He Guarantees Bryant Always Had Promise


Great news for the daughter who can’t get a date.

I talked to John Black, the Lakers’ PR whiz, and he said there would be no problem if I wanted to buy NBA Finals tickets for Games 6 and 7 at Staples Center.

With one more game to play before the Lakers return to Staples, this will give the daughter who can’t get a date time to make posters, signs or maybe even a sandwich board to let everyone know she has a little something extra to offer any guy who wants a night out on the town.

I have it on good authority, of course, the Lakers will be playing Games 6 and 7 at Staples Center. Kobe Bryant finished his news conference Sunday night after the Lakers’ latest loss here, and I walked with him to the team bus.


I might have said something like, ‘You guys are finished, toast. Go home.’ I don’t recall my exact words, but I wrote down Bryant’s response: “I’m telling you right now, we’ll win Tuesday.”

That’s what he said, so I put it at the bottom of Page 2.

Monday afternoon, I arrived to chat with both teams and the press corps was abuzz: “Kobe guaranteed the Lakers will win Game 5; we’ve got our story for today.”

At first, I was disappointed he hadn’t told me that when we had talked. Then reporters started asking me about Kobe’s guarantee, you know, the one at the bottom of Page 2. It never crossed my mind that any of these guys would ever get through an entire Page 2 column.


BY THIS time, reporters had already quizzed the Pistons about Bryant’s guarantee.

Tayshaun Prince: “He has to find a way for his teammates to get on the same page [for that to happen]. I think that’s why guys do things like that, so you get your guys to come out and lay it on the line.”

I guess he didn’t realize I was throwing another challenge Bryant’s way. I do that a lot.

Rasheed Wallace: “It’s something he thinks will rally the troops.”

I think he just wanted to get rid of me and get on the bus.

The Lakers arrived, and were asked about Kobe’s guarantee.

Rick Fox: “That makes two of us; we just need six more people.”

Yeah, eight on five, that might be what it takes to beat Detroit.

Shaquille O’Neal: “I feel that way too. Got to.”

You know, this could be the first time all season the Lakers appear to be on the same page.

CBS’ Jim Hill asked Bryant, “What was the thought process that made you promise the Lakers would win [tonight]?”


Bryant had no idea what Hill was talking about. It’s not uncommon, of course, to have no idea what Hill is talking about.

“I promised?” Bryant asked. “I’ll go with that, man. It’s fine by me. We don’t have a choice. We’ve got to win.”

When the news conference was over, Bryant agreed to another one-on-one chat. I explained that he was being asked about his promise to win, based on what he had told me the night before.

“You should have warned me,” he said. “What’s the big deal? Do I think we’re going to win Tuesday? Duh. What do they expect me to say?

“Yeah, I promise we’re going to win. That’s what I said; that’s what I believe.”

Then he’d better start making some shots. The Pistons have stuffed him, bringing back the “Jordan Rules,” which had Detroit teams of old splitting the floor into fifths, and when Michael Jordan entered an area, the defender in that area left his own man to jump on Jordan.

Some of the media, however, think there’s something else at work here, whether it’s Bryant’s off-the-court problems, impending free agency or his relationship with Shaq. Bryant shook his head at each suggestion.


“No, there is nothing else going on here,” he said. “Jordan hits 17% of his shots in a playoff game, and everyone isn’t saying there’s something else wrong with Jordan.”

I don’t know if Jordan ever hit only 17% of his shots, but in the Eastern Conference finals in 1989 against Detroit, his coaches and teammates were mad at him for shooting too much. Sound familiar?

Jordan, who had yet to win a championship at the time, was 10 for 29 in the opener, nine for 20 in the second game, and after a five-for-15 performance in Game 4, tore up the locker room, got on the team bus while still dressed in his uniform and refused to meet with reporters. Wonder what the L.A. media would’ve said about that? Upset about being criticized, Jordan took only eight shots in the next playoff game. Sound familiar?

Jordan would stay with Chicago, of course, and go on to win six titles.

“I have one good game Tuesday, and watch, all of a sudden it will be, ‘Oh gosh, he’s such a great player,’ ” Bryant said. “I’m not shooting well now, and all of a sudden there must be something else wrong. It’s ridiculous.

“This is what I live for -- championship situations. That’s why I want to take a shot to tie up a game with two seconds left; people forget about a shot like that when things suddenly don’t go right for a couple of games. I know what I’ve got to do for this game, and I know a win brings us back to L.A. and everything changes.”


AS YOU know, the daughter who can’t get a date went to Game 6 of the San Antonio series with a male companion, with the understanding it was not a date. I thought there was some hope there too, because the guy showed up wearing an almost-new T-shirt and stayed the entire game.


Oh well, she’s starting from scratch again, but if Bryant makes good on his guarantee, Games 6 and 7 offer her another chance to bribe someone into taking her out. In fact, at this point, a grocery store bagger is starting to look pretty good.

T.J. Simers can be reached at To read previous columns by Simers, go to