Thursday, February 11th, 2010 at 9:08 am  |  37 responses

Links: One-on-One with Kobe

Kobe on trading cards, “Lost,” the iPad and the Lakers chances of repeating.

by Lang Whitaker

I grew up ears-deep in trading cards. I started with baseball cards (1984 Topps was my first box set) and then things snowballed from there. At one point I bought a typewriter at a garage sale, and I obsessively typed and retyped lists of which cards I had. (In retrospect, I guess I could have just LOOKED at the cards to know which ones I had.) Eventually I realized that things had gotten out of hand when my friend David and I made his Mom drive us drive us an hour outside Atlanta to a used card shop to look for weird rookie cards. So I took all my cards, boxed them up and put them in my parent’s attic, where they remain today.

With the advent of video games, trading cards have lost their relevance. In response, Panini, the world’s largest sports and entertainment collectable company and the exclusive trading card of the NBA, is today launching an interactive online game using trading cards, which they’re calling Adrenalyn. Check it out here.

While you still use trading cards, there’s also an online element that uses an authorization code on the back of each card allowing kids to upload the card into a virtual album, where they can then create their own decks of 10 and compete against the computer or their friends. There’s also a huge bus tour kicking off today, that’s going all over the US (check the schedule here.)

Also, the kid who is the leading scorer online at the end of the NBA season will win a chance to meet the game’s spokesperson and play against him one-on-one.

That spokesperson? Some guy named Kobe Bryant.

Last weekend while Kobe was filming a spot for Panini, I managed to get him on the phone for a few minutes…

LW: This company you’re doing the cards with, Panini, that’s an Italian company. Do you remember them from when you were a kid?

KB: Absolutely. I had a bunch of Panini cards. I was a big soccer buff as you know, man, and they did soccer cards, so I had a lot of those.

kobeadrenalynLW: Did they have basketball cards in Italy?

KB: Not in Italy. When I came back to the States, that’s when I really went nuts. I used to have a *bunch* of them, the basketball cards.

LW: Kids these days are so into video games, do you think this thing you’re doing with Panini will help get them back into collecting cards?

KB: That’s the hope, and we believe we have a strategy to be able to do that. We have to breathe new life and try to pump new energy into the industry, so kids nowadays can see the enjoyment or see the fun that you can get out of collecting cards.

LW: Do you collect anything now?

KB: I collect stuff from movies. Movie props, stuff like that. That’s the only kind of thing I collect right now.

LW: What kind of games do your kids play? They’re getting old enough now that they’re probably into some of that stuff, right?

KB: Yeah, they’re into, like, softball, soccer. My oldest one, she asked me to teach her how to play basketball the other day for the first time, and my mouth almost hit the floor. We play board games like Candyland, videogames like Princess Wii, stuff like that.

LW: We’re posting this next week after the Superbowl, but who’s your Superbowl prediction?

KB: I think the Colts will. I think Manning will get it done.

LW: You going to a Superbowl party?

KB: Nah man, we rest. It’ll be a day off for us, and that’ll be the first day off we’ve had in like two months.

LW: Since the East Coast trip?

KB: Yeah. So I’ll stay at home and watch the game on TV.

LW: When you’re on the road for that long, is it possible for you to keep up with like, TV shows you’re into, or movies that just came out, or whatever?

KB: it’s actually easier to do that on the road, because your schedule is pretty much set. At home if you have a lot of things to do, you have to do ‘em. On the road it’s easier to catch up on things.

LW: Do you watch “Lost”?

KB: No, I’m not a “Lost” guy at all.

LW: I’m not either, but I know it’s really popular.

KB: Most of my teammates are, they’re all really into “Lost.” I just haven’t started.

LW: Did you see Avatar?

KB: Not yet, it looks great, though.

LW: What have you heard about the iPad?

KB: I saw that on TV the other day, and that’s pretty phenomenal.

LW: I know Phil gave you guys the books the other day for your trip, and Phil said he doesn’t think you’ve ever read any of the books he’s given you.

KB: I definitely haven’t.

LW: Do you read books on the road?

KB: I’ll read a book. If it’s something I’m interested in, I’ll read it.

LW: And you’re not into Twitter.

KB: Not at all.

LW: Did you see the new SLAM cover yet?

KB: No, I haven’t.

LW: We posted it the other day on our site and people were leaving all sorts of comments on there, which made me wonder, Do you ever go on sites and secretly read up, just to see what people are saying about you?

KB: Not at all. What am I’m gonna sit there and do that for? I’ve got much better stuff to do.

LW: Today, the Lakers are 38-12. Did you think it was going to go this well, this fast, with Ron Ron coming in?

KB: The thing is, we actually think we should be playing better. We’re doing great, despite all the injuries that we’ve had the first half of the season. But we really think we should be playing better.

LW: How can you guys get better?

KB: I think defensively we can get a lot better. Get a little more consistency with our bench play, but that will shake itself out. But we believe that we have many areas to improve in.

LW: I’ve seen people throwing the Lakers around in trade talks. Do you think you guys will make a move? Are you good with what you guys have?

KB: I’m good with what we have. I mean, obviously the front office has to do their jobs, but I’m good with what we’ve got.

LW: You’ve been around long enough now, when do you know when your team is good enough to win a title?

KB: You never really know, because in the Playoffs, one wrong bounce can change a series completely. You never really know until you actually win a Championship.

LW: Do you think this year’s team can win a Championship?

KB: We’re playing very well, and we have a chance just like anybody else. Obviously, we’re the defending champions, and our stock holds a little bit more value. But at the end of the day, the proof is in the pudding.

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  • LeoneL

    So is the Panini thing just for kids? JK

  • http://www.slamonline.com James the Balla

    Great interview. I think that it’s weird he hasn’t read any of Phil’s books though.

