Kobe's media day Q&A
Here's some copy from the media session with Kobe. There was also a radio interview with 570-AM KLAC's Matt "Money" Smith. As BK and I predicted, Kobe reported to media day (and, subsequently, camp), as expected. As BK and I predicted, he didn't look all that amped to be there. Did he look ready, focused, determined? Yes, on all counts, without a doubt. But he definitely didn't strike me as truly thrilled about the team as a whole. I also thought his comments reflected more acceptance than true confidence when it comes to the majority of his teammates. Is this a problem? Will it even matter? Ask me after 20 games. But at any rate, with Kobe officially in a Laker uni, I think it's safe to say that any drama surrounding him will instantaneously cease to exist.
Along those lines, I also have a bridge in Brooklyn that any reader who believes the above statement might be interested in purchasing.
Q: Is there any sense of frustration because there weren't any huge moves made in the off-season?
Kobe Bryant: No. I just leave that up to management. Right now, my focus and my mind has to be on this team, what we have here and getting us to another level. It's going to require everybody doing what they're doing, going the extra mile a little bit. We're gonna be asked to make some sacrifices, in terms of getting into the gym early, staying, working hard and doing the extra things to be a true competitor in this league, particularly in the Western Conference. We have an uphill battle, but the only thing you can do is walk that hill.
Q: Did you have a change of heart or are you just accepting the situation for what it is?
KB: I'm going to do what I need to do to help us win, you know what I mean? When the season starts, it's not my place here to say we need to do this and we need to do this. It's not my job. My job is to come out here on the floor and help us win ballgames. Help Kwame Brown be better. Help Lamar (Odom) be better. Help Luke (Walton) be better. That's my place.
Q: Do you regret any of the things you said in the off-season?
KB: You know what? The way that it all came out, how everything, absolutely. I think if there was a way to do it differently, I think we all would have done it. That being said, the way I think they've been handling the last month and a half or so, it's been great for us. It probably hasn't been so great for (the media), but there was never a doubt that I was coming to camp. They knew that. I knew that. We all knew that for a long time, but sometimes when things get out there it tends to escalate, and that's something we don't want. We don't want it to be a distraction. There's a lot of media people here. Hopefully, a lot of you guys will go home after today. (Laughs)
Q: Everyone saw how you played this summer with Team USA, and your game can be a lot different if you have more help in different ways on the floor. Is that kind of what you were addressing with the comments?
KB: Well, it just makes your life easier. Playing on a team like that, I was really excited because I could really focus on one side of the floor. I love playing defense. I don't have to worry about scoring. LeBron, Melo, they were going to do all that. My assignment was to shut the other guy down, so I could focus all my energy on that, and then getting into the paint and creating opportunities for other people. Kind of being more of a penetrate and pitch guy.
Q: But now you're back and more than likely having to do everything on both sides of the floor again. That's got to be frustrating.
KB: I'm gonna require some of the guys to carry that load with me. Four years now we've been together. It has to be a heightened sense of responsibility for them to produce. Also, for me to demand more out of them and try to elevate them on a daily basis. We're gonna have to rely on each other here from the beginning if we're gonna do something this season.
Q: Are you confident they can do that?
KB: I am. I think they want to do that. I think that's the first step. Then after that, it's all about execution. The NBA is such a long season. A lot of things factor into that. But as long as we're committed to being together and sacrificing individual accolades for the benefit of the team, we'll be fine.
Q: Did you seek any input from Coach K or any of your Team USA teammates in terms of what you were going through?
KB: You know what, man? We just had a blast. We just had a good time. With the experience for me in the past sometimes, when you get a team like that, you have certain cliques. Two or three guys hang out. That team, everybody, we all hung out together. So we just had a good time. It's carried for me for the rest of the summer, because I've been having a blast ever since.
Q: You said before that you talked to Mitch Kupchak about the things you said before and even used the word "apologized." You also said things about Andrew Bynum and Jerry Buss. Did you feel the need to talk individually with them, too?
KB: Andrew and I didn't talk, but we texted each other. He's 17 years old. I don't think he knows how to answer the phone. He texts. I was in Rome, texted him, he hollered back and I just let him know, "Sorry how that stuff came out." He said he understood kind of where I was coming from and the frustration that I feel, because I want to win right now. And that was that.
Q: And Jerry Buss?
KB: Well, from what I understand about Jerry from the stuff that people have been telling me, he's been kind of out of the loop the last two years. Just to see how the organization would run, or what have you. But now, my understanding is that he's kinda of going to be back in the mix now.
Q: Can this team compete in the West as it is?
KB: We'll see. We'll see. All we can do is put one foot in front of the other. We're gonna go out there, work hard every day and bring it. We'll see what happens. One game at a time. We'll see what happens.
Q: What would it take for you to be satisfied, not look to opt out in the next two years and finish your career as a Laker?
KB: I think the important thing for everyone to understand is that I want to bring a title back to L.A. That's priority No. 1 for me, to bring a title back here. I obviously have to trust that we're all on the same page in terms of getting that done.
AK: At this point, are you buying in to what's happening right now? Are you buying into the direction of the organization?
KB: I'm a soldier, man. It's not a soldier's job to question whether or not you should fight the war. You gotta win that fight. You know what I'm saying? It's not my place. It's not Derek's (Fisher) place or Lamar's (Odom) place. We gotta go out there and play?
AK: Are you concerned at all that if there's a perception that you're not buying in, it could be harder to lead guys?
KB: No. We're ready to go. I've spoken with Luke, Lamar. They know what's up. They know this time of year. Practice starts tomorrow. We're going to be ready. I'm gonna be ready. It's gonna be the same old, same old. I'm gonna demand a lot from them and demand a lot from myself. We're gonna roll with it. They're gonna be ready.
Q: Was it frustrating for you at all to see some of the moves other teams made in the off-season? It seems like they made the trades you were hoping the Lakers would make.
KB: Well, (the Celtics) just made the big piece. They made the checkmate piece. There were a lot of teams that made some moves here and there and made some small moves. They were able to pull off the coup de grace. We'll see how it works out for them.
Q: It seems like you put a lot of the off-season animosity behind you. Is that fair to say?
KB: Man, I was frustrated. I was frustrated, so I blew up. You know what I mean? I was frustrated. Now it's about taking this team that we have to greater heights and doing what we can. Like I said, priority No. 1 for me is to bring a title back here to Los Angeles. Hopefully, we're all on the same page to get that done.
Q: Were you disappointed that the Celtics were able to pull off that trade for Kevin Garnett and your management couldn't?
KB: I know they tried. It wasn't for a lack of effort. You see what I'm saying? That, to me, says a lot, because they actually tried. They really pushed to get it done. It just didn't happen. I can live with that.