There have been a lot of weird things going on in the sports world recently. You know what’s not weird? The fact that Kobe Bryant claims he’s never lost a game of one-on-one, grudges Shaq for holding him back at the beginning of his career, pumps his own gas and absolutely hates dog poop.
We know all this because ESPN the Magazine‘s Chris Palmer conducted an interview with the Black Mamba, one in which Bryant was extremely candid and extremely Kobe. 17-21? What 17-21? It doesn’t seem the 17-year vet has a care in the world for records, just his one-on-one prowess and Quentin Tarantino. Here are a few highlights.
Why have you only won one MVP?
Because I played with Shaq. It’s that simple. A lot of the time we cancelled each other out. I sacrificed a lot playing with him. I really did. I did it for the success of the team. If I never played with him, my numbers would have been ridiculous.
Yep, those first three rings must suck big time.
What was it like dropping 33 on him as a 19-year-old in your second year?
I wasn’t scared or nervous back then when I played Jordan. He looked at me like he was going to f— me up but I had to let him know that I wasn’t that guy. I let him know that I’m not like all those other guys he played against. That’s not what I was there for. I was there to compete and I did.
Never gets scurred, not even of MJ.
You were a young brash rookie that many vets weren’t too fond of. I can’t imagine people didn’t try to test you.
Oh yeah, they tried. During my rookie year we were in Portland and I drove the lane, and Rasheed Wallace knocked me to the ground and stared at me. He tried to f— me up but I wasn’t going to have it. I got right back up and drove even harder the next time. I really let people know early that I wasn’t the guy you could do that to.
Is it hard to be your teammate?
No. That’s so overrated. If you come in ready to work, then we’re good. Then we don’t have a problem.
Except if you’re Shaq and you do all the things.
You versus LeBron? Who wins?
Me. No question. As far as one-on-one, I’m the best to ever do it.
Damn. That’s pretty confident.
LeBron is a terrific all-around, five-on-five basketball player who’s an all-time great. But I’d get him.
Who could get you?
Kevin Durant is the guy that would give me the most trouble. With his length and ability to use the dribble, he’d be tough.
Can we make that happen? Please?
When was the last time you pumped your own gas?
Yesterday. I do all of life’s daily tasks. The other day my wife and I stopped at 7-Eleven and I pulled up to the pump and I started to pump some gas. She went inside to buy something and was waiting in line. The guy in front of her sees me outside but doesn’t see her. He says, “Man, there’s Kobe Bryant pumping his own gas.” My wife says to the guy, “He wipes his own ass, too.”
She came back out and we had a big laugh about it. We both have the same sense of humor when it comes to stuff like that. But, yeah, I do the same things as everyone else.
Kobe Bryant: Ass-wiper.
What do you do when you can’t sleep?
Sometimes I take an Ambien. But if my mind is racing, I may get up and do something. The other night I was in my hotel room and couldn’t sleep, so I got up and went across the street to see “Django [Unchained].”
What did you think?
It was genius. Absolutely incredible. Everything by Quentin Tarantino usually is, but this took it to another level. It’s the way he tells a story and the kind of characters he creates. It was crazy violent, but the story is so strong and that’s what you remember.
Imagine you are the kind of person who sees Quentin Tarantino movies in the middle of the night and the only other person in the theater with you is Kobe Bryant. I’d listen to that story.
Who would play you in a movie about your life?
I don’t know. That’s a tough one.
What about Samuel Jackson? You cuss like him.
[Sheepish smile.] That would be something. [Does a brief PG-rated Sam Jackson impression.]
[Sheepish smile] is my new favorite interview answer. Anyway, THE MONEYMAKER:
What’s your biggest pet peeve?
I hate dog s—. I won’t go near it. So pissed when I step in it. I’ve got four dogs and I just don’t do dog doo. I’m a diva when it comes to that. Back in the day when I was in Italy, I used to order shoes from Nike all the time. I had to have all the fresh joints. I ordered the Elephant Print Jordans that were amazing. I went to the park to play and stepped in a huge pile of dog s—. You wouldn’t believe how mad I was. I was breaking off sticks to try to get it out of the crevices. I smacked them together and scraped the soles on the curb but couldn’t get it all out. Ever since that day I just can’t stand dog crap.
“Dog crap.” Either Kobe’s just a totally normal dude, or used the world’s greatest metaphor.
[ESPN, Getty Images]