Kobe Bryant opines on Shaq, Beijing Olympics, competitive nature and Google in GQ profile
The uncertainty regarding whether Lakers guard Kobe Bryant will play tonight against Golden State highlights the latest example of the ongoing reality of Bryant's injury-plagued season. It's also largely his play this season as well as his proven ability and inability to overcome those injuries, including a sprained left ankle, a fractured right index finger, a sore elbow and back spasms.
In an incredibly well-written and reported GQ profile, the author, J.R. Moehringer, takes it a step further by outlining Bryant's career and personal successes and failures through the scope of his different body parts, including his right index finger, right pinkie, left wrist, right arm, eyes, back and right shoulder. It definitely proves to be a correct metaphor for Bryant, whose career of success has had its share of bumps and bruises.
Below is the Cliffs notes version of the story, but be sure to read it in its totality.
On being surrounded by the best of the best athletes at the Beijing Olympics: “I felt like Harry Potter going to Hogwarts.”
On his relationship with Shaq: “The biggest mistake I made was responding to what he was saying about me. Once I responded, now that made it seem like I was part of that whole thing. It’s like, OK, these two are against each other. As opposed to just staying quiet, which is what I’ve been doing the last few years. Let him say what he needs to say.”
On Bryant saying his win-at-all-costs mindset doesn’t carry over to the rest of his life: “What people see on court is another side of me; it’s not me. That dark side that’s coming to get you – ha ha! I’m not losing this [expletive] game – that’s not who I am. That’s part of me. Off the court, I’m completely different.”
Lakers guard Derek Fisher on being asked about Bryant: Fisher estimated reporters and fans have tried sharing their take on Bryant "10 million times." Writes Moehringer: "Whatever follows, Fisher adds, is always, always wrong. Not that Fisher knows for sure, either. He has nothing but praise for Bryant, but he also lets slip that he's never been to the man's house."
Friend and actress Hilary Swank on what distinguishes Bryant as a basketball player and person: "What sets him apart from others is his thirst for knowledge. "He uses every way, and then some, to learn more about the art of life, getting his mind out of the way."
Bryant protects his privacy even on good things about him: Writes Moehringer: "His reps urge him to speak more about his charitable works, like his fund to help victims of natural disasters in China or his partnership with After-School All-Stars, a program that tutors and mentors schoolchildren. You can be with Bryant for hours and hours and he won't tell you about the cancer-stricken boy he took to Disneyland. They spent most of the day together, and when the boy died soon after, his mother phoned to say that the last time she saw her son smile was that magic afternoon with his idol."
Bryant on whether he Googles his own name: "Eeew, I'd be a little uncomfortable Googling myself. People sit there — and Google themselves? That's kind of weird."Moehringer on how different Bryant is around media compared to fans: "He answers their questions, including several in Spanish. (He speaks both Spanish and Italian.) He says next to nothing but does so politely, amiably. When there are no more questions, when he's decided there are no more questions, he heads for the exit, flanked by his private security. A small group of fans are waiting. He stops, speaks to them in a markedly different voice, not the voice he uses with people wielding tape recorders and notebooks. This voice is utterly unguarded. This voice is as shockingly open as Bryant taking the last shot."
Photo: Kobe Bryant appears on the front cover of the latest issue of GQ magazine. Credit: Terry Richardson/GQ.