Kobe Bryant believes his Los Angeles Lakers can make the playoffs.
Yahoo! Sports’ Marc J. Spears spoke with Bryant in an exclusive phone interview on Aug. 4. The Lakers superstar is confident his team can break its two-year playoff absence:
“Of course it can. Absolutely. We have talented players in their respective positions. We have some really young players. How exactly will the pieces of the puzzle fit? We really don’t know.
Kobe Bryant talks retirement, playoffs, NBA salaries, state of Lakers, Kobe Inc. & more with Yahoo Sports from China. http://t.co/4AVBpgyaje
— Marc J. Spears (@SpearsNBAYahoo) August 4, 2015
“We are going to (training) camp trying to piece this together just like every other team does. We have to figure out what our strengths are, figure out what our weaknesses are.
“And every time we step on the court we are going to try to hide our weaknesses and step up to our strengths.”
Bryant told Spears he likes the current makeup of the Lakers:
“They have really set themselves up for a promising future going on years. I think they drafted very well. The free agents that we picked are extremely solid: (Roy) Hibbert, (Brandon) Bass, Lou (Williams).
“We have a very good mix of young and veteran leadership. The challenge is going to be blending the two and cutting down the learning curve.
“How quickly can we get going? How quickly can we bring up (D’Angelo) Russell, (Julius) Randle. (Jordan) Clarkson got valuable experience last year in playing that will benefit us tremendously. I’m looking forward to it. I’m looking forward to running with these young guns.”
— Yahoo Sports (@YahooSports) August 4, 2015
Bryant said he does not want any sort of farewell tour. This is because he is not sure about retiring after the 2015-16 NBA season, per Spears:
“It’s hard to do that type of stuff because I don’t know if I’m going to retire or not. It’s not a swan song when it all has not been written.
“The body is good.I feel good…My lower body is solid. There are no question marks on what I can do. My body and my legs feel extremely strong and healthy. That’s the big difference.
“My upper body, I’ve been doing the weights and stuff like that. I’ve been kind of building up the upper body strength. The biggest change is I feel very, very solid in my legs.”
Lakers head coach Bryon Scott told ESPN in April he is hoping Bryant stays healthy next season.
“You knock on wood that (Bryant) is healthy for all of next year,” Scott said. “That would be huge for our young guys, because then you’re learning from the best.”
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) August 3, 2015
The Lakers guard denies he is going to sign a big free-agent deal next year just for the money, per Yahoo! Sports:
“Zero. Zero. I’ve never played for the money. It’s never moved me. Money can come and go. I have a perspective about finances. The family is fine. What is more money going to bring other than more money?
“I have my family, I have my health and we’re comfortable financially and that is a massive blessing.
“I don’t want to undervalue the importance of generating any type of whatever. I don’t want to make it sound like I’m underappreciative of that or not thankful for that. But at the same (time), what is really important? What is the important thing?
“I never played for money. When I laced my sneakers up when I was a kid in Italy I wasn’t thinking about money. I had no idea how much Magic (Johnson) or (Larry) Bird got paid. I played it because I loved it.”
— Nike Basketball (@nikebasketball) August 2, 2015
Bryant was on a business trip to China when he spoke with Spears. Chinese company Alibaba Group will release his documentary, “Kobe Bryant’s Muse,” on Aug. 8.
The group will also market and sell products under the “Kobe, Inc.” brand name to more than 350 million Chinese consumers.
Bryant said he first thought about doing this after he injured his Achilles more than two years ago.
Bryant didnt’ want to venture into any business just for the sake of it. He told Yahoo! Sports his passions are “inspiring” and “telling stories.” These served as the foundation of his current project in China.
Bryant told Spears his “Kobe, Inc.” venture will be his sole career focus once he retires from the NBA.
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