Just the other day, Kobe Bryant appeared on a segment of Rome is Burning, the ESPN show with Jim Rome. However, what made the visit interesting was that Rome wasn’t hosting.
The guest host for the day was none other than Los Angeles Lakers point guard, Derek Fisher.
So DFish scored the interview, getting his buddy, running mate, and teammate to appear. It was definitely a nice treat for both Laker fans and haters.
The video is below but I’ll highlight the major takeaways and comments to read between the lines, so to speak, from the clip.
What makes this summer so different than in years past for Kobe is that he isn’t playing basketball. He’s been able to truly get some rest and “recharge the batteries” as he calls it.
It’s a good thing because the list of injuries on Kobe’s body last year looked like a team injury report, not one player.
Earlier this summer, Kobe had knee surgery on his bum right knee, the one that limited his lift for nearly half of last season. This was only one of the key injuries the superstar endured on the run to the title.
Kobe also broke the index finger to his shooting hand, which was the nagging injury of all injuries. Kobe not only played in pain but had to significantly adjust his shot to compensate for the finger.
Lastly, Kobe had a sore ankle after rolling it in a game last February. Remember, he even had to sit out some Lakers games as well as missing the All-Star game. While the other injuries limited his full potential, the ankle actually cost him games.
The key aspect of the battery recharge is that Kobe was not even close to full strength last season. He was a shadow of himself, yet still carried the team to the title. A well rested and healthy Kobe is the No. 1 key component for a three-peat.
Think about last season's playoff run.
At the beginning, everyone counted the Lakers out, weren’t even sure if they could get by the young and promising Oklahoma Thunder. But, as the playoffs continued, Kobe pushed through the injuries, changed his game enough to compensate for the loss in lift and shot accuracy and drove them to the Finals.
Battery recharge will equal title again as long as Kobe remains healthy all year.
The significant aspect of resting his body is that it helps prepare it for the long haul. Over the past years, Kobe has not rested in the summer and as a result, his body probably never fully recovered from the prior season's stress, and therefore, was more susceptible to injury.
This season should be far different.
The other major part of Derek Fisher’s questioning involved discussing comments that Boston Celtics head coach Doc Rivers made recently.
Rivers said that the Lakers’ starting five had not beaten the Celtics starting five for a ring.
Kobe and DFish both chuckled and didn’t take the bait too much. They simply reminded everyone that Andrew Bynum and Trevor Ariza were injured for the 2008 Finals when the Celtics beat the Lakers in six.
Kobe nor Fisher even mentioned the fact that for this year’s Finals, Bynum was also injured and was a shell of himself even when he played. Doc Rivers must of forgotten that part when he said his five, alluding to the injury to Kendrick Perkins in Game 6 of the Finals, had never lost to the Lakers.
If memory serves, Bynum played sporadically throughout this year's Finals and was never at full strength. A healthy Bynum changes all the match-ups between the Celtics and Lakers.
In a funny, cool, and metaphor loaded moment, Kobe went so far as to compare the three Heat players who joined forces to a well-known cartoon. Kobe said, “They basically formed Voltron.”
For those who don’t know, Voltron was an animated TV series in the mid-eighties called Voltron: Defender of the Universe. Voltron was five young pilots who combined forces to create Voltron. Interesting take on the new Miami Heat, courtesy of Kobe.
Regarding the entire East, Kobe said the conference was super tough, with Boston adding key players like Shaquille and Jermaine O’Neal, but he cautioned not to forget the Orlando Magic. Kobe gave props to Dwight Howard who he said was working hard this summer and getting ready.
This section of the interview ended with Kobe saying the East is a beast but he is more focused on what the Lakers need to do and get out of the Western Conference, than worry about the East teams.
Finally, Kobe also reminded everyone that the Lakers are the Champs until dethroned.
Laker for Life
At the end of the interview, which DFish conducted extremely well and bodes well for his post-hoop career, Kobe all but guaranteed he will remain a Laker his entire career, saying he would “absolutely” retire a Laker.
He did leave a crack for the unknown, saying he was “99.999 percent” sure he would only play for the Lakers.
It doesn’t matter. As DFish noted, himself, Kobe, Gasol and the rest of the Laker crew are signed up pretty much for the same period of time, the next three years. That’s the window of opportunity for more rings. Period.
After that, who knows.
But right now, there is no reason why the team currently assembled won’t compete for a championship in each of those years.
While Derek Fisher dressed runway polished in a slick business suit, Kobe appeared very relaxed in the interview, doing a favor for his friend, showing up to the interview in what he called his “straight backyard” outfit of a t-shirt, shorts, and shoes.
This is good news for Lakers fans and bad for the rest of the league. A rested and relaxed Kobe equals a healthy Kobe. And that spells trouble for the competition.
That wasn’t the case last season, still Kobe and his team overcame all obstacles to hoist the NBA trophy.
The Lakers improved their bench from last year and will enter the 2010-2011 campaign the defending champions. But the Lakers won last year’s title with a weakened Kobe, an injured Bynum, and other banged up players.
If the Lakers can enter next year's playoffs reasonably healthy, meaning no serious or nagging injury to a key player, there is no reason they don’t walk away with another title.
And, a fully recharged Kobe on max battery power is the keystone for that title defense.