It has been three years since the Lakers defeated the Celtics in Game 7 of the 2010 NBA Finals, but Kobe Bryant wanted to talk to Dave McMenamin of ESPNLA about the team’s loss to the Celtics in the 2008 finals.
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In 2008, the Celtics traded for Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen during the off-season, and the Lakers were embarrassed by Boston in Game 6 of the 2008 Finals, with the finals score of 131-92. Bryant spoke to McMenamin how about that loss changed him:
“I think it was just me figuring out how I want to lead. It was a different role for me. I had to put on a different hat after the me and Shaq (Shaquille O’Neal) era. You kind of had to figure out the balance. Me kind of being a taskmaster when Shaq was here and him being the easy-going guy, in 2008 I went too far on the opposite end of the spectrum. We wound up having a team that wasn’t emotionally tough enough or contentious enough to take down these Celtics.”
Since the defeat to the Celtics in 2008, Bryant led the Lakers to two championships in 2009 and 2010 as he changed his style of leadership for the greater good of the team. With young players like Andrew Bynum, Sasha Vujacic and Jordan Farmar, Kobe was more vocal and looked to teach rather than yell at his teammates.
Bryant’s admission that he was too tough on his teammates and that he struggled to find that balance of criticizing and praising shows how far he’s come since he came into the league in 1996.
It’s not easy being Bryant’s teammate as he expects everything from you and won’t use anything as an excuse, but it’s clear he understood that he needed to change his leadership ways.
While watching the Celtics dump Gatorade on head coach Doc Rivers was difficult to watch for Lakers fans, the loss made Bryant into the leader he is today, and the reason two more banners hang from the rafters in Staples Center.
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