To be fair, the media availability in the NBA playoffs can seem endless. Players answer the same questions over and over. And often out of pure boredom with the monotony, a player may shift his generic answer, say something more interesting, and regret it later because the media makes it into a story.
I haven’t counted how many times Kobe Bryant has praised the Celtics-Lakers rivalry and its place in the history of professional basketball, but it’s in the dozens. So the following exchange in Bryant’s practice-day press conference should be viewed with all of that in mind.
Question: If you don’t beat the Boston Celtics, can you go down as the best Laker ever?
Question: Is it important to you to go down as the best Laker ever?
Question: Do you think you are?
Question: Who is?
Bryant: “In my opinion it’s Jerry West because in terms of everything that he’s done, as a player and then as a general manager. He’s responsible for managing here, he’s responsible for Shaq, he’s responsible for myself. He put the whole picture together and everything that he’s done, to me he’s the greatest.”
Question: Magic [Johnson] doesn’t get the edge because he did beat the Celtics and Jerry West didn’t?
Bryant: “What is everybody’s fascination with the Celtics in terms of going down in history as [blank]. It’s a little weird to me. I think Jerry’s body of work and the championships that he’s been responsible for, just my opinion you can have your own opinion, it doesn’t really matter to me. In my opinion I think Jerry West is.”