  • http://fdjsklf.com Jukai

    “I think the Colts will. I think Manning will get it done.”
    Suck it Kobe.

  • kh

    I want to play Kobe one on one.

  • fred from france

    Totally off topic but how awesome would it be for the Lakers to win another chip this year with KB on the bench (ie. Injured) It’d be some beautiful Karma if you ask me. The way he craps on the mere idea of the bench guys. Then he’d get to wear a ring that he owed to the “little guys”. Ok fantasy over, as you were.

  • http://Www.lkz.ch/basket Darksaber

    Praise the black smoke, Mambiatch doesn’t watch Lost. Nor does he visit slamonline…two things i thoroughly enjoy doing. All is well in the galaxy.

  • http://slamonline.com Russ Bengtson

    Kobe collects movie props?

  • Vish

    so was he being sarcastic when he said he has not read the books recommended by Phil?

  • http://www.slamonline.com/ niQ

    He probably has some swords or guns from movies. lol

  • http://shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com Cheryl

    I wonder what Phil has given Kobe to read. I’d be really interested to find out what kinds of subjects he thinks Kobe would learn something from.

  • T-Money

    The book Phil gave him this year was about a guy being accused of sexually assaulting a Native woman in Montana in the 40s.

  • riggs

    Team offense for dummies

  • http://slamonline.com Lang Whitaker

    @Vish: He was not being sarcastic.

  • http://www.nike.com/nikeos/p/nikebasketball/en_US/signature/moves?player=kobe_bryant&move=3 Jackie Moon

    @Lang Great little interview given the short window. But next time, you should have Ryan Jones make the call, I think it’s time for the healing process to begin. Also, that bit about his daughter asking him how to play basketball was wild. Can you imagine? Insert Anton joke about how she should have asked Lebron instead.

  • George

    Great article man…I think you should have asked “what has Derek Fisher meant to him on the personal side of this life”….

  • http://www.slamonline.com Myles Brown

    I like Kobe 2% less now that I know he doesnt watch Lost. But if he did, he’d still watch it better than LeBron.

  • http://www.slamonline.com/ Double R

    Myles wins.

  • http://www.realcavsfans.com Anton

    She asked him how to play, but soon left after Kobe jacked up 50 shots and refused to pass it to her.

  • http://www.stonesthrow.com/madlib Michael NZ

    The online thing could work for trading cards I guess… but it’ll never beat getting to school early to trade with friends after busting open packs of Fleer and Upper Deck from the shop down the road, circa 1994.

  • http://www.stonesthrow.com/madlib Michael NZ

    Interesting how any questions about TV, tech stuff, twitter etc elicits very brief, disinterested answers. Kobe: it’s complicated.

  • http://www.nike.com/nikeos/p/nikebasketball/en_US/signature/moves?player=kobe_bryant&move=3 Jackie Moon

    @Michael NZ Not that complicated. The answers to basketball questions are more involved. Why? Because he’s into basketball. The answers to the trading card questions are longer, too. Why? Because he’s getting paid to promote them.

  • http://www.alllooksame.com Tarzan Cooper

    phil’s book giving is very funny. even funnier that kobe has never read any of them. tmoney, phil has a twisted sense of humor doesnt he? i wonder if phil sits around and thinks of what books to give his players or just randomly dished them out.

  • nastierthanu2

    LOL Really Anton Kobe won’t pass to his own daughter!!! I love Kobe but that’s hysterical.

  • http://www.stonesthrow.com/madlib Michael NZ

    @Jackie: ha, I was being sarcastic… We hear that he’s a complicated dude, but really, given these answers, its seems he keeps it fairly simple in terms of things outside of bball these days.

  • http://www.nike.com/nikeos/p/nikebasketball/en_US/signature/moves?player=kobe_bryant&move=3 Jackie Moon

    @Michael NZ Whoops, I thought you were trying to say that he wasn’t helping the interview … Mea culpa.

  • don

    ANTON u d best. liked the scenario.

  • http://www.nike.com/nikeos/p/nikebasketball/en_US/signature/moves?player=kobe_bryant&move=3 Jackie Moon

    @Lang What is the opposite of “ATL,Shawty” when the Hawks lose?

  • T-Money

    tarzan, i cant see how that could be an accident

  • justin

    It would be very interesting to know some of the books he has asked kobe to read over the years. If you click on the link you can tell he generally gives players books that would benefit them individually, so I know he has put some thought into Kobe’s suggested readings over time

  • Teddy-the-Bear

    LTA, Tawlly

  • Teddy-the-Bear

    Where do they even sell basketball cards? Do they sell them anymore?

  • Teddy-the-Bear

    Man I lost so many good cards… I wanted to get the late 90′s Knicks, and I used to have Latrell Sprewell (G-State) and Larry Johnson (Charlotte)… This summer I went to this event at our city and got two free random packs of old basketball cards, and guess what? I got Patrick Ewing and Allan Houston (Pistons)… That would have been a sweet collection. But guess what? I lost my Sprewell/Larry Johnson.
    I don’t know why I am typing this.

  • Sporting-Lisbon-Blazers

    lol!! Anton runs away with it…also i bet LW would have said he was a HUGE LOST FAN if kob told he was too…yeah, i said it.

  • Fat Lever

    Kobe throwing 2 cliches to end an interview, in the same sentence, no less!. Impressive. Who said he wasn’t the best closer in basketball?

  • Missy


  • http://yahoo.com Willie Erves

    I wonder if he understands that he is only third to MJ Tiger Woods. Kobe if he can pull off a three peat he will pass MJ and be the best two guard of all time that is huge.

  • http://rebeccaspread29.terapad.com Belkis Flugum

    I like your opinion. Sure, other people might not agree entirely but that isn’t a bad thing is it?