This is an article from the April 16, 2012 issue
At 33, Kobe Bryant leads the NBA at 28.1 points per game and is on pace for his highest-scoring season since 2007--08
DAN PATRICK:Did you guys tease your teammate Pau Gasol after Blake Griffin posterized him last week?
KOBE BRYANT: You have to. That's the kind of group we have. You have to have thick skin. We were teasing him during the next timeout.
DP:What did you say to him?
KB: I said, "Listen, man, it's just two points.... Pau, just go out there and do your job. You're not going to do anything flashy, but you're gonna wear 'em out on the block. [And] we're all going to tease you after the game."
DP:Are the Clippers more style than substance?
KB: They're still trying to find their way, to figure out how they're going to play with each other and win down the stretch. Those are things that we don't have to do.
DP:Did it bother you that the Clippers seemed to be the darling of L.A. early in the season?
KB: We used that as motivation. We hadn't been in the position of underdog during our championship runs. Last year at this time we were on a 17--1 stretch.
DP:You guys have gone through so much this season, and it's not even the playoffs.
KB: Isn't it crazy? It's one of the beauties of playing in Los Angeles. There always seems to be a story. We have a mature enough group that we can withstand those types of things. It's become old hat.
DP:What did you think when you heard Phil Jackson might coach again?
KB: Every time there's a coaching vacancy his name's going to come up no matter what. He could be the greatest coach of all time in any sport.
DP:Can you see Phil coaching the Knicks?
KB: I know he's enjoying his retirement. Right now, it's hard for me to see him back on the sideline.
DP:How long did it take you to realize you were playing for possibly the greatest coach in basketball history?
KB: We knew right away. The way he handles the game is different from any coach I've ever seen. He coaches philosophies. They're about basketball, but they're also about life. It carries over outside the lines. I've never seen another coach who was able to do that.
DP:Are we being fair to Mike Brown in his first season as the Lakers' coach?
KB: It's a tough spot to come in [with] a group that's been raised by Phil. [Brown] works extremely hard at it. He's open to listening to the group because he understands [we've] been through a lot.
DP:Who's your favorite for the MVP?
KB: It's the usual suspects: [Kevin] Durant and LeBron [James]. The way they've been playing is phenomenal.
DP:Oklahoma City's Russell Westbrook will get some votes as well.
KB: Westbrook ... he's got a lot of engine in him.
DP:Are you a Dodgers fan now that Magic owns the team?
KB: I'm a Yankees fan.
DP:What kind of baseball player would you have been?
KB: Not very good.
KB: The curveball would have twisted me all up.
GUEST SHOTS SAY WHAT?
Former Suns G.M. Steve Kerr said there's no question that Kentucky big man Anthony Davis will be the first pick if he enters the NBA draft. "If you think about how skilled he is at 19," Kerr told me, "it's really easy to project him as a perennial MVP-type player—like [Kevin] Garnett or [Tim] Duncan." ... MLB Network analyst and former big league second baseman Harold Reynolds wouldn't have predicted that the Rockies' Jamie Moyer would still be pitching at 49: "We played together in 1993 in Baltimore, and I thought he was done then." ... Fox's Tim McCarver thinks the $2.15 billion price tag for the Dodgers will help every team in the league. "That price was the most positive thing that's happened for baseball since free agency in 1976," McCarver said.... CBS's Jim Nantz insists he doesn't try to be reverential when calling the Masters. "People think you create some sort of golf voice," Nantz said. "You just do what the setting delivers. When I talk [during] a golf tournament, that's how I sound."