On Thursday night, after the TNT double-header, the network aired a sit-down interview between Kobe and Ernie Johnson. The entire thing was great and the entire 7 minute clip is available below. While I wish it were longer — Johnson is one of the best in the business and Kobe always seems to give a good interview — they covered a fair amount of ground in their short time.
Check out the clip after the jump.
— TurnerSportsPR (@TurnerSportsPR) December 4, 2015
There’s a lot to unpack from these comments, so let’s dig in:
- I don’t think he’s just playing up the idea that his mind has been made up about retiring since last season. As the old saying goes, once you really consider retiring, you probably need to retire. Kobe also not giving himself an out and saying there is “zero” chance he comes back is, for me at least, refreshing. There was no “never say never” stuff like some have done before. He knows he’s done and that’s that.
- When talking about the “best competitors” it does not surprise me Kobe did not mention anyone who came after him. There’s a long list of amazing, all-time great, players who were drafted after Kobe and/or are still active. From Duncan to LeBron to Wade to Dirk to Durant to Westbrook and on down the line. Instead he went with Jordan and Iverson, citing their relentlessness.
- Of all the defensive guys Kobe faced, he said Tony Allen gave him the most trouble. This does not surprise me at all. Allen is the one guy, throughout his career, that Kobe never seemed to “solve”. Allen is not only technically sound, but his smarts, drive, and intensity on that end of the floor are all so high. As much as Bowen, Bell, and other’s were also able to bother him, Kobe eventually found a way to put them on tilt and make so he clearly had an edge. With Allen, I always got the sense, even if Kobe got his numbers, he never solved the puzzle.
- When Kobe discussed his (basketball) influences and the 3 people he’d write a letter to, I found it interesting he did not include Phil Jackson.
- Kobe talking about leadership and the need to understand human nature was the most interesting part of the discussion for me. He’s mentioned this topic a few times in the latter stages of his career, mostly within the context of how him realizing he needed to show teammates he wasn’t a “machine” who did not feel any emotion. I get the sense Kobe went through the early part of his career thinking the work he put in and leading by example would be enough. As he matured, he found out it was not.
- Kobe ranking the 2010 Championship over the Celtics as his favorite is no surprise. I think any Lakers’ fan would answer that question the same way.
- Regardless of what he says now, I do hope we get to see Kobe on TV at some point.