We thought Kobe’s postgame comments were worth your time to read (or watch), so here’s a transcription of what he had to say after Tuesday’s narrow loss to San Antonio.
Bryant reflected on the recent improvements in the team particularly on defense, missing Steve Nash/Steve Blake and thus playing some point guard, what Mike D’Antoni has in common with Phil Jackson and a whole bunch more about Phil:
Q: On improvements he’s seen:
Kobe: We’re playing much, much better. We’re being much, much more aggressive on both ends of the floor. On defense, we’re doing a phenomenal job. We’re doing a good job of communicating during the game and during timeouts, pushing the guys where we need to push them, making guys take tough shots – shots that, percentage wise, they don’t normally hit. If they hit them, that’s just something you have to live with.
Q: On the last 30 seconds of the game, with the Spurs hitting a three and L.A. missing two.
Kobe: (Danny Green) hit a big, big shot. He shot 4 for 12 tonight, but he had the guts to take (it). It was a tough one; it was a contested shot and he knocked it down. We just came down on the other end of the floor and had a brain fart, and lost the game.
Q: On not having Steve Blake or Steve Nash:
Kobe: It makes a huge impact, but our guards have been playing pretty well. Darius (Morris) struggled a little bit tonight, but he’s been playing well. Chris Duhon is the consummate professional; he came in and played extremely well. Obviously you miss those guys. I miss Steve (Nash) because during games, you see me initiating the offense and making plays for others. With Steve in the game, I’m finishing plays, which is a little bit more dangerous.
Q: On when he remembers playing point guard last:
Kobe: Yeah, every year in the triangle offense. That’s what I did. I was pretty much the facilitator and I scored as well. Right now, it’s kind of my responsibility to do those things and get guys open shots, as well as score the ball. When Steve gets back, I’ll get back to finishing, which is what I do best.
Q: On finding some sort of relief when Nash gets back:
Kobe: I have more responsibilities, but when Steve gets back, he’ll be able to share, and I’ll be able to backside finish, so I’m looking forward to that.
Q: On how much he’s talked to Mike D’Antoni:
Kobe: Only one time, via text. He’s just excited to get this going, and put together the blueprint to be successful.
Q: On Bernie Bickerstaff:
Kobe: Bernie has been great – real chill and real laid back. He’s not showing any signs of facing the pressure. He just lets us do what we do.
Q: On what he’s noticed in his teammates the last four or five days:
Kobe: Guys are being more aggressive and being more assertive, and trying to find their way. Metta, l love his aggressiveness. He hasn’t shot the ball particularly well, but we need him to be aggressive and get his rhythm offensively and those shots will fall for him.
Q: On what he learned about the team’s character the last four or five days:
Kobe: We did a pretty good job of focusing what we’re doing individually. I think we showed a lot of character despite the distractions. We were able to kind of zero in on what we had to do, came out and played extremely well.
Q: On how the team has had to adjust defensively in wake of what has gone on:
Kobe: Defense is a lot like offense in the sense you want to be unpredictable and you want to be able to communicate well with each other. When you have one way of doing it, then you become very predictable. For us, we’ll continue to do what we do – just communicate well, play personnel, play percentages and make them take tough shots.
Q: On why more of Phil Jackson’s assistant coaches don’t have jobs around the league:
Kobe: It seems like all our assistant coaches when they left here, to even mention the word ‘Triangle’ was like taboo. I don’t understand it. I really don’t know the answer to that question. It’s very strange, very bizarre. You would think that organizations and other coaches should try to learn from Phil. That’s what you should try to do, right? If you have a coach that’s won more than anybody in our profession, you would think you’d want to study them and analyze them, and figure out why that’s the case, but they haven’t done it.
Q: On Phil adapting to his players:
Kobe: It’s his theory. It’s his philosophies and things that he lives by. It’s that whole Zen Master thing. He really believes in letting things unfold, letting players develop, letting teams grow into their identity, for guys to communicate with each other and be able to adapt to each other; removing themselves from the equation which is part of the mastery of what he’s done here. If you talk to Michael (Jordan) or myself, we’ll be singing his praises to the heavens. Michael didn’t want to play for any other coach. That’s just how it is.
Q: On what D’Antoni has in common with Jackson:
Kobe: Mike (D’Antoni) has some of the same characteristics in terms of not micromanaging – kind of setting guys up and putting guys in position to be successful. He was probably one altercation away in San Antonio from getting to the Finals.
Q: On what he’s held onto from Phil’s coaching:
Kobe: Everything, everything. I’m basically baby Zen Master.
Q: On if he’s thought about how his career would have turned out if he didn’t have Phil:
Kobe: I don’t know. I probably wouldn’t have learned the game to the depths the way I know now. But I think the thing about Phil (Jackson), (Gregg Popovich) and great coaches is the role player’s play very well. Guys like myself, Shaq (O’Neal), MJ and (Scottie) Pippen, our numbers will always be excellent no matter who you put us with. That’s just what we do. But them instilling confidence in the rest of the team, putting them in position to be successful, allowing them to play the fourth quarter when they blow a lead and let them develop, that’s what makes them great coaches.
Q: On maximizing his star players, too:
Kobe: He’s gotten the most out of their role players. When they play well and they have confidence, me, MJ and Shaq become more dangerous because those guys are playing with more confidence and those guys are making shots. You put us with anybody, our numbers are the same no matter what. But to win championships, those guys have to feel comfortable with their role.
Q: On whether he would have won five titles without Phil:
Kobe: Probably not. If you’re talking about winning championships, that’s what a great coach does – install confidence in the rest of the guys. Make sure they’re comfortable in their roles and that’s how you win championships. If you’re talking about from an individual standpoint, like I say, no matter who’s coaching I’m still going to do what I do, but it’s not going to equate to winning championships. If you’re talking about from an individual standpoint, I’m going to do what I do, but it’s probably not going to equate to championships.
Q: On what he learned from Tex Winter:
Kobe: I used to sit with Tex pretty much every game for two to three hours and watch the entire game and break down film with him. He was like Yoda.
Q: On what he remembers from D’Antoni’s teams defensively:
Kobe: They did a good job when they had (Shawn) Marion and Raja (Bell). They covered up for a lot, a lot of errors. They covered the ground and were physical. That’s what their biggest strength was – those two guys. Here on this team, you got several of them – myself, Metta (World Peace) and obviously Dwight (Howard), so it should be fun.