The laughs kept coming as Kobe Bryant, Rick Fox and Robert Horry reflected on their three NBA championships they won 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.”
Ledlow: “We talked a little bit about what led you to this place, the people in your life off the court and your life leading up to basketball. But what about the guys who were on the court. Think back to when you were coming into this league as a rookie, which may seem like forever ago at this point, that is not my second knock on you by the way. It went by fast. What did you learn from the older veterans as you were coming into this league?”
Bryant: “A lot of things. From the start, it was professionalism. I think it was game preparation and how to take care of your body and also how to manage your schedule. There were so many things and so many responsibilities and commitments from sponsors and things like that. Observing them and how they manage their schedule and responsibilities taught me a lot.”
Ledlow: “Did you rely on those older, experienced veterans to help guide the way?”
Bryant: “I did. I’m a big story guy. I used to ask Byron Scott, for example, all the stories about the 80’s, specific moments, games, situations, what was the locker room like after this game. They would tell me all these stories and I would just sit back and take it all in.”
Ledlow: “How did you deal with teammates getting traded?”
Bryant: “For some teammates, it’s a little hard. A lot f the guys are like little brothers to me. Trevor Ariza, for example. We grew up together. When I use Trevor as an example, it’s hard. I want to see him do well.”
Ledlow: “If any of your teammates were here and sitting next to you, how do you think they’d describe you as a teammate?”
Bryant: (laughs) “It depends on what story you’re addressing. It all depends on the moment. It’s complicated.”
Ledlow: “We asked you though behind the scenes, your favorite teammates. You mentioned to me that a couple of them were Rick Fox and Robert Horry. What is it that made Rick and Robert so unique together?”
Bryant: “Rick’s intensity was always on a high level. He paid attention to every little detail. When we were winning all those championships, he was our defensive guy. I used to watch how he used his body position and his footwork. I think the intensity he brought to our team helped us tremendously. Rob is a guy that if you wanted to could be an All-Star every single year. For us, he chose to come off the bench and he chose to play a lesser role. But he had those moments that were always there because he had always been one of the best players in the league. Obviously, everyone knows all the big shots he take.”
Ledlow: “What about anything off the court, a little something on Rick Fox? They’re not here to defend themselves.
Bryant: “There’s one story about Rick that I always thought was pretty funny. He’d probably kill me if I shared it. We were in the playoffs and we just finished shootaround. We were out on the court getting shots up and it was 45 minutes after practice .I’m leaving the court and walking through the weight room. Rick is in there and is doing squats in front of the mirror. No shirt, straight spandex, socks and sneakers. I walked by and asked Rick, what in the hell are you doing, man. He said it gets me going! Whatever floats your boat. Whatever will get you ready.”
Ledlow: “Well on that note, unfortunately for you, but fortunately for all of you, please welcome a special surprise. (Rick Fox and Robert Horry enter on stage) (crowd laughter)
Ledlow: “Can you give us a smaple of what gets you going? Did you hear that story?”
Fox: “I did not. I want to hear it.”
Horry: “You want to hear a real story? You play with some emotional guys. Rick is one of those emotional guys on the team. When you win, the team jokes a lot. People don’t know that Kobe is one of the ring leaders of joking on the team. You were one of the ringleaders. We had a meeting one day and we were in the playoffs and trying to go for a 3-peat.
Rick was like, ‘God I want this game so bad.’ Then the tears started coming. At that time, you know the hot song was by Justin Timberlake. So we get outside of the locker room after the coaches spoke and we played, “Cry me a River.’ That’s the great things about being teammates. You can have emotional situations like that. But you know with this family and love, you joke with each other. In the end, we do it with a lot of sincerity. We still love you Rick.”
Ledlow: “This came off the rails much quicker than I thought it would. I have to ask you two because I just asked Kobe to describe you two. Describe Kobe as a teammate.”
Horry: “Kobe’s funny. He’s the ultimate competitor. We used to beat them. The second unit would beat the first team.”
