"Right now we've really figured out how to bond together as a group. True chemistry is built through adversity. It's tough because it could cut either way. It seems to have brought us together."
--Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers, in an interview prior to last season (October 2013).
And the adversity just keeps coming. Many people have predicted another losing season for the Los Angeles Lakers, who have lost the first five games of the 2014-2015 NBA season. Though, Bryant, their leader, returns after two injury-plagued season, the team is not expected to return to the Lakers' typical place as an elite, championship-contending playoff team. Nevertheless, despite it being early in the season, Bryant has displayed an unexpected and surprising level of maturity in his reaction to the losses.
“I know him and I know he’ll stay professional about it,” Clippers forward Matt Barnes, who spent two seasons with the Lakers, said of Bryant. “You always want to see someone who’s had a historical career go out in the right way, but it doesn’t look like it’s going to happen that way. It’s going to be a long season for him.”
“They still take his lead,” Clippers Coach Doc Rivers said of Bryant. “He gives that team toughness, he gives them resolve. I guarantee you, whether they play well or not, they’re not going to be a team that gives in, because Kobe never gives in.”
“You have to be able to assert yourself, especially on a team I’m playing on,” Bryant said. “I don’t want chumps and I don’t want pushovers. If you’re a chump and you’re a pushover, I will run over you. And so it’s important for them to have that toughness and to say ‘I believe in myself. I can step up and make these plays, I can perform.’ I think that’s very important.”
“Absolutely,” he said. “A lot more teaching. A lot more communication as opposed to the players we had in the past. Here it’s really kind of teaching, how to get things down, how to deal with the emotional roller coasters that take place throughout the course of games, the challenge of things and figuring things out.”
"Lakers fans know it's a process. Things can turn pretty quickly. We've seen it there before. If there is anything we're relying on, we're relying on our history, what we've been able to accomplish and how quickly we are able to turn things around."
"I've enjoyed a great amount of success here. You can't just enjoy the successful times and then run away from the bad ones. No, I don't even think about [departing]. I'm a Laker."