Lakers star Kobe Bryant facing prospect of seeing Superman again

LOS ANGELES — Kobe Bryant is staring down the prospect of sharing the court with Superman again. Only this time, it’s Dwight Howard and not Shaquille O’Neal who’s wearing the cape that Bryant wants to tug on.

Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant passes the ball to his teammate Derek Fisher

LOS ANGELES — Kobe Bryant is staring down the prospect of sharing the court with Superman again. Only this time, it’s Dwight Howard and not Shaquille O’Neal who’s wearing the cape that Bryant wants to tug on.

Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers will be trying to win their first NBA title without O’Neal when the finals open Thursday against Howard and the Orlando Magic.

They failed to do so last year, losing to Boston in a humiliating Game 6 defeat.

O’Neal was traded after Los Angeles lost the 2004 finals to Detroit, leaving Bryant the undisputed leader of a team that won three straight championships at the start of the decade. Bryant still bristles at implications he had something to do with that.

“People that really know basketball know that that stuff means nothing,” Bryant said Monday, deflecting questions on O’Neal. “It’s nonsensical actually. You want to win just to win it.”

Bryant, who turns 31 in August, is completing his 13th season. He kept to himself around his older teammates early in his career. Although he teamed with O’Neal to lead the Lakers to three straight championships, the two frequently zinged each publicly.

Adding a fourth NBA championship to the gold medal he helped the United States win at last year’s Beijing Olympics would burnish Bryant’s still developing legacy.

“You’re thankful to be in this position,” he said. “A lot of players never get to this position once in a career and I’ve been fortunate to be here for six times now. It’s been very, very lucky.”

Like O’Neal, Lakers coach Phil Jackson also departed after the 2003-04 season, and later wrote a book in which he called Bryant “uncoachable.” Jackson then returned after taking a season off and has had a seamless relationship with Bryant ever since.

But there have been big bumps in the road.

Bryant implored the Lakers to surround him with better players in the summer of 2007, then demanded a trade.

The team responded by adding Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol, and Los Angeles reached the finals last year for the first time since 2004. Bryant also won his first league MVP award a year ago.

Just Posted

Scares and chills await at haunted house in Red Deer

Zed Haunted House helps raise money for Boys and Girls Club of Red Deer District

PHOTO: Renewable Energy Fair at Red Deer College

The Renewable Energy Fair and Workshops event was held at Red Deer… Continue reading

PHOTOS: Red Deer College Queens host third annual Pink in the Rink game

Queens raised $12,035 for the Central Alberta Cancer Centre.

PHOTOS: The Mustard Seed CEO speaks at Seeds of Hope Gala in Red Deer

The first-ever Seeds of Hope Gala was held at the Red Deer… Continue reading

Person airlifted to hospital after collision near Innisfail

One person was airlifted to hospital after a serious collision west of… Continue reading

WATCH: Make-A-Wish grants Star Wars loving teen’s wish

The Make-A-Wish Foundation granted Anakin Suerink’s wish in Red Deer Saturday afternoon

Turkey to reveal details of probe into Khashoggi’s killing

ISTANBUL — In a sign of growing pressure on Saudi Arabia, Turkey… Continue reading

Utah truck driver is jailed without bond after crash kills 6

HEBER, Utah — A man suspected of driving under the influence remained… Continue reading

A ragged, growing army of migrants resumes march toward US

TAPACHULA, Mexico — A ragged army of Honduran migrants streamed through southern… Continue reading

Postal workers to begin strikes in 4 Canadian cities Monday if deal not reached

OTTAWA — The union representing 50,000 Canada Post employees says it will… Continue reading

Migrant caravan swells to 5,000, resumes advance toward US

CIUDAD HIDALGO, Mexico — Despite Mexican efforts to stop them at the… Continue reading

“I don’t feel real”: Mental stress mounting after Michael

PANAMA CITY, Fla. — Amy Cross has a hard time explaining the… Continue reading

Toronto residents set to vote Monday on the next four years of civic leaders

Toronto’s municipal election campaign, marked by unprecedented provincial interference, ends Monday when… Continue reading

Former PQ minister Lise Payette remembered as role model for female politicians

MONTREAL — Members from across Quebec’s political spectrum gathered at a downtown… Continue reading

Most Read