After the Lakers’ loss to Toronto on Friday, Kobe Bryant spoke with the media about his playing time, enduring his 20th season and the Lakers’ young talents.
Below is a full transcription from Staples Center.
Q: On how he feels after playing 37 minutes:
Bryant: I feel great. Those days off did wonders. I was able to lift weights, get my legs stronger. I feel great.
Q: On the difference between playing 27 minutes and 37:
Bryant: Right now, none. I feel good. The challenge is trying to get my legs back underneath me and get my strength back. We’ll see how we feel tomorrow, but I do therapy around the clock, so I felt great tonight.
Q: On whether it’s something that accumulates over the course of a game:
Bryant: It’s just having a foundation. When you get into the season, sometimes what happens is you just break you’re body down so much — no matter how old you are, (although) older is a bit more difficult — because you never really get a chance to recover or get stronger. Having some days off, I’m able to get stronger and build a more solid foundation as the season goes on.
Q: On Toronto’s third-quarter comeback:
Bryant: I never thought I’d see the day when I become the voice of ball-movement reason. Then you have an issue (laughs). I never thought I’d see the day when I’m the one preaching that stuff. That’s crazy.
Q: On why the ball movement stopped:
Bryant: (We’re) just not used to it. When I first came into the league, it was the same way. You grow up handling the ball the majority of your life and attacking with the ball. It’s just a matter of getting into the habit of moving (your) body, looking for others when you have the ball, getting more movement and things like that. We’re doing a pretty good job, but certain parts of the game got away from us.
Q: On his evaluation of D’Angelo Russell’s game:
Bryant: He found his seams. He was able to locate those and attack those. His biggest challenge is going to come on the defensive end of the floor. Guys see him and their eyes light up and they’re trying to go at him pretty hard. The offensive part is something he can always figure out, and he’s got the talent to do it. Defensively is where he wants to start making his mark, because you don’t want a reputation as a guy who can’t guard.
Q: On whether he focuses on the development of Russell, Jordan Clarkson and Julius Randle:
Bryant: No question. Just trying to teach them to play championship-style basketball. It’s so easy for them to just get the ball individually and attack. But if you get in that habit, you’re never going to win. I know; I had to break those habits myself. So I’m just trying to help them figure that out.
Q: On whether tonight’s game was a good sign for those three:
Bryant: They did a great job. They’re getting better, and they want to get better. And they want to understand the flow of the game and how to control tempo and move without the ball. Just continuing to get better.
Q: On whether he expected to be taken out of the game in the fourth quarter:
Bryant: When Metta (World Peace) was coming, I thought I was coming out, which is what we normally do. But I didn’t, so I stayed. I felt fine.
Q: On the potential for added minutes to wear down on him through the season:
Bryant: That’s silliest question. This is literally the second game that I played 35 minutes or more. So it’s kind of premature to ask.
Q: On whether he thinks there is a connection between the minutes he has played in the past and the number of injuries he sustains:
Bryant: I don’t think so. The injuries I had were traumatic injuries. They don’t come from that season. They’re just traumatic injuries: the Achilles (tear) — the shoulder tear has been there forever. It happens. I don’t think it’s one year per say. I don’t think those difference made a difference. If the Achilles didn’t go that season, it probably would have the next season. It just had so much tear, it was a matter of time.
Q: On his conversations with Derek Jeter, who was at the game:
Bryant: We’ve talked about (retirement). We’ve had these conversations several times. … He and I are completely different people. He would wear the white hat and I would probably wear the black one. That’s just how it is.
Q: On whether that’s how he personally feels or how the public perception is of them:
Bryant: Public perception comes from somewhere. There is a touch of reality. It’s probably a little overstated, but there’s probably some truth to that.
Q: On what he has taken from Kareem Abdul-Jabbar — who was also at the game — about playing so deep into his career:
Bryant: I know he was really big into yoga. That’s one of the questions I asked him when he was here. He was really into yoga, taken care of his body and martial arts as well, which helped his hip flexibility a lot. That was one of the primary reasons. … I haven’t gotten into yoga. I’ve really looked at power lifting a lot and making sure my muscles are as strong as I need to be. I do quite a bit of stretching, but I work out so hard that I really want to lay down and have someone stretch me. I don’t feel like working to stretch.
Q: On whether he feels like he has found the balance between being individually aggressive and facilitating:
Bryant: I’m just trying to help these young guys, honestly. I feel good enough that I can go out there and score 25, but what the hell is that going to do for these guys? It’s not gonna do a damn thing. If we’re gonna win and try to win games in succession, we have to get better at playing together, spacing and ball movement. … I sound like a kid that grows up and starts sounding like his parents.
Bryant: It’s part of the maturation process. It’s one of those things that Phil (Jackson) and Tex (Winter) had to break from me, which is understanding how to orchestrate the team, lead the team, get movement with the team.
Q: On what he is trying to figure out about himself:
Bryant: I know what I can do, honestly. I can do a lot more, but I think the most important thing right now is understanding how collectively we play. If I go off on tangents individually, this is going to collapse more than it is. You’re seeing signs of improvement throughout the game that I can’t go off on my own. I have to continue to teach, talk to these guys and try to pull them along.
Q: On whether he catches himself going off on tangents:
Bryant: No. Not even a little bit.
Q: On what he wants the goal to be:
Bryant: To teach; get these guys learning how to play the right way, championship-style basketball. … I never focused on proving (the media) wrong. I knew you guys were wrong from the beginning.