Star guard refutes coach’s quote that he ‘hasn’t thrown his heart and soul’ into his effort in the preseason.
L.A. Times: Three days before the start of a season prefaced by a summer of discontent and a fall of uncertainty for Kobe Bryant, the Lakers guard is still not fully committed to the team in the opinion of his coach, Phil Jackson.
“Obviously he hasn’t thrown his heart and soul into performing on the floor,” Jackson said after practice Saturday at the team’s El Segundo training facility. “That hurts me a little bit. . . . He was going to work at this thing and [would] put his full being into this. Right now, he’s having a hard time doing that.”
Asked specifically what Bryant is struggling with, Jackson replied, “Mentally getting himself here and playing hard. . . . Is that a surprise to you guys? I mean I’m not breaking new news.”
It came as news to Bryant, who responded to Jackson’s remarks by denying any lack of commitment on his part.
“That [should be] the least of his concerns or anybody’s concerns,” Bryant said. “You don’t have to worry about that. . . . I’m ready to play. Period. You don’t have to worry about me.”
Bryant has sent tremors of concern through the organization since the end of last season. His frustration over a quick first-round exit from the postseason by the Lakers caused Bryant to criticize the front office, demand a trade, back off from that demand, then criticize a decision not to trade center Andrew Bynum.