Kobe Bryant is a five-time NBA champion who described himself as “pissed” with regard to how the 2010-11 version of his team has played as of late. But even a recent skid won’t stop one of the game’s best players from discussing his feelings for Cavalier coach Byron Scott, whose skid is considerably worse than the one out in Los Angeles.
“Byron was my mentor when I came into the league,” said Bryant following Wednesday afternoon’s shootaround. “I have a special affinity toward him.”
The two men – separated by more than 16 years of age - were on the same roster during Bryant’s first year in the league; Scott was in his 13th and ultimately last year in the league after stints with both the Indiana Pacers and Vancouver Grizzlies. The two players averaged close to seven points per game, a mark Bryant would double during his sophomore campaign.
Scott’s first season with the Cavaliers is well-documented, having taken over a team in considerable turmoil and subsequently rattling off an NBA-record 26 straight losses between December 19th and February 11th. There have been many discussions about his job security and if his methods resonate well with players, but Bryant assured anyone who would listen that this season (with the Cavs sitting at 9-46 on the year) is undeniably burning Scott inside.
“He’s competitive as hell,” said Bryant of Scott. “This is killing him.”
The 13-time All-Star gladly deflected any discussion about the Lakers’ recent loss to the Charlotte Bobcats. With his team is in the midst of a pair of games that has seen the defending NBA champions be outscored by a combined 34 points, escaping the national focus of a potential Hollywood Apocalypse was greeted with open arms.
Once the discussion changed from the past events to those that exist immediately ahead, Bryant opened up about the upcoming game against the Cleveland Cavaliers. When these two teams met mid-January, the Lakers handed the Cavs what was easily their worst loss of the season as “the diff” was -55 when it was all said and done.
Bryant, however, was kind enough to give the Wine and Gold the benefit of the doubt as the team that played on January 11 was forced to give undrafted rookie Manny Harris 41 minutes of play due to an injured backcourt that was without Anthony Parker and Daniel Gibson.
“They have guys back that are healthy now,” Bryant told the media on Wednesday afternoon. “When we played them [in January], they were missing their core. Now they have Parker back, Gibson, Mo Williams, these guys are good players so tonight should be different.”
By “different,” Bryant means that he expects the Cavaliers to shoot considerably better than 29 percent from the floor and not turning the ball over 19 times compared to only 12 assists. Whether or not the difference is large enough to result in a Cavaliers win remains to be seen.