Kobe Bryant shows his competitive & humorous side in ‘American Express Teamed Up’ event

"LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - MARCH 29: American Express Teamed Up With Kobe Bryant at Conga Room on March 29, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Bernstein Associates/Getty Images for American Express )"

“LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – MARCH 29: American Express Teamed Up With Kobe Bryant at Conga Room on March 29, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Bernstein Associates/Getty Images for American Express )”

The laughs kept coming as Kobe Bryant, Rick Fox and Robert Horry reflected on their three NBA championships they wont together. So much that Bryant once remarked tongue in cheek that the Lakers somehow collected those rings from 2000 to 2002 despite their goofy personalities.

But at a recent event titled “American Express Teamed Up” all three players showed their competitive side as well. In a conversation moderated by NBA Inside Stuff’s Kristen Ledlow, Bryant, Fox and Horry explained how they never became satisfied with their riches. They shared what drove them. And they shared illuminating stories along the way.

Below is an edited portion of the nearly hour-long conversation.

Ledlow:
“Kobe, how long have you played basketball?”

Bryant: “As far back as I can remember. I remember two years old and three years old when I started playing. I would take rolled up tube socks and shoot them on the wall. The sport consumed me at an early age.”

Ledlow:
“How have you taken those lessons from an early age to now? How old are you now?”

Bryant: “I’m 37. I think I get confused. I think I’m 37 or 38. I will be 38.”

Ledlow:
“Those basketball lessons you were taught at an early age. How did you apply them?”

Bryant:
“It’s understanding that it’s all connected. The things you go through with life, you try to figure things out constantly and now it’s about how you navigate them doesn’t change. The industry may change. But how you navigate a sense of self can change.”

Ledlow:
“These people are some of the biggest fans in the world. They want to know and I want to know some of your friends and family know you that maybe some of your teammates have known along the way.”

Bryant:
“When I don’t play, I’m not the Black Mamba. I’m laid back. I’m a pretty chill, human jungle gym for my kids. I love movies, fantasy movies. I love reading children’s books and novels and things of that sort.”

Ledlow:
“What’s so odd for this season is that everywhere you go, people want to hug you. That probably was not the case earlier.”

Bryant:
“It was uncomfortable at first. You’re so used to going to these arenas and being the villain for all these years. The first time I had gotten an ovation, it’s like woah. This is weird. But it’s great.”
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Lakers’ Byron Scott, Kobe Bryant frustrated with team’s lack of intensity

The Los Angeles Laker Kobe Bryant ,24, Laker coach Byron Scott against the Boston Celtics, at the Staples Center. Lakers lost 100-107. Los Angeles Calif., Sunday, April ,3, 2016. (Photo by Stephen Carr / Daily Breeze)

The Los Angeles Laker Kobe Bryant ,24, Laker coach Byron Scott against the Boston Celtics, at the Staples Center. Lakers lost 100-107. Los Angeles Calif., Sunday, April ,3, 2016.
(Photo by Stephen Carr / Daily Breeze)

The moments usually elicit nostalgia for Byron Scott as he watches Kobe Bryant days before his basketball mortality becomes official.

Scott has felt like a proud father as he watches the tribute videos Bryant has received in most road games. Scott has gushed over any instant Bryant shows flashes of his former self. Scott has expressed appreciation for Bryant to grind through his 20th and last NBA season even when it requires endless maintenance on his 37-year-old body.

Yet, something bothered Scott about Bryant’s presence in the Lakers’ 103-81 loss to the Clippers in a designated road game on Tuesday at Staples Center. It had very little to do with Bryant’s six-point effort on 2-of-12 shooting in 22 minutes. It had everything to do with his teammates around him as the Lakers tied last season’s record for the worst record in franchise history.

“It bothers me that his last five, six, seven, eight games are going to be with the way we’re playing as a team,” Scott said. “That bothers me, because you’re talking about a champion. That bothers me, because he is a champion. And I hate to see him go out this way. Unfortunately this is the way it’s going to be. It bothers the hell out of me that somebody who’s given 20 years to this league and has played through broken fingers, comes back from the Achilles, comes back from the shoulder surgery, and he still goes out there and gives it everything he has, that bothers me.”

Scott did not see that from most of his other players.

As much as the Lakers’ long-term future cements on their young players, D’Angelo Russell, Jordan Clarkson and Julius Randle shot a combined 8-of-36 from the field. Clippers guard Chris Paul had his way with Russell by posting 25 points on 10-of-14 shooting, eight assists and two steals. The Lakers also allowed the Clippers to open the game with a 20-2 run.