Horry: “We would beat them right. We had Mark Madsen to make Shaq so mad. For me, I didn’t get enough shots during the game. So in practice, I shot the hell out of the ball. So he beat them one day. Kobe was hot. The next day, Phil didn’t let us scrimmage. He didn’t talk to us for the whole day. He wanted his revenge. The next day, I’m glad I didn’t have to guard him. Kobe lit Devean George’s [butt] up.
He got his revenge and started backing us talking to us. He’s a great teammate. When you have guys like that compete, as old guys, you say you’re not going to let this young buck outwork you. That’s what we always do. We pushed each other so much and so hard in practice. That’s why we were able to three peat.”
Fox: “I go back to being on his side more than against him. My thought to Kobe from day one to 20 years later has always been his relentlessness. He took a relentless approach whether it was a game or practice, the attention to detail was always there. He always held us all accountable. He held himself accountable first. You had to respect that. We’re older now.
(Looks at Bryant) Welcome to the old club.(laughs) I never had enough energy to compete against him. Practices were just as intense as the game. That’s what made us really good as a group of guys. We wanted to obviously win. But we also wanted to win in practice. That’s to Robert’s story. It’s not a story. It’s the truth. I remember competition and being competitive and regardless of a teammate in practice and other side. He always wanted to do that.”
Ledlow: “I can’t tell you because we’re using this for broadcast to show some behind the scenes. Also you can’t curse on live television. I’m just laying it out there.”
Horry: I was watching TV the other day. Every person curses on TV now. It’s like what’s going on? I can’t let my kids watch TV anymore. Even on Nickelodeon they’re cursing.
Bryant (shaking his head): “We won a three-peat with this.” (crowd laughter)
Horry: “We knew how to turn it on and turn it off. We knew how to have fun. You can’t be serious all the time. You have to enjoy the moment. Moments don’t last long.”
Fox: “In his case, it lasted 20 years. That’s more than impressive. We’ve been out of the game 10 years or so.”
Kobe: “God man.” (shaking his head)
Ledlow: “He’s like reverse aging. What did you three learn about each other on the court that you were able to apply to your own game?”
Fox: “I learned I was blessed because the basketball IQ was as great as it got on that floor. That’s what I respected them the most as teammates. Their skills, ability to in his case carry his whole team on his back, from time to time. In Robert’s case, it was his ability to make shots when Kobe and I were double teamed.” (laughs)
Horry: “You wouldn’t give me the rock any other way?”
Fox: “Of course. You were right behind Kobe and Shaq and .. you were always open.”
“I learned basketball IQ was high. I also learned there was a relentless measure of a bar we had to meet. Everyone’s was high. It wasn’t just check your bar. It left no room for not respecting the game and the way we would do our job. The ‘suit up, show up’ was one thing. But the ‘suit up, show up’ and being professional and bringing a level of intensity is why we all succeeded together. At the end of the day, when you look to your right and your left and you’re doing it on a level that is the best in the game, then it only pushes you that much more.”
Ledlow: “Robert, specifically what did you learn from Kobe that you could apply to the floor?”
Horry: “I just think what Rick said with being relentless on the court. They told me to tell the story back when Kobe was wearing another shoe, he promised us a bunch of gear. Remember this Rick? I don’t know if you remember this Kobe. But for about two months, Shaq was out and all we did was feed you the ball. You had like 40 points. He would say, All right guys, if you keep giving me the rock, Ill get you guys all types of gear. But we never got our gear Kobe! We want our gear.”
Bryant: “You have to read the fine print. It doesn’t transfer with the next shoe deal. It doesn’t transfer.”
Horry: “It shows much love we have for each other and the respect we have for this guy. When a guy gets hot, you keep trying to feed him the rock and let him do his thing. You keep trying to feed him the rock and let him do his thing. At the time, he was at a whole other level.
