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Thursday, May 18, 2006

"Everything Turns on a Trifle"

According to a report in USA Today, Kobe Bryant has said that he has no interest in being a TV analyst after he retires. That's too bad, because he gave a very polished performance on Wednesday night as a guest on TNT's studio show. He frequently mentioned lessons that he has learned about the game from Tex Winter, who he called "Yoda." That nickname should be familiar to 20 Second Timeout readers who saw the interview that I conducted with Bryant during the media availability at the 2005 All-Star Weekend, which can be found here:

2005 NBA All-Star Game Media Availability Session With Kobe Bryant: "The Truth Always Comes Out"

At that time, Bryant said, "If it weren't for Tex, I wouldn't look at the game or interpret the game the way that I do. The way that he teaches the game is different than any other coach that I've ever been around. He looks at the game in a different way. He actually teaches momentums--how to build momentums and how to break momentums. He looks at the total concept of the game and then plays it like chess. It's amazing to sit there and learn. When he teaches you something, you go out on the court and you apply that knowledge and it actually works. You start looking at him like he's Yoda."

On Wednesday, Bryant spoke admiringly about how LeBron James and Manu Ginobili made momentum changing plays for the Cavs and Spurs respectively. He said that Winter's mantra is "everything turns on a trifle"--a loose ball, a rebound, a hustle play can change the momentum of a game. TNT jokingly changed the name of one of the studio segments from "Kenny's Pictures" to "Kobe's Pictures" (I have a feeling someone will make a wisecrack about Kobe trying to take center stage but it was clearly all in good fun) and Bryant talked about one of Ginobili's amazing dribble drive scores; Bryant said that Ginobili, Leandro Barbosa and Boris Diaw all do the same maneuver when they drive to the hoop--they put the ball in front of them to the middle, instead of to one side, so they can execute a spin move in either direction instantly. Bryant approvingly noted that this move is very difficult to stop.

In a later segment, Bryant and Kenny Smith went to the studio's basketball court to break down Bryant's thinking in late game situations when he has a chance to hit a game winning shot. Smith asked Bryant how he gets open since everyone knows that the ball is going to him. Bryant placed his left forearm on Smith's left arm to nudge him aside and then swung his left leg in front of him, creating a passing angle to receive the ball. Bryant said that if he has a smaller defender (like Smith) on him then he knows that he can go wherever he wants to go on the court and simply elevate to get an open look. A key advantage that he has, Bryant added, is that he knows how much time is left and the defender does not. Bryant does a countdown in his head, while the defender has no time to look at the clock and must focus on him. This means that when Bryant picks up his dribble, the defender assumes that Bryant is going to immediately shoot but Bryant may in fact have left himself enough time to pump fake to either draw a foul or create a better shot. Oddly, Bryant missed his first attempt against Smith, who had shed his dress shoes for some LeBron Nikes. They went through the sequence again and Bryant missed a second time, prompting Charles Barkley to ask if anyone had a Snickers bar (because they might be there a while). The third time through, Bryant pump faked and "drew a foul."

It has been previously reported that next year Bryant is changing his number from 8 to 24. Ernie Johnson asked Bryant to explain the change and Bryant indicated that he wants to turn over a new leaf for the second half of his career. He also made reference to 24/7, suggesting a 24 hour a day, seven day a week devotion to the game. Of course, that is hardly a change from what he has been doing for years.

A Jim Huber essay about Kevin Garnett, who will turn 30 soon, prompted Bryant to mention how time goes by in the blink of an eye; he can't believe that he has already been in the league for 10 years. Bryant said that when he first came into the league he just focused on working on his game but that with maturity he has learned the importance of savoring every moment and enjoying the camaraderie with his teammates. Smith asked him to address the "barbershop" question about his game versus Michael Jordan's game. Bryant responded that what he does for the Lakers and what Jordan did for the Chicago Bulls are two different things; Bryant said that he handles the ball more and that Jordan attacked more from the foul line down. He concluded that the main similarities are their competitiveness and the fact that they play hard at both ends of the floor.

posted by David Friedman @ 2:23 AM



At Thursday, May 18, 2006 8:38:00 AM, Blogger illest said...

Bryant was good but he knows the game and is very confident.

I noticed when Bryant answered talking about the Jordan and Bryant comparison Barkley quickly changed the subject back to Garnett, who I think is a great underachiever. He had his chance in 04. They should of beat the Lakers. You have to seize that opportunity.


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