Kobe Bryant’s pleading patience throughout all the adversities, but this just crossed the line.
The Lakers’ starting lineup lost to the reserves frequently by a wide margin during Thursday’s practice, leaving Bryant fuming about his teammates’ effort level.
“His whole thing was the second unit shouldn’t be able to sweep them in a practice not even if it was a lack of effort,” Lakers reserve point guard Chris Duhon said. “That’s what his whole message was. If you want to be a championship team, you have to build championship habits. You have to play hard even if it’s just practice.”
Duhon was just paraphrasing.
“He didn’t say all that,” Duhon said. “I can’t quote what he said. But that was pretty much the message behind it.”
After Bryant preached those words, he stormed out of the Lakers practice just as it ended without reporting to speakers afterwards. Bryant didn’t talk to the media following Saturday’s practice either, but he revealed after the Lakers’ 122-103 victory Friday over the Denver Nuggets that he wants his teammates to play with an edge.
“If guys are too happy,” Bryant said, “I need to bring them back down to Earth.”
He surely did that at the end of Thursday’s practice. But Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni believed Bryant’s tirade went beyond being upset with the outcome of the scrimmages.
The Lakers are 8-8, third in the Pacific Division and seventh in the Western Conference. They’ve only gone 3-3 since D’Antoni’s arrival. The Lakers have already had plenty of problems to deal with this season, including Mike Brown’s firing, Phil Jackson getting passed over and learning two new offenses.
Despite scoring 40 points while nursing the flu in the Lakers’ 79-77 loss Tuesday to the Indiana Pacers, Bryant mostly blamed himself for the loss because of his team-high 10 turnovers. Bryant wasn’t in a forgiving mood, however, during Thursday’s practice.
“Everybody expects more and everybody gets frustrated,” D’Antoni said. “When you score 77 points in a game, frustration will spill over. You want it that way. You don’t want people to say, ‘We’re okay.’ No we’re not.”
Did Bryant’s profanity-laced outburst spark the Lakers in their latest win? Perhaps.
“I know he’s a winner and has a lot of rings,” said D’Antoni, referring to Bryant’s five NBA championships. “I’ll follow his instincts.”
Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org