Kobe Bryant finally erupted, letting loose some steam, and plenty of expletives, at Lakers’ practice Thursday.
He trash-talked with Nick Young. Called teammates “soft like Charmin.” Yelled to General Manager Mitch Kupchak that the Lakers’ reserves weren’t doing anything to help him get better in practice ... with colorful language added.
Bryant, 36, doesn’t always practice with the team but the intensity is “sky high” when he does, Coach Byron Scott understated.
Bryant dared Jeremy Lin to shoot while guarding him near the three-point line. Lin shot, missed and Bryant took credit, yelling out he “talked him” into a bad shot.
Then came Young vs. Bryant.
“Nobody in the world can guard me one-on-one!” Young shouted as they defended each other.
Bryant’s response: “Thank God I’m not from this world.”
The starters crushed the reserves but not without some serious trash-talking from Bryant.
“Now I see why we’ve lost so many games. We’re soft like Charmin!” he yelled at one point.
He also barked out semi-proudly that practice was “real uncomfortable” because he took part in it.
As Bryant stalked off the court, he told Kupchak he wanted more of a test when practicing with the team.
Within an hour, Bryant was more reserved while talking to reporters.
“I don’t know if it helps them. It obviously raises the intensity level,” he said. “It was a tough practice for them.”
What about this Charmin thing?
“I just challenge guys, see what happens,” Bryant said. “I’ve always believed in throwing them in the pool and then seeing if they can sink or swim.”
“I think Nick probably regrets getting me started in practice and saying something,” Bryant said, smiling.
The carefree Young, one of the funniest and most quotable Lakers, called it a form of “jaw-jack.”
“I haven’t seen Kobe practice like that in a while,” he said. “I’ve been waiting to get back out there since he hurt my thumb. You know, talk some trash. It brings out the best in practice too, when you’re going at it like that.”
Young sustained a torn thumb ligament and missed the Lakers’ first 10 games after he tried to steal the ball from Bryant in practice and accidentally hit his elbow.
Young tried to defer when asked whether he was better than Bryant on Thursday.
“I can’t say who it was … but he won,” Young said.
Bryant rarely scrimmages with the team to save him from excess wear and tear. He is averaging 25.5 points a game, second in the league behind Houston’s James Harden.
“At this stage in my career, it’s tough to get out there [for practice] because my body’s just not ready. My body can’t do it,” Bryant said. “We have to try and pick our spots a little bit.”
Then he admitted something with a sly tone.
“I’ve always enjoyed practices more than the games, actually.”
Bryant has been available and affable with reporters more often this season than any in recent memory. He has also been more helpful with teammates than past seasons, by many accounts.
Thursday, though, was something different, a flare-up by Bryant in a season somewhat empty of them.
Follow Mike Bresnahan on Twitter @Mike_Bresnahan