we are humbled by the response we got."

Ahmadi's picture spread on the internet after his older brother, Homayoun, gave him a makeshift jersey made out of a plastic bag with Messi's name and number 10 written on the back. The Afghanistan Football Federation has also vowed to do whatever they can to train Murtaza so he can one day play for the national team.

Return of the Mac

Oilers phemom Connor McDavid returned from a broken collarbone last night and, uh, score this unbelievable goal....Read our cover story on the rookie here.

Durant to the Warriors?!

Kevin Durant doesn't become a free agent until after this season, but rumors and reports about his intentions are already rampant. Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical reported that the 44–4 Golden State Warriors are currently the front-runners to sign the 2014 MVP. Just imagine a starting lineup of Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Durant, Draymond Green, and Andrew Bogut. If they could make it work, that team could be the greatest of all time.

One NBA coach who won't miss Kobe...

He's just kidding...we think.

Woops!

Today's Peanuts

(Photo credit: STR/AFP/Getty Images)

The Houston Rockets have no plans to trade center Dwight Howard before the Feb. 18 trade deadline, according to Calvin Watkins and Marc Stein of ESPN. Houston instead would like to re-sign Howard and make an “all-out pursuit” of Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant this off-season, Watkins and Stein reported.

Durant’s close relationship with former teammate James Harden could help its case.

On Wednesday, Frank Isola of the New York Daily News reported The Boston Celtics and Rockets engaged in discussions about a trade involving Howard. 

• Thunder superstar Kevin Durant addresses Warriors free agency rumor

The eight-time All Star is averaging 14.4 points and 11.8 rebounds in 31.9 minutes a game this season. However, the big man has dealt with knee and back issues in recent years.

Howard, 30, has also displayed recent frustration on the court, racking up technicals and being suspended one game for making contact with an official. He has been called for 12 technical fouls this season.

Howard has the option of becoming a free agent on July 1 and could leave the team without anything coming back in return. He hopes to stay in Houston for the remainder of this season before potentially opting out, Watkins and Stein reported.

NADKARNI: James Harden Q&A on the Warriors, NBA lessons and more

The Rockets (26–25) are currently seventh in the Western Conference, while the Celtics (28–22) are fourth in the Eastern Conference. 

Reigning NBA MVP and Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry sat down with SI’s Matt Dollinger for a one-on-one interview on Wednesday, in which he recounted a teaching moment between him and Kobe Bryant.

In the interview, Curry, who was recently named an NBA All-Star for the third time, counted a conversation with Bryant at a past All-Star Game as the best advice the Lakers legend had ever given him.

“Two years ago, during the All-Star Game, we were talking and he was talking about his competitiveness and just his drive to be great,” Curry said. “His biggest thing is as a teammate, you obviously want the best and to get the best out of your teammates. He didn’t care if his teammates liked him in the moment. If he got on them, if he yelled at them, or whatever, he expected greatness from them. At the end of the day, if they got a championship, they always appreciated his value to the team. That just showed a lot about his drive and his will to win.”

Bryant, who will retire at the end of the season, will play in his 18th All-Star Game on Feb. 14 in Toronto.

• GOLLIVER: Vintage Kobe carries Lakers to win

See the rest of the interview here.

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