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Kobe Bryant Won't Join LeBron James' Lakers, Talks Zion Williamson and More

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistMarch 21, 2019

Kobe Bryant arrives at the 90th Academy Awards Nominees Luncheon at The Beverly Hilton hotel on Monday, Feb. 5, 2018, in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)
Jordan Strauss/Associated Press

Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant said there's no chance he returns to the franchise to play alongside LeBron James despite the team's disappointing 2018-19 season.

"No. That's an easy one … because I don't want to play no more. I'm done," he said Tuesday during a Q&A session hosted by Frank Isola of The Athletic at the NBA Store in New York City.

Bryant covered a wide variety of topics during the discussion.

He called Hall of Fame center Bill Russell the greatest player of all time because of his 11 NBA championships with the Boston Celtics, said Milwaukee Bucks rising star Giannis Antetokounmpo is "just scratching the surface" of his potential and explained he expects to see either the Golden State Warriors or Houston Rockets taking on the Celtics in the 2019 NBA Finals, per Isola.

Bryant, an 18-time All-Star selection and five-time NBA champion, also provided some advice for Duke Blue Devils sensation Zion Williamson, the likely No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 draft:

"Lot of potential. I think he's at a critical stage right now because there are going to be people pulling him from every direction, right. And the important thing for him is to stay focused on the game. That is the most important thing. Focus on the game. Everything else is secondary. I think if he does that, he will be the player that we all think he can be… and more."

Isola noted the Philadelphia native responded to a question about modern-day players skipping games to rest, which is often described as "load management," by saying he never saw that as an attractive option:

"No, the only time I took a game off is when I couldn't walk. The thing about taking games off is your games, your seasons in your career go by really, really, quickly. So, you want to make sure you don't miss any of those moments. The other part about that is there are kids in the crowd and families in the crowd … this will be the only time they get a chance to see you. They save up their hard-earned money to watch you perform. So, if you can walk and perform, get there and perform."

Bryant retired in 2016 after two decades with the Lakers. Since walking away from the basketball court, he's turned his attention to other passions, highlighted by winning the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film in 2018 for writing and narrating Dear Basketball.

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