Kobe and Stephen A. Smith: Conversation on All Things Lakers

Today, Kobe spoke to Stephen A. Smith for an extended sit down. He covers the Lakers’ struggles, frustrations, and their adjustments to the new coach, and style, as well as his thoughts on Pau, Dwight, his future, and Jim Buss.

On Pau’s Frustrations: “It’s tough for Pau, because since we won our second Championship, he’s kind of been an afterthought for whatever reason…we moved Andrew in that second slot, and after that obviously now its Dwight. I’m sure Pau is a little frustrated by that. He believes that we won two championships playing through him, and now he finds himself on the perimeter, so I’m sure its a bit of a shellshock for him.”

Kobe says he spoke to D’Antoni about putting Pau in the post more – and that it is the plan.

Kobe discusses the need to minimize mistakes: turnovers, missed free throws, etc.

On Dwight: “It’s been tough for him. He hasn’t played in almost a year…his conditioning isn’t where he wants it to be…it is frustrating for him…but he is working extremely hard before practice, after practice to get there.”

On the losing streak: “You have to become more and more determined…to turn the tide.”

Kobe says he is satisfied with the roster, and says the group needs to become more determined “and not discouraged” to turn things around. He likes the players on the roster, and thinks they just need to figure out how to maximize the talent on the roster.

On Mike Brown being fired: “I was sad for Mike…that is always a tough process…we’ve always had a great rapport…a great back and forth. It was tough.”

On Phil: “I didn’t think he was an option, everybody publicly knows, whether perceived or valid disputes between Jimmy and Phil, so I didn’t think it was an option until Jim said it was. After that, like everybody else I thought it was a mere formality that Phil was going to be the head coach. That being said, I was excited to have D’Antoni.”

Kobe thinks D’Antoni and Pau can fit together, and they are both willing to work on the fit, and adjust to each other.

Kobe on Pau “I think he’s the key to the whole thing. His ability to post the ball, make plays from the post, and from the elbow, his shooting ability, his decision making ability – we’re not going to find that anywhere else…Everybody knows how I feel about Pau. He’s like a brother to me. But outside of that, the basketball skillset that he brings is a match. Now it’s on him to make sure he comes back in top top form…his mind is in the right place to play with the aggression…that he played with in 2010.”

Kobe is “extremely” happy with Dwight, and thinks his free throw shooting will improve. Kobe says he challenged Dwight to make more free throws, because it will help the team win.

On Dwight and Free Throws:

“We had a game where we lost against Indiana…I kept us in the game scoring, but I hurt the team because I had 10 turnovers, and that’s my responsibility…I didn’t do my job to the best of my ability, and I take that to heart. I want him to be the same way with his free throws…it is our responsibility as leaders of this team to take the burden of it, and to take that to heart.”

Kobe says he told Dwight that “playing with me is not very easy. I’m very demanding, and I want you to perform at your absolute best. I want you to be great, and I want you to maximize your god given abilities.”

Kobe on retirement: “After 17 years, you feel like you hurt something every game.” He acknowledges that there is “not much left” in his career.

Kobe on Jim Buss: “When something goes great in the organization, its not on him. When it doesn’t, it’s all on him…and I respect him for it.”

More Kobe on retirement: “I’m tired. But i will find a way to get more determined, and make that determination be infectious to the team.”

Kobe on the roster and the coach being good enough to win: “I believe so.”

Kobe responded to critics that call him selfish, saying that you must have a large ego to be successful, and Phil used to say he “had the biggest ego in the room” with Kobe and Shaq. You have to be willing to make a few enemies to be successful.

Kobe wants to be remembered as someone who “gave everything he had…who had abilities…but he played as if he was the 12th guy on the roster. If I can be remembered as a person who really maximized everything he had, gave absolutely everything of himself…I’ll be happy with that.