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Irish Coffee: Kobe Bryant on his admiration of Austin Rivers, love of Rob Gronkowsi and ignorance of Jeremy Lin

02.10.12 at 8:52 am ET

Despite his team emerging victors by an ugly 88-87 margin in an overtime game, Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant sounded more impressed by the Celtics than his own squad when asked if the two once great and now aging championship clubs mirrored one another.

“I don’€™t know,” said Bryant, who finished with 25 points on 24 shots. “They’€™ve got three Hall of Famers and a fourth one coming. That don’€™t look too familiar to me over here.”

Not only did Bryant sound off about his own teammates, but he pulled no punches on the topics of Rob Gronkowski, Austin Rivers and Jeremy Lin (particularly priceless stuff), among other subjects thrown his way. The following are highlights from the Black Mamba’s postgame interview.


“We know each other so well. The unit we had on the floor, and their unit — we’€™ve played against each other so many darn times. We know what’€™s coming before it happens.”

[Asked again about the rivalry:] “It’€™s always a brawl in every fight. It’€™s ugly. It’€™s physical. I’€™ve enjoyed competing against them. I like all of them personally. On the court, that personal stuff goes out the window. It’€™s been fun.”

[And again:] “It’€™s a throwback in the sense that we’€™re old school. Ray [Allen] is old school. Paul [Pierce] is old school. Kevin [Garnett] is old school. And so is Rajon [Rondo]. How we prepare for the game, how much the game means to us, you can see the emotion that they pour into it, how much they put into the game, you don’€™t really see that too much from the young guys nowadays.”

[And again:] “It’€™s been great. It’€™s been a dream come true growing up and watching it. Here I am part of it. It’€™s great. The only difference between us and the ‘€˜80s is that guys over there in the other locker room I actually know and like. That’€™s the big difference between this time around and the ‘€˜80s.”

[And again:] “They’€™ve been playing extremely well. They’€™ve won nine out of their last 10 games coming into tonight, so they’€™re figuring things out obviously. Us, we’€™re still searching. It’€™s a whole new system. We’€™re trying to figure things out still. You kind of see it on the court. You kind of see things that are kind of botched plays every now and then, miscommunication now and then, because we’€™re kind of practicing things on the fly. But all in all, we’€™ll be Ok. Both of us will.”

[Gasol did not make the All-Star Game for the first time since 2008.]

“It’€™s going to be extremely weird. I really don’€™t know how to react to it without saying anything that’€™s disrespectful to some of our peers and contemporaries. I feel Pau deserves to be there, and he deserves to be there simply because he’€™s one of the best players in the league.”

[Gasol totaled 25 points and 14 rebounds.] “He took 20 shots. That’€™s phenomenal. We’€™ve kind of been urging him to be aggressive. He took what the defense gave him, and he also dictated some offense to the defense. He played a phenomenal game.”


“Rajon is a one-man fast break. He makes so many plays for guys in transition off of makes and misses. There aren’€™t too many guys walking around the league that can do that.”

[A Gasol for Rondo report that Celtics president Danny Ainge called bogus circulated earlier this week.]

“I let management dictate that. My dedication hopefully becomes infectious with the guys in the locker room, and whatever they decide to do, they decide to do. But the motivation stays the same. Regardless of who’€™s in this locker room, we have to push forward.”


“I didn’€™t have much of a choice. Every time I touched it, they sent a guy over, so I didn’€™t have much of a choice. If they’€™re going to send guys at me 25 from the hoop, somebody’€™s gotta be open. And my guys have to make plays.”


“We’€™ve got five guys that can post up and command double teams. No other team in the league has that.”


“I don’€™t know about the other guys, but I’€™m not walking around doing jumping jacks. What the hell do I care? It’€™s a regular-season game. It’€™s always a little bit more exciting to beat them, because it’€™s such a challenge to beat them, because they’€™re particularly good. Other than that, it’€™s …” [shrug]


“You’€™ve got to scrape the plate. As long as I’€™m playing, the goal is to win a championship. Everything else is just not an option.”


“It starts from the beginning. You can’€™t just try to do it now. It starts from when I was 17 years old — the work, the preparation and all that stuff. Because of that, I can play at a high level still. It’s physical. The mental part with injuries comes when — like last year I had a serious knee injury and this year with the wrist and stuff like that — but still, in all, if you try to battle through that, if you’€™re not in condition or you’€™re not in shape to play at a high level, you’€™re not going to be able to do it.”

[Pierce passed Larry Bird on Thursday for No. 2 on the Celtics all-time scoring list. Bryant passed Shaquille O’Neal for fifth among the NBA’s career points leaders.]

“I just told him congratulations. That means we’€™re both getting very old.”

[ reported Thursday that the Lakers would retire Shaq’s No. 34 next season.]

“It’€™s deserved, rightfully deserved.”

[Celtics coach Doc Rivers son made a buzzer-beating 3 to lift Duke over North Carolina on Wednesday.]

“I told him his son has got some big cojones. He shoud be proud of him.”

[The Patriots tight end sat courtside in the Garden, and the two exchanged words.]

“I said the Eagles need a tight end. That’€™s what I told him. I’€™m recruiting. He’€™s phenomenally talented — just a freak athlete. He shouted at me. I shouted back. It’€™s fun to have those conversations with athletes that you respect.”

[Asked again about Gronk] “I told him he should go play for the Eagles. That’€™s what I told him. I just told him congratulations on a great year. He’€™s obviously a phenomenal talent with the work ethic to match. It’€™s funny. I’€™m so old, most of the guys watched me when they were in middle school.”


“I was rooting for the Patriots, just because of Bill Belichick and Tom [Brady] and those guys. I hadn’€™t met Gronkowski. I haven’€™t met Wes [Welker] before, but I was pulling for them. I wanted to see them do well, wanted to see them get another one, and they just fell a little bit short.”

[The former Harvard and current Knicks guard has averaged 25.3 points and 8.3 assists in his last three games. The Knicks and Lakers face each other in New York on Friday night.]

“I know who he is, but I don’€™t really know what’€™s going on too much with him. I don’€™t even know what he’€™s done. Like, I have no idea what you guys are talking about. I’€™ll take a look at it tonight though.”

[Asked again about Lin] “I don’€™t even know what the [fudge] is going on. What the [fudge] is going on? Who is this kid? I’€™ve heard about him and stuff like that, but what’€™s he been doing? Is he getting like triple doubles or some [stuff]? He’€™s averaging 28 and eight? No [stuff]. If he’s playing well, I’ll just have to deal with him.”

[Would he consider guarding Lin?] “Jesus Christ. Let’€™s not get ahead of ourselves.”

(Have a question, concern or conception for tomorrow’€™s Irish Coffee? Send a message to @brohrbach on Twitter.)

Read More: Austin Rivers, Boston Celtics, Jeremy Lin, Kobe Bryan
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