Basketball star Kobe Bryant (of the Los Angeles Lakers) has a new spread in LA Times Magazine and he’s wearing all white everything and looks VERY suspect (How YOU doin’ Kobe?) in the majority of these pictures. And is it just us or does his make-up (especially in the first shot above) look like the local funeral home did it? Check out a few pics (and excerpts from the interview) below and when you continue reading…

Tom Murray: I have to ask, When you’re in that chopper, do you ever look down on the city, pinch yourself and say—
Kobe Bryant: How the hell did this happen? Absolutely—every time. Like I’m sitting here right now. [Nods toward the two ladies primping him.] You know what I mean? This is dream s–t. Wardrobe that’s all white? This just doesn’t happen. Not for me. This is crazy.

You’re very relaxed. Of course, we’re talking as you’re getting a manicure and a facial before you have your makeup put on. Is this a side of your personality you’d like more people to see?
I think people, especially here in Los Angeles, are starting to understand me a lot more in terms of what I’m like personality-wise. I’m relaxed, laid back, pretty funny, smartass. I like having a good time.

But people don’t often see that.
When they turn on the TV or go to a game, that’s not the side of me they want anyway. They want to win a championship, and that ain’t gonna get it done. [Laughs.] Know what I’m saying? Most of the time when they see me, I’m in that golden armor. We all have different personalities. The competition and the nastiness part of it, that’s a part of my personality, too, you know? It just depends on what environment I’m in.

You take heat because of your demeanor in postgame interviews, especially if you lost.
Well, everybody gets upset. But if I’m being short, I’m being short. It’s not like I’m telling people to go F-off. It is what it is. At the end of the day, you play to win. I do whatever it takes to get my team in the best position of winning, and when it’s over, we’re celebrating again with another parade—then everybody is happy.

But wouldn’t it benefit you if the media in L.A. saw this side of your personality more?
It probably wouldn’t be helpful for them, because they have to write and sell stories. And you can’t have everybody saying positive things all the time. It’s just not going to work, even though this is, like, my city when it comes to sports, you know what I mean? You gotta have people on one side of the fence and people on the other. If not, the story’s not compelling. The people who truly know me know what I’m like. There have been people who try to say things that aren’t fair, and I check them. And then they don’t like me because I checked them.

When you say check them, what do you mean?
Call them out. I’m not going to be a pushover. If I’m going to talk to you, I’m going to talk to you respectfully. I’m comfortable in my own skin. If I’m upset, I’m upset—write about it. If I’m happy, I’m happy—write about it. I’m gonna just be me, and let them report what they’re gonna report.

Do you think about your basketball mortality at all—that one day you won’t be able to do everything you can now?
I feel invincible out there, but it’s a different kind of invincible than when I was younger. Can I jump over two or three guys like I used to? No. Am I as fast as I used to be? No, but I still have the fundamentals and smarts. That’s what enables me to still be a dominant player. As a kid growing up, I never skipped steps. I always worked on fundamentals because I know athleticism is fleeting.

Have you thought about what you’d do after your playing career that would get the juices flowing as much as basketball?
The game…there’s beauty in it. The motivation comes from wanting to do it the best way you can. So whatever endeavor or field I decide to go into after I play, I’m going to approach it with the same discipline.

Do you think it might be in the game?
Hmmm, never say never. But coaching, managing, stuff like that—I seriously, seriously doubt that. Heavily doubt it.

Why so emphatic?
I don’t really have any interest. Me going into that would definitely increase my frustrations. But part of my personality is I’m infinitely curious. And finding something else that could get my juices flowing—that’s a bigger challenge.


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