Kobe Bryant Talks Rape Charge, Shaq, Retirement, Phil Jackson & More (Video)
Kobe rarely does these type of interviews anymore, so this is a treat.
He appears on “In Depth with Graham Bensinger” via Yahoo! Sports.
In his only extensive interview leading up to the 2012 London Olympics, the Los Angeles Lakers’ All-Star opens up about the likelihood he will retire soon. Bryant speaks extensively for the first time about how his 2003 sexual assault charges impacted him personally. The former Most Valuable Player also talks about his feud with Shaquille O’Neal and his relationship with former Lakers’ coach Phil Jackson.
Here are some of the highlights.
In July 2003, Kobe Bryant was arrested and charged with sexual assault. The charges were later dismissed. Bryant speaks about the effect the charges had on him: “There’s times where it just seems like days are just endless, like this is never going to end. This feeling, this dark time is just never going to be over…” Bryant also addresses how the situation may have had a positive impact on him: “Once you go through something like that, you can’t help but be different. You can’t help but have a better sense of who you are.”
- · Kobe Bryant shares that he has had conversations with NFL player Ray Lewis who had murder charges against him dismissed: “A lot of – other players can’t relate to that sort of stuff, to that type of pressure. That’s real pressure. That’s life pressure. It’s not hitting the game winning shot. If you make it, you win. If you miss it – no. That’s not pressure.”
- · Bensinger asks Kobe Bryant what he learned from the whole experience: “It just really teaches you how to let go and how to trust and not try to control everything.” Bryant discusses how he was able to avoid having the situation affect his basketball game: “I’m not going to stop playing. I’m not just because you guys think I should stop playing, just because you guys think that I won’t perform as well. I’m going to show you.”
- · Kobe Bryant discusses the possibility of retiring after the 2013-14 season: “I’ve been playing for 17 years now, so next year will be my 17th and then, when I’m 35, it will be my 18th year in the league. I mean that’s a long time to be playing. It will be the last year in my contract, so I don’t know. I don’t know if I’ll play any longer than that.”
- · While the Lakers won three consecutive championships between 2000 and 2002 and made the finals in 2004, stars Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal were feuding over their respective roles on the team. Bryant, who was eligible to become a free agent after the season, says that it was an untenable situation: “It just wasn’t going to work, so no matter what happened, even if we had won that championship … me being a free agent, there was just no way.” It came down to Kobe or Shaq: “There’s things that I wanted to do with my career and take my career to another level, that I was just incapable of doing as long as we were playing together. “
- · During the 2008 NBA Finals, the Lakers were down three games to two against the Boston Celtics. Kobe Bryant shares that he began to question himself: “I was like, ‘Man, I’m never going to win another championship. Maybe everybody was right. I can’t win without Shaq. This is my one opportunity, and I blew it.’”
- · During the 2003-04 season, Lakers coach Phil Jackson’s relationship with Kobe Bryant began to deteriorate. Bryant acknowledges that there were several challenges that Jackson had to confront, one being the dynamic between Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal: “Him having to deal with that relationship and kind of keeping me at arm’s distance so that, in turn, it can bring him closer to Shaq…” Bryant also shares that he and Jackson had very different communication styles: “I said, ‘Phil, if you want me to do something, just tell me.’… He kind of likes subtly slipping messages in there. Where, for me, it’s like just tell me what it is you want. Don’t insult my intelligence by trying to backdoor in there.”
- · Bensinger asks Kobe Bryant about the best advice he has received from legendary player Michael Jordan: “To be me… ‘Don’t change who you are. Play your game, and everybody will adjust to that but you have to be yourself.’”