NBA AM: Kobe Bryant To Retire A Laker?
Kobe Wants To Be A Laker: Lakers’ guard Kobe Bryant was candid recently with Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! talking about a wide range of issues surrounding the Lakers including the abrupt trading of Lamar Odom, his new head coach Mike Brown and the status of his knee.
“It’s tough because I didn’t know what was going on or why he got traded,” Bryant said of the deal that landed Lamar Odom in Dallas. “Did he ask for a trade? Was it something we kind of facilitated? I didn’t know. It sucked.”
Bryant said he was not consulted about the move and it caught him off guard and by surprise.
“No,” Bryant said on whether he was consulted. “That’s how they feel most comfortable handling their business, which is fine by me. I don’t take it personal. I just let them do their thing and trust that they’re trying to win right now. It’s not something where they are just tearing apart and starting from scratch.”
Bryant said he still believes his team can win in the West even though there aren’t as many “star” names on his roster as maybe some other teams.
“I still don’t know what other moves we are going to make or are we going to try to do anything,” revealed Bryant. “I really don’t know. I’m just trying to work every day with the guys and trying to be as sharp as can be with the guys here and then see where we end up.”
Bryant was also not consulted on the hiring of Mike Brown as head coach, and at first was stand-offish about the move. Kobe says after spending time with his new coach he feels good about the situation.
“He’s very good,” said Bryant. “He’s a workaholic. He has an attention to detail. When you come to practice, he has a practice planned. He is prepared. Boom, boom, boom. He’s right at it. I’m learning new things every day. He doesn’t let anything slide. You’re learning right then and there. When you’re doing something wrong, he’s not going to sugarcoat it. He’s going to tell you how it is and I can respect that.”
Bryant met with Brown prior to the lockout and said he saw how good Brown was then, even in that first meeting.
“My first impression was that he was very meticulous,” recalled Bryant. “Which shows me he is going to work as hard as I’m willing to work – or more – to make sure we are very well prepared mentally and physically.”
Kobe had an off-season knee procedure done called Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy, in which his own blood was synthetized and injected into his problematic knee to add in healing and regeneration. Kobe says the procedure was done in Germany because of the doctor he used and that the procedure has really improved his situation.
“I’m not a big medicine, techie guy,” joked Bryant. “But I know my knee feels 90 percent better. My understanding was that the guy who invented it … [Germany] is where he’s from and where his home base is. So I didn’t want to go someplace else where he had to move his equipment. If I am going to do it, I want to do it right and do it in the place where he is most comfortable doing it.”
Bryant said the results have been impressive.
“I can run. I can jump. I can run the track,” listed Bryant. “I can lift weights the way I want to lift weights. I can practice every day. Those are things I couldn’t do last year.”
The Lakers will open their regular season on Christmas Day playing host to the Chicago Bulls.
Bryant who was involved in the NBA labor talks at several points admitted that he did not vote either way on the new labor deal, although he knew it would pass.
“I didn’t vote at all. I got it too late,” explained Bryant. “I really didn’t feel like doing it. I felt everyone was going to pass it anyway, so I didn’t vote at all. But I would have voted yes.”
As for the lockout itself, Bryant doesn’t understand why it took so long to reach the deal that got done.
“It was a waste of time to end up where we ended up,” said Bryant. “We could’ve figured it out a long time ago.”
There have been rumors of discord between Bryant and the Lakers, with some suggesting Kobe might demand a trade.
Bryant was clear that he wants to remain a Laker and that playing for one team in his career and retiring Laker would be a crowning moment.
“I’ve been here for 16 years,” explained Bryant. “I’m going to up and leave now?… That would be special [playing for one team]. It’s rare to see that nowadays. It’s almost nearly impossible.”
Bryant in many ways controls his own future as he holds the only No-Trade Clause in the NBA, so staying with the Lakers at least through his current contract is entirely in his hands.
The Lakers hold a $8 million traded player exception, giving them the ability to add additional players as the season unfolds.
As constructed the Lakers still have a formidable starting five – with a healthy Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and a healthy Andrew Bynum. The Lakers don’t have nearly the depth they’d like, but getting and staying healthy may matter more than how they use their exception.
If Bryant is genuinely content with where things stand in LA, the Lakers are headed in the right direction.
Is He In Or Is He Out?: The Orlando Magic opened their pre-season last night in Miami to a 33 point drubbing by the Miami HEAT. A game in which the Magic shot 25.4% from the field and 75% from the foul line.
Magic guard Jameer Nelson was 0-for-10 from the field and 0-for-6 from the foul line, while Magic star Dwight Howard was 2-for-9 from the field and 1-for-4 from the foul line.
From the cheap seats, it looked as if Orlando was checked out emotionally, and the players that were supposed to lead the way just didn’t.
“I told the guys when we got back in the locker room, there’s no need to panic,” Howard said.
“There’s no need to get frustrated at what happened tonight. It’s the first game that we’ve played in seven months. So we’re going to be rusty. We’re gonna miss shots. We’re gonna make mistakes. But we have to stick together.”
Howard, who has been the center of trade rumors since the opening of training camp told reporters after the game that he wasn’t concerned. However his words on the subject seem misplaced considering his recent rants on the state of the Magic.
“We’re OK,” said Howard trying to quell the storm. “It’s pre-season; even though it’s a short pre-season. It’s the first game. We could lose both of these games by 50 – which I hope we don’t – and come out and win 20 games.”
“It’s not like we need to stress ourselves and get frustrated about tonight’s game, it was disappointing. It was embarrassing. We have to stick together. I told the guys we are in this together. We’re not gonna go left or go right; we are going to stay on the path to winning a championship. It was a tough game for us.”
The HEAT on the other hand were in mid-season form hitting 58.7% of their shots from the field with six HEAT players scoring in double digits despite the even rationing of minutes. 12 of the 14 HEAT players who logged minutes scored points.
“Those guys looked like they played all summer,” said Howard. “Most of those guys on their team were together all summer, so they looked like a seasoned team. We were off for seven months. Guys are trying to get back into it.”
Howard, who was critical of the Magic for the first few days of training camp, while trying to force a trade, said his team has to stick together.
“There is no need for us, anybody, for Magic fans or whoever to stress about the first game,” said Howard. “There are a lot more games to play. There is a lot of time for us to get better. So we have to stick together and not point the finger and stay together. We are a family, we are a team. We can’t allow stuff like this to separate – get us off our goal of a championship.”
As long as the Magic struggle, you have to wonder how much the 800 pound gorilla in the room – Howard’s looming trade demand – is impacting the flow of the Magic emotionally, because last night Howard seemed as disinterested in the game as anyone, yet he is the same one saying the team is a family that has to stick together.
Hard to preach that message with divorce papers in your hands.
The Magic will get another shot at Miami on Wednesday in Orlando, and for now Howard says don’t panic.
The words that might help more should be “I am not leaving”, and until those words are said panic and doubt are what Magic fans are stuck with and if the team doesn’t compete on Wednesday it will only get worse.
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