Bryant might have surgery, Fisher hopes to be back
Kobe Bryant saw the assembled media throng and laughed.
"I thought I was done with you guys after the parade," he said. "I was duped."
Bryant was still in a joyful mood six days after the Lakers won the NBA Finals, talking openly about his medical future and making effusive pleas for the returns of Phil Jackson and Derek Fisher.
Bryant was at the team's training facility Wednesday in El Segundo for his end-of-season meeting with Jackson and Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak.
He said he would soon compile a timetable for possible surgery on his sore right knee or, more likely, a torn ligament in his right index finger.
"There will probably be something invasive,” he said. “I don’t expect it to be anything major. Once we drained the knee, it was fine. Fine enough. The finger, though, was a constant problem. It was always around.”
Like the rest of his teammates, Bryant stumped for Jackson’s return, saying the team would be “drastically different” without him.
“We all want him back and he knows that,” Bryant said. “I stressed that to him over and over. Our personality of the team is made up of his composure … his thought process."
What if Jackson decides to retire?
“I don’t even want to think about that right now," Bryant said. "It’s killing my buzz.”
Bryant said he had not decided whether to play for the U.S. in the world championships in two months in Turkey, though it is not considered likely.
Bryant also put in some kind words for Fisher, who becomes an unrestricted free agent in a week. It's safe to say he wants Fisher back.
"It’s crucial," Bryant said. "I don’t think that’s much of an option for him to go anywhere else."
Fisher, 35, also wants to be back, but how much of a pay cut would he be willing to take from the $5 million he made this last season? He said his first option was to return to the Lakers, but he would also listen to offers from other teams.
“I’m not chasing money, so I’m not looking at just trying to stretch out a deal artificially,” Fisher said. “But at the same time, I have a strong feeling about what my value is to a team. Based on how I feel, I can sign a ‘forever’ deal.”
-- Mike Bresnahan
UPDATE -2:00 p.m. Here is the audio version of Bryant's interview