Jodie Meeks relishes Kobe Bryant’s trash talking in practice

Lakers guard Jodie Meeks has mostly defended Kobe Bryant during his recent practices. Photo by Brad Graverson/The Daily Breeze

Lakers guard Jodie Meeks has mostly defended Kobe Bryant during his recent practices. Photo by Brad Graverson/The Daily Breeze

Kobe Bryant’s voice grew with each passing moment.

“You think you can double team me like that?” Bryant asked incredulously before passing to an open teammate.

Moments later, Bryant shouted an expletive as he threw down a left-handed fast-break dunk. He uttered a few more after committing a turnover.

It remains to be seen whether Bryant will play for the first time since shattering his left Achilles tendon seven months ago when the Lakers (9-9) visit the Sacramento Kings (4-11) Friday at Sleep Train Arena. Bryant participated in Wednesdays’ practice, though reporters only were allowed to see the first 15 minutes that featured the Lakers’ star shooting on a side-basket before joining teammates on 5-on-0 weave drills. Bryant, who wore his new Nike 9S that feature more padding in his heel, was then expected to play in the remaining hour of full-court scrimmaging.

“I don’t think anyone knows,” D’Antoni said. “He even doesn’t know.”

That all depends if Bryant completes practices Wednesday and Thursday without additional pain. But if Tuesday’s practice showed anything, Bryant’s trash-talking appears in mid-season form.

“Kobe is always up for the challenge. So he’ll motivate his defender to go at him and give him a tough time,” Lakers center Pau Gasol said. “He’s a big talker and he’ll get people going that way. I think that’s how he feels he gets better. He needs to be challenged in order for him to take it one step further.”

Lakers guard Jodie Meeks has often become the recipient of Bryant’s trash talk. On one possession, Bryant told him to “stop whining” before mimicking a baby crying. Meeks didn’t back down one bit.

“You have to be physical,” said Meeks, who has started in Bryant’s place averaging 13.2 points on 49.1 percent shooting in 28.1 minutes. “You can’t just sit back and let him do his thing. I’m just playing my game, being physical and trying to win.”

Bryant didn’t attempt take a single outside shot and took on a facilitating role. But Meeks and Bryant continuously jostled for position when he moved off the ball.

“They’re not cautious,” Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni said. “They’re going to try to take their shots while they can. They’ll try to kick him while he’s down.”


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