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Live from Super Bowl LIV week: Arash Markazi serves as your South Beach guide

Follow along and ask questions as Arash Markazi interviews celebrities and players, hits up parties and checks out the best food ahead of Super Bowl LIV.

The San Francisco 49ers stretch during practice at the University of Miami on Thursday.
(Michael Greaves / Getty Images)

Follow along and ask questions as Arash Markazi interviews celebrities and players, hits up parties and checks out the best food ahead of Super Bowl LIV.

Super Bowl party scene is getting hot amid tributes to Kobe Bryant

It’s not often you see Mark Cuban in a Lakers jersey, but that’s exactly what the made-for-TV entrepreneur and Dallas Mavericks owner was sporting while attending a party in South Beach on Saturday ahead of Super Bowl LIV.

Of course, it wasn’t just any Lakers jersey. It was Kobe Bryant’s No. 24 jersey. Cuban was a big fan of Bryant, and in the hours after the Lakers legend’s death, he said in a statement that no Mavericks player will ever wear No. 24 again out of respect for the Black Mamba.

Cuban wasn’t the only one sporting Bryant jerseys in South Beach on Saturday:

Jalen Ramsey calls Kobe Bryant’s death the biggest tragedy of his lifetime

Jalen Ramsey is taking part in the festivities at Super Bowl week in Miami, but the death of Lakers legend Kobe Bryant has reverberated deeply with the Rams cornerback.

“In my lifetime, it’s probably the biggest tragedy of like a legend or a icon that I looked up to,” Ramsey said, “just because I was a sports fan, in general. I play sports, I love sports, and Kobe is like the MJ of my generation, him and LeBron. It’s sad. It’s terrible. You want to see your legends live to be old, get to be there, to get inducted into the Hall of Fame and all the good stuff that comes along with it.

“It’s just a tragedy, in the end, for his daughter, and the families affected to be there with him. It makes it worse, to be honest.”

Aaron Donald prepared to work hard to get Rams back in the Super Bowl

Aaron Donald isn’t your typical NFL player.

For example, the Rams defensive tackle doesn’t like sauce on his pizza. One would have to assume that is unusual among NFL players. What the layperson would describe as cheesy bread, Donald calls his favorite pizza.

Pizza hot takes aside, it’s Donald’s penchant for terrorizing quarterbacks that makes him a truly unique pass rusher. Donald is in South Beach this week hanging out with some friends and doing some promotional side hustling, but he’d rather be talking to pool reporters after practice than hanging out by the proverbial pool in Miami.

“You work hard to try to make it to the Super Bowl,” Donald said. “Around this time last year we were practicing and preparing to play on Sunday. We just got to find ways to get better and try to find ways to get back to the Super Bowl.”

With the Rams’ offseason program set to begin in earnest in April, Donald is eager to get back to helping the Rams succeed.

“Training, bringing young guys along,” Donald said about his offseason plans. “Finding ways to try to improve my game. Trying to find ways to lead better ... so come next year, we’re ready, we have a better season, a more consistent season and trying to find a way to get to the Super Bowl.”

As for Sunday’s game, Donald is planning to watch the San Francisco 49ers and the Kansas City Chiefs from his home in Pittsburgh.

“I’m going to have my favorite pizza,” he said. “A couple boxes.”

Willie McGinest and DeAngelo Hall share their memories of Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant’s death and his legacy continue to be among the biggest talking points for current and former players attending NFL-related events in Miami this week.

Former New England Patriots standout Willie McGinest talks about how he and Patriots coach Bill Belichick became close to Bryant:

Former NFL cornerback DeAngelo Hall also shared a touching story of how Bryant texted him after he suffered a torn Achilles tendon in 2014:

Players aren’t the only ones with Bryant on their minds — fans are showing their love for him by wearing his jersey around South Beach.

Deion Sanders believes entry standards for the Hall of Fame have changed

Eli Manning announces his retirement
New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning formally announces his retirement during a news conference on Jan. 24.
(Elsa Garrison / Getty Images)

The legacy of Eli Manning’s 16-year NFL career has been a hotly debated since the New York Giants quarterback announced his retirement last week.

Manning won two Super Bowl titles — against the Tom Brady-led New England Patriots, no less — and was the Super Bowl MVP in both games. He owns several Giants records and ranks seventh all-time in NFL passing yards and passing touchdowns.

He also went 117-117 in the regular season and his last playoff win came in Super Bowl XLVI in February 2012.

