Kobe says he always admired Larry Bird’s determination

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We’ve got a mutual admiration society going.

First you have Larry Bird saying Kobe Bryant is the player going right now that he most would want to play with, because Kobe is about winning.

Now Kobe turns around and said that he always looked up to Larry Bird. Their games are very different — well, maybe not so much any more now that Kobe is settling for a lot of long-two point jumpers — but it is Bird’s drive that Kobe always admired.

Here is what Kobe said about Bird’s compliment, via A. Sherrod Blakely at CSNNE.com.

“It means the world to me, because I looked up to him and his work ethic,” Bryant said when told of Bird’s comments. “I always viewed him as being a staple of a blue-collar player that’s been blessed with a great deal of talent. His determination, his motivation … I remember some of the quotes I heard from (Comcast SportsNet analyst and NBA Hall of Famer) Tommy Heinsohn describing Larry Bird, that was very moving to me when I was a kid. I said, ‘if I can be that way, I feel I can be pretty good.’ So I kind of followed his lead in that regard. To hear him have that kind of praise for me, means a lot.”

This in no way means Kobe likes the Boston Celtics. The Lakers face the Celtics in the Garden Thursday night.