<
>

Kobe Bryant: 'Torches' earned, never passed

LOS ANGELES -- Kobe Bryant wanted to make something quite clear when asked Sunday night about the "torch being passed" from Michael Jordan.

"He didn't pass the torch," the Los Angeles Lakers icon said of his idol Sunday following the Lakers' 101-88 loss to the Washington Wizards at Staples Center. "Torches never get passed. You've got to earn that."

Bryant said he does not believe anyone on the Lakers' roster has earned the right to carry a torch that Bryant would relinquish after he retires this summer, ending his 20-season career.

"No," Bryant said. "If you have to ask that question, the answer is already there. Those are things you don't have to ask. Those things just happen."

The Lakers are filled with several young players who have had up-and-down seasons while trying to establish themselves amid a 15-58 season, not to mention Bryant's farewell tour, which has overshadowed the Lakers' woes.

Bryant, a five-time champion and the third all-time leading scorer in NBA history, was asked about the internal motivations required for NBA greatness.

"It's tough, because everybody is different," Bryant said. "Everybody is different. It manifests itself in different ways. I think at the core of us all, though, it's that kind of competitive drive and the obsession about the game."