After a restful summer the Lakers star and NBA Finals MVP checked in from training camp to discuss off-season moves and his new hobby
Dan Patrick: Would you rather watch postseason baseball or postseason football?
Kobe Bryant: I'm sorry I didn't catch that. The guys around here are talking too loud.
DP: Well, you're the leader. Tell them to shut up. Is it [Ron] Artest? You don't want to tell him to shut up.
KB: I pick my battles. I try to save my yelling for during the game.... But I'd rather watch postseason football.
DP: You got T'd up by the replacement refs in a preseason game. Are you testing them?
KB: Nah, that was really ... comical. I didn't say anything that really merited a technical.
DP: What'd you say?
KB: Something like, "Damn."
DP: That's it?
KB: Yeah, but, you know, they're kind of jumpy right now.
DP: Does that make you nervous? Replacement refs aren't quite sure who the personalities are and what they normally get away with.
KB: I don't think it's a big deal. You gotta understand the position that they're in. It's a big stage. You just have to make your adjustments.
DP: Were you looking forward to maybe [Shane] Battier joining [the Lakers] instead of Artest? Doesn't Battier give you a little more trouble?
KB: They're both great defenders, but I love Ron. I'm happy that he's here.
DP: How does that change the defense? Who's going to guard the big scorer?
KB: He's obviously stronger than I am, has a bigger body than I do. I'm quicker, so we'll probably just mix our game plan up accordingly and play to each other's strengths.
DP: Of all the moves in the off-season, aside from Ron's coming to your team, what's one that you took notice of and said, "Uh-oh, that could be interesting"?
KB: Sheed [Rasheed Wallace] to Boston. I thought that was a great pickup for them.... [And] Anthony Parker to Cleveland, I think, is going to be a big move for them.
DP: The Shaq move got all the headlines, though.
KB: Yeah, it's always the glue guys, though. Those are the moves that win championships. For example, last year, [the Lakers'] picking up Trevor Ariza, Shannon Brown. Those acquisitions made a huge difference for us.
DP: What did you do on your summer vacation?
KB: I tried to play golf. Myself and Donovan [McNabb], we tried to play golf, and we were absolutely horrendous. The hole is, like, 400 yards away, and I'm hitting grounders halfway to it.
DP: But you're one of the great athletes in the world.
KB: That has nothing to do with it.
DP: You don't think athleticism factors into it? [Laughs.]
KB: No. Especially when there's this 70-year-old guy in front of you who's hitting the ball 400 yards right to the [green].
DP: When you were at Lamar Odom's wedding, at any point did you say, "God, I could be getting Punk'd here"?
KB: No. [Laughs.] Come on, the dude is happy.
DP: What'd you get him?
KB: I haven't gotten him anything yet.
DP: Is he registered some place?
KB: No, he wasn't registered anywhere, so that makes it a little difficult.
DP: You got him a championship ring. That's enough, isn't it?
KB: It should be. [Laughs.]
During Dwight Howard's whirlwind off-season, the Magic center toured Africa for Basketball Without Borders, visited China (above) and made cameos in two romantic comedies, Just Wright and Valentine's Day. Howard's head was spinning so much that he couldn't even remember which knockout appeared with him in Valentine's Day. "Jessica Alba or Jessica Biel," he told me. "One of them. I really don't remember. I wish they were both in it." Wishes come true, Dwight: Both are in the flick.
Heisman candidate Colt McCoy may not even be the best quarterback in his family. The Texas star told me that the title should go to his brother, Case, who recently threw six TD passes for Graham (Texas) High—and who McCoy says is going to Texas. When I asked Colt what would happen if Case chose to be a Sooner instead of a Longhorn, he said what everyone in burnt orange wanted to hear: "He wouldn't even be thinking about that."
Line of the week
Charlie Sheen once bought the tickets to an entire section at an Angels game in hopes of catching a home run ball. But now that he's the father of twins, he knows his days of seeing full games are through: "Highlights are for parents with young children."
Now Hear This
Listen to the podcasts at danpatrick.com/interviews
1. Kyle Orton discusses the surprising, undefeated Broncos.
2. Mark Loretta on the worst part of playoff heroics: pileups.
THE FINE PRINT: The NFL Network has a RedZone Channel devoted to teams' drives inside the opponents' 20. Great. Another blackout in Oakland.
MICHAEL J. LEBRECHT II/1DEUCE3 PHOTOGRAPHY (PATRICK)
CHEN HE/CHINAFOTOPRESS/ZUMA PRESS (HOWARD)
CHRIS PIZZELO/AP (SHEEN)
BOB ROSATO (BRYANT)