Kobe Bryant hasn't been gone from the game for very long, and his absence from a Dec. 17 knee fracture isn't supposed to be permanent. Still, he's talking about the NBA like a retiree of yesteryear in a Monday interview via ESPN's Dave McMenamin.
"It's more of a finesse game. It's more small ball, which, personally, I don't really care much for," Bryant said before the Lakers faced the Bulls in Chicago.
"I like kind of smash-mouth, old-school basketball because that's what I grew up watching. I also think it's much, much less physical. Some of the flagrant fouls that I see called nowadays, it makes me nauseous. You can't touch a guy without it being a flagrant foul."
(Hello, Gary Payton! Nice to see you again, disliking "basically everything" about the game.)
Bryant elaborated on the hand-check rule introduced during the 2004-05 season.
"I like the contact. As a defensive player, if you enjoy playing defense, that's what you want. You want to be able to put your hands on a guy. You want to be able to hand check a little bit. The truth is, it makes the game [where] players have to be more skillful. Nowadays, literally anybody can get out there and get to the basket and you can't touch anybody. Back then, if guys put their hands on you, you had to have the skill to be able to go both ways, change direction, post up, you had to have a mid-range game because you didn't want to go all the way to the basket because you would get knocked ass over tea kettle. So I think playing the game back then required much more skill."
But could the NBA realistically shift back to the no harm, no foul ways of the 1980s? ESPN asked the Lakers guard: "Kids might be a little too sensitive for that nowadays."
Bryant continued, taking a stance against the league's 2005-06 rule that prevents high school players from becoming NBA eligible until they've attended a year of college, or turned 19 years old.
"We probably see players that came out of high school were much more successful on average than players that went to college for a year. It seems like the system really isn't teaching players anything when they go to college. You go to college, you play, you're showcased and you come to the pros. That's always been the big argument: As a player, you have to go to college, you have to develop your skills and so forth and so on and then come to the league. So, we kind of got sold on that, sold on that dream a little bit and, fortunately, I didn't really listen too much to it. Neither did [Kevin Garnett], neither did LeBron [James] and that worked out pretty well for our careers."