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ESPN: Kobe Bryant has been keeping in touch with Lakers teammate Ronny Turiaf over the summer through text messages, one of which might have played a small part in inspiring Bryant’s tenacious man-to-man defense at the recently completed Tournament of the Americas.
“I was giving him a hard time about stopping Leandro [Barbosa of Brazil], and he did it,” said Turiaf, who is playing here for France. “He’s playing with a chip on his shoulder as far as stopping the best player on the other team, playing his best basketball, and I’m hoping he can carry that on for us this year.”
Turiaf’s use of the word “us” prompted the question of whether he thinks Bryant will still be with the Lakers once the season begins — not exactly a certainty given the trade request Bryant put in with the Lakers earlier this summer.
“That’s really none of my business,” Turiaf said. “That’s between him and management. As far as I know, I’m hoping and wishing he’s going to be with us because I have a special relationship with him — he’s like a big brother, and he brings so much to the table on offense and defense.
“So I don’t know. Training camp starts in like three weeks, and he hasn’t been traded yet, so maybe that’s a sign he’s going to be there.”