The 2015-16 NBA regular season belonged to Kobe Bryant. The Los Angeles Lakers were the biggest draw in the league this season, as evidenced by the fact that they had the highest attendance rate, as visitors, in the entire NBA, even better than Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors. Everyone wanted to get one last glimpse of Kobe Bryant during his final trip to their NBA city.
The Kobe we saw this year was a new kind of Kobe. He was much more relaxed than he has ever been in his career, he was probably at peace with his decision to retire and was enjoying his farewell tour. Kobe was cheered at every stop along the way and was often given gifts from viral franchises that he had once set out to destroy. Bryant seemed to be a different person all season, often times he gave praise to young teammates, which is something young Kobe never did. He was extremely friendly and jovial with the media during his final hoorah, it was almost as if Kobe had reached a zen like point in his life and no longer had that killer instinct (except of course in his final game when he dropped 60 points on the Utah Jazz.)
There was a time when Kobe had no filter and was not so easy to get along with. He was once a very outspoken superstar with very little tolerance for anything short of perfection. He was not afraid to call out opponents, teammates, coaches, media, or ever fans if they didn't do what he thought was right. Kobe once made a teammate cry during practice, he was that kind of competitor, and he had no problem letting the media know what he thought of any situation. He would often go to the media just to make sure he got his point across to whomever he thought needed to hear it.
Here are the 12 times Kobe was a little too honest with the media.
12 The Time He Guarded Jordan
"When I have the chance to guard Michael Jordan, I want to guard him. I want him. It's the ultimate challenge."
Well Kobe got his chance in his rookie season, and Jordan dropped 30 while Kobe put up five points. Kobe would have many more chances to get revenge, but that first time was not so glorious. Perhaps Kobe learned from his first experience guarding Jordan, which is why he did better the following times. Still, this was likely a case of Kobe getting a little too eager as a youngster. He should have kept his words soft and sweet, because he sure had to eat them.
11 The Time He Wore Leggings
"You're looking at my legs too much. You've got serious problems."
When questioned about wearing leggings during a game against the Philadelphia 76ers, Kobe had quite the response for the reporter. Kobe also dropped 48 points in the "leggings game" so he was probably feeling a little confident about his wardrobe. Still though, he probably should have just given a simple diplomatic answer and moved on.
10 The Time Dwight Howard Got Emotional
"Emotional? Save that sh** for when you retire."
Kobe was asked if he thought Dwight Howard may get emotional upon his return to Orlando. Howard had taken the Magic to an NBA Finals appearance in 2009 (against Kobe's Lakers) and was anticipating a very warm welcome back to the city. Unfortunately, Kobe had no time for emotion, as he had his eyes on the prize that season.
9 The Time He Lost His Cool
“I don’t give a [expletive] what you say. If I go out there and miss game winners, and people say, 'Kobe choked, or Kobe is seven for whatever in pressure situations.' Well, [expletive] you.”
During the 2012 Western Conference Semifinals, Kobe had a rough Game 2. He didn't hold back on reporters after they questioned him about his shot attempts. Kobe would go on to lose the series in five games to OKC, but he didn't want to hear anything about his shot attempts.
8 The Time He Shut Up Mark Cuban
Mavericks owner Mark Cuban had suggested the Lakers use the NBA amnesty rule on Kobe Bryant. The amnesty rule allows a team to terminate a contract if the player is extremely under performing in regards to the contract. Kobe sent this tweet out to Mr. Cuban after he put up 38 against Cuban's Mavericks. You shouldn't egg on Bryant, as it usually doesn't turn out well. Looks like Mark Cuban had to find that out the hard way.
7 The Time He Threw Other Lakers Under The Bus
“I almost won an MVP with Smush Parker and Kwame Brown on my team. I was shooting 45 times a game. What was I supposed to do? Pass it to Chris Mihm or Kwame Brown?”
In 2012, Kobe was remembering the good old days of 2005-06. He didn't mince words when talking about his old teammates from seasons past. I am sure Smush Parker, Kwame Brown and Chris Mihm remember the time more fondly than Kobe. You don't tend to hear star players putting down their teammates like that, but Kobe wasn't shy about doing so if he really believed what he was saying. Can you imagine what would happen if LeBron James said something like that?
6 The Time He Made Dwight Howard Look Like A Child
“I don’t ride horseys.”
When Dwight Howard was playing alongside Kobe he would often do some sort of silly dance moves before games. Kobe was asked why he didn't ever joine in with Dwight and some of the other teammates in these dance-offs. Kobe's response was priceless, and reflective as his time on the Lakers as a no-nonsense leader. Judging by how those Lakers ended up performing through the Dwight Howard/Kobe Bryant era, perhaps they should have taken Bryant's lead.
5 The Time He Called ESPN Idiots
“Not really. I’ve known for a long time they’re a bunch of idiots.”
In 2014 ESPN released its annual player rankings, and Kobe was put at number 40 on the list. When Kobe was asked if he was surprised by being so low on the list he responded just as you would expect, calling them all a bunch of idiots. The company may have finally realized their mistake in 2016, naming Kobe Bryant the second best shooting guard of all time; only behind Michael Jordan.
4 The Time He Called Shaq Lazy
“It used to drive me crazy that he was so lazy. You got to have the responsibility of working every single day. You can’t skate through s--t.”
Kobe and Shaq had a well chronicled feud, which ended in Shaq moving from L.A. to the Miami Heat. Shaq was never one to show up to the gym at five in the morning, like Kobe did. That seemed to bother Kobe, and he had no problem letting the world know how he felt during an interview in 2014; over a decade after the duo broke up. There was no need to call Shaq out like that so long after they were actually teammates.
3 The Time He Schooled J.R. Smith
"Better learn not to talk to me. You shake the tree, a leopard gonna fall out."
During the 2008 NBA playoffs Kobe had some advice for a young J.R. Smith. Kobe tried to warn the young player but Smith didn't seem to get the memo. Smith had been trash talking the future Hall of Famer, when Bryant caught wind of it. Kobe and the Lakers swept Smith and the Nuggets in four games. It seems that nobody ever learned not to mess with the Black Mamba until it came around to bite them.
2 The Time He Owned Smush Parker
" [Smush Parker is] the worst. He shouldn't have been in the NBA but we were too cheap to pay for a point guard. So we let him walk on."
Kobe really didn't like or respect Smush Parker's game. On multiple occasions he has smeared Parker's name, usually in a public way. This quote came in 2012 when Kobe was reflecting on the 2005 season, and what went wrong for the Lakers. Apparently the Lakers were too cheap to give Kobe another shot at the Finals? Either way, there was no reason to bash an old teammate like that.
1 The Time He Dunked On Dwight Howard
"I baptized him. I turned him into a defensive player."
When asked what he thought about Dwight Howard, Kobe gushed about how strong Howard was, and what a great athlete he is. Funny enoguh Kobe could not let the press conference end without referencing Dwight's rookie season, when Kobe went up and dunked all over Howard. The subsequent poster has hung on many walls, and may sum up both men's careers in one shot.
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