Roughly an hour after the Thunder’s 100-85 victory and well past local newspaper deadlines, Bryant showed OKC far more respect than he had just been shown himself.
Here are some of Bryant’s thoughts on the game and the Thunder: (or watch the whole interview here.)
- On OKC All-Star point guard Russell Westbrook, who at times has been heavily criticized: “I don’t know what the media is doing out here, but everybody just needs to lay off of Russell. That’s a bad little dude, man. That’s a bad little dude, man. You guys are fortunate to have him. You guys have got two explosive scorers here. I like how he’s playing. He just has to continue to improve and do his thing.”
- Does Bryant see any of himself in Westbrook? “He’s got the same type of dog that I had in me — that I still have in me — when I was coming up playing with Shaq (former teammate Shaquille O’Neal). He’s got the same fight and he’s just 6-4.”
- How has center Kendrick Perkins instilled his tough attitude into the Thunder? “Perk, in my opinion, he’s the best one-on-one post defender in the league. He’s that good in the low-post. That gives them an added presence. He’s also a very good help defender and a screen-and-roll defender. Boston really gift-wrapped them one (with the Feb. 24, 2011 trade that sent Perkins to OKC).”
- How has Kevin Durant developed? “He’s just going to continue to get better. He’s making great plays for other players. He’s obviously been a phenomenal shooter. He has a developing post game. They’ve got two, three of my favorite players in the league on that team, man. They’re fun to watch.”
- On the verbal altercation with James Harden with less than two minutes remaining: “The conversation was pretty brief. I mean, I was doing all the talking. There are certain things you can’t (share publicly) … Maybe one day they’ll be able to sit at my lunch table [laughing]. Right now, we’re at two different lunch tables, man. That conversation was pretty brief.”
- Western Conference All-Star coach Scott Brooks says you’re going to play a lot this weekend (to wear you out): “(Expletive). [Smiling] Let me tell you something, man, this is his first rodeo. This is my 14th, man. I’m pulling rank. … I told him, ‘Look, you can put me in the last two minutes, if you want.’ “