Kobe Bryant on the D'Antoni Hiring
Kobe Bryant addressed reporters after Tuesday's shootaround regarding Mike D'Antoni's hiring:
Q: On if he was surprised at the decision:
Bryant: I really didn't know what to expect, to be honest. I think we are all thinking it was gonna be Phil (Jackson). It probably caught Mike (D'Antoni) a little bit off guard, too. But I'm excited.
Q: On if he spoke to either D'Antoni or Phil Jackson:
Bryant: I spoke to Mike this morning. It was great. It was really short, just (saying) hello.
Q: On his experience with D'Antoni on the Olympic team:
Bryant: We have a great relationship. The offense that he installed for our USA team was the offense that we ran to the tune of two gold medals. We all know the type of talent that we had on that team, so it was important for us to have an offense that was flexible, that was open, that kept everybody involved. It worked pretty well for us.
Q: On if D'Antoni can adapt his offense to L.A.'s personnel:
Bryant: It's gonna be fine. It's not like he takes the same thing that he did in Phoenix and incorporates that here. He has different personnel. He can use Steve (Nash) to his greatest advantages, and me to mine, and Dwight (Howard) to his, and Pau (Gasol) to his and so on and so forth.
Q: On if there's a concern about defense:
Bryant: That's just because (D'Antoni) hasn't won any championships. To be honest with you, in all years I've been with Phil (Jackson) we've maybe done three defensive drills. I'm not understating it at all. His philosophy was always, 'You guys need to figure it out on your own,' and that's what made him a phenominal coach, is that he was able to sit back and trust the process, trust the players to communicate with each other. That's when a team is at its best, and as a result we've had some great defensive teams. But we have to hold each other accountable.
Q: On if there's any disappointment about it not being Phil, even though he loves D'Antoni:
Bryant: Obviously there's always going to be a little bit, because Phil and I have gone back since I was 20 years old and everything that he's taught me and so forth. There's a little bit of that, but at the same time, I'm very excited for Coach D. And I know Phil is going to enjoy his retirement and looking to get back in the game, although probably not in a coaching standpoint, but (a) managerial role or something like that.
Q: On if heard how the hiring went down, and how D'Antoni was his No. 1 target:
Bryant: No, I mean, it's kind of a waste of time for me at this point. What good is that going to do for me. It does nothing for me. But I spoke with Mitch (Kupchak), I spoke with Jimmy (Buss) before everything went down, we spoke about some of the coaching candidates and stuff, and to be honest, I said D'Antoni was my first choice. I didn't know Phil was going to be an option, and then Jimmy was the one that brought up Phil's name. I said, 'I didn't know that was a consideration,' and they said, 'Well, it is, and I want to know how you feel about it.' I said 'I love it,' and that was it. So they knew my two guys that I liked and if one didn't work out obviously with Phil, they knew they had my approval to pull the trigger on the other one.
Q: On if he appreciated being consulted:
Bryant: Very much so. Our relationship has been much more open and much more fluid.
Q: On why D'Antoni was his first choice:
Bryant: I've been around him quite a bit, I've obviously played against his teams for a number of years, I know his philosophy, I know what he stands for and I know how competitive he is. He's a feisty, feisty dude, man. Temperamental, even. I like that.
Q: On if he followed D'Antoni's career in Italy:
Bryant: I followed it quite a bit, he was right there when I was growing up during that entire era when he was playing in Milan. He was just feisty. He was tough, a tenacious guard that made great plays. He's probably the greatest guard to ever play over there. Growing up I tried to watch and learn from so many basketball players, all the top ones, and he certainly was a top one. He was a player that I admired growing up.
Q: On how quickly L.A. can learn his offense:
Bryant: It's pretty quick. It's not something we have to remember, sequence of options or anything like that, it's really about spacing and reading. It shouldn't be too hard.
Q: On tweaking the offense for personnel and not just running what he ran in previous stints:
Bryant: He's an offensive genius … if you talk to anybody that played with him on the Olympic team, that response would be unanimous: he's an offensive genius. Does that mean he's going take the one system that he had in Phoenix and implement that here? No, that means you give an offensive genius so many more options to play with. Now he has a great two guard, a great point guard, a great power forward, a great center, an incredible small forward … he has a lot to play with. He's excited to be here, and looking forward to getting started.
Q: On if the type of offense matters to him:
Bryant: You can drop me anywhere and I'm going to get you 25 or 30 points. What offenses do really has to be something that helps out the role players more than anything. If you look at the star players, the numbers are going to be the same across the board. It doesn't matter what offense you put in, what defense you put in, my numbers are going to look the same. Pau's are going to look the same. It's about really how do you get the most out of your role players.