Hey, wanna have a push-up contest right now?
Kobe Bryant: Not really.
Wait, I thought you were competitive.
Kobe Bryant: I am. It’s just part of my family. My entire family played basketball. And my cousins, we used to always play in the summertime, and we used to just talk trash to each other and beat the crap out of each other—that’s kinda where it came from. ’Cause if you lost, they talked bad about you all day.
Was it a basketball-only thing?
Kobe Bryant: Nah, video games, swimming—it was just constantly verbally assaulting each other.
So when you’re out there and you’re playing, do you get angry?
Kobe Bryant: Sometimes I get angry, but I try to stay neutral. That’s the key. I mean, you can show a burst of emotion, ’cause sometimes that inspires your team; it can inspire you sometimes, too. But for the most part, I try to stay on an even keel, because that’s when you perform your best.
But do you think of it as you being emotional, or is it like a chess game: I’m trying to provoke a reaction from my teammates?
Kobe Bryant: Nah, nah, you just play the game. We’ve been together for a long time, so I know what motivates Lamar Odom, what motivates Sasha Vujacic or Pau Gasol. ’Cause I’ve been around them so much. So from that standpoint, it kinda becomes instinctive because you’re around these guys all the time. They become your brothers.
All right, so no push-up contests.
Kobe Bryant: No push-up contests.