Kobe Bryant thinks team will change
BOSTON -- Before the Los Angeles Lakers embarked on their season-long six-game road trip last week, center Andrew Bynum said the team needed to "prove that we're able to win, or else they're going to start doing things." After the Lakers lost to Philadelphia on Monday to fall to 1-2 to start the trip, forward Pau Gasol said, "There's always a sense that if something was going to happen before, something might still happen," referring to the failed three-team trade that would have sent him out of town and landed Chris Paul as a Laker.
Now all of the Lakers' Big Three have spoken on the trade speculation surrounding the Lakers, who at 14-11 have just the fifth best record in the Western Conference, after Kobe Bryant joined 710 ESPN's "Max & Marcellus Show" on Wednesday.
"I'm sure they'll do something," Bryant said. "They'll tweak something. I don't know what. But I'm sure they'll do something."
While Bryant reiterated at Lakers practice Wednesday at the TD Garden that his only motivation as a 16-year veteran is to win another ring and he is "obsessed" with the pursuit of a sixth championship, he made it clear the Lakers organization will do everything possible to make it happen despite the team's mediocre start to the season.
"Here's the distinct difference between what's going on now and what went on in '06-07: Back then, I didn't think they were willing to spend the money to have us have a successful team," Bryant said, referring to his infamous trade demand when he said he'd rather "play on Pluto" than return to the purple and gold.
"I just thought they were going to sit on their hands and have me go out there and score all these points and generate revenue and just not spend any dollars," Bryant continued. "So, that was the issue that I had and I said if that's the case and that's what your philosophy is right now, just let me go. Let me go play someplace else then if that's what you want to do, because I didn't want to be a part of it.
"Now, I don't think that's the case. They obviously tried to pull the trigger on a trade that they thought was going to improve our team with CP and it just didn't happen. But, that shows me that they're thinking in the right direction in terms of doing things to improve our ballclub. So that's why I'm not really tripping on it. We have to be patient and we have to make the right moves and I'm sure we will."
Bryant balked at the chance to address specifically what roster moves would be necessary to fortify the Lakers' championship aspirations, but he supported the approach made by Lakers' management to improve the team.
"The motivation is for us to build a contender," Bryant said. "It's not to just kind of sit around and see what falls in our lap. That's not the impression that I get from management at all, so I think that allows me to be patient. You can't just rush into things and then you make bad decisions, you make bad choices, you're locked into bad contracts. So, it's important to be patient, make right choices and we'll be fine."
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"Give me both, how about that?" Bryant said with a laugh.
He also offered an answer that would be surprising to some when he was told he could pick any player in the league to join him to create the sport's top duo.
"It's a tough question because I've played with a lot of great players being on the Olympic team," Bryant said. "I think that the player I would probably play with the most where the pieces would fit would be myself and LeBron [James], believe it or not, because he's more of a facilitator and I'm more of a scorer. ... He's a modern version of what Oscar [Robertson] was. He just puts up genius numbers."
It's been a historic week for Bryant already as he returned to his hometown of Philadelphia on Monday and passed Shaquille O'Neal for fifth in the NBA's all-time scoring list. Thursday he'll play the Celtics, the team he beat to win his fifth championship in 2010.
"I'm obsessed about it," Bryant said after practice, describing his quest for a sixth ring. "I got to get it. It's just one of those things. This is what I play for. I can think of nothing else.
"As a kid growing up, that's all you saw. That's all I saw. I watched [Larry] Bird, I watched Magic [Johnson] and I watched them win multiple titles. I watched [Michael] Jordan win multiple titles. I just kind of grew up saying, 'This is how it should be. This is what I must do.' After winning one, you become addicted to it. You want two and then you want three and then you just get greedy. So, I want another one."
Added Bryant on "Max & Marcellus": "What I'm chasing, in terms of championships, none of my contemporaries have that or can say that they have that. Jordan has that. Obviously Magic had five. Bill Russell had the seemingly unattainable [11 championships]. That's kind of what you play for. I'm playing for that sixth championship and I'm the only one out there right now."
While Bryant admitted after practice that his sparkling career has been, "more than I could have imagined, to be honest," he clearly still wants even more.
"I think Lakers fans know that the Lakers throughout the course of history, one way or another, they always seem to find themselves back on top," Bryant said.
Dave McMenamin covers the Lakers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.