COSTA MESA, Calif. — On Friday morning, before departing for Angel Stadium for their final practice this week, the Eagles had a special guest address the team.
This person is a self-proclaimed “neurotic” Eagles fan. He gets nervous before every game; when he’s watching at home, he’ll stay in one spot as long as the Eagles are doing well, but move to another area if things start to go sideways.
His name? Kobe Bryant.
“I was on cloud nine,” Bryant said, standing in front of the team hotel as the team buses pulled away. “Walk in, see all the green—good green, not that Celtic green. Good-guy green. It felt good to be able to talk to them.”
The five-time NBA champion and 18-time All-Star was born in Philadelphia and has maintained his Eagles allegiances. The Eagles are staying in Orange County, near where Bryant lives, during their back-to-back road games on the West Coast—last week in Seattle and this Sunday against the Rams at the L.A. Coliseum. Bryant drove up to the team hotel around 10:30 a.m. PT and spent about 30 minutes talking to the team and answering questions. Bryant drew on his own championship experience speaking to a 10-2 Eagles team that tied for the best record in the NFC.
“Detail,” Bryant said, when asked about his main message. “There will be a lot of hype, a lot of talk, especially going into the postseason. You can’t let that affect you. … Focus on the detail and the small little things, how to execute, execute, execute. Go over those things so much, and download them so much in your mind, that when you step out on the field to perform you can forget about them, because they’re just naturally there. That was the big message.”
Bryant said he was not superstitious as a player, but he has been so superstitious about his Eagles this season that he’s been wary to even talk about them. “I don’t want to jinx anything,” he said. Part of the reason is that he sees something special in this team, something he experienced on Lakers championship teams of his own.
“I think the character of this team is special, and that’s what wins championships, is the character of the team, the spirit of the team,” Bryant said. “You have certain moments when you go up and down, but when the spirit of the team is a strong one, it’s a collective one, then you have something that’s really special. Fingers crossed.”
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