Before the Lakers faced Minnesota on Wednesday, Kobe Bryant spoke with Lakers Reporter Mike Trudell about his final season, rivalry with Kevin Garnett and more. Below is a full transcription from Minneapolis.
MT: Being on this long road trip, how would you deal with being away from your daughters, especially earlier in your career?
KB: It’s tough. We’re fortunate now to have FaceTime and things like that. Back then we didn’t have that. It was just over the phone and hearing them laugh for the first time and things like that. It’s tough.
MT: How can you sum up being in an arena for the last time and receiving the kind of love that you do?
KB: It’s an amazing feeling. I think it helps dealing with the fact that I won’t be going through this routine anymore. You can tend to get a little nostalgic. But then when you go out and feel the warm embrace of the crowd you don’t think about the negative side of it. You just think of all the great memories and being here and all the great history.
MT: How do you balance that with still having a killer mentality on the court?
KB: It’s a fine balance to try to be in that killer mindset. It’s challenging, but you’ve just got to lock in and do what you do.
MT: How are your legs? How would you describe your daily routine compared to a few years ago?
KB: It’s a lot more work and training and stretching, recovery and things like that. As far as my game, I’ve been able to figure some things out in this trip. Been trying things out and seeing where my legs are. My legs feel pretty good right now.
MT: Why is it so important for you to try to play every game?
KB: It’s always been important to come out and try to perform and play. People spend their hard-earned money to come and watch you perform, and if you’re able to play you should play. So it’s always been important. Now more than ever because this is the last go-around. I want to try to take it all in.
MT: What was it like calling Kevin Garnett — who went from high school to the NBA the previous season — before you entered the draft?
KB: We talked about the experience of his first year. What was the schedule like? How did he manage his time? Responsibilities, business. We talked about an array of things. It wasn’t just one conversation. We talked multiple times.
MT: How would you summarize Garnett as a competitor?
KB: He’s an ultimate competitor; a great vocal leader and extremely, extremely intense. He’s a throwback in the sense of his intensity and his competitive spirit. I’ve enjoyed competing with him every time.
MT: Is going up against competitors like him one of the things you look back on the most?
KB: I’ll miss going into games and knowing you’re matching up with somebody that’s extremely intense and well-prepared. You know you’re going to have a challenge in front of you. Those are matchups that I really, really enjoy.
MT: What was it like to pass Michael Jordan on the all-time scoring list here in Minnesota last year?
KB: It was a beautiful moment. For them to stop the game and give me the game ball in that moment and to receive the ovation, I thought was just a class act by them.
MT: As somebody who came off the bench as a rookie, what do you tell Julius Randle and D’Angelo Russell, who are in that position after starting to begin the year?
KB: I can relate to them. I think for the young players now it’s hard for them to go what I had to go through when I first came here. But I didn’t start for my first three and a half seasons. I came off the bench for three straight years. But I learned a lot as well. So I’ll talk to them about it. It’s just a process.