Despite an 0-2 start to begin the season, Kobe Bryant maintains there is no reason to panic given the new offensive system the team is still trying to incorporate.
The Lakers co-captain, though, looks like his usual self despite playing through continued pain in his right foot.
After the season opener against Dallas, Kobe estimated he played at “probably 80, 85 percent,” although he still notched 22 points on 11 for 14 shooting. In the second game of a back-to-back in Portland, he scored 30 points on 10 for 20 shooting, including 4 for 9 on 3-pointers. Through two contests, he is averaging 26 points on almost a 62 percent clip from the field.
The 17-year veteran did not practice Thursday, and is listed as “day-to-day,” but will play on Friday against the Clippers.
Post practice, Kobe took some time to talk about the team’s offense through two games, cautioning critics and fans to be understanding of the new system and Mike Brown.
Below is a transcription of the interview:
Q: On if the team can win while the team adjust to the new offense:
Kobe: Offensively, it hasn’t looked as pretty as it will be, but we’re scoring a lot of points efficiently. That’s not where we’re hanging our hats on right now in in terms of how we’re losing games. We’re not executing defensively, which has a lot to do with guys being on the same page and working together.
Q: On if he’s surprised at how the team has started:
Kobe: I’m always surprised when I lose, but at the same time, it’s pretty entertaining to me. Nobody wants to win here more than I do. Nobody, nobody. I’m not panicking or jumping off a bridge because we’re 0-2. It is a process, but we have to approach the process with a sense of urgency. Just because we have this talented roster, we want it to happen. But we have to push for it to happen.
Q: On learning the new offense and understanding it’s a process:
Kobe: We have to have a sense of urgency to get things right and not rely on the fact that things take time. We can’t rely on that; we have to push and play with a sense of urgency and get things done now.
Q: On the critics asking for Mike Brown to abandon the Princeton offense:
Kobe: I don’t understand. (The city) has seen us win multiple championships here, playing an offense that is tough to learn, that had a sequence of options and took five guys being on the same page working together. They know how that stuff works, so for them to be so stupid now and say: ‘Well, let Steve (Nash) dribble the ball around and create opportunities for everybody, let Dwight (Howard) post up or let me (isolate) … it’s not idiotic but it’s close.’
Q: On how the criticism is different back with Phil Jackson compared to Mike Brown:
Kobe: The message changes according to who’s giving it. The sequence of options, the equal opportunity offense – in essence – it’s the same thing. The only thing that changes is you have Mike Brown telling everybody to be patient but back then, you had Phil (Jackson) telling everybody to shut up.
Q: On whether criticism is fair or not:
Kobe: I think the critics are more likely to take runs at him than they would at Phil Jackson. It’s fair because Phil obviously won and Mike hasn’t won yet. Look at the philosophies; they’re the same type of philosophies. It’s kind of funny to me to sit back and see that and hear the arguments.
Q: On his response to people criticizing Mike Brown:
Kobe: I can say it because I’ve won. It might be tough for (Mike Brown) to say it, but I’ll say it for him: ‘Everybody, shut up.’ Let us work and at the end of the day, you’ll be happy with the results like they normally are.
Q: On if he believes in the offense:
Kobe: You have to be stubborn about the approach. The essence of the offense is everybody sharing the spotlight, everybody being able to read and react and working as one, and that takes time to do especially if you have guys as individually talented as we are.
Q: On if his teammates have bought into the system:
Kobe: The reality is that when you have talented players that are willing to sacrifice their games and play within the structure, to go along with talent they have individually, it makes you unstoppable.