The event was, to the surprise of nobody, a complete circus. Although I must say it has improved. A couple years ago, the Lakers tried to keep the print media out of Media Day — how they figured that, I’m still not sure — but the access was good today and all of the players were very cooperative.
It was quite a scene when all the players walked into the practice gym…except Kobe Bryant. For about 20 minutes, the word was that Kobe wasn’t showing up. With the media buzzing, anticipating a huge story, Kobe walked in at 10:34 a.m. He stopped to greet Joel Meyers, Stu Lantz and Lawrence Tanter, then went about his business of doing different photo shoots and live reads. The most awkward moment of the day? That would be when Kobe crossed paths with Andrew Bynum. You know, Bynum, the guy Kobe REALLY wanted to ship to New Jersey. Kobe gave Bynum a shake and an emphatic pat on the rear, and they went their separate ways.
Finally, the media got a crack at Kobe. He spoke mostly in platitudes and didn’t do much to address the events of this summer. Kobe said he was focused on winning and bringing a championship to L.A. and that he didn’t believe there would be problems with teammates. I’ve got a ton of interviews to transcribe but I’ll get to Kobe’s first, because I know he’s the center of attention today.
One thing struck me…how many PR representatives does one player need? The Lakers had a capable staff of four PR people in the gym, but Kobe had two more of his own, and guess who was calling the shots? You had Nike’s Jacie Prieto directing Kobe from station to station, and then some gentleman — I’m told his name is Jerry Sawyer — actually ended Kobe’s session with the media by throwing out a terse “That’s a wrap” after a whopping seven minutes and 15 seconds. Thanks Jerry, whoever you are. Derek Fisher spoke for about three times as long, and he did so without the benefit of a single personal employee. Amazing!
Some news: Andrew Bynum has a strained muscle in the back of his knee and will be out of practice for the next couple days. Lamar Odom said his shoulder feels great, but said he doesn’t expect to play in any preseason games in Hawaii. Phil Jackson walked around with a cane but seemed to have better mobility than when I saw him in July. Almost all the players had closely-cut hair, except for Sasha. It looked like they all walked out of the first scene of Full Metal Jacket. Derek Fisher’s daughter is in good condition but still, it seems, not quite out of the woods yet.
Stay tuned…like I said, I’ve got tons of interviews to transcribe. If anyone has any questions, feel free to throw them out.