Two days after the Celtics defeated the Lakers by the largest margin of victory in a clinching game in Finals history, Kobe said that the initial pain had begun to drift away, but that the sting from coming up just short of his fourth title was likely to linger for much longer. Luckily for Bryant, he has the start of USA Basketball in just over a week to keep his mind off of the loss.
For the regular season MVP, playing in the Olympics requires a completely different mindset as there is no particular brand at stake, but instead, the weight of an entire country. Kobe described the opportunity to win a Gold Medal as “beyond special,” noting that his strict training regimen has him in top shape entering the Olympics despite playing in over 100 NBA games this season.
Looking back on the season that was, Kobe said that he probably considers it his best overall season, not simply because of his individual accolades, but because the Lakers played well as a team. With such a young roster outside of himself and Derek Fisher, the All-Star said that he thinks the experience the team racked up during their unprecedented Finals run should help them as they gear up to repeat their effort next year. While the Lakers came up just short of winning their 15th NBA title, the guard said he was still proud of the strides his team made this season.
Kobe also discussed the expected return of Andrew Bynum to the lineup, noting that his defense and shot-blocking abilities were sorely missed in the Finals against the physically tougher Celtics. With regards to his own longstanding injury to his pinky finger, Bryant said that he plans to have surgery in September as soon as the Olympics are over.