"I haven't had a chance to talk [to him]," Bryant said of Rose. "I don't know if he's going to be here tonight or not. If he is I'm sure I'll catch up with him at some point. But there's really nothing much you can do about it. It is what it is. It's unfortunate, but you have two options: One is to lay down and not do anything about it and the second is to get up and get to work. I think the second one is more appealing to him for sure."
Aside from the two players' shared pain of dealing with injuries, Bryant's other tie to the Bulls is that he worked out with Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau back when he was in high school in the Philadelphia area and Thibodeau was an assistant with the Philadelphia 76ers. He isn't sure how much Thibodeau has changed over the years.
"I don't know if he's changed much," Bryant said. "I haven't been in a locker room with or been on the practice floor to see him. I can only remember what he was like when he was working me out and I was at the practices and stuff like that. He was really, really intense. I don't know if he's scaled back much at all."
For Thibodeau, the respect for Bryant is still evident each time he speaks about their shared past.
"Just his drive, the way he studied the game," Thibodeau said of his time with a young Bryant. "You could see the talent. It was a high school guy playing -- he'd play with the college players then he'd play with the pros. He was in the gym all day. I think because of his dad having been a pro, he was exposed to the pro game from a very early age. But his will and determination to be great and never satisfied, he had that in him from the beginning.
"Even now you still see the way he approaches things. He's gone through the early years in his career and wasn't satisfied. And then the middle and now he's getting towards the end, and just great will to win. Very intelligent, very driven, and those type of guys, they're always going to be great. I'm sure this is a challenge for him to overcome, but everything he's faced he's always had the ability to get past it."
Bryant still cherishes the time he spent with Thibodeau as he was growing up.
"Just wanting to get better," Bryant said. "I had a good time. It was fun. He put me through way more defensive drills than he did offensive drills. It was fun, though."