Meanwhile, Lakers 36-year-old forward Metta World Peace posted a team-leading 17 points on 5-of-10 shooting and five rebounds in 19 minutes off the bench. He had not led the Lakers in scoring since Jan. 2013.

“It’s a shame that Metta and Kobe, guys up in age like that, come out and play that hard. Our young guys aren’t realizing they have to play that way as well to be successful in this league,” Scott said. “I would love our guys to play like Metta. When he goes out there, he gives everything he has on both ends of the floor, especially on the defensive end.”
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Lakers consider Jordan Clarkson probable to play Wednesday vs. Clippers

Lakers guard Jordan Clarkson had an injury to his right leg during Tuesday's loss to the Clippers. (Photo by Michael Owen Baker/L.A. Daily News)

Lakers guard Jordan Clarkson had an injury to his right leg during Tuesday’s loss to the Clippers. (Photo by Michael Owen Baker/L.A. Daily News)

The Lakers have more injuries to monitor, and it does not just involve Kobe Bryant.

Lakers second-year guard Jordan Clarkson bruised his right fubula after falling on a players’ foot during Tuesday’s 103-81 loss to the Clippers in a designated road game at Staples Center. Considering x-rays came out negative, the Lakers (16-61) consider Clarkson as probable to play against the Clippers (49-28) in a designated home game at Staples Center.

“It’s sore. That’s it,” said Clarkson, who had 10 points on 4-of-13 shooting. “I feel like I’m going to play tomorrow.”

Lakers coach Byron Scott has not played Lou Williams in the past two games as a way to give more playing time to his younger plays. That plan could change if Clarkson cannot play on Wednesday.

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Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter and on Facebook. E-mail him at mark.medina@langnews.com

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Lakers’ Kobe Bryant plans to play in last Clippers road game

Kobe Bryant plans to play in his final "road" game against the Clippers. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht/Los Angeles Daily News)

Kobe Bryant plans to play in his final “road” game against the Clippers. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht/Los Angeles Daily News)

The issue seemingly becomes non-negotiable even if Kobe Bryant’s right shoulder bothers him.

Ever since announcing his retirement, Bryant has never missed a road game that marked his final appearance at an opponent’s venue. Bryant will carry that same mindset when the Lakers (16-60) visit the Clippers (48-28) on Tuesday even if the designated road game takes place in the familiar confines of Staples Center.

“As far as I know, as of right now he is,” Lakers coach Byron Scott said of Bryant’s playing status following morning shootaround on Tuesday. “Unless something changes.”

The Clippers plan to provide a tribute for Bryant as all road opponents have. Currently, Scott has loved the farewells the San Antonio Spurs and Golden State Warriors have given. The Spurs played a video tribute that lasted two minutes and 30 seconds, filled with highlights as well as tributes from Spurs coach Gregg Popovich and veterans Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker. The Warriors featured a tribute from executive and former Lakers general manager Jerry West. The Warriors also gave Bryant a vacation package to Napa Valley as well as a bottle of wine.

Scott said he likely will play Bryant around his season average of 28.4 minutes per game against the Clippers on Tuesday to preserve him for a designated home game against the Clippers on Wednesday. Scott has planned to play Bryant in the 30-minute range in the Lakers’ two remaining home games, including the season finale against the Utah Jazz on April 13.

Earlier this week, Scott said he planned to play Bryant more conservatively in the Lakers’ three-game trip this week in New Orleans (Friday), Houston (Sunday) and Oklahoma City (Monday). Scott has not determined specifics yet so he can see how Bryant will play in the Lakers’ upcoming back-to-back against the Clippers. Yet, Scott said he is mindful about handling Bryant with care so he can play in the Lakers’ season finale in what will mark his last game of his 20-year NBA career.

“That finale is coming closer and closer each day,” Scott said. “We can all see it. I want him to play that game 30 plus minutes, go out there and enjoy it.”

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Lakers’ Kobe Bryant dismissed interest in playing overseas post retirement had he been healthy

The Los Angeles Laker Kobe Bryant ,24, takes a shot  past Boston Celtic Evan Turner,11, and Kelly Olynyk ,41, past  during the 3rd quarter at the Staples Center.  Lakers lost 100-107.   Los Angeles Calif., Sunday, April ,3, 2016.           (Photo by Stephen Carr / Daily Breeze)

The Los Angeles Laker Kobe Bryant ,24, takes a shot past Boston Celtic Evan Turner,11, and Kelly Olynyk ,41, past during the 3rd quarter at the Staples Center. Lakers lost 100-107. Los Angeles Calif., Sunday, April ,3, 2016. (Photo by Stephen Carr / Daily Breeze)

The question initially sounded stupid to Kobe Bryant before it was even asked.

