Evans Clinchy
Thursday April 26th, 2012

Los Angeles Lakers captain Kobe Bryant is an admirer of Blake Griffin, star of the cross-town rival L.A. Clippers, but he does have one bone to pick with the super-athletic young big man -- he says Blake needs to stand up for himself when opposing teams dish out hard fouls.

"At some point, you have to protect yourself," Bryant told ESPN Los Angeles. "I've had to do it many times in my career. I've seen [Shaquille O'Neal] do it many times, too. Some guys you just don't mess with.

"I saw Shaq crack somebody his first year. I did it my first few years. Sometimes people feel like they can take advantage of you, they hit you and this, that, and the other. Sometimes you have to say, 'Look, you're not going to do this to me. I'll take two games, but you're not going to put my health at risk by injuring me potentially. It's not going to happen.'"

Griffin has made fast enemies in the NBA because of his propensity for humiliating opposing bigs with huge dunks -- debatably, he's also drawn some ire for flopping to bait officials and complaining when the calls don't go his way. In any event, teams are doling out the punishment, and Bryant is no stranger to that treatment.

In Griffin's shoes, Bryant said, he'd do something about it. "I'd smack the f--- out of somebody," Bryant said. "I've known him for a while, and he's a really nice guy, so I don't know if he'd want to do that. But I would. I would've done it early in the year."

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