All-Star Co-MVP; First Team All-NBA; NBA All-Defensive First Team … And, the big one, NBA Finals MVP after L.A.’s championship victory over Orlando.
The accolades describe Kobe Bryant’s 2008-09 quite well, as do the numbers: 26.8 points, 5.2 rebounds and 4.9 assists with 1.46 steals on 46.7 percent from the field, 35.1 percent from three and 85.6 percent from the line in 36.1 minutes per game. In the playoffs, Bryant picked his numbers up to 30.2 points, 5.3 boards, 5.5 assists, 1.65 steals and 0.91 blocks on 45.7 percent from the field, 34.9 from three and 88.3 from the charity stripe in 40.9 minutes.
Bryant’s focused drive to the championship that began in the offseason filtered its way through his teammates, and ultimately, his fourth title was the result.
Here are the highlights from Bryant’s exit interview:
- His immediate plans: “I’ll take a couple months off. I’m going to enjoy (myself), it’s going to be very relaxing, no evil flashbacks. Everything is very positive.”
- On how he’s feeling after all the work: “Extremely satisfying because you put in a lot of time and effort to fix things, and to see it finally happen, it’s great. It’s a great memory.”
- Bryant, who notoriously doesn’t sleep much, said he’s looking for activities to do at six in the morning.
- He said his daughters want him around the house all the time, and recognize that the season is over. So his “Daddy has to do an exit meeting” was met with a “I thought you said it was over!”
- On Trevor Ariza and Lamar Odom coming back: “Extremely critical. Those are pieces that are tough to find. We have such a great team from chemistry down to execution. It’s rare you find guys that are so talented that are willing to sacrifice themselves for the benefit of the group.”
- Meeting for Kobe, Phil and Mitch is all “BS ing.” They already know each other, he says, there’s nothing to talk about. It’s not like Kobe needs any basketball tips.
- On his finger: “I won a championship, I’m not fixing a damn thing.”
- Kobe went with his “I can’t even read” defense when talking about his contract and whether or not he would opt out. “I’ve been deflecting that all year, I ain’t gonna stop now. I’m not going anywhere, you know I’m not going anywhere. It’s a waste of our breath.”
- Bryant says he will “definitely” go watch his favorite soccer team, FC Barcelona, when they come to L.A.
- On how far the team has come: “Ownership made the necessary steps to put us in this position. They made the sacrifices to get the necessary players in here.”