2010 Exit Interviews: Kobe Bryant

kobeIt wasn’t a bad 2009-10 for Kobe Bryant, who capped another All-Star and All-NBA First Team (not to mention All Defensive First Team) campaign with his second Finals MVP award and fifth championship.

Bryant averaged 27 points, 5.4 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 1.55 steals in the regular season, and 29.2 points, 6.0 rebounds, 5.5 assists and 1.35 steals in the postseason.

Below is a summary of his exit interview comments:

- Some World Cup banter to open: “I missed the (Landon Donovan of Team USA) goal in the 90th minute because I was coming down here. But I watched it.”

- (On if the team can win it again): “I would think so.”

- (On his leadership role with the team: “I still put my foot in their (butts).” Bryant is the bad cop, Fisher the good cop, in terms of motivation.

- (On the team, potentially, without Phil Jackson): “Drastically different. Our personality of our team is made up of his thought process, his philosophies. I don’t even want to think about that right now. It’s killing my buzz.”

- (On his priority in the offseason): “It’s getting healthy. We’ve been in the Finals three year
For this summer it’s about getting healthy. I think that gives us the best shot. It’s the same thing for Pau.” Bryant had worked on various specific elements of his game each offseason, including his post game last offseason, but will stick to getting his body right. His injuries that need attending include his index finger, knee (which he said is “fine”), ankle and even his pinkie.

- Bryant said that the avulsion fracture in his finger was the No. 1 health problem for him this year. After he got his knee drained following Game 4 of Round 1, he said it was fine.

- Kobe quipped that he turned his phone off during the playoffs and negelected around 500 messages, and is just now “getting back to civilization.”

- Bryant used the word “epic” to describe the season when asked to sum it up in one word.

- The word “three-peat” is quite appealing to Bryant. That’s of course now his focus heading into next season.

- Bryant smiled widely when asked about beating Boston. Obviously.

- Kobe called Ron Artest a “sweet heart” of a guy whom he and all of his teammates rooted for throughout the season. He added that he and Artest really bonded over hard work, as Kobe would often see Artest working out in the middle of the night while on the road, time usually restricted only to Kobe.

- (On Ron’s comment about Kobe not always passing him the ball, referring to his Game 7 fourth quarter bomb): “He knows my rules … but
I felt like he was going to make that shot. He’s hit big shots before. He got his feet set.”

- (On the pressure of Game 7 when he wasn’t shooting well): “I’ve felt that way before. It wasn’t something that was unfamiliar to me. Even going back to high school … but no matter what, the game is still the game. You just try to figure out what you can do to help us win this game.”

- On having Fisher come back: “It’s crucial. I don’t think that’s much of an option for him to go anywhere else.” Bryant added that yes, he does think Fisher will return.

- (On what makes Phil Phil): “He has a great knack for bringing guys together. He’s not a rah-rah coach. I think they lose attention because they’re always trying to pump guys up. He focuses on execution, the triangle offense, and a consistent message every single day.”

- (On letting Phil know that he wants him back): “I just wanted to make sure he knew.”

- Kobe said he was able to exorcise some demons this postseason, from Utah (the air balls and losing early in his career), then Phoenix (losing in 2006 and 07), then Boston.

- Bryant’s going to “take some time” this summer to let everything heal.

- En route to South Africa, Kobe said he’s definitely pulling first for Team USA at the World Cup, but is “definitely” going to check out his guy Lionel Messi of Argentina.