As his NBA years went by, Kobe Bryant has become one of the most interesting people in the league to hear from. Not only because of his worldwide-known name, but also because Bryant knows that he’s reached a point of his career that his great accolades earned him more liberty to speak his mind. That’s what happened after yesterday’s practice, when once again the media gathered around the future hall-of-famer to get his insight about the current Los Angeles Lakers’ situation. Here’s what Mr. Bryant had to say.
About the 0-2 start:
“It’s not the end of the world. But we can’t just sit back and expect us to figure it out, we gotta have a sense of urgency to get things right. Nobody wants to win here more than I do, nobody. I’m not panicking over it, or jumping off a bridge because we’re 0-2. It’s a process but we gotta approach it with a sense of urgency. It’s not because we have this talented roster that things are going to happen, we gotta push for them to happen.”
About what’s wrong with the team’s performance so far:
“Offensively, it may doesn’t look as pretty as it will be, but we are scoring a lot of points, efficiently. That’s not what we’re hanging our hats on in terms of losing those games. We’re not executing defensively, which has a lot to do with guys getting on the same page and working together.”
About the city’s response to the season’s slow start:
“The city here, for me not to try to bite my tongue and call them dumb, which I kind of just did (laughs)… They’ve seen us win multiple championships playing in an offense that was tough to learn, that was a sequence of options, that weren’t set plays which took five guys being on the same page working together. They know how that stuff works, so for them to be so stupid now and say “let Steve dribble the ball around and create opportunities for everybody, let Dwight post up or let me iso”, it’s a… I won’t say idiotic, but it’s close.”
Comparing the criticism to Mike Brown and to Phil Jackson:
“The message changes according to who’s giving it. The sequence of options, the equal opportunity offense, in essence it’s the same thing. The only thing that changes is that now you have Mike Brown telling everybody to be patient, when back then it was Phil Jackson telling everybody to shut up (laughs). I think the critics are more likely to take runs at him then they would at Phil Jackson. It’s fair because Phil obviously won and Mike hasn’t won yet, but you have to look at the offensive philosophies, they are the same type of philosophies and for people not to understand that is kind of funny to me, actually, to sit back and hear the arguments. A lot of people took runs at Phil too about the offense and what he was doing, so that tells you a little bit about some of these people.”
If he is the guy telling everybody to shut up now:
“Yeah, because I’ve won so I can”, Kobe said with a smile, “for Mike it would be a little tough for him to say that, but I say it for him: everybody shut up, let us work and at the end of the day you will be happy with the result as you normally are.”
About his belief in the offense:
“You have to be stubborn about the approach. The essence of the offense is everybody sharing the spotlight. Everybody being able to read and react and working as one. That takes time to do it, specially when you have guys who are individually talented as we are. The flipside of that is [calling individual plays for each player], and nobody is in rhythm doing that.”
When you have talented players that are willing to sacrifice their games and to play within a structure, to go along with the talent that they have individually, it makes you unstoppable.
In a 82-game regular season, the criticism after just 2 contests is probably too soon, even if we consider the fact that the Lakers went winless in the pre-season. With so many changes being made to the team, roster and scheme wise, the Purple&Gold might take a little while to perform at their full capacity. The next step is today against the Los Angeles Clippers, at 7:30 P.M. (PDT).