Kobe Bryant Camp Media Session
Before his eighth annual basketball camp in Santa Barbara, Kobe Bryant addressed assembled media members and answered questions relating to his health, free agency and more. Below is a transcription of his comments.
Q: On if trying to bring free agents to Los Angeles is a difficult sell:
Kobe Bryant: Honestly, no. It’s really just about what we have and the flexibility that we have and the market that we have. Because of rules and regulations, obviously we have players that would be leaving some financial stability on the table. With that being said, you can only speak to the strengths that you have as an organization. And the strengths we have are flexibility, the market and track record – a proven track record. That’s what you stick to.
Q: On where he’s at physically:
Bryant: I feel really good, which is kind of working my weight back to 218 right now, which is typically the kind of weight I’d be in in January and February. Physically, I feel great. I don’t think about my knee when I’m training. I don’t think about the Achilles at all when I’m training. I feel sharp, crisp.
Q: On coaxing free agents to come play in Los Angeles:
Bryant: You worry about what you can control. It’s important to have conversations with the players and kind of discuss things. But ultimately it’s going to be their decision. They’re going to do what they feel is best for them. All I can do is speak about my experiences here, the flexibility we have, the team we could assemble if we were to assemble it. But there’s an opportunity two years from now with the flexibility the organization has. You just try to paint that picture as best as you can and then kind of leave it up to them.
Q: On meeting and talking with Carmelo Anthony about coming to Los Angeles:
Bryant: Very receptive, very receptive. As players nowadays, you understand that you have to really look at every option. It’s the right thing to do if you’re a free agent. That’s what you want to do. You want to sit and look and listen to everything and give serious consideration and kind of weigh them out.
Q: On the dynamics of free agency for certain players:
Bryant: It’s a little hard now because everybody is playing the waiting game to a certain extent. You kind of want to see where the dominoes fall and then operate from there. You want to operate in somewhat of a window and then you start seeing so many other players going to other places, players that you can use to kind of fill out the roster. So you wind up seeing these things happen where you’re kind of behind a little bit, but it’s worth the wait.
Q: On whether the upcoming year will be stressful for him if Los Angeles is unable to land a big free agent this offseason:
Bryant: Stressful is a little strong, stressful is a little strong. I really just try to control what I can control, and just go from there. Like I said, you paint the best picture you possibly can and then it’s on them really to make the decision whether or not they want to come to Los Angeles or not, or stay wherever they are or go elsewhere.
Q: On if he’s confident in Lakers brass and the direction they have for the franchise:
Bryant: I am, I am. I know Jim (Buss) and Jeanie (Buss) are on the same page. They’re ready to go. They both understand what they need to do individually and how to work together as a unit to turn this organization around. I think you’ll see some changes that really fall in line with the history and culture with the organization – seeing James (Worthy) at the NBA Draft and seeing some of these legends of Lakers past being around a lot more to make sure that that culture continues to exist.
Q: On Byron Scott possibly coaching the team:
Bryant: He was my rookie mentor when I first came into the league, so I had to get him donuts and run errands for him and things like that. We’ve had a tremendously close relationship throughout the years. I know him extremely well and he knows me extremely well. I’ve always been a fan of his.
Q: On how he sees Julius Randle’s game fitting into the team:
Bryant: He has a passion about the game. Competing means a lot to him. When you see him play, he plays with a certain tenacity and competitive spirit. That’s always the first thing I look at. Then from a skill perspective, he has the tools. He can handle the ball, he can make plays with the ball, he can shoot the ball. Now it’s on us helping him develop to reach his full potential.
Q: On if he’s patient now to withstand a rebuilding process should the Lakers be unable to land any key players:
Bryant: I’ve never had patience. Why would I start now? But you do what you have to do. If this organization ends up with absolutely nothing, it’s not for a lack of effort. That’s something I would be extremely proud of, that we put forth the effort and gave it your best shot, what can you do? You go from there and it’s on me to go out there and do my best to try and help us win.
Q: On if the Lakers have a backup plan should their first options not be available in terms of free agents:
Bryant: We have several options, obviously depending on the timing of this process and how it affects some of those. You have a plan that’s flexible, you have a Plan A and a Plan B and some of the Plan B is affected by the timing of Plan A. You plan it out, sit, wait and see what happens and respond from there.
Q: On if he would want Carmelo Anthony to play in Los Angeles with him:
Bryant: I would love to play with him. We’ve really clicked since 2008. I would love to see him out there.
Q: On if he’s pleased with management’s direction and plans during this free agent process:
Bryant: They’re going for it. They’re no if’s, and’s or but’s about it. They’re being extremely aggressive. They have solid concepts and plans to be able to get it done. They’re pulling out all the stops to make sure we put a contender on the floor next year. That’s all you can ask for. Same thing they ask of me when I step on the court. They expect me to play my heart out, to prepare and give it my best shot. Sometimes it doesn’t always work out the way you want it to, but you put your best shot forward.
Q: On if he believes Pau Gasol will resign should Carmelo Anthony come to Los Angeles to play:
Bryant: I think it’ll help his decision a lot more. It’s tough for Pau. Pau is extremely loyal and it’s a very tough position for him to be in – to be a free agent and never be in this position before. My biggest message to him was: ‘Make sure you enjoy the process. The ball is in your court and it’s your decision to make. Don’t feel like the weight of the world is on your shoulders.’ If we’re fortunate enough to get Carmelo, I’m sure that would help his decision.
Q: On Anthony’s impending decision:
Bryant: I don’t pry that much into his decision. I try to give guys space to make the decision on their own. I just share with him the experiences of playing in Los Angeles, how I feel like it could be beneficial to him and his family and his legacy going forward. This is a legacy defining moment for him. This is a key decision.