BOSTON — Kobe Bryant has never had to endure a total, top-down rebuild with the Los Angeles Lakers, although he may be close to going through one soon. Somehow, he has managed to maintain a sense of humor.
At TD Garden on Friday to support his teammates after a visit to Boston College in the afternoon, Bryant was asked how he thought Rajon Rondo, the lone holdover from the Celtics’ last two NBA Finals clashes with the Lakers, would hold up during the Celtics’ current rebuilding process. Bryant’s response was blunt.
“From what I understand, he’s an a–hole like me, so he’ll manage,” Bryant told reporters before the game.
Rondo, after notching eight points and four assists in 19 minutes, playfully shot back at Bryant afterward.
“That’s a great compliment, coming from Kobe,” Rondo said. “I feel the same way about him.”
Of course, there is no love lost between the Celtics and Lakers. Both teams are performing far below their traditional, powerhouse levels, but it was still a Celtics-Lakers matchup, even without the requisite Hall of Famers. Still, Bryant and Rondo were exchanging terms of endearment, not trading barbs, with their name-calling. It’s just sometimes hard to tell the difference between rivals.
“I think that’s what separates guys like Kobe and I,” Rondo said. “We’re great competitors. I don’t like to lose in anything I do, whether it’s on the court or off the court. I think that’s the way he approaches the game, or life.”