I call him an alien. What Kobe does is out of this world. To be able to have the ability to play with someone of his ability that has the basketball IQ to know that he’ll draw people to him and he’s going to get you the rock in the right place. He helped me with all the shots I made, except for the one that cost us a championship in San Antonio.”
Bryant: “That was the basketball gods. That ball went in and came out.”
Horry: “It’s weird. When you’re down on yourself and you have teammates like Kobe that believe in you, he would always say, I’ll get you the rock and I believe in you. People don’t talk about that all the time. People are always talking about how he takes the last shot. He doesn’t always have to take the last shot.
He gave us the ball. Even in the one series where he gave [Andrew] Bynum the rock. That shows his unselfishness and knows who the hot guy is and he understands basketball and understands what the mismatches are. He goes through those. I just want to say thank you for my three championships”.
Ledlow: “You got the ball, Kobe’s open on the other. It’s crunch time. Who’s getting the rock?”
Fox: “They’re both open? Whoa re we playing? Who left them open? That means I’m open so I’m probably shooting, too.” (crowd laughter)
Ledlow: “A regular season game on a Tuesday night and you’re not playing someone defensively effective. They’re both open.”
Fox: “First of all, you’re always going to hit the open man depending on what’s being run. I am blind to certain guys at certain times of the game. I fail to believe that Kobe’s not being double team. I fail to believe that Rob’s wide open. So whoever’s defensive man fell off far enough.”
Bryant: “He’s throwing that damn ball to me.” (crowd laughter)
Fox: “There are people who play 20 years in the league and become one of the greatest to ever play the game. At the end of the day, what I loved about him and my teammates is they were direct in communication. I don’t care if it’s graceful or not. I care that it’s direct and honest and told me what they need and want.”
Bryant: “Which means throw me the damn ball. (crowd laughter)
Fox: “That tells me whoever is the first person to call the ball wants it the most.”
Horry: “He’s going to eventually not get it because they’re going to double team him.”
Ledlow: “You let these guys do a lot of the talking, but they were the two you selected to be here tonight. What is it that made you click so well with these guys?”
Bryant: “It was their understanding of the game and their intellect and high basketball IQ. Robert and I had a conversation one time, and he thought I was elevating too much with my jumper. He said I elevated too much, which increases the margin for error. If you watch Robert shoot, he’s going to spot up. That shot was very locked in and very stable and very balanced. By observing that, I was able to alter my shot. That helped me a lot. With Rick, it was about not wasting movement.
If you watch Rick play defensively, he’s never off balance. He’s never sliding too far one way where he can’t recover. H always had his feet underneath him always. When he slid defensively, he was always close to the rim. As a young kid watching all that stuff, I’m very appreciative to have these two as my teammates because I was able to learn the game on a much much deeper level.”
Ledlow: “It couldn’t be just what they accomplished on the floor with you selecting these two guys tonight. You guys won multiple championships together and clicked off the floor as well. What makes these two so special to you?”
Bryant: “I think they loved the game. It’s the spirit they have about the game. I knew right away they were going to click. The first year they came here, we were getting ready for the playoffs at the Forum. I’m watching us go through shootaround and stuff like that. He just snaps and loses it. He say, ‘You guys don’t understand, you can’t just walk through it. You don’t know what’s going on. We have the playoffs. You’re goofing around.’
I was like, ‘Woah.’ I knew his intensity was at a much higher level. Rick has always been that way. In our meetings, Rick was always the vocal one and the voice of reason. He helped me figure out how to communicate with my teammates a lot better because he was very vocal and was very good at communicating to me. I’m very thankful for that.
Ledlow: “I can’t let you two go without asking for specific examples as to what make this guy so unique.”
Horry: “I always think it’s his ability to adapt. His ability to add things to his game. I played with some hell of a players. These Hall of Famers and I would watch these guys in practice. A lot of times when you’re icing on the sideline, you watch guys. I always tell that Kobe is the hardest working guy I’ve ever played with.
