- Ramona Shelburne, ESPN Senior Writer
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"We spoke a couple of days ago," Bryant said of Rodriguez, whom he befriended on the set of a commercial a few years ago. "You can only control what you can control. You go out there and do the best job you can. If they take you out of the lineup, it's really on you to be a good teammate and support the other guys, which he's good about doing."
But that's not exactly what Bryant said when he called Rodriguez, who was benched for Game 3 on Tuesday night because he's hit .143 in the ALCS and .130 in the playoffs with no RBIs.
No, that conversation went more like this:
"I just say to him, 'You're Alex Rodriguez. You're A-Rod. You're one of the best to ever do it,'" Bryant said. "I think sometimes he kind of forgets that and wants to try to do the right thing all the time. Which is the right team attitude to have. But other times you really have to put your head down and say, 'Hell with it' and just do your thing.
"Hopefully the next game they'll kind of give him a chance, maybe put him back at third and let him respond to the pressure, which I think he'll do."
Although both are among the best to ever play their respective sports, Bryant and Rodriguez would seem to be very dissimilar.
"We're different," Bryant said. "But you're talking about, 'He's one of the best to ever play.' I think really the difference is, sometimes he forgets he's the best. ... Where, I don't."
Bryant laughed at the self-deprecating comment, then continued on to explain how the two men are in some ways the same.
"We know what it takes to get to that level," he said. "The consistency, the sacrifice, the work ethic, the constant scrutiny, that's something we all have in common -- from golf to cycling to swimming to basketball to baseball."
Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant spoke with and offered words of encouragement to his friend and slumping star Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees.