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Kobe Bryant: Exit interview

June 23, 2009 | 12:03 pm

Orange County residents, be warned. Kobe Bryant may very well be driving around like a bat out of hell for the next couple weeks.  It's got nothing to do with a reckless disregard for public safety or trying to channel his inner "Vin Diesel," but rather a sudden surplus of idle time. "You kind of go through that phase of, you wake up in the morning and it feels like you're supposed to be doing something," smiled Bryant sheepishly. "It feels like you're late for something."

The Mamba might take up scuba diving as a means of killing time at 6 am (wake up habits die hard) or just play with his daughters, but either way, even this notorious workaholic is looking forward to relaxing with "no evil flashbacks."  And no matter how badly Bryant may jones for an activity, he won't burn an afternoon in the O.R.  His famously busted finger will remain as such. 

"I won a championship. I'm not changing a damn thing."

Kobe turned more serious when asked to describe the importance of resigning Lamar Odom and Trevor Ariza.  "Extremely critical," acknowledged 24.  "Those are pieces that are tough to find."  Not just for their talent, but the way LO and TA blend in to create a valuable team-wide dynamic.  "It's rare that you find a collection of guys that are so talented but willing to sacrifice themselves for the benefit of the group.  So it's of the utmost importance."

So with that urgency in mind, how much time did Kobe devote towards the topic during his exit meeting?  "Zero," nodded Kobe.  "(Mitch Kupchak and Phil Jackson) know where my head's at, I know where their heads (are) at.  We understand the significance of it and what we can do with this team.  The potential with this team is limitless.  We already know that." 

Instead, the meeting was spent mostly talking casual shop.  Swapping "various stories."  Kobe giving PJ the lowdown on what to expect with his "Tonight Show" appearance.  And if they're like the rest of America, taking sides on this whole "Jon and Kate Plus 8" debacle.

This would be the "dodge and parry" section of the interview.  Asked about the "sacrifices" likely required to bring Ariza and Odom back, Kobe labeled them a front office issue.   BK asked how his opt out could potentially affect these proceedings.   "No idea. I can't even read."  So will he in fact opt out?  "I can't read," Kobe insisted.  Asked why, by his own admission, he's "deflecting" ETO questions, Kobe said he didn't want his situation blowing up into something bigger than it deserves. "I know I ain't going nowhere, so it's a waste of my breath just talking about it." 

Relocation isn't quite what folks were driving at, but it became pretty clear this particular discussion wasn't going anywhere.

Kobe's not the only guy set for some kicking back. "Kobe puppet is in the pool, chilling," grinned Bryant of his felted doppelganger. "He's not doing anything." Not too long ago, Kobe wouldn't have been able to imagine himself (or his puppet) laying back and drinking in a title with this particular team, but he credited the brass for their efforts. "Ownership made the necessary steps to put us in this position and made the necessary steps to put us in this position."

I wondered if Kobe had recently thought about how, if management took his trade request to heart, he might not be here to enjoy this? Pretty simple answer.


Previous Exit Interviews: