x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Bryant's will to win is the key to Lakers' success

Hype around the series, rivalry with Celtics and media attention do not matter for taskmaster who is focused on a fifth NBA title.

The Lakers guard Kobe Bryant dunks the ball in the second half as Celtics forward Kevin Garnett looks on.
The Lakers guard Kobe Bryant dunks the ball in the second half as Celtics forward Kevin Garnett looks on.

Kobe Bryant was succinct as he left the court following his team's victory in Game 1 of the NBA finals on Friday. Addressing the global television audience, Bryant explained why he was so focused: "Nothing else matters at this point. Media attention, the hype around the series, it doesn't matter at all."

Not particularly gregarious at the best of times, the Los Angeles Lakers star has been even more withdrawn this year. Before the finals started, reporters asked Bryant if he was looking forward to the rematch with the Boston Celtics, the team that had defeated the Lakers in the 2008 finals. Bryant could not have appeared more sincere in displaying his disinterest. Of course, there is an obvious absurdity in a competitor such as Bryant downplaying the fact that he does not relish the opportunity to revenge his club's loss to the Celtics, when these same Celtics beat the Lakers in 2008 as though they were a bunch of rented mules.

Bryant's take: "I don't give a damn about it." As he chases his fifth NBA title, and attempts to edge closer to Michael Jordan's six championships, he does so with an eerie cool. He has also become his team's taskmaster, keeping his teammates focused on the job at hand. Pau Gasol, Bryant's Spanish teammate, was asked if he would be watching Rafael Nadal, his fellow Spaniard, in the French Open men's tennis final today. Gasol began to suggest that he would be getting up early to watch Nadal before Bryant interrupted and said that Gasol would be resting.

The Spaniard quickly changed his tune, saying: "I definitely need my rest for sure, and then I'll just see the stats." If the Lakers win the championship, a great deal will be attributed to Bryant's prodigious talent. As the past few weeks have demonstrated, perhaps a great deal more significance should be given to Bryant's indefatigable will to win. @Email:sports@thenational.ae