He would be in that gym two hours before we get there, and he’d stay in the gym two hours after we leave. You just watch him. Even though he was working on his craft. He was always working on something he could not do. Kobe first came to the Lakers, he was driving and crossing people up. He wasn’t really a 3-point shooter. We used to play this game called a string man? He’d get frustrated because he couldn’t win the game. Then he’d shoot a 1,000 3’s so he’d beat us. He kept working.
I remember when he hurt his [right] shoulder before his last injury, he was on the court shooting the ball left handed. His left handed shot looked better than his right handed shot (crowd laughter). He was adding stuff to his game and it got better and better. I would watch [Hakeem Olajuwon] in practice. Dream would always work on his spin moves and stuff. He would work on the same things and make those parts of his game better. I would watch Tim Duncan in practice and he would work on that bank shot all the time.
But this guy? You know he can drive and make right handed baseline jumper. He wasn’t working on that because he knew he had that in his game. Was his 3’s good all the time? No, so he was working on his 3’s. Was his left-handed game good? No, so he was working on his left hand. He always worked on stuff he could not do. That’s the appreciation and love I have for Kobe. He was just growing as a player and evolving as a player. He became one of the best players you will ever see play this game.”
Ledlow: “Where did that come from?”
Bryant: “I love the game. It sounds very simple to say. But I really love it, every aspect about it. So I’d be out there playing and I’d want to stay out there longer. I feel like I have this shot mastered already. But I want to be out there more. So what else can I do? I’ll work on my left. I won’t leave the gym until I feel extremely comfortable with my left. I won’t leave. Then after that, I won’t work on something else. As a result, I worked on things over and over and hours on end.”
Ledlow: “Rick, what stood out to you?”
Fox: “On the court, he made my life personally easier as a teammate. Off the court, it’s been a lot of years. He’s my last connection to the game. When he walks off the court next Wednesday, that’s it. I don’t have the connection. There’s been many nights when we played together, we went for 58 points together (crowd laughter). He had like 50 of them, but it worked for me. Every time in the past 10 years, I’d be watching him as a fan. I still felt when he’d go for 81 [points], I was tied to that. I feel like I’ll lose the excellence I was a part of.
Off the court, it wasn’t but a month ago, we were in Toronto at the All-Star game. My daughter was there with me and it was one of these things, the more you discover about Kobe, the more you’re around him and time you share with him, he doesn’t miss anything or miss anyone. You come across him in his life, especially if you’re connected to him. Your loved one becomes his loved one.
My daughter was having the most miserable day at the All-Star game. She was having a tough time back home with some of her friends. She wanted to be home for Valentine’s Day. Kobe, you were walking off the court. You stopped and said something. You made her day. You turned her day around. I wanted to share that with you. She came back and said, “Kobe talked to me and knew my name.’ When we played together, she was one, two or three. We have kids. He has two daughters. That’s a father and man outside the game. I appreciated that. Thank you for always looking beyond yourself and always taking care of family. That meant the world to me.”
Fox: “I’m still waiting for my time as I get older for my ears to grow.” (crowd laughter)
Bryant: “Your ears grow?”
Fox: “Yeah, I don’t like mine.”
Bryant: “I’m losing my hearing. From the arenas.” (crowd laughter)
Fox: “You don’t understand the amount of games we play. [Kobe], you were 18 and 19 and playing all the way up to 25, the first eight years together and you swore you would never get old. But it’s been so cool to see the fans around the country that obviously cheered against you for so many years watch you leave the game so gracefully and celebrate you, not only for your excellence but for what you meant to the game.
His impact on the game is what’s going to be remembered. You saw that with the way everyone has responded to you with respect. It’s respect. That’s been amazing to see and a joy to watch. We obviously know you a lot closer than they do. We’ve seen what’s driven you for years. Even at a young age at 18 and 19 and be on the inside for you to share your vision on what you wanted from us as a group and what you wanted to accomplish individually, we were privy to that. You shared that with us on the bus and on the plane. Now to see it 20 years later is epic. I feel special.
