The Lakers are in town and that means Kobe Bryant holds court with the assorted Los Angeles and Boston media today at the TD Garden. Among the nuggets from the interview is that he said he had never formally met Celtics legend and current Indiana Pacers president Larry Bird.
Bird gave Bryant some gracious compliments this week, saying he would have loved to have Bryant as a teammate. Bryant has mutual admiration but said he has never had a chance to express it.
"That means the world to me because I looked up to him and his worth ethic," Bryant said today. "With him kind of being a staple of a blue collar player that's been blessed with a great deal of talent. His determination, his motivation. I remember some quotes that I heard from Tommy Heinsohn describing Larry Bird that were very moving to me when I was a kid and if I could be that way I feel I could be pretty good so I kind of followed his lead in that regard. To hear him have that kind of praise for me means a lot."
Although Bryant played against Bird-coached Pacers teams in the late 1990s and in the 2000 NBA Finals, there has never been a formal conversation. Bryant said the two have never talked.
"I never met him because I never see him," Bryant said. "During the All-Star Game in Cleveland (in 1997) our paths never crossed. It's crazy."
Bryant also said he fully plans to play in the 2012 Olympics in London and that the torn ligament in his wrist has healed. He said he is healthy.