Kobe Bryant may be injured and unavailable to play, but that doesn’t mean that the Mamba still doesn’t hold court when the Lakers roll into visiting aenas. On Sunday, as the purple-and-gold prepared to face the Knicks and a red-hot Carmelo Anthony at the Garden, Bryant took some time prior to the game to speak with a large throng of reporters on a number of issues.
Bryant was asked about Melo breaking his MSG scoring record; whether he would try to convince the Knicks’ forward to sign with the Lakers in the off-season, and more.
Read a selection of what Kobe had to say to reporters below.
Reflection on dropping 61 at MSG and then Melo breaking record –
“The game I remember just being very calm. Very calm. Everything just seemed very peaceful. Normally when you first come to the Garden, the first thing you do you is you kind of look around, see who’s at the game, soak it all in. That particular evening I just felt supreme focus within and it didn’t even matter.”
Did Kobe catch the game?
“I got a lot of messages from people saying, ‘Melo is going after your record tonight’. It’s amazing. He just went to work. He got hot and didn’t cool off.”
Did he speak to Melo since?
“I did, of course. I callled him that same night just to congratulate him. Today he can cool off because he had a big night the other night. Today he can afford to go 2 for 40.”
Where does Carmelo stack up with the other great players in today’s NBA?
“He’s a great player just like the rest of them. He’s on the upper tier of players. It’s tough for players because a lot of times, you’re really subject to the culture around you in terms of the players that are around you. We’ve seen it in players from the past, whether it’s Dominque wilkins or Bernard King and it could contribute to a lot of frustration, that’s one of the reasons why I was frustrated with this organization back in 2006 and 2007 because I didn’t want to be known as a ‘scorer,’ I wanted to make sure that I had a team around me that could contend for a championship, so this is a team sport so a lot of times you have to work with what you have around you and you have to be lucky in the sense that you have to have a good organization that can put a good team around you and be successful.”
How do you shake the connotation of being a just “scorer?”
“The only way to do that is to win. That’s it. I won 5 championships and there are some of you that still say that so you kinda just take it and roll with it. The most important thing is to win a championship and that’s the only way to shake it the way Michael shook it and that’s the only way any player can shake it.”
Any advice for Carmelo?
“Just focus on the game today, that’s all you can do is just focus on the game that’s right in front of you for that moment. Try no to stress out too much over things that are beyond your control, just focus on the day-to-day things.”
Reaction when you hear that Carmelo may be interested in playing in LA?
“Everybody wants to play in Los Angeles. I mean, New York’s a beautiful place, but don’t get me wrong, it’s colder than shit out here. Palm trees and beaches, obviously, are a little more appealing.But all jokes aside, I think that players, when that time comes, will have to make the best decision for them and their families. If he wants to call me for advice, later, as a friend, I’ll be more than happy to give it to him.”
Is it different when you score a lot of points in a building like MSG or Staples?
“Of course. This is it, this is the Mecca of Basketball. There’s so much history here and the culture of the game and what this building means. I mean, this is the last one left in terms of the Willis Reeds of the world and the Fraziers and the Earl the Pearls… This is the last building left that carries that history.”
What are your plans when you get back to L.A.?
“I’ll throw on some shorts and I’ll throw on a t-shirt and walk outside…”