In Leanest of Lakers Times, Kobe Bryant Finds Meaning in Process, Not Results

LOS ANGELES — Kobe Bryant won, but he wasn't too happy about it.

It was evident in the matter-of-fact way he walked off the Staples Center court Sunday night amid gold streamers in the background, in the muted manner in which he plowed through the task of answering postgame questions about the Los Angeles Lakers shaking the winless monkey off them.

"You've got to start somewhere," Bryant said upon the Lakers reaching 1-5.

Given how little has gone well for the Lakers and how much Bryant aligns himself with winning, were you surprised that Bryant didn't savor the 107-92 victory over the Charlotte Hornets more? After all, just a week and a half ago, after the Lakers dropped to 0-2, Bryant considered his health and then said, "I enjoy playing, but the fun is when you win."

So why wasn't it more fun for him to win this first game?

For as many games as Bryant has won and lost, and considering the spotlight has shone down so long on him that he has seen his hair come and go, it's remarkable that the outcomes can still unveil new aspects to him.

Maybe not so much new aspects as just clarifying which aspects are the ones he holds most dear.

Bryant's choices aren't all the right ones, but the reason he has such unwavering support from his sect of fans is this: Just like the "code hero" of Ernest Hemingway's books, Bryant the basketball player has rules he lives by—to the extent that Kobe has become a character who shows Hemingway-like honor in fighting and persevering in the face of pressure, danger and deficit.

Some misinterpret Bryant's code as a win-at-all-costs mentality, because it is largely like that during the games, but it's far more of a never-say-die attitude.

Before the winning comes the trying.

And we're being reminded now that what is more important to Bryant than winning championships is staying true to the ...

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