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|Kobe Bryant broke his silence with the media by expressing his disappointment with a team struggling to get excited for games.|
"This isn't going to be easy," Bryant said. "If it was easy to three-peat, you'd see a lot of teams do it in the past. That's why so few teams have been able to do it. If we're going to do it we're going to need to get our butts in gear. "The game has to be the most important thing. You have to focus on it, you have to play every game like it's your last, you have to be attentive to what's going on. This is serious stuff. You don't just have two rings and say we're satisfied with what we got. I'm not rolling with that. I'm not going to let that slide." As Bryant spoke to the media it sounded like he was channeling his inner Phil Jackson, who often uses media sessions to serve as team meetings. He wasn't simply telling the reporters in the room the Lakers had to change, he was also telling his teammates who would no doubt watch and read his comments when they got home. And in case they didn't, he promised he would remind them when he saw them Monday. "I'm going to kick some [butt] in practice," Bryant said. "It's going to get through. I'll beat it in their head until it gets through." Bryant had a feeling the Lakers weren't going to play well coming into their much-hyped game against the Heat on Christmas Day. The Lakers are 4-8 on Christmas Day since 1999 and Bryant has almost become used to seeing his teammates more excited about the presents they received in the morning than the game in the afternoon.
"We always [stink] on Christmas," Bryant said. "I don't think we're mean enough to be able to show up on Christmas Day and play. They should just take us off this day. "I think these games mean more to our opponents than they do to us. I think we need to get that straight. We need to play with more focus and put more importance on these games. I don't like it." The bigger problem for Bryant outside of the Lakers' performance on Christmas Day is the common perception that the Lakers' season doesn't really start until the playoffs begin. That just because the Lakers got blown out last Christmas and went on to win the championship, this game really doesn't matter in the big scheme of things.
"It's your job. You need to show up and work," Bryant said like an angry boss talking about his habitually late employees. "I don't buy that crap. Show up and get to work."
When the Lakers have shown up and worked like a team they've played like a two-time defending champion capable of winning a third straight title, but when they haven't they've been embarrassed at home and looked up at empty seats as they've walked off the court.
"It's not about getting embarrassed," Bryant said. "I don't get embarrassed. It's about winning. It's the competitiveness of winning the game. I don't like losing. I don't care what anybody thinks. I just don't like losing, period." It may seem like a common feeling, but far too often this season, Bryant has been alone in that sentiment. Arash Markazi is a columnist and writer for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Follow him on Twitter.