Just when you think all was becoming better in Los Angeles, the gelling of the team/the wins, an article like this hits. Prepare for a national media storm tomorrow. Kobe has “Chicago Fever?” I’d love to see how that fever remains high with the Celtics in the East hanging low and under control.
Sun Times: Anybody who believes the Kobe Bryant story is dead, that he’ll never play in Chicago, wasn’t listening closely Tuesday.
“Oh, there’s gonna be more to this story,” predicted his coach, Phil Jackson, whose opinion was volunteered and not pried. “There’s still another chapter left in it.”
Little did Jackson know that things would jumpstart before the game, when Bryant sat by his locker in the United Center. I told Bryant what Jackson had said a few minutes earlier, that Kobe still has a case of “Chicago fever.” It was a cryptic comment, even by Jackson’s weird standards, in that everyone involved with the Lakers has tried to bury the notion that Kobe still wants out of Los Angeles. Here was the ideal chance for Bryant, on a sub-freezing night in the town in which he fancied playing, to end all speculation about his romance with the Bulls. Instead, he sounded like someone still infatuated by it all.
I asked him how serious he was about Chicago.
“Number one with a bullet,” said Bryant, providing new information.
At what point was the bullet flying highest?
“Right at the end of training camp,” Bryant said.
And how close, to his knowledge, was the deal to actually happening?
“My understanding is, real close,” he said, countering what both teams have said about the trade talks as a public-relations assistant shooed me away and a few of his teammates hooted and hollered…
`There will be some emotions about it. I’m sure he wants to do well. He has got Chicago fever a little bit; he actually had a desire to be here,” Jackson said before Bryant abused Kirk Hinrich in the third quarter, made three big steals in the fourth and survived the 26 points of Luol Deng — the supposed wrench in the trade — in a 103-91 Lakers victory. “We tried to fulfill that desire, but it didn’t work out. So there’s something there.”