OKLAHOMA CITY – A determined Kobe Bryant vowed early Tuesday that the window has not closed on his chances to win another championship with the Lakers, saying in the aftermath of a second consecutive second-round elimination that “Come hell or high water, we’re going to be there again.”
“It’s kind of unfamiliar territory,” Bryant said after midnight and after the Thunder beat the Lakers 106-90 on Monday night at Chesapeake Energy Arena and 4-1 in the series. “I’m really not used to it. It’s pretty odd for me. I’m not the most patient of people and the organization’s not extremely patient either. We want to win and win now. I’m sure we’ll figure it out. We always have and I’m sure we will again.”
Pressed about being a veteran team that had just been knocked out of the playoffs by the youthful Thunder, Bryant said: “I’m not fading into the shadows, if that’s what you’re asking. I’m not going anywhere.”
“The entire team…” a reporter began the follow-up question.
“We’re not going anywhere,” Bryant interrupted. “It’s not one of those things where the Bulls beat the Pistons and the Pistons disappeared forever. I’m not going for that (stuff).”
But what do the Lakers need to catch up to the Thunder?
“I don’t know,” Bryant said. “It’s a similar question somebody asked earlier. It’s tough to really process (so soon) exactly what we need with improvements and what area we need to improve on. But that’s something that we’ll definitely think through and we’ve really been great at as an organization. Mitch (Kupchak, the general manager) has really done a phenomenal job this past decade in building title teams pretty quickly. We just have to do it again.”