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||Nov. 20, 2003
Kobe Bryant Interview
Pregame Kobe media conference in Madison Square Garden
Prior to the start of Wednesday's Lakers game against the Knicks in Madison Square Garden, InsideHoops.com and other media outlets surrounded Kobe Bryant for an interview. Below is the complete transcript.
Talk about how you've been able to stay focused through what you're going through.
Kobe Bryant: Faith. Faith. I have my good days, I have my bad days, you know what I mean? If I just have faith, God will carry us through.
Does coming into a hostile environment help you or hurt you?
Kobe Bryant: I heard it's pretty hostile in here about five minutes ago. (Laughter.) I don't know what all that's about. You know what, I always love coming to New York. I love this city. I love playing here. I'm just anxious to get out there and play.
Because you've always played in the spotlight, does it make it a little easier for you to deal with what's happening?
Kobe Bryant: Well, it's been a little harder. The place where I feel at peace is when I actually get out there on the floor, start playing. Everything else has been more difficult this year than it has in the past. When I play, everything feels good.
What kind of support have you gotten from your teammates and coach?
Kobe Bryant: You know what, the organization, they have been very supportive, as far as making sure everything runs smoothly. The players, even though they don't have to, show support, they have. They all just rallied around me, from throwing cameras out of the way to making sure everything goes as smoothly as possible with me and fans, media, and whatever, and I really appreciate that. Because that's stuff they don't have to do.
With all of the changes and new teammates, is basketball coming easy for this team right now?
Kobe Bryant: I think we're doing a pretty good job, considering all of the circumstances. Everybody thought it was going to be an extremely difficult situation to play through. But we've been able to block everything out and just go out and just play. Games that we struggle, it's just part of the process. We have a lot to learn, and we'll get there.
Have the games so far been easier or harder for you?
Kobe Bryant: It's just been hard for me just from a physical standpoint because I'm still trying to get myself back in shape. Some games, my legs feel great. Other games, they don't. So I've kind of had to adjust my game a little bit. But playing with so many great players makes the game a lot easier. I don't have to step up and play as well as I did last year.
You didn't talk after the loss at Detroit last night. Everyone was really somber. Did anything else happen?
Kobe Bryant: No, it's just, sometimes you have good days, sometimes you have bad days. It wasn't anything relating to basketball in particular. It was just one of those days.
Why was the rest of the team so down, did anything happen?
Kobe Bryant: Well, I mean, we wanted to kick the road trip off the right way. Unfortunately, we just weren't able to do that. I think everybody was pretty upset at the fact that our defense collapsed. In the fourth quarter we weren't getting any stops. We're accustomed to doing that, and it just didn't happen for us.
But is this team together, any issues?
Kobe Bryant: Oh, no, everything's fine. It's a process. It's really early in the season. But we're getting there. We're making strides.
I understand that it's early. Back-to-back games can be tough, how are you feeling?
Kobe Bryant: I think we're excited about tonight. We're excited about going out and playing and winning a back-to-back.
Kobe, has your approach to life changed dramatically over the last several months?
Kobe Bryant: Umm... yeah, I mean, you know. When you go something like what I'm going through... Everybody has there... everybody has something that they go through in this room, at different levels. Everybody has a breaking point. And I've been there. And it brings you close to God.
Did you ever think you were at your breaking point?
Kobe Bryant: Oh yeah. (Slight laugh.)
How did you get by around your breaking point?
Kobe Bryant: Faith. Faith. There's no other way to go.
Kobe Bryant: Faith in God. I think you have to put it in His hands and allow Him to carry. Because you can't carry it yourself. The burden's too much, too heavy.
Has the fan reaction been compared to how you thought it would be?
Kobe Bryant: I don't know. I mean, I go in expecting the worst. Some arenas have been great, some have been not so great. There's nothing really I can do about it. We just go out and play the game. And, whatever happens happens. Whatever the sentiment towards me, I mean I can't change that, I can't affect that, so I just go out and do what I do.
What is the worst?
Kobe Bryant: I have no idea. I just expect it. (Slight laugh.) I just keep my mind focused on the game. Whatever else happens besides that, it doesn't matter to me. I just try to stay focused on the game.
When you reach those low points, is it things that have happened to you on the court, is it things that develop off the court...?
Kobe Bryant: It's people talking about my family. They have nothing to do with the situation. You know, they're dragging them into this and saying false things about them. And that really, that really pisses me off. There are obvious things I won't get into, but it's a combination of everything.
If you had a chance to talk to a youngster who was coming up and going to be a star in this league, what advice would you offer?
Kobe Bryant: Just to be yourself. Just to be yourself. Nobody's perfect. Everybody going to make mistakes. Everybody makes mistakes. Nobody's perfect. So don't expect yourself to be. People who expect you to be perfect, they're terribly wrong. And terribly mistaken themselves. So all you can do is live your life to the best of your abilities, and try to be a good human being, and maximize the blessing that God has given you.