Kobe Bryant: Lakers’ Hearts Are in the Right Place Despite Struggles

OKLAHOMA CITY — Kobe Bryant doesn’t really want to take, and still can’t really make, a jump shot. 

Mike D’Antoni delivered an effective clear-the-air, unifying message to the team at the morning shootaround, then raved about Pau Gasol’s improvement, and the team still went on to a 25-point loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Gasol then pointed away from Oklahoma City and to the next game, against the 10-13 Charlotte Bobcats on Saturday, as the “big game.”

There’s your context for just how far the Los Angeles Lakers are from winning their next NBA championship.

But when I asked Bryant late Friday night if the Lakers’ 0-3 record and overall ugliness since he returned from his Achilles tendon rupture have detracted from what was supposed to be a joyous comeback, he brought up how far the Lakers are from something else.

“I’m not worried about it, to be honest with you,” Bryant said. “We’ve seen worse. I mean, we forget kind of what we had to go through last year. I’m not really too concerned about it. Our heart is in the right place.

“I saw a lot of positives. We’ve just got to put it together for longer stretches. We’ll be fine.”

The Lakers having their heart in the right place is a reference to Dwight Howard and all the insidiousness that limited them last season through their shockingly long, slow start. That team struggled so much just to make the smallest progress, and it was deeply frustrating for Bryant and Gasol, who know that a great team deals with conflicts and confusion quickly. 

Bryant and Gasol seeing former teammate Derek Fisher across the way in an Oklahoma City uniform brought back some of those memories of greater teams. Fisher, playing his final NBA season, is in a great position to break his tie with Bryan...

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