I don’t know how you feel about having heard you say things that we couldn’t fully understand at the time. But to now see them realize so many years later, it answers a lot of questions we may have had. But it also says a lot about the way you will go. There’s a reason why it’s one of you. I’m blessed to play with you, I know that.”
Bryant: (dramatic pause) “I’m still pissed we lost that one game in the playoffs (laughter from crowd). They made that horrible call on you, that offensive foul when you ran over AI and he took a dive? That pissed me off.”
Horry: [Official] Dick Bavetta. I remember Dick Bavetta did it. The ball was in the backcourt. I crossed over the guy and he called a foul. We’re looking at him like, ‘What’s happening? Did someone throw something on the floor? Why are you blowing the whistle?’
Bryant: “That 3, it went from a 5-point game to a 8-point game with two minutes to go. They come down and now it’s a 2-point game.”
Fox: “You might be losing your hearing, but you’re not losing your memory.” (crowd laughter)
Bryant: “Nah, I’ll never forget.” (crowd laughter)
Horry: “It’s funny, this guy here. He remembers everything. What you just said about me and the playoffs, I’m like, Oh I remember that now. Then you talk about the jump shot. Then I’m like, ‘Oh I remember that now.'”
Kristen: “A couple of ways with this unique bond you guys have off the floor, did that contribute to what you were able to do on the floor? We see it now and watching NBA history with a handful of teams currently in the league. But you were doing something special when you all were out there on the floor together. It feels like it probably stemmed with what was happening off the floor.”
Bryant: “We were direct with each other. We were extremely direct. We didn’t pull any punches at all. Stuff we said, you hear some of the conversations we had, that’s insane. You would say, ‘That’s a horrible teammate. You don’t say that to somebody.’ But we did. We pushed each other. But we also clearly thought about strategy. I think for them, it’s a lot of patience. They had to deal with me being 21 years old and being extremely bullheaded. They had the patience to say, ‘You know what? You have to let the horse run. We have to try to reign him in a little bit.’ There’s a lot of give and take.
Horry: “It was actually a lot, ‘You’re not open Kobe, so we’re going to go to this side.’ Then it would come back to you.” (crowd laughter)
Ledlow: “You’re laughing and talking about this 21 year old who’s bullheaded you. I feel like I’ve seen that recently.”
Bryant: “Nah.” (smiling)
Ledlow: “It’s a significant transition then from where we were?”
Bryant: “In other years, I would’ve killed my teammates.” (crowd laughter)
Fox: “You’re obviously working with something else under the hood. So harnessing that yourself had to be difficult. We had conversations. I’m sure you had them, Rob. The things you shared and what you thought you could’ve accomplished. We’re in a preseason game. You’re on the bus. You had 28 points in the fourth quarter after not playing the first three quarters. You shared you thought you could go for 73. (crowd laughter).
I’ll never forget that. That’s what was under the hood. You knew it. To me, it sounded and I’m thinking to myself, ‘How do you get 73?’ Obviously you knew. Eventually we saw that, time and time over again. I don’t know how you harnessed it any other way. We were a group of veterans with eight or nine of us all in our 30’s. We had been in the game for so seven, eight, nine or 10 years. I always liked to think of it as, ‘I’m glad we didn’t screw up the foundation.’ At the end of the day, we were his parents and tutoring. We had been in the game long enough to say things and to be a teammate that could influence him and not discourage him from being who he was and who he ended up becoming.
Horry: “I don’t think there was anything that we could’ve said to discourage him. He was that guy. I remember the first practice I ever had against Kobe, he tried to run me through my pick. I was like, ‘It’s practice man.’ He was like, ‘You have to go hard. You have to get better.’ I was like, ‘Okay. I like that.’ That’s how he was in every day in practice, going hard. I keep saying that over and over. You have to have that in practice where guys go hard, it makes everybody go hard. That was that guy.”
