Despite Lakers’ issues, Kobe Bryant ‘obsessed’ to win another title
Reporting from Boston -- These are difficult days for Kobe Bryant.
He said he was “obsessed” Wednesday with slipping a finger into a sixth championship ring, but the Lakers (14-11) would hardly be termed title contenders.
He seemed nostalgic, perhaps wistful, as he spoke after the Lakers practiced at TD Garden. They play the Boston Celtics on Thursday.
At 33 and with 49,282 regular-season and playoff minutes on his NBA odometer, it might only get tougher for Bryant.
“That’s what I hear,” he said. “Father Time will eventually catch up. It’s not going to catch up this year. Maybe it will be next year. Maybe it will be the year after that. That’s the kind of the challenge that I enjoy going through.”
After this season, Bryant has two more years on his contract for $58.3 million.
The Lakers are a work in progress, a well-documented 3-9 on the road and one of the NBA’s worst-shooting teams from long distance, but Bryant still wants another title to add to his collection of five championships.
“I’m obsessed about it. I’ve got to get it,” he said. “It’s just one of those things. I can think of nothing else.
“As a kid growing up, that’s all I saw. I watched [Larry] Bird, I watched Magic [Johnson] and I watched [Michael] Jordan win multiple titles. You just kind of grow up saying this is how it should be. This is what I must do. I want another one.”
The Lakers are 1-2 at the halfway point of their season-long trip. They’ve been “terrible, awful, disgusting in patches,” Bryant said, his smile disguising the reality of the situation. Then he backed off.
“It’s really not that bad,” he said. “We play very well for long stretches of the ballgame and then we have a couple minutes where we don’t execute very well defensively and teams tend to bust us open in those stretches. It’s not as bad as the record would indicate. There’s a lot of positives and we’re close to really turning the corner.”
He had a message for the Lakers’ reserves: Play better. Please.
“We have to do a better job of controlling opposing teams’ second unit,” Bryant said. “That’s something that’s busted us open. Offensively, we don’t ask our bench to score much, but defensively we’ve got to do a much better job.”
The Lakers’ reserves have been outscored the last three games, 144-49.
With the Lakers in Boston, it was natural for Bryant to be asked about Bird’s recent statement to ESPN.com that he’d rather have been teammates with Bryant than Miami’s LeBron James.
“It means the world to me because I looked up to him and his work ethic,” Bryant said. “I always viewed him as being the staple of a blue-collar player that’s been blessed with a great deal of talent. To hear him have that kind of praise for me means a lot.”
Bird called Bryant a “tough cat” and said he’d gladly have been his teammate because of “his desire to win, his dedication to always get better ... and he’s just tough.”
“It would have probably been more fun to play with LeBron, but if you want to win and win and win, it’s Kobe. Not that LeBron’s not a winner, just that [Kobe’s] mind-set is to go into every practice, every game, to get better.”
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