But of course, everything in L.A. starts with Kobe Bryant, who took a good nine minutes of questions from assembled reporters on Monday afternoon, covering how Dwight Howard (back) looked, what the first day receiving passes from Steve Nash felt like, how he may see his minutes limited and more:
We took some notes while Kobe was talking:
- At the end of each practice, Mike Brown has the players shoot free throws to determine whether they’ll have to run sprints or not, and on the first day, he asked for a volunteer. Steve Nash stepped up, with Bryant in support: “Nash, Nash Nash … I’ll take that 92 percent* free throw shooter every day.” Kobe was pleased when Nash swished three straight, as Brown’s video assistants and personal assistant ran a sprint instead.
*Kobe was kind to his new teammate, giving the career 90.4 percent shooter some extra points.
- Bryant weighed in on how Dwight Howard looked: “He was able to go through all the drills offensively and the schemes we want to do, working through the Princeton Offense, so it was very productive.” True. A bit more on Howard: he competed in the full practice, doing everything including 1-on-1 and 2-on-2 contact drills, and could be seen dunking while running those Princeton sets at the end of practice. The only thing he didn’t do was 5-on-5 full contact scrimmage, which isn’t on his program just yet. Howard looked great, and had this to say after practice: “Hopefully I’ll be back for some preseason games. I think we’re going to need it for chemistry and all that stuff. But like I said, I’m not going to rush it.” Bryant qualified a bit by saying L.A.’s training staff wouldn’t put Howard in a position in which he’d have to “test the limits of his back.”
- Kobe’s not concerned about learning the new system. He cited the first year Phil Jackson came in and instituted the triangle offense, which wasn’t difficult thanks to the high IQ of the players on that team. Bryant thinks the current squad has that same capability, and he himself has seen every possible NBA offense through his 16 years. I asked him about his meeting with Mike Brown and Eddie Jordan about the offense a few weeks back: “I’m pretty familiar with the (Princeton Offense), we played against it for multiple years with Sacramento. There are some similarities to what we ran with the Triangle Offense, and I think it was good to sit down and map out the advantages of the offense, the advantages of having a system vs. having a conventional approach.”
- Bryant’s main takeaway from practice No. 1: “There’s a lot of talent out here. It’s exciting.”
- Kobe said he did not have any knee procedure this summer: “I was a little busy.”
- The Olympics essentially put Kobe “in game shape right from the beginning.” He argued that it’s beneficial coming into training camp because you don’t have to put in the strenuous effort to really get back into shape in training camp. There’s a lot of evidence to that nature in recent years, as the returning players from the Olympics and World Championships have generally had excellent NBA seasons.
- Kobe and Nash, with their doctorates in basketball, don’t really have to talk much on the floor. A look will suffice: “Most of the time I don’t have to say anything. He’s already seeing what I’m seeing.” That should pay off especially in crunch time.
- Mike Brown suggested in his media session that he’d like to limit Kobe’s minutes this season after he averaged 38.5 last year, which is simply too many. Kobe’s thought: “That’s always a goal for everybody, for every team, to have your players rest as much as possible in the (regular season) to be as fresh as possible come postseason. So we’ll see … I’m ready either way.”