Kobe Bryant is pragmatic about Lakers trading Derek Fisher
As the text messages popped up on his screen, Lakers guard Kobe Bryant laughed.
He had talked with longtime former teammate Derek Fisher, who the Lakers had just traded to the Houston Rockets for Jordan Hill. But instead of expressing sympathies over losing a teammate that helped the team win five NBA championships and provide another leadership presence, Bryant and Fisher simply appreciated what they already accomplished.
"He knows how I am," Bryant said after the Lakers' 97-92 victory Friday over the Minnesota Timberwolves. "We talked about the good times and what a fun time it was to go to battle together and things like that. But that's about as sentimental as I'm going to get."
Bryant wasn't kidding. He even said "no" when asked directly if he was upset that the Lakers shipped off his longtime teammate and confidant. It's an answer one would hardly expect. Fisher's return to the Lakers in 2007 softened Bryant's trade demands. Bryant publicly advocated the Lakers re-sign Fisher when he became a free agent in 2010. During the 2010 NBA Finals, Bryant revealed Fisher is the only teammate he's truly respected and he said "no" on Friday when asked if there's any current or former teammte that's closer to him. Bryant provided a simple explanation for his stoic reaction.
"I've been here for a while and I've seen some of my closest friends go starting with Caron [Butler], Ronny Turiaf, Lamar Odom and Derek. I've been through it so many times before."
It also helps that Fisher's departure coincided with the acquisition of point guard Ramon Sessions from Cleveland for Luke Walton, Jason Kapono, a first-round pick and less than $1 million in cash. Despite having minimal contact with teammates, logging no practice time and learning plays on the fly, Sessions posted seven points on three-of-six shooting, five assists and four rebounds.
The effort prompted Bryant to rave about his basketball IQ, ability to run pick-and-roll plays and, of course, it increased Bryant's scoring chances.
"It makes my job a lot easier," said Bryant, who scored 28 points on nine-of-20 shooting, including five of eight from three-point range. "I get a lot of easier opportunities. I sit on the perimeter. I got a lot of spot-up shots tonight both from his break-down penetration and from teams collapsing onAndrew [Bynum]."
Bryant hardly enjoyed that luxury with Fisher, whose declining speed and inconsistent shooting partly prompted the Lakers to seek an upgrade at point guard. Still, Bryant acknowledged it's going to be "very difficult" and "pretty weird" to no longer be playing alongside his long-time co-captain.
He joked Fisher's co-captain role made it easier for him because "I didn't have to go to half court and meet with the refs before the game." But his value obviously extended beyond that. Fisher possessed a nurturing enough personality to serve as a bridge for teammates that often have been afraid of Bryant. Fisher's determined attitude often kept Bryant's stubbornness in check. And, of course, Fisher's storied reputation as clutch shooter.
"The experience of winning five championships doesn't happen by accident," Bryant said. "There's a reason why players who have won multiple championships have multiple championships. There's a certain characteristic and understanding and kncolwedge. that's not something easily taught. You have to go through it and that's something that's part of the DNA from the beginning. That's something that's obviously tough to replace but we believe Sessions has that DNA."
It remains to be seen whether that will be enough. Or if Pau Gasol assuming the co-captain position will actually make a difference. Only Fisher ever had the ability to keep a locker room run by Bryant from falling apart. But Bryant refused to harp over the deal, stew about how the trade went down or reveal how Fisher has handeled his departure.
"Ask Derek. He's much more politically correct than I am," Bryant said. "I'm sure Derek will answer it the best way he sees fit."
Instead, Bryant will just laugh and enjoy the memories they once had
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Edited by J-H!zZl3, March 17, 2012 - 08:19 AM.