Media, fans and front-office NBA execs have downgraded Kobe Bryant in their minds. With so much uncertainty surrounding his surgically-repaired Achilles and advanced age, it would seem to make sense that people have doubts about Kobe bouncing back. The Black Mamba, not too surprisingly, thinks it’s a bunch of nonsense. Per the LA Daily News: “Bryant spoke for the first time this week to reporters in Los Angeles as part of the NBA’s new rule that requires injured players to speak at least once a week. That left him with a lot of topics to address, including providing more detail on his unsuccessful pairing last season with Dwight Howard. ‘We saw different ways of leading this team. Dwight wanted to do it one way, which he felt like was effective. I wanted to do it another way,’ Bryant said. ‘There was constant tension.’ The Lakers still finished out the regular season 28-12 to finish with a seventh seed in the Western Conference. ‘In the second half of the season, everything was able to fall in line,’ Bryant said. ‘We wound up making a pretty good run at it. I think Pau [Gasol] stepping in and taking significant load of the offensive responsibilities is a big thing for us as well. It wound up getting Dwight a lot of easy ones and Pau got a lot of easy baskets for everybody else. Things fell in place and we were able to get into the playoffs.’ No matter how much Bryant sounded engaging, his biting and playful sarcasm revealed his irritation with numerous outside skepticism. He called ESPN’s recently ranking him 25th ‘laughable’ and ‘silly.’ An anonymous survey of all 30 league general managers posted on NBA.com listing him as the second best shooting guard behind Houston’s James Harden. That marked the first time in the survey’s 12-year history the Lakers’ star didn’t receive top billing. ‘I think they’re counting on me being on one leg,’ Bryant said on the general manager’s poll. ‘They think I can’t come back from this injury.’ What does Bryant make of such skepticism? ‘I try not to pay attention to it too much,’ Bryant said. ‘It can get to you a little bit and make you impatient, especially when you hear the doubt with, ‘Will I be able to come back?’ It’s not, ‘Will I be able to come back and play well.’ It’s I won’t be able to come back and play well.’ […] ‘When you hear those things, you want to push and play right away to shut a lot of people up,’ Bryant said. ‘You have to be patient, rest and relax and come back when you’re ready. It’s a challenge right in front of your face. You really have to restrain yourself to get out there.'”
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