That was before Bryant threw in one more line to his quote: “Everybody has self doubt, but I never succumb to it.”
That's Kobe for you, not always the most open-minded fella but unwavering in pursuit of a goal.
Again, it's what the Lakers need if they're going to believe and ultimately achieve.
Just watching Bryant hound Milwaukee point guard Brandon Jennings into every crevice and corner of the court Tuesday night was proof of Bryant's uncommon determination. He prides himself in having more of that dog in him than anyone else, and it's true that he plays one mean game of fetch.
Put the ball in front of him, and Bryant will do whatever he can to get it. It's not necessarily ideal for solid team defense, but it can make setting up an offense pretty impossible.
That's why even in his 17th season, he can play what Jennings viewed as a downright historic game.
“For the whole game, I don't think I've ever seen a guard put that much pressure on a point guard full-court,” Jennings said. “It was a lot different. It's probably the best defense anybody's played on me since I've been in the league. He was constantly putting pressure on me, touching me, hitting me at all times in the game.”
Part of it was dedication: With fanatical pregame study of Jennings' tendencies, Bryant was re-enacting on his own reminders of the precise rhythm and weight shifts of Jennings' pet moves.
Most of it was relentlessness: Bryant uncharacteristically huffed and puffed, sweat pouring off him in Shaq-like style, from all the exertion. He left some of his hand on the wood on the second occasion he went diving for the ball — the skin coming off via floor burn loudly enough to sound like a sneaker squeak. Even in a fourth-quarter timeout, he was still practicing defensive slides outside the huddle.
Howard appreciates Bryant setting him up on offense more early in games, but Bryant's dedication to defense, Howard said, is “something that we need.”
Meanwhile, Howard's increased activity, Bryant said, has been invaluable: “Just play hard. It's amazing when you do that, everything comes back to you, and that's the way he has been playing.”
Framing their faith as pure foolishness or sheer determination is the back story for later.
For now, if they're both going to go all out and believe they can still do this, even that utterly unlikely ending becomes absolutely possible.
“When you go out there and you play burden-free,” Bryant said, “it's amazing what happens.”
MCT Information Services