Kobe Bryant left Lakers headquarters today in a much better mood than a year ago, when he was obviously unhappy with the team's management.
He didn't offer, at least in public, any calls for a change. Just a smile at a job (almost) completed.
"I'm comfortable with what we have," Bryant said, when asked if the management team led by General Manager Mitch Kupchak had personnel moves to make this off-season. "Whatever Mitch decides to do, he decides to do."
Already, he said, the bitterness of the Lakers losing to the Celtics in the NBA Finals is drifting away.
"I bounce back pretty quickly," Bryant said. "Not to say the loss doesn't sting, because it does and it will, but I bounce back quickly."
Bryant will head off to Las Vegas next week for practice with the U.S. Olympic team. After the Beijing Games, he said, he will have surgery on his injured right pinkie.
When asked if winning an Olympic gold medal would help dissipate the sting of losing in the NBA Finals, Bryant said:
"They're two different things. I wanted both of 'em."
A sparkling season that ended with a thud in Boston in Game 6 of the NBA Finals officially concludes today and Friday with the Lakers going through their exit interviews.
Bryant, originally expected to have his interview Friday, chose to have it today.
Lamar Odom and Derek Fisher will have their interviews Friday. The rest of the team is going today, and The Times is reporting on their comments as they become available.
The sharp-shooting guard had a major impact off the bench for the Lakers this season. His NBA Finals will be remembered for a 20-point effort off the bench in Game 3, but also by Ray Allen blowing by him for a crucial layup in Game 4.
"I'm one of those guys that I hate to lose," Vujacic said. "I'm not going to hide it.
"We did a lot of positive things, but like I said after the game, it's painful and it's not going to be forgotten."
Whether it's remembered on this team or another is still to be determined. Vujacic is a restricted free agent this off-season.
"I know I'm going to be next year with a team that wants and needs me the most," he said. "Who it's going to be, I'm not sure right now."
But he also stated that he has a heavy interest in remaining a Laker.
"We are a great team, we have great chemistry; who wouldn't want to keep that together?" he said.
Kobe Bryant: Im comfortable with what we have
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