KOBE READY TO SHOOT FOR LAST STAR

Ahead of his last NBA All Star appearance, Kobe Bryant tells us… he won’t be taking up cricket.

How does it feel to be your last time here at All- Star Weekend?
KOBE BRYANT: It feels good. It feels good. I just feel very blessed to be able to play with so many of the best players of all time. I feel very good about it.

How many minutes do you expect to play this time?
KOBE BRYANT: I’ll be good with 10.

My question is for all the dreamers, not just basketball players, but people around the world, what is the most critical part of your process to tell people to meet their dreams head on?

KOBE BRYANT: I think you have to believe that they’re possible. It’s easier said than done, because I think we all have dreams. But once you go through the process of trying to make those dreams a reality, you hit obstacles. And I think unfortunately because of pressure or anxiety or responsibilities, things, whatever, you kind of give up on those dreams and somewhere along the line you lose that imagination. I think it’s important that you never lose that. You have to keep that. That’s the most important thing. I never gave up my dream.

This is it, you’re done after this. Do you realise, I’ll never be able to do this again? Does it make you emotional?
KOBE BRYANT: No, I’m happy. This is pretty cool. I’m looking around the room and seeing guys that I’m playing with that are tearing the league up that were like four during my first All-Star Game. It’s true. I mean, how many players can say they’ve played 20 years and actually have seen the game go through three, four generations, you know what I mean? It’s not sad at all. I mean, I’m really happy and honored to be here and see this.

What’s it feel like playing in Toronto? This is the first time outside of the U.S.
KOBE BRYANT: It’s cold. It’s really, really cold. Really, really cold. But it’s great to be here. It really is great to be here. I think this has always been one of my favourite cities. It’s such a beautiful city, and extremely well deserving to have an All-Star Weekend.

Are there any aspirations to be MVP? Have you dreamed about how your last All-Star Game will be?
KOBE BRYANT: Zero. No, I’ve never been one to really pull any punches. But, no, I’m really just enjoying this whole thing, being around these players and talking to them one more time, going out and practicing and enjoying that moment in the game and enjoying that moment.

So competitiveness in terms of me trying to establish something or prove something, that’s gone.

You’re a fairly competitive player, are you going to try another sport?
KOBE BRYANT: No.

No baseball? No cricket?

KOBE BRYANT: No.

What’s your first day after retirement going to be like? Can you imagine that?
KOBE BRYANT: I’ll probably wake up and have some coffee and go back to sleep.

Rest. No more competition, though?

KOBE BRYANT: I’ll be okay.

What is your favorite All-Star memory?

KOBE BRYANT: My first one in Cleveland was pretty special because you had all the top 50 players. I think in ’98, it was pretty special too, being in my first All-Star Game and being in the locker room with greats, like [John] Stockton and [Clyde] Drexler and all those guys, that was pretty cool too.

You’re the face of the NBA, is that kind of (indiscernible)?
KOBE BRYANT: What does that even mean? The face of the NBA depends on who likes who, right? There are certain fans that like Steph [Curry], there are certain fans that like KD [Kevin Durant], there are certain fans — it’s all a matter of perspective. I guess it’s who do you like and that’s the story you create.

Are you the face?

KOBE BRYANT: If I was the face for you, then that would make me the face.

Some days ago you had your last game against Dirk Nowitzki, and you called him the Michael Jordan of our generation. Can you talk about your relationship with Dirk and your memories you will always have?

KOBE BRYANT: Dirk and I have always had a great relationship because we’re both extremely competitive. Also both extremely loyal to our teams.

I’ll tell you a story about Dirk. He was up for free agency, and I knew what his response was going to be. But out of respect, everybody’s looking around at all these free agents, I felt I’d shoot you a text, if you want to come to L.A. He goes, I would love to play with you, but Dallas is my home. This is my team. I’m not leaving here. So he and I think a lot alike in that regard.

Photo: Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

 

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