Kobe Bryant sat down with ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” Thursday night to discuss his health, L.A.’s coaching situation, Michael Jordan and more. Below is a transcription of his interview:
Q: On his physical health:
Bryant: From a health standpoint, 100 percent.
Q: On where he’s at from a basketball perspective:
Bryant: I’m not there yet. I started doing a lot of on-court training, and so I’m back into my routine, my lifting, started doing the running, which I hate. But by the time the season comes around I’ll be ready to go.
Q: On watching the Lakers’ 2013-14 season in which he played only six games:
Bryant: I’d rather stay home and eat paint chips. It was tough, man. It was really, really tough. But when you go through seasons like that, it just adds fuel to the fire.
Q: On if he feels optimistic about next season:
Q: On Magic Johnson’s comment about coach Mike D’Antoni resigning:
Bryant: The first thing I thought of was seeing the munchkins on the yellow brick road dancing and singing “The wicked witch is dead” when (Magic) said that, that song just came to mind. But look, Mike was dealt a really bad hand when dealing with all the injuries he had. This is a tough place if you’re not winning. I honestly didn’t care (to see him go).
Q: On if the team consults him about coaching candidates, and the approach of team owners Jim and Jeanie Buss:
Bryant: On the last two, they didn’t. On the next one, I’m hoping they do. Jimmy and Jeanie both are really determined and excited about the possibilities of next season and rebuilding this, building on their father’s legacy and everything that he’s accomplished. They’re taking the challenge extremely, extremely seriously; they’re both on the same page and they want nothing but excellence here, so I have no doubt that we’ll make it happen.
Q: On if management needs to take his temperature on the coaching hire:
Bryant: Now I think it’s an open-door policy. We talk back and forth, text … honestly it’s not really about whether the players like the coach or not. It’s really about getting results. Liking somebody and results don’t necessarily go hand in hand. Sometimes when a coach is driving you, you don’t necessarily like him, but it’s part of the process. Then once you win, everybody is buddy-buddy after that.
Q: On if anyone drives him harder than he drives himself:
Bryant: No, I’m pretty psychopathic when it comes to that stuff. But Phil (Jackson), I’ve been very lucky to have Phil as a coach throughout my entire career, and Tex Winter, Jim Cleamons, Frank Hamblen, Brian Shaw and those guys have really done wonders for my career.
Q: On if he considered buying the Clippers:
Bryant: No. That’s not a possibility, but in terms of brand depreciation, that’s as quick as you can get.
Q: His reflection on when the Clippers were recruiting him in free agency and his meeting with Donald Sterling:
Bryant: At the time the biggest concern was, was he willing to spend to have a successful team. He said during the meeting he was willing to make that commitment to bring a championship team – another championship team to Los Angeles. He has done that. He has spent the money to go out, keep Blake (Griffin) and DeAndre (Jordan) and Chris (Paul) and those guys.
Q: On if he watches the Clippers in the playoffs and whether there is a rooting interest for or against them:
Bryant: It doesn’t really matter to me. I’m not winning so what the hell do I care who wins? Doesn’t matter to me, man. But most of them are friends of mine. Chris is a good friend. I make sure I sent him a message during this whole fiasco. I watch and hope the guys I know do well.
Q: On if it’s difficult to watch when the Clippers are doing so well:
Bryant: I think it’s great for the city, I think it’s great for competition. I love it when they do well. I would love nothing more than for the Lakers to get back to that championship level and meet the Clippers in the playoffs. I think that would be fantastic.
Q: On teaching his daughter a lesson about losing:
Bryant: Our youngest one becomes very emotional when she loses. She had a really tough game. She’s playing softball, she had a tough time, she’s crying. I was telling her: ‘It’s alright. You lose, it’s OK.’ (She said): ‘No, it’s not OK.’ I’m like: ‘How the hell do I reach this kid?’ I showed her us getting absolutely destroyed, pummeled by the Celtics in the Finals and being upset and crying and stuff and showing it’s OK. Then I showed her the 2010 Finals and we bounced back, redeemed ourselves and tried to use that as some kind of a teaching tool. She went out in the championship game and had the game-winning double, so seems like it worked pretty well for her.
Q: On Nick Young’s first pitch at the Dodgers game:
Bryant: That’s crazy. I pray to god he (didn’t do that on purpose). That’s so bad it’s impressive.
Q: On Phil Jackson telling a story of young Kobe Bryant meeting Michael Jordan and telling Jordan he’d kick his (butt) in a game of one-on-one:
Kobe Bryant: Well, you know, it’s half true. Phil – as much as I love Phil – likes to embellish. He writes books – a lot. He has to market those books. But the other story is Michael was dishing it out to me as well, man. Years later, after I scored 81, he was barking about how I could never do it against him. ‘You’re never going to do it against me. I would have fouled out.’ We would have went back and forth. I usually try to stay pretty cool when it comes to MJ because I looked up to him so much, but on that particular occasion, I had to remind him I did have 42 in one half against him. But Phil loves embellishing. I told him at some point, ‘You’re going to have to give me some royalties off your books.’
Q: On if he misses Phil:
Bryant: I do. We still speak often. I think he’ll do fantastic (in New York), especially the more people say he won’t be successful. I found myself reading a lot of the books that he gave me when I was a player that I was just too young, and had too much energy to actually sit down and pay attention to. But he was just a fantastic mentor and unbelievable coach.
Q: On if he feels like the Lakers can win next year:
Bryant: I do. We will make changes for sure, there are certain characteristics you have to build your team around with speed and length and rebounding. We’ll make those adjustments.