Kobe Bryant jokes to Jimmy Kimmel he will ‘unretire’ if Lakers go 0-5 with LeBron James, and reveals secret tap dancing lessons
- Los Angeles legend talks team issues on Jimmy Kimmel Live
- Bryant reveals he learned to tap dance to prolong NBA career
LeBron James has gone 0-3 at the start of his Los Angeles Lakers career, but help could soon be at hand if the team’s slump continues.
Lakers legend Kobe Bryant is doing the rounds on the media circuit to promote his new book Mamba Mentality and made an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live on Tuesday – and, inevitably, the question came up.
“How many games in a row would the Lakers have to lose for you to unretire and come back to the team. If we go to 20 you would think about it right?” host Kimmel asked.
“If they go 0-and-5 I’ll think about it,” Bryant said, laughing.
Kimmel then joked that James might just “tank” those games to get Bryant, who retired in 2016, back on the court.
James missed two free throws that would have put the Lakers up in overtime against San Antonio on Tuesday night, before the Spurs dealt Los Angeles a heartbreaking defeat on their home court.
That prompted plenty of comparisons to Bryant, who spent his entire 20-year career with the Lakers where he won five NBA championships.
Kobe’s former agent, Rob Pelinka, is general manager of the Lakers and overhauled the roster in the off-season – with three-time champion and four-time MVP James the star capture from his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers – but things haven’t been going to plan.
Bryant said he did not speak to James about coming to LA, but he did get in contact with owner Jeanie Buss in the summer.
“She wanted to get LeBron here, but LeBron’s not gonna come here if management isn’t figured out,” Bryant said.
“You have to make sure things are clean and focused going forward, not chaotic as it has been in years past, and she did that.
“I just sent her a nice little meme, or is it a gif, of [Game of Thrones character} Daenerys Targaryen, the ‘Mother of Dragons’.”
The 40-year-old admitted he does not get to watch the Lakers as much as he used too, because he is been too busy coaching his 12-year-old daughter Gianna’s school basketball team for the past year and a half.
“I’m enjoying retirement, it’s fun,” he said. “I watched the last eight minutes of the fourth quarter and overtime [against the Spurs], because my team, my girls we practise every night. I don’t get a chance to watch a game from start to finish.
“We try to teach the kids what excellence looks like. Some may wanna play in the WNBA, but we try to give them a foundation to prepare for what it takes to be excellent in whatever you choose to do.
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“So we’re here playing basketball, we’re gonna focus on details, learn the basics and fundamentals, do those things over and over. Hopefully that’s something they can apply to other areas in their life.”
Bryant also said Gianna dreams of playing in the WNBA.
“The best thing that happens is when we go out and fans come up to me, she’ll be standing next to me and they’ll be like, ‘Hey, you and V [his wife Vanessa] gotta have a boy, somebody to carry on your tradition, the legacy’,” Bryant said, smiling.
“She’s [Natalia] like, ‘Oi, I got this, ain’t no boy for that’. That’s right, yes you do, you got this.”
In one of the more bizarre revelations in Bryant’s new book, he revealed he learned to tap dance to help protect his ankles and prolong his career.
“It was kept secret for obvious reasons,” he joked, adding he had to get special tap shoes made. “I can’t really go to a store and be like, ‘Yo, I’ll take those size 14s.
“For one summer, for a year there, I could tell my feet to do this and they would actually do that. I don’t do it any more.
“My first class, I walked into the studio, there were all these six-year-olds and seven-year-olds. Straight up, man, studio in Santa Monica, these kids are looking at me like, ‘What’s this grown a** man doing here learning tap dancing?”