If he wants one, Gerald Green has a mentor in Kobe Bryant.
“I told him he has a lot of talent,” Bryant said after pouring in 43 points against Green and the Celtics. “The important thing is to keep working. Just have tunnel vision. It’s a tough situation for him right now losing so much, but it’s important for him to stay focused on what he has to do. I told him if he ever needs anything to track me down.”
Green had the unenviable task of guarding Bryant for much of Wednesday night’s game. While the lanky second-year forward has the athleticism to keep up with Bryant, he lacks the muscle and experience to do much more than bother Bryant while he is shooting. And as Green found out, bothering Kobe usually doesn’t prevent his shots from going in the basket.
“He’s a hell of a talent,” Bryant said of Green. “He reminds me of myself when I first came into the league, guarding M.J., Pippen, those guys. It was a challenge but you’re not going to learn unless you step up to that challenge. He did that tonight.”
Like he has all season, Green deflected individual questions about his matchup with Bryant after the game. Green knows what he is supposed to say, and most of the time he says the right thing.
“I just tried to play with the team,” said Green.
Celtics coach Doc Rivers said he was proud of the way Green guarded Bryant.
“You know, we’re asking Gerald to guard Kobe Bryant,” said Rivers. “He was shaking his head after the game and I said, “Listen, if Kobe Bryant is taking those types of shots all game and making them, you’re going to lose. But if you could script the way he was going to score, and he’s taking fade-aways behind the three with you up on him, you would take those shots. And on the night’s he’s making them, that’s why he’s a one-percenter.’”
“(Lakers trainer) Gary Vitti was in there telling me how shocked he was that he heard an MVP chant here in Boston,” said Bryant. “But I really appreciate it.”
“Well, I guess that’s one way to get into the record books,” Rivers said after the game. “Not the way you want to.”