NBA: Kobe Bryant says he’s not going anywhere
By Kevin Ding
The Orange County Register
ORLANDO, Fla. — It might reassure Lakers fans to hear directly that Kobe Bryant is not going anywhere.
Asked before practice Saturday if he could imagine playing for anyone but the Lakers next season,
Bryant said: “No.”
Bryant can opt out of his contract this summer, but his indication has been that he will not. Even if he does, he is expected to re-sign with the Lakers.
Asked if he’s shooting for Michael Jordan’s six championships, Bryant said: “I’m just really happy to be in this moment right now and just trying to get this fourth one.”
Bryant won three consecutive championships in 2000-02 before a drought hit.
“This one is special because you rarely have the opportunity to get back up to the mountain twice in a career,” he said. “In other words, you have your first run and then you hit rock bottom, and then you’ve got to build back up and get back to the top again. In our careers, Derek (Fisher) and I both feel very fortunate to be part of something like that.”
Said Fisher: “It feels like the first again. It’s so far removed from 2002. ... It’s a lifetime since the last championship.”
KOBE ON PHIL
Bryant didn’t seem to think Lakers coach Phil Jackson will retire after the season, saying: “I think he’s just more amused by everybody thinking that he’s thinking that, if that makes any sense.”
Jackson was likely less amused that the NBA fined him and the Lakers each $25,000 on Saturday because Jackson referred to some “bogus” calls while being interviewed on ABC between the first and second quarters of Game 4 on Thursday night.
Jackson and the Lakers were previously fined for his critical comments after the Lakers’ Game 4 loss in Denver in the Western Conference finals.
Andrew Bynum, Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom each got two first-quarter fouls Thursday night, mainly trying to defend Dwight Howard. The Lakers’ other foul went to Trevor Ariza, who drew a technical foul with 2:48 left in the first quarter arguing Odom’s second foul.
With 4:24 to play before halftime, Jackson drew his first technical foul of the postseason —courtesy of referee Bennett Salvatore — with Orlando ahead, 42-31. Jackson had just two technicals all regular season.
In keeping with his plan, Lakers owner Jerry Buss isn’t coming to Orlando for Game 5, even though with a victory the Lakers will have a Larry O’Brien Trophy presentation as NBA champions. Buss’ son, Jim, is scheduled to arrive in Orlando for Game 5, and assuming he is on hand, he will accept the championship trophy on Sunday night if the Lakers win.
Jim Buss is the Lakers’ vice president of player personnel and has taken an increased role in the team’s decision-making in recent years.