Bryant: “That means pushing buttons too. You have to push buttons, too. There were times when Shaq and I didn’t get along. But you have to hit that nerve. You know there was a tough point in the schedule coming up and we need to have some good practices. Sometimes you have to hit that nerve and piss them off so he can destroy Mark Madsen. He was collateral damage.: (crowd laughter)
Ledlow: “Was it difficult for you Kobe making that transition from these earlier days with these guys where you had these teammates help shape and mold the man you were becoming, the player you were becoming and the teammate you were becoming to then becoming that for the next generation?”
Bryant: “I wouldn’t say so. I just looked at it as a different challenge. The challenge has changed. The challenge now is to figure out how to communicate with these young guys and try to instill some of those old school values in them. That’s the challenge. It was changing perspective and changing focus. For anyone back then to say I would be the voice of reason in the league? There’s no way.”
Ledlow: “Are there any off-the-court memories that stick out to the three of you?”
Horry: “I would say my favorite story, we were flying overseas and I was back in the back of the table and we were playing cards. Kobe was looking and asked, ‘What are you doing?’ We’re playing spades. I don’t’ know if you remember this. I sat him down at the table and I taught him how to play spades. We sat there because it was a long flight and I was showing him how to play spades. He had never played spades before. This was for growing up in the south, that’s what we do every rainy Sunday. You play spades. I was telling the story. I didn’t know if he played spades. (crowd laughter)
Bryant: “I stopped playing cards because I had the inclination to come across the table.”(crowd laughter)
Horry: “I taught this young guy something! (crowd laughter) I caught Kobe Bryant something! You had all these moments. Everybody asked, ‘What do you miss most about the game?’ It’s not the actual game. It’s the locker rooms and plane rides and camaraderie. This is how you get to know each other. You find out about each other’s kids, spouses, girlfriends and fiancés, whatever it is. You get to know each other. That’s what I miss about the games.
You get to know who Rick is and you get to know who Kobe is. You understand who the man is and what drives them. With Kobe, it was about being the best. He wanted to be the best. You had to respect that. That’s the theme of the night, respect. I always had respect for both of these guys. Rick called me the first day he signed with the Lakers because I was the only number he had (crowd laughter). Enjoying moments like that. Then my son going on a date with his daughter (crowd laughter). Things like that.
Fox: “A lot of amazing memories. They go back for me when he was young and didn’t really go out in Hollywood. We went to a birthday party. I remember being at the party and just talking basketball. He didn’t want to engage in Hollywood. He wanted to engage in basketball 24/7. Some of the things he said in those moments always seemed unreachable. But looking back, he reached them. There were moments where he felt comfortable enough in our relationship to share the things he wanted for himself as a player. Off the court, whether it be having been at Staples Center for two years after I retired and came back for a game. He went for 62 through three quarters. We talked the whole game. I was courtside. He would run by and talk about stuff.
Bryant: “I would say, ‘Watch me light this dude up!’
Fox: “We were having a conversation throughout the game. Even recently during the All-Star game where took the time to touch the next generation of kids who were in the city of Toronto. We got to reminisce and share life lessons and what makes his life so successful. He’s passing those lessons on during All-Star weekend when he could’ve been hanging out with Drake or other players. Backstage, I’m asking him, ‘Are you ready for next week. Are you ready to say goodbye to the game?’
I’m sure at that moment, you’ll have feelings. But I know he’s ready to take that next stage and begin his life after basketball. He said, ‘Will you see me next week in Newport [Beach]?’ I’m curious what’s next for him. It looks like the last 20 years, I want him calling me, I want him calling Rob. I want him calling us so we can talk about other amazing things he accomplished. This is like a midway point where we get to check in.”
