It's fair to say Kobe Bryant was relatively uncommunicative with the media after the Lakers laid an egg Monday night against New Orleans. Last night, during an interview with NBA TV in Atlanta, he had a little more to say, expressing a little concern over- stop me if you've heard this before- a lack of urgency:
"The trap that you run into is you play with that sense of urgency when you're down 10, 12, 13 points and that's the kind of mentality I do not want us to have going into the postseason. You kind of lollygag around for a series and now you're down, 3-1, now it's time to play. You kind of fall into that false sense of security and all of a sudden it's time to go and sometimes it's too late to turn it on."
That's right, he used the "L" word. The boys are lollygagging. Turns out, Kobe was just expanding on a theme he pressed Monday night after the Hornets game. Through a little back channel work, we were able to re-create the scene in the visitors locker room at New Orleans Arena.
It went something like this:
A few Lakers mill about shower area, others in the trainer's area, some in front of their lockers. Kobe Bryant, trailed by assistant coach Frank Hamblen, enters the showers with a large bag of basketballs. He dumps them in the center of the room, Spalding's smacking against the wet tile as they scatter.
Kobe (yelling): Everybody into the showers! Anybody who ain't in the showers in 10 seconds is gonna get fined $5,000 and has to wear the short shorts for the rest of the year! Frank!
Hamblen: One Mississippi... Two Mississippi... Three Mississippi... Four Mississippi... Five Mississippi...
The team quickly hurries in, met by Kobe's contemptful gaze.
Kobe: You guys. You lollygag the ball around the offense. You lollygag your way back on defense. You lollygag your way through practice. Do you know what that makes you? Frank?
Kobe: Lollygaggers! What's our record, Frank?
Hamblen: 54 and 20.
Kobe: 54 and 20. That's pretty good. But we never should have lost 20.
Hamblen: It's a miracle it wasn't more.
Kobe: It's a miracle! Actually, it's not a miracle. It's seven game-winning shots from me. Well, the one against Miami was kind of a miracle, but the rest? Hardly. This is a simple game. You pass the ball, you shoot the ball, you defend the ball. You got it? Now we have eight games left before the playoffs, starting Wednesday in Atlanta. Phil would like us to get to 60 wins. I'd like to get there, too.
Bus to the airport leaves in twenty minutes.
Kobe exits, muttering obscenities on his way out.