The Lakers’ star had long established he would retire following the 2015-16 season. He also ruled out playing overseas a month later. Hence, Bryant rolled his eyes at the reports he had rejected an offer to play for the FC Barcelona of the Euro League because of his physical limitations.

“You know I’m not playing,” Bryant said. “I’m done.”

What if Bryant had not felt constant strain, however, in his right shoulder, knees, back and basically every single body part? Had he hoped to fulfill his basketball fix by stepping on the hardwood somewhere else around the world?

“If I was healthy and wanted to play, I’d still be playing for the Lakers,” Bryant said following the Lakers’ loss to Boston on Sunday at Staples Center. “The health thing I can always figure it out. That’s not a big deal. My body is sore. I can always commit toward figuring it out, be healthy and play. I just don’t want to play anymore. That’s all.”
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Lakers’ Byron Scott on Nick Young: “He’s not here with us mentally”

Nick Young talks. D'Angelo Russell and Nick Young held press conferences before the game. Russell shot a video on his phone of Young talking about cheating on his Fiance Iggy Azelia. The Los Angeles Lakers played the Miami Heat at Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA.  March 30, 2016.  (Photo by John McCoy/Los Angeles News Group)

Lakers guard Nick Young is “not here with us mentally,” Lakers coach Byron Scott since video surfaced that showed Young admitting he has cheated on his fiance, Iggy Azalea. The Los Angeles Lakers played the Miami Heat at Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA. March 30, 2016. (Photo by John McCoy/Los Angeles News Group)

The phrase “basketball reasons” might bring a whole new meaning to the Lakers other than the infamous nixed Chris Paul deal.

It could also explain why Lakers coach Byron Scott placed Nick Young on the inactive roster in Sunday’s loss against Boston.

“It has nothing to do with the chemistry,” Scott said on Monday the Lakers’ practice facility in El Segundo. “It has everything to do with just basketball.”

Scott said he has not decided if the same thing will happen when the Lakers (16-60) play the Clippers (48-28) in a designated road game on Tuesday at Staples Center. Yet, Scott stressed Young’s absence on the bench on Sunday had nothing to do with avoiding any problems with rookie point guard D’Angelo Russell. He secretly recorded a video that was inadvertently posted showing Young admitting he has cheated on his fiance, Iggy Azalea.

Instead, Scott believed Young is “not here with us mentally.” It has not helped Young already has averaged 7.3 points on a career-low 33.9 percent clip.

“It was strictly a basketball decision,” Scott said. “It was all based on because I know how he’s feeling right now. He’s not really here with us.”
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Lakers’ Kobe Bryant considers 2010 NBA title most important

The Lakers’ Kobe Bryant dunks during the second quarter Sunday, April 3, 2016, against the Bosto becomes even more serious in last game vs. Celticsn Celtics at Staples Center. The Celtics beat the Lakers 107-100. (Photo by Stephen Carr/Daily Breeze)

The Lakers’ Kobe Bryant dunks during the second quarter Sunday, April 3, 2016, against the Boston Celtics at Staples Center. The Celtics beat the Lakers 107-100. (Photo by Stephen Carr/Daily Breeze)

The resume already became worthy enough for the Hall of Fame. Kobe Bryant already collected four NBA championships. He already addressed questions on whether he could win an NBA title without Shaquille O’Neal, or if Bryant could ever become an effective leader. Bryant already became one of the game’s top scorers.

Yet, Bryant considered his 2010 NBA championship as the most important one. It cast himself deeper into Lakers lore with a victory over the Celtics. The title also eradicated Bryant’s loss to the Boston Celtics in the 2008 NBA Finals, highlighted by a 39-point loss in Game 6.

Hence, Bryant considered it “non-negotiable” for his extensive NBA career to become partly blemished with green.

“There was no way we could go down in history as being remembered as being the team that lost twice to the Celtics,” Bryant said. “With all the history that has gone on, there is no way. Above winning the fifth championship, it was more like not disappointing the memory of this organization and the rivalry that has been here for decades. That was more important. You can’t lose twice to these guys. I don’t care how many Hall of Famers they have. It just can’t happen. There’s no excuse. So as a team, I completely understood that and our team completely understood that. It was by any means necessary. We were going to win this damn series. I don’t care what we have to do. We were going to have to figure out a way to get it done.”

