Kobe Bryant and the Lakers Are Still Trying to Dig Out of the Hole They Created for Themsleves Early This SeasonJanuary 3, 2013 – 10:00 am by Chris Fedor
When the Lakers pieced together their roster this offseason, there were visions of an NBA Championship. It’s been a lot more difficult than many thought and it doesn’t seem to be getting much easier for Los Angeles either. While Kobe Bryant continues to lead the league in scoring and Steve Nash has returned from injury, the Lakers still remain one game under .500 for the season. The talent on the roster is undeniable, the team has won six of their last eight games and Kobe is showing no signs of slowing down but Dwight Howard doesn’t look healthy, Pau Gasol doesn’t look comfortable and Los Angeles is showing more signs on a nightly basis of being old and slow, something Bryant alluded to after LA’s latest loss to the 76ers. The Lakers are built for postseason play but it’s time to start stringing some wins together because they are on outside of the playoff picture looking in right now.
Kobe Bryant joined ESPN Radio with Colin Cowherd to talk about how the Lakers can overcome being an old team, whether he thinks the Lakers are better suited for the playoffs as opposed to the regular season, whether he believes a center is valuable in today’s NBA, how things work with Steve Nash handling the ball so much and how deep the concern is right now for the Lakers.
How the Lakers can overcome being an old team:
“I think we start there, I think we start with the idea of knowing what our weaknesses are and knowing that we are slow and knowing that we are old and then it’s figuring out from there how we compensate for it and how we adjust on nights when we don’t have it. Like nights when shots may be falling short or the team we’re playing is just running around like a bunch of jackrabbits, how do we figure out a way to be more methodical and attack a little different.”
Whether he thinks the Lakers are better suited for the playoffs as opposed to the regular season:
“For sure. I don’t think there’s a doubt about that. The problem is we have dug ourselves a deep hole. We have to do a lot of fighting just to catch up and to get in that conversation that we firmly believe is going to happen but we have to do a lot of work physically to get there.”
If he believes a center is valuable in today’s NBA:
“It’s valuable when you have one. I just don’t know what happened to centers. I don’t know if everyone just like shrunk or got shorter or what, I don’t know what happened. Growing up I was used to seeing a league with Shaq (O’Neal), Hakeem (Olajuwon), Alonzo Mourning, Dikemebe Mutombo, Rik Smits and those are five very big guys just off the top of my head so I don’t know what the heck happened.”
How the relationship with him and Steve Nash is developing given the fact that both seem to need the ball a lot:
“I just give it up to him. I have no problem with that whatsoever. Since he has come back it’s really lessened my workload and I think the important thing is, and this hopefully also helps with the relationship between Dwight (Howard) and Pau (Gasol), and how they figure out how they want to play together and to each other’s strengths. I’ve handled the ball a lot my entire career but when Steve is healthy I just gave the ball back to him and everyone said ‘well how are you guys going to get that balance?’ I said ‘there is no need to have a balance. This is what he does best and what I do best is put the ball in the hole.’ Give him the ball, let him run the show and let me run the wing. It’s that simple.”
Whether he is concerned about being too hard on Dwight Howard at times:
“It’s a balance. I talk to him quite a bit and it’s one of those things that’s kind of in my mind is ‘when am I pushing him too hard?’ To his credit, he said coming here, he said ‘listen I know you are going to be hard on me and I know you are going to push me and that is what I want. I want to have that to get to the next level.’ That’s what I’m going to do.”
How deep the concern is now about the struggles of the team:
“It’s very deep and we’re very concerned but also we have been playing really well lately. In the last eight games or whatever we have been playing really well. The hole that we dug ourselves in from the start is very deep and every loss now cuts a little deeper than it should so we have to keep focus on how we have been playing lately and continue to get better from there.”
Listen to Kobe Bryant on ESPN Radio here (Audio begins 31:00 into the podcast)