It’s these contrasts that make Manning’s future gold jacket prospects debatable. Many former and current players believe he should be in Canton, Ohio, some day.

Hall of Fame cornerback Deion Sanders hasn’t said whether he believes Manning should be in or not, but the timing of his remarks about what he sees as a lowering of standards for entry into the Hall of Fame seems suspicious.

On the day Manning retired, Sanders told NFL Media he believed the Hall of Fame should be reserved for players who “redefined their position, made a big impact on the game or dominated their position for a period of time.” He went on to state that Manning did none of those things but would probably get in because of his two Super Bowl wins. He ended by stating, “It is what it is, man.”

On Thursday, Sanders more or less repeated what he stated eight days ago.

“Eli, I consider him a friend, I consider him a wonderful athlete that contributed a lot to this game,” Sanders said. “I’m saying in general, I’m just the only one who will stand up and say what everybody’s thinking.”

Michael Irvin ‘saddened’ by Antonio Brown’s off-field issues

“I’m saddened by it all.”

Antonio Brown isn’t playing in Super Bowl LIV, but the free-agent wide receiver has been a topic of discussion among the many current and former NFL players in South Beach this week.

Pro Football Hall of Fame wide receiver Michael Irvin discussed Brown’s off-field issues Thursday, questioning whether the one-time Steelers great will ever make an NFL comeback.

Brown was released on bail last week after turning himself in to Hollywood, Fla., police on suspicion of assault and burglary charges. Police allege Brown and his trainer attacked a moving-truck driver who was transporting some of his possessions to California.

Brown grew up in Miami, and Irvin said Brown proved his “fight and his tenacity” by overcoming many hardships in his youth to become an amazing NFL player.

“Sometimes our greatest asset becomes our greatest liability,” Irvin told reporters Thursday. "...He’s a fighter, I understand that, but right here, it’s not about fighting, it’s about listening. And just listening to other people who have his best interest at heart.”

Rolling cigars is probably harder than it looks

No trip to Miami would be complete without a little lesson in cigar making.

While the NFL is stealing the spotlight in South Beach ahead of Super Bowl LIV between the San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday, most of the city is business as usual — if you take away the hordes of fans and reporters all over the place.

What isn’t business as usual is former NFL great Eddie George showing off his DJ skills ahead of what likely will be a vibrant party scene this week.

Have questions for Arash? Hit him up at @latimessports. The more you engage, the better this South Beach trip to Super Bowl LIV will be.

Richard Sherman and Travis Kelce discuss Kobe Bryant’s impact

Super Bowl LIV is five days away, and the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers are in the thick of their daily media obligations as they try to stay focused on the big game ahead.

Still, the death of Kobe Bryant continues to be a big subject for many players.

Here’s what 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman and Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce had to say about Bryant’s legacy:

Have questions for Arash? Hit him up at @latimessports. The more you engage, the better this South Beach trip to Super Bowl LIV will be.

The San Francisco 49ers have won Super Bowl LIV, at least on ‘Madden’

San Francisco 49ers’ Richard Sherman and Kansas City Chiefs’ Travis Kelce gave fans a preview of Sunday’s Super Bowl on “Madden 20.” The two players showed off their video game skills and were in good spirits after the game. Could this be a preview for Sunday’s Super Bowl?

Rob Gronkowski and Tony Gonzalez share their thoughts on Kobe Bryant

Former New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski is making the rounds in South Beach this week ahead of Super Bowl LIV, but he wasn’t quite his normal self when speaking to reporters Tuesday.

The normally jovial Gronkowski was in an understandably somber mood when asked about his memories of Lakers legend Kobe Bryant, who died in a helicopter crash in Calabasas on Sunday.

Here’s what Gronk had to say about his best memory about Kobe:

Gronkowski wasn’t the only retired tight end to talk about Bryant on Tuesday.

Have questions for Arash? Hit him up at @latimessports. The more you engage, the better this South Beach trip to Super Bowl LIV will be.

Kyle Shanahan hit hard after hearing about Kobe Bryant

San Francisco 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan found out about Kobe Bryant’s passing after waking up from a nap on the plane heading to Miami. Shanahan immediately called his family after landing.

Joe Staley on Kobe Bryant: ‘The guy was supposed to live forever’

San Francisco 49ers offensive tackle Joe Staley talked about how Kobe Bryant was more than just a basketball player. Staley said Bryant was “an icon of sports” and how he “was supposed to live forever.”