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Lakers’ D’Angelo Russell says he’s giving Nick Young space in hopes to defuse tension

D'Angelo Russell talks about how he shot a video on his phone of Young talking about cheating on his Fiance Iggy Azelia. The Los Angeles Lakers played the Miami Heat at Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA.  March 30, 2016.  (Photo by John McCoy/Los Angeles News Group)

D’Angelo Russell talks about how he shot a video on his phone of Young talking about cheating on his fiance, Iggy Azalea. The Los Angeles Lakers played the Miami Heat at Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA. March 30, 2016. (Photo by John McCoy/Los Angeles News Group)

The competitive juices usually spill out in a Lakers practice during a closely contested scrimmage. Or when the results hinge on one last play. Or when the play becomes physical.

The Lakers’ practice on Friday became what Lakers coach Byron Scott called a “nice spirited” session for different reasons. Tension has brewed this week between D’Angelo Russell and Nick Young over a secretly recorded and accidentally published video that made private tales of infidelities suddenly public. Those hostile feelings spilled out on the court.

“They were on opposite teams so everybody was going after each other,” Scott said. “That’s good. We want that in practice anyway, that competitive nature.”

The Lakers said no fights have broken out, at least not yet. Should Young unleash his frustrations on Russell with a fist or a shove, however, the Lakers’ rookie point guard contended, “I’d get physical back.

“I wouldn’t necessarily say things got to that point or it’s there yet,” Russell said. “But if it does, you’ve got to deal with the consequences.”

Russell has already dealt with plenty of consequences after secretly recording a video that showed Young admitting he saw another woman besides his fiancee, Iggy Azalea. Although the Lakers have not disciplined him internally, Russell apologized to his teammates prior to Wednesday’s win over Miami at Staples Center. Numerous former NBA players turned analysts, including Shaquille O’Neal, Tim Legler, Antonio Davis, Stephen Jackson and Olden Polynice, have all criticized Russell for making details of Young’s private life public even if it was unintentional. Polynice even added he would have punched Russell had that happened to him. Young has kept a distance from Russell and has not become open toward any efforts Russell has made to apologize.

“I’m getting over it, but if the person that it hurt the most gets over it, then I feel it’s done,” Russell said. “But until he really lets it simmer down then I think it will still be an issue.”
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Lakers’ Julius Randle fined $15,000 for “obscene gesture”

The elation swept over Julius Randle as he hit his first-game winning shot of his career. The left-handed hook shot gave the Lakers both a 102-100 overtime victory over Miami on Wednesday and temporary relief in a contentious locker room.

So, Randle extended that feel-good moment into breaking out his inner Sam Cassell and pretended to hold out grapefruit-sized balls. Most of the Lakers found the celebration funny. The NBA found the celebration an “obscene gesture” and issued Randle a $15,000 fine for it.

“It’s a big win, having fun. It’s not that big of a deal,” Randle said. “Let the joke be on me.”

The NBA has routinely issued fines to players that celebrate in such fashion to keep celebrations in what they consider good taste. So when the Lakers’ second-year forward was asked on Wednesday if he still found it worth it to break out an entertaining gesture at the expense of a reduced paycheck, Randle looked up and smiled before offering a no comment.

“He’ll be all right,” Lakers guard D’Angelo Russell said. “He can handle that.”

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Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter and on Facebook. E-mail him at mark.medina@langnews.com

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Julius Randle shows confidence in game winner over Miami

Los Angeles Lakers forward Julius Randle #30 celebrates the winning shot in OT. The Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Miami Heat 102-100 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA.  March 30, 2016.  (Photo by John McCoy/Los Angeles News Group)

Los Angeles Lakers forward Julius Randle #30 celebrates the winning shot in OT. The Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Miami Heat 102-100 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA. March 30, 2016. (Photo by John McCoy/Los Angeles News Group)

The tension level rose as the clock ticked away.

Would Lakers Kobe Bryant take over? No, he remained sidelined wrapped in heat pads all over his body after struggling to move all night.

Would Lakers coach Byron Scott call a timeout? No, he wanted his young players to figure things out for themselves.

Would Lakers rookie point guard D’Angelo Russell deliver a drama-filled moment for all the right reasons after providing a different sort of drama for the wrong reasons? No, Julius Randle refused to give Russell or anyone else the ball.

It was not out of malice amid Russell’s secretly recorded video of Nick Young admitting to infidelities going public. It was not out of selfishness amid the Lakers season-long struggles with what the called “trust issues.” It was out of confidence that Randle would make the play the Lakers needed.

“They knew I wasn’t giving it up,” Randle said, grinning. “So they cleared out.”

Then, Randle dribbled the ball, patiently waited along the block and then performed a nifty spin move. Randle then sank a left-hook shot with 1.9 seconds remaining that gave the Lakers a 102-100 overtime victory over the Miami Heat on Wednesday at Staples Center.

“It’s a big confidence booster for him to deliver in those situations,” Bryant said. “He attacked it with great confidence.”

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