The salty language and verbal taunts echoed at the Lakers’ practice facility apparently aren’t just coming from Kobe Bryant. In fact, they’re being directed at him.
Reflecting both his playful and assertive personality, Lakers forward Nick Young spit some motivating words to Bryant as he progresses from his surgically repaired left Achilles tendon.
“I’ve been talking trash to him to get him back out there,” said Young, the former Cleveland High and USC product. “We all have. He wants to be out there.”
Bryant progressed on Wednesday by performing some light jogging and spot-shooting for the first time since tearing his Achilles April 12 against the Golden State Warriors. But the Lakers have offered no timetable on when Bryant will return, including any of the team’s eight preseason games through Oct. 25 or the season opener Oct. 29 against the Clippers at Staples Center. The Lakers play their first exhibition game Saturday against the Golden State Warriors in Ontario.
“I’m waiting for him to get out there so I can go out him,” Young said. “I tell him to stop dodging me. I can talk trash now. He can’t do nothing right now.”
But when Bryant returns, he likely will. After all, Bryant thrives on using external doubts and trash talk to fuel his strong self-motivation. Bryant likely enjoys it too. He’s said over the years he respects players who aren’t afraid of him. When Kyrie Irving challenged Bryant to a game of one-on-one Team USA’s pre-2012 Summer Olympic training camp in Las Vegas, the Lakers star joyfully and relentlessly trash talked him back in a video that instantly went viral.
Unsurprisingly, Bryant’s also dishing right back to Young.
“He’s already talking to me in the locker room,” Young said. “He’s saying he’s watching me going right too much and that I need to go left. That’s what I’m here to get us going and have fun and pick up the tempo.”
Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org