Kobe Bryant Media Session

After being officially ruled out for the remainder of the season, Kobe Bryant addressed assembled media members at the team’s practice facility to discuss what went into this decision, how his knee feels, if he’s optimistic he can return to the same form next year and much more. Below is a transcription of his comments:

Q: On how he feels right now with the news stating he’s done for the season:
Kobe Bryant: I feel fine. I’m disappointed I can’t get out there to play and perform, but at the same time, you just have to be realistic, and go from there.

Q: On when he realized sitting out the season was a realistic option:
Bryant: Yesterday, probably.

Q: On what made him realize that:
Bryant: Just talking with the staff and the amount of time that we’re looking at in terms of being able to get as healthy as possible and then get in shape, so you don’t come back and get hurt again. By the time that’s ready to go, you’re looking at a week left in the season and it didn’t really seem worth it.

Q: On how his knee has responded since Dec. 17 and if he’s made strides:
Bryant: It feels all right. It’s still a ways to go, not as far the last time I spoke to you guys. I’ve stepped up the intensity a little bit. I’ve started moving from the bike to doing some elliptical, looking to do the treadmill in a week or so. Just continue to go from there.

Q: On if this changes any progression in terms of what he had planned to do in his rehab:
Bryant: No, not really. You stick to the same schedule and just continue to ramp up. Now I have myself looking at a seven-month training program. Just do whatever I can to get my body ready and be 100 percent, and I have seven months to do that. I feel pretty good about it.

Q: On if there was any importance to him to try and play a few games to see where’s he at and know what he needs to work on going into next season:
Bryant: I’ve been doing it for long enough, I think I know what I need to work on without squeezing in enough games. The biggest thingpart at this stage in your career is really body maintenance and doing whatever you can to get the body strong enough and healthy enough so little knick-knack injuries don’t bother you for next season. When you have seven months to prepare and you get a chance to really ramp things up quite a bit and put asignificant amount of load on your body, and see how your body reacts and then you can adjust to it. So you get a chance to mimic the workload you’re going to be facing in the upcoming season, which during a regular summer of two months or three months of training, you can’t do.

Q: On who he is referring to when he wants to prove the doubters wrong for next season:
Bryant: Am I just supposed to name names? I guess I could name names of every TV anchor and sportscaster and competitor that’s said something that I view as being a challenge, but it’s a long list. What you have to do is take all that, accept it and understand where everybody’s going from and now you take it as a challenge. You go out there and do what you do.

Q: On what his feeling is knowing hecouldn’t come back as soon as he could from this situation compared to previous injuries:
Bryant: It’s different. But I’m pretty good about being real and where you are and that’s just what it is and you just deal with it. I’ve been pretty good about it. I did that with the Achilles and the knee in comparison to that is absolutely nothing. It’s been fine. It hasn’t been too difficult.

Q: On what he envisions next year with the team having a lot of financial flexibility going into the offseason:
Bryant: I think we have to start at the top in terms of the culture of our team, what kind of culture do we want to have, what kind of system do we want to have, how do we want to play. And it starts there, and then from there, you can start building out your team accordingly.

Q: On the struggles of this year and if it’s something where he tries to distance himself from a season like this:
Bryant: I feel like killing everybody every time I go to the arena. I’m on edge all the time. I feel it, probably more than anybody in the organization does. I feel it more. It drives me absolutely crazy.

Q: On establishing the culture at the top and if he’s satisfied with where that is at the moment:
Bryant: How can I be satisfied with it? We’re like 100 games under .500. I can’t be satisfied with that at all. This is not what we stand for, this is not what we play for. A lot of time it’s hard to understand that message if you’re not a die-hard Laker fan. It’s really hard to understand where we’re coming from, what we’re used to, what we’re accustomed to, which is playing for championships, where everything else is a complete failure. That’s just how it is. That’s how it was explained to me by Jerry (West) and all the other great Lakers who have played here, that’s how I grew up thinking and that’s just how it is.

Q: On clarifying what he means when he means the change has to start at the top:
Bryant: Well, you have to start with Jim (Buss) and Jeanie (Buss), and how that relationship plays out. It starts with having a clear direction and clear authority. Then it goes down to the coaching staff, what Mike (D’Antoni) is going to do, what they want to do with Mike and it goes from there. It’s gotta start from the top.

Q: On where he feels he will be nextseason with seven months of training and the knee fully expecting to heal:
Bryant: I don’t want to say I’ll be back at the top of my game because everybody is going to think I’m crazy and it’s an old player not letting go sort of thing, but that’s what it’s going to be.

Q: On if he has any patience to waitanother year after this offseason to improve the roster:
Bryant: No, nope, not one lick. Let’s just play next year and suck again. No, absolutely not, absolutely not. It’s my job to go out there on the court and perform. No excuses for it. You have to get things done. Same thing with the front office. The same expectations they have of me when I perform on the court, the same expectations I have for them up there. You have to be able to figure out a way to do both.

Q: On the news of Phil Jackson possibly going to the New York Knicks:
Bryant: Well, you know how I feel about Phil. I have so much admiration for him and so much respect, and I have a great relationship with him. Personally, it’d be hard for me to understand that happening twice. It’d be tough. I don’t really get it.

Q: On the Lakers suffering the worstfranchise loss against the Clippers and his reaction to it:
Bryant: Now I know what it feels like to be a Clipper fan all those years. That was my reaction.

Q: On if there’s any part of him that feels like his body is breaking down:
Bryant: Yeah, yeah, absolutely. That’s part of the challenge. You always have those question marks. You step into a big game and you don’t know if you’re going to shoot the ball well, you don’t know if you’re going to play well. You meet those challenges and having those concerns drives you that much more to make sure that that doesn’t happen. The self-doubt is there. It’s always been there. I think it’s really what we do about that self-doubt. You can really let it dominate you or you can choose to face it and take it head on.

Q: On if he’s been able to do any on-court activity:
Bryant: No, I haven’t been on a court at all.

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