Kobe Bryant Talks Shaq, Dwight, UNC Over Duke, CP3 Trade & When He’ll Return Next Season

By: 08.16.13
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Kobe Bryant was at the Nokia Theatre last night as part of an hour-long “Kobe Up Close Hosted By Jimmy Kimmel” event to raise money for the Kobe Vanessa Bryant Family Foundation (KVBFF) in order to fight homelessness. During the hour-long interview Kobe was forthright about a number of different issues and milestones during his 17-year career.

On whether he’d be ready to play by the time the Lakers’ season starts on October 29:

“I don’t know if I’ll be ready for opening night. I really don’t know. I know I’m really, really ahead of schedule. […] With an Achilles’ injury, it’s just one of those freak situations.”

On whether his career is coming to a close:

“I just want that jewelry. […] People just don’t understand how obsessed I am with winning.”

On whether he’ll finish his career in Los Angeles (Bryant’s in the final year of a deal paying him $30 million this season):

“Yeah.”

On Dwight Howard’s departure:

“Dwight is a great kid. We have different perspectives on what it takes to win.”

On attending the Dwight Howard pitch meeting:

“It was about the organization. It was about everything they’d done for me throughout my career. It was about me trying to help them out any way I can to set them up for the future, for when I retire. It wasn’t about me.”

On late Lakers owner, Jerry Buss:

“He knew exactly what his vision was. He was very understanding and he communicated clearly. For me, he allowed me to grow as a person.”

On the Chris Paul trade that was blocked by David Stern:

“Chris called me and told me it was a done deal. Then he calls me back 30 minutes later and says, ‘You won’t believe it. David Stern killed the deal.'”

Kobe was effusive with his praise of former teammate Shaquille O’Neal, but he did talk about the break-up of the Lakers dynasty and the rift between the two all-stars:

“It never bothered me that people said, ‘You only won championships because you’re playing with Shaq.’ It bothered me when he said it. I had to prove that I could win without him. […] It was a tough period. He and I just weren’t going to play together anymore.”

On where he would have gone if he’d attended college instead of declaring for the NBA out of high school:

“I love [Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski]. The truth has to come out.” Bryant said he was leaning towards the University of North Carolina because Vince Carter was a star at the time, and “I want to play against him, every single day.

On what it took to win titles in 2009 and 2010 after Shaq’s departure, including advice from Michael Jordan:

Jordan gave Kobe “phenomenal advice,” and “My demeanor and my temper probably calmed down a little bit. I go into games today looking at what are my guys going through, who is struggling, what can I do to help.”

Click page 2 to watch video where Kobe talks about his tremendous Clippers workout, and why they still didn’t draft him.

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