Kobe Bryant's appropriately passionate Facebook post from last weekend served as a reminder that the tendon gods haven't just deprived us of a star player this postseason—they've also removed from the spotlight basketball's most refreshingly honest and acerbic personality. In case you find yourself longing for a Kobe-ism during what is only the second playoffs since 1995-96 that won't include him, here are 16 of Mamba's finer sound bites.
"When I have the chance to guard Michael Jordan, I want to guard him. I want him. It's the ultimate challenge."
- Reportedly from December 1997
"The whole Michael thing does drive me nuts sometimes because people won't leave it alone. He's bald, I have hair. He's almost 40, I'm 22. Seriously though, I wish people would let it be and let me just be Kobe."
- From a 2001 interview with Basketball Digest
"I'm not changing my game whatsoever. I take good shots, hit the open man when he's there. I definitely don't need advice on how to play my game."
- From an October 26, 2003 LA Times story that explored the growing rift between Bryant and Shaq.
"I was just letting them fly ... You know I don't leave any bullets in the chamber.
- After Bryant tallied 48 points in a January 7, 2006 game against the 76ers. (Later in the interview Bryant told the reporter, who had been asking about his leggings, "You're looking at my legs too much. You've got serious problems.")
"Better learn not to talk to me. You shake the tree, a leopard's gonna fall out."
- Aimed at JR Smith, who had directed some choice words at Bryant during a 2008 Lakers-Nuggets playoff game. Kobe finished with 49 points and 10 assists.
"I baptized him. I turned him into a defensive player."
- Discussing Dwight Howard in May 2008
"Not bad for seventh best player in the league."
-After Bryant scored 48 points—the most-ever by a player in his 16th season—during a January 10, 2012 game against the Suns, he made sure ESPN knew how he felt about where they ranked him on their top-500-players list.
"I don’t give a [expletive] what you say. If I go out there and miss game winners, and people say, 'Kobe choked, or Kobe is seven for whatever in pressure situations.' Well, [expletive] you. Because I don’t play for your [expletive] approval."
-From a May 2012 interview with Yahoo! Sports
"The master and the future"
- July 7, 2012, on Facebook
“[Smush Parker is] the worst. He shouldn’t have been in the NBA but we were too cheap to pay for a point guard. So we let him walk on.”
- October 10, 2012, in an Orange Country Register story that reflected on the 2005-06 season
"Are you willing to push the right buttons even if it means being perceived as the villain? … I'd rather be perceived as a winner than a good teammate. I wish they both went hand in hand all the time but that's just not reality. … I have nothing in common with lazy people who blame others for their lack of success."
- October 13, 2012, on Facebook
- November 20, 2012, after an unidentified reporter asked Kobe if people would celebrate him if he, like Grinnell College's Jack Taylor, were to score 139 points in a game.
- While watching, on the seventh anniversary of his 81-point barrage, video of that game for the first time.
- In reference to Mark Cuban's comments days earlier that the Lakers should consider using their amnesty clause on Kobe after this season. Bryant went on to drop 38 points 12 rebounds and 7 assists in a win against the Mavs.
“It’s not like when Shaq and I were feuding. We didn’t want to be around each other. With me and Dwight, that’s just not the situation. It’s not like we’re best friends either, but it’s a good understanding I think.”
- In a March 10, 2013 interview with Michael Wilbon about a reported feud with Dwight Howard
- On March 11, 2013, directed at media members who were referring to Howard's return to Orlando as "emotional".