BOSTON — Kobe Bryant’s NBA career would be significantly different if the Boston Celtics weren’t involved.
The retiring Los Angeles Lakers star did some reminiscing before his final game in Boston on Wednesday night, and he reflected on how important the Lakers-Celtics rivalry was to his legacy. Namely, his loss to the C’s in the 2008 NBA Finals.
“For the second half of my career, it’s the most important piece because when we lost in 2008, that was the turn for me,” Bryant said. “That was when I was like, listen, I have to figure this leadership thing out by any means necessary. I can’t go through this. That was the turning point.”
In fact, Bryant says the loss in 2008 stands out more to him than when Los Angeles took the title over Boston two years later in 2010.
“The loss led to the win,” Bryant said. “I say that in the most beautiful way possible. I don’t remember the loss as like a painful experience, like a horrible experience. I remember it as a beautiful moment because it helped me find the best version of myself and my teammates. I just remember the beauty of it. At the time, not so much.”
It’s those kinds of moments that give Kobe little room for regret in his career. Because for him, even the bad moments led to better.
“Quite frankly, I think there’s always going to be something,” Bryant said. “Like if we’d have won in 2008, we probably wouldn’t have made the offseason acquisitions that we did that helped us win back-to-back championships (in 2009 and 2010). There’s always a give and take. So what I try to do is to look at all these things, try to pick up some of those lessons, and then carry them on to what I do next.”
Still, at the end of the day, Bryant knows his final night in Boston will be more important than the other legs of his farewell tour.
“I’ll gaze up a lot, I’ll look at the banners a lot,” Bryant said. “Kind of scan the crowd a lot and try to soak it all in as much as possible. Its always cool when I come here. I always look up into the rafters and always kind of scan the crowd and always appreciate the sea of green. I’ll be doing that quite a bit tonight. … This building is a place that really helped push me to win those two championships. This place has a lot of memories.”
Thumbnail photo via Jeremy Brevard/USA TODAY Sports Images
Thumbnail photo via Los Angeles Lakers forward Kobe Bryant waves to the fans after leaving the game late in the fourth quarter against the Charlotte Hornets at Time Warner Cable Arena.