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February 20, 2011

Kobe Bryant


West – 148
East - 143

Q. Kobe, you always say that you feed off criticism, so how do you feel about your performance tonight? Was that an answer to all of the criticism that you have been receiving the last week?
KOBE BRYANT: No, I could care less about the criticism. It's just all tonight was just me being around young players. You know, Westbrook -- you want to know the influence of Blake, look at all of the dunks I had tonight. No, just being around so many young players gave me so much energy to see them bouncing around and all that sort of stuff. Just reenergized me for the night but the fourth the quarter, man, I had nothing left. I exceeded my dunk quota for the game (laughing).

Q. Kobe, knowing that this is going to be your last All-Star Game here, was there any sentimental feelings or extra excitement to try to get the MVP?
KOBE BRYANT: No, not really. I wanted to come out and play hard, though. I feel like we have a sense of responsibility and we are voted in for what we do during the season, which is play hard. And we come here, that's what the fans want to see. They want to see us go at it and see us compete and that's what I try to do and that's what I try to tell my teammates to do.

Q. Did you have any idea you were flirting with the record?
KOBE BRYANT: Yeah, I did. I did. But I told you, those dunks took my legs out of it. That was it. That first dunk in particular (laughing).

Q. Not to twist your words or read too much into what you said, but being around young players energized you; that's not a statement about maybe you would like to see some young players on your team?
KOBE BRYANT: Wow. (Laughter) You know what, that's a bikram yoga stretch. You stretched the hell out -- good job. Good job. I'm not even going to answer that. That's just silly. (Laughter). Next.

Q. What was it like with the dunk over LeBron, can you talk about that one?
KOBE BRYANT: That was funny, actually, because I saw it coming and I wanted to see if I could avoid the LeBron chase down. But I told him afterwards, if I had tried to go over the rim, like get up, he probably would have blocked it with his armpit. So I just tried to be quick and just tried to time it up just the right way and I managed to do it, I kind of snuck it by him.

Q. Do you have a personal highlight tonight for you?
KOBE BRYANT: You know what, this whole time, being with the guys, that's been the most fun to me. Kind of being in the locker room and ribbing each other and just talking about the season and all sorts of stuff. That's been the most fun to me.

Q. Kobe, lots of talk on ESPN Radio about the NBA All-Star Game should be like Major League Baseball, where it should, quote, mean something, where the winner gets the final game or the home-field advantage in The Finals. Do you have any opinion on that?
KOBE BRYANT: And just discount the 82 regular-season games and base it all on one game? No, I think it's fine the way it is. It's a showcase. You can't take it over the top with seriousness and all that. It's a showcase for us to come out and perform and compete. Obviously the competition picks up in the fourth quarter. But I mean, this is fun. It's not something that's overly dramatic.

Q. Blake was saying he and Kevin Love were teasing a little bit about the rebounding. What were they saying about that?
KOBE BRYANT: I told them, I said, "I'm the double-double king." Because I started stealing all your rebounds. In the locker room, Kevin says, you've got 6 rebounds, and I said I've got more than you. He said that was probably the first time and the last time.
So after that, just start stealing rebounds left and right. Every time I got one I started pointing them. They were upset, after a free throw, it bounced right to me. I'm like, that's whacked, man, you have to go get the ball.

Q. Did you see anything strategically that made you think, you're in a good position to do that?
KOBE BRYANT: No, if I have get 14 rebounds, that's just luck.

Q. You were not really in the limelight this weekend until tonight. Seemed like the young guys got all of the headlines. Were you aware of that? Were you thinking this was your home to show people?
KOBE BRYANT: They should. They should. I've been there, you know what I mean? I had my time. It's not about that for me at this point in my career. I've been there, you know what I mean. It's very important for the game to continue to have young stars emerge. It's great for the league to get behind Blake and what he's doing.
You know, it's important for me to step aside. I've had that, you know what I mean. It's about me coming out and performing and staying healthy and doing the right things after 15 years, but it's about them at this point.

Q. I saw you look at Durant a few times, and take the ball, didn't really pass it, is that something you were conscious of? I know you were thinking about the record, but were you thinking he might be catching and compete with the MVP trophy?
KOBE BRYANT: You're stretching, too. My goodness, what in the hell. Next. (Laughter).

Q. I've got a stretch for you. Is this a momentum-builder for the Atlanta game for you guys? (Laughter).
KOBE BRYANT: (Shaking head).
I don't know, what do you think, man? Second second sure.

Q. What about this supposed second half?
KOBE BRYANT: We are looking forward to it. We are up for the challenge. Pau and I have been talking this whole time about looking forward to and getting back at it. We have been in communication with the rest of the fellas, and we all can't wait to get started.

Q. You forgot the last game?
KOBE BRYANT: What last game?

Q. You forgot it then?
KOBE BRYANT: What game?

Q. Exactly.
KOBE BRYANT: That game's been flushed.

Q. I just spoke to Dwight Howard, and he said you mentioned a few Realtors for him?
KOBE BRYANT: Yeah. Dwight is a good friend of mine. He's a good buddy and I'll help wherever I can.

Q. Do you feel like Blake is as popular as you are in this city, and if so, what's it like sharing it with him?
KOBE BRYANT: Did you not hear my last -- it's great. I love it. I love Blake, man. This summer, I got a chance to get to know him a little bit because we were doing therapy at the same place, so we were sitting next to each other most of the time and got a chance to kind of talk, when nobody is around, and I got a chance to know him before all of this happened.
I'm just very happy for him. Like I said, I've had my time, and it's his time now and it's these younger players, the Durants and so forth, to step forward and carry the league. I'm on my way out. So it's important for them to carry the league.
PAU GASOL: Thanks, guys.
KOBE BRYANT: You know, the type of questions y'all was asking, he didn't want to answer those. (Laughter).

End of FastScripts

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