We had a chance to catch up with Kobe Bryant today as he did a media session at the start of his annual basketball camp at LMU. Unlike some superstar athletes, Kobe actually teaches at his own camp and genuinely seems to enjoy it. “I wouldn’t do it if I couldn’t be here myself,” he said.
Of course catching up with him at his camp also provided us to get his thoughts on some of the recent player personnel moves the Lakers have made. You know, that Ron Artest thing…
Asked whether the Artest signing makes the Lakers a better team, Bryant said:
“I think it makes us a different team. It’s tough to say whether we’ll be a better team or not. We haven’t won a championship with that unit yet. Trevor brought his style to us, which was very effective obviously. And Ron will bring his style to us. We’ll just be a different team. Every year we adapt and we adjust. I’m sad to see Trevor go, because everybody knows that he’s like my brother. He still is. ”
Kobe then confirmed the now infamous shower scene story, and noted that, “This is something we’ve both been trying to make happen for a while.”
“I’ve known him for a long long time,” Kobe said. “It’s one of those things, and he’ll tell you this story too… After we lost to the Celtics, he came in the locker room, and I was in there, just by myself. And he just came in the locker room and said, `This is not going to happen to you again. I’m going to come there and I’m going to help you out. He wound up being in Houston, then the next year took us to Game 7. But he’s here now.”
That said, the way it went down has been hotly debated in recent days. This columnist loved the move, thinking the Lakers showed a lot of guts, and will be rewarded with another round of champagne glory next June.
Others felt like the Lakers walked away from Trevor Ariza a bit too quickly.
Bryant said he was fine with how the business end played out, but noted he didn’t have any official input on the situation.
“I don’t think it was something where we picked Ron Artest over Trevor,” Bryant said. “I think with Trevor, we made an offer, and his representative felt like he could look elsewhere a little bit. And during that time, the Lakers talked to Ron and Ron was ready to go.
“I think it’s either/or. I think if they went with Trevor, or with Ron, either way we’d be fine this year.”
But what about that chemistry stuff?
“Where is that concern coming from?” Bryant asked. “Because he ran in the stands and kicked somebody’s (butt)? You talk to anybody that played with him, he’s a great teammate. He’s never been a problem in the locker room. He had that one incident in Detroit, which was unfortunate. But outside of that, it’s not a problem at all. ”