ASPIRING TWO-TIME THREE-PEATER
The Lakers guard, now 32, picked up a fifth championship ring on Oct. 26 and has averaged 24.0 points in his first three games—all wins
Dan Patrick: When's the last time you were 100% physically?
Kobe Bryant: I'm getting close now. If I hit 100% in a week or so, that would probably be the first time in, hmmm, probably since before I had facial hair.
DP: What always hurts?
DP: After a game?
DP: After everything Miami did, I still like you guys to win the championship.
KB: Oh, good. Thank you. We'll have a different team than we did last year. We made some pretty significant additions—obviously not as explosive as what they did in Miami. We're happy with bringing in Matt [Barnes], [Steve] Blake and Theo [Ratliff].
DP: How tough is it to bring in someone who was a nemesis, maybe someone you jawed with, like Matt?
KB: It's easy for me. It's all about competition. You want guys who are competitive. You don't want guys who quit or roll over. You can't win a championship with those guys. It's fun for me to have Matt here. And Blake as well. Blake and I have had our battles. It makes practice more interesting.
DP: When's the last time the word retirement came up in conversation?
KB: Last night, when I said I was going to retire to bed early.
DP: Well done. What about your career?
KB: This is the first time.
DP: Right now, this is the first time you've talked about retirement.
KB: This is a first.
DP: Who's going to retire first: you or Phil?
DP: Phil's going to coach next year too, isn't he?
KB: I hope so. I honestly didn't think he was going to come back this year. It's not like he's thirsty for rings here.
DP: Can't he give one to Jeanie [Buss]?
KB: Jeanie has a bunch of rings too.
DP: No, no. Like another ring.
KB: You mean a wedding ring. You know what? That's a whole other can of worms that I don't dare open [laughs]. That's two grown-ass people, man. They can do whatever they want.
DP: How long do you have left?
KB: Who really knows? I guess when it hits me, I'll know.
DP: Is it your body that will tell you, or your mind?
KB: You want to be able to make that decision independent of your body. I'd like to be able to make the decision based on whether or not I want to retire.
DP: Michael Jordan ended his career with the Bulls with a championship shot, and then he just couldn't sit there idle and came back with the Wizards. Could you ever see a scenario where you announce your retirement and then say, I'm having second thoughts?
KB: You see so many players do it that it's tough to say you won't go through that, because obviously everybody does go through that. And that's the point where you have your family handcuff you to a chair.
DP: What are you going to do with the rest of your life?
KB: I'm just going to lay around.
DP: No you won't.
KB: I'm going to be a beached whale.
DP: You'll get fat?
KB: I'll get chunky.
• Trophy Talk
As a past winner of the award, Alabama running back Mark Ingram has a Heisman Trophy vote. So how does the 2009 winner (who has rushed for 544 yards this year) feel about the candidacy of Auburn's Cam Newton? I asked Ingram if he could cast his vote for a player from 'Bama's biggest rival. "If he's the best, and [he] has been the best so far, I wouldn't have a problem," Ingram told me. "I'm a real person, and I can't hate on the man."
• Express Stop
Rangers president Nolan Ryan told me before Game 5 of the World Series that the team hadn't opened contract talks with free-agent-to-be Cliff Lee. "Our policy here is to wait until we're through playing," he said. If Texas loses its ace, could the 63-year-old Ryan—who threw gas on the ceremonial first pitch before Game 3—step in? "I certainly would try," Ryan laughed when I asked if he could give the Rangers an inning. "But I don't know that anyone would like the results."
• Line of the week
FoxSports.com columnist Jason Whitlock explained why LeBron James may be making some questionable decisions:
"He's got Harvard problems, and he's got community college friends giving him advice."
THE FINE PRINT:Madden 11 is the most realistic version of the NFL yet. After March 1 you can get locked out of your PlayStation.
Now Hear This
Listen to the podcasts at danpatrick.com/interviews
1. LaMichael James on Oregon's high-powered offense.
2. Will Ferrell discusses Giants closer Brian Wilson's beard.
MICHAEL J. LEBRECHT II/1DEUCE3 PHOTOGRAPHY (PATRICK)
GARY BOGDON (NEWTON)
JOHN AMIS/AP (WHITLOCK)
JOHN W. MCDONOUGH (BRYANT)