Ledlow: “He can leave the hanging out with Drake to us (crowd laughter)
Bryant: “You know that party he was talking about we were at? It’s funny. I did want to talk about basketball. I didn’t feel like talking about other stuff. I don’t know why I went. I’m sitting there talking about basketball with Rick. He’s going around and doing his thing. I’m too young to drink. I can’t drink. So I gravitate to the other youngest guy in the room and it’s Jimmy Fallon. (crowd laughter)
Me and Jimmy are sitting there talking. He’s talking about comedy and what he wants to be and an actor and host and all this other stuff. I’m talking about how I want to be one of the greatest basketball players of all time. Neither one of us could drink. So you sent us to go out and get alcohol (crowd laughter). We had to go on a run. That’s when we went to Pink Dot. Then they said, they don’t deliver. What do we know.
Ledlow: “This is a guy who will come over the table over a game of spades. So what is it that kept you hungry after seeing success year after year after year? What made you wake up and want to do anything?”
Bryant: “It’s not the success itself. It’s the process. That’s the most enjoyable part, to go through the pieces of the puzzle together. That’s what always got me going. Figuring things out and winning a championship. How do we do that? The next season is going to be a different puzzle. How do we put that together? It’s always that challenge of the unknown. That kept me up everyday.”
Ledlow: Same for you guys, to stay motivated after tasting success. You didn’t just do it once. You didn’t just do it twice. How do you stay motivated?
Fox: “There’s never a sense that you’ve arrived. You’re never satisfied. There’s always that next level you believe you can get to. You always look around and you’re inspired by those that you surround yourself with and you fall in love with your teammates. You fall in love with their excellence.
You find ways to make them better, which in turn makes the team better. To me, I’m a group dynamics guy. There’s no better feeling than celebrating with teammates. Once you’ve done it and tasted success, it carries on for the rest of your life. I watch Lakers games today and I still relive feelings. When “I Love L.A’ starts blaring through the speakers, it takes me immediately back to our celebrations.
Bryant: “Me too. That’s what keeps me sane (crowd laughter). I close my eyes and reminisce.”
Ledlow: “You did, though, as a group taste some failure. What was it like to have to be deal with that?”
Horry: “It was tough. I remember my last season, I knew we were going to do something incredible. I knew we had the team to four-peat. I look around and Shaq doesn’t start that season off. I had to start. My body was conditioned to play 25 minutes a game. I played 30 that year and I lost it. You go through that thing. You look around and wonder, ‘Are we hungry enough to do something that spectacular?’ I don’t think in our minds we were. We thought, ‘We are the Lakers’ and ‘We are the champions.’ We’re going to go out there and do it.
You would look at guys. I knew we wanted it in our hearts and our minds. But you just couldn’t do it because of all the energy and effort we did in previous years. I still look back at that year and the way that we played. We all played with a lot of energy. But we didn’t play at the level we were used to playing. We thought we were playing there. But we just didn’t have it. It’s things like that that drive you to be successful. I know for me, when you asked Rick about the question, how do you keep yourself going? For me, I’m just greedy. I was going to go for all the championships I could. I was very lucky that in my second year, I won a championship. That was the most addictive thing ever.
Once you win that championship and they call you a champion and you get that ring on your finger, you just want more and more and more. I still look back and tell people my last game as a Laker when I missed that last shot in San Antonio, I said that last shot cost me $6 million. I go back and look at that series. I was so tired. I remember at one point, Rick, you fell. I love you, but I looked at you Rick and walked right past you. I couldn’t even lift him off the ground. You go back out there and give it your all and you go back and look at the film and you can tell, ‘I was tired.’
Bryant: “God damn man! If I knew you were tired, I would’ve taken that shot myself! (crowd laughter). I would have shot right through that double team.” (crowd laughter)
Ledlow: “To keep you all humbled, we’re going to end on that note.”
Bryant: “Listen that’s only the three of us. That whole team was made of a bunch of idiots just like us. How in the world did you win three championships. This is crazy. And Phil [Jackson] was the biggest one of us all! He was the weirdest one of everybody. And we managed to get it done. It’s pretty cool. Pretty cool.”