DeForest Buckner on Kobe Bryant: ‘I didn’t want to believe it’

San Francisco 49ers defensive tackle DeForest Buckner did not want to believe the news on Kobe Bryant when he first heard. The incident made Buckner reflect on life.

Emmanuel Sanders still emotional thinking about Kobe Bryant

San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders is still emotional thinking about Kobe Bryant. He couldn’t believe it was true when his wife told him what happened Sunday. He was one of the first players on the 49ers’ plane to Miami to get the news.

Raheem Mostert praises Kobe Bryant: ‘His mentality was just ... unmatched’

San Francisco 49ers running back Raheem Mostert knows something about overcoming adversity. A veteran of five practice squads, Mostert was more or less considered an afterthought on the field before his breakout performance in the NFC title game against the Packers.

Six days away from the biggest game of his career, Mostert expressed praise for Kobe Bryant‘s drive and dedication to the pursuit of basketball perfection.

“He did all the right things,” Mostert said. “You never really heard anything bad about him. He’s always been a positive guy. His mentality was just ... unmatched. No one could really match that guy’s mentality and his pursuit. He’s always been a competitor.”

Have questions for Arash? Hit him up at @latimessports. The more you engage, the better this South Beach trip to Super Bowl LIV will be.

49ers linebacker Fred Warner on Kobe Bryant: ‘The whole situation is heartbreaking’

The Kansas City Chiefs weren’t the only ones to talk about the impact Kobe Bryant left on their lives.

San Francisco 49ers linebacker Fred Warner talked about what Bryant meant to him during his appearance at Super Bowl “Opening Night.”

“The whole situation is heartbreaking,” he said. "...It’s a very sad situation.”

Have questions for Arash? Hit him up at @latimessports. The more you engage, the better this South Beach trip to Super Bowl LIV will be.

Chiefs players talk about Kobe Bryant

Kansas City Chiefs teammates Tyrann Mathieu, Dustin Colquitt and Mitchell Schwartz were among the players who dedicated part of their Super Bowl “Opening Night” sit downs with the media to discuss the death of Kobe Bryant.

Have questions for Arash? Hit him up at @latimessports. The more you engage, the better this South Beach trip to Super Bowl LIV will be.

Andy Reid’s punt, pass and kick doppelganger is bringing it old school

Andy Reid is pretty cool. This is a guy who mail orders Tommy’s burgers from L.A. to his home in Kansas City — that’s pretty cool.

The whole Andy Reid mystique started long before he roamed the sidelines of the Kansas City Chiefs and Philadelphia Eagles. His legend was forever etched in infamy during his punt, pass and kick performance in December 1971 as a 13-year-old. All those Tommy’s hamburgers paid off then and had a profound effect on his still growing football skills.

Of course, that’s not stopping his imitators from making an appearance at Marlins Park during Super Bowl “Opening Night.” However, the fake retro Andy Reid doesn’t seem to hold the same amount of pizzazz as the authentic old-school Reid. The guy next to him is a man bun taller.

Have questions for Arash? Hit him up at @latimessports. The more you engage, the better this South Beach trip to Super Bowl LIV will be.

Moment of silence held before the start of Super Bowl “Opening Night”

A moment of silence in memory of NBA great Kobe Bryant takes place during Super Bowl "Opening Night" at Marlins Park in Miami.
(Michael Reaves / Getty Images)

The NFL held a moment of silence to honor the memory of Lakers legend Kobe Bryant, who was killed along with eight others, including his daughter Gianna in a helicopter crash in Calabasas on Sunday.

One of the world’s most popular athletes, Kobe Bryant was on the minds of many of the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers players during the annual media festivities that accompany every Super Bowl week. Bryant’s larger-than-life persona seemed to loom over the large crowd attending the event at Marlins Park.

Have questions for Arash? Hit him up at @latimessports. The more you engage, the better this South Beach trip to Super Bowl LIV will be.

Kobe Bryant on the minds of the players, including LeSean McCoy

One of the biggest talking points at Super Bowl “Opening Night” at Marlins Park in Miami on Monday was the death of Lakers legend Kobe Bryant.

Kansas City Chiefs veteran running back LeSean McCoy was shocked by the news of his death. He says Bryant had a big influence on his life and shared with Arash Markazi what it was like to meet Bryant for the first time during his days with the Philadelphia Eagles.

Have questions for Arash? Hit him up at @latimessports. The more you engage, the better this South Beach trip to Super Bowl LIV will be.