Never mind the hoopla surrounding the
At Thursday's practice,
He seamlessly floated up and down the court while doing various drills with an assistant coach, including fakes, slight stutter steps and through-the-leg moves.
Bryant has been averaging 26.4 points a game at an effective 55.1% clip. He's tied with
"He's playing as good as he's ever played,"
When D'Antoni addressed the media for the first time at the Lakers practice facility Thursday, he praised Bryant's approach to the game.
"That's the most competitive guy I've ever been around," he said. Whether it's an All-Star game or whether it's a pickup game, he's coming at you.
"That's why he has the rings that he has and has the career that he has had. That's not going to change. His intensity is something that, as a coach, man, I love it."
Bryant and D'Antoni have known each other since Bryant was a young child living with his family in
D'Antoni fondly recalled his first impression of Bryant.
"He was a little kid about 12 years old that would come out on the court in
D'Antoni, who helped Bryant and Team USA to an Olympic gold medal in 2012, as an assistant to Mike Krzyzewski, thinks that they will get along well.
"He speaks Italian, it will be great," he said. "He can come over and cuss me out in Italian and you guys might not even know it."