Now, Hibbert and Kobe both play for the Lakers. How will that go?
Hibbert has already witnessed Bryant’s brashness first-hand. The center broke his nose while fouling Bryant in an early 2012 game. Not long after, Hibbert said on a podcast that he talked to Bryant “expecting a little sympathy, and I got none from Kobe.”
But Hibbert says he and Bryant have since cleared the air, and that he’s “excited” to play alongside him.
“Just being able to play with a great [and] being pushed by somebody that has done it and won five championships. I’m up for a challenge,” Hibbert says. “People tell me a lot of different things, how he’ll respect me, and I feel like if I go about my business, I can get it done.”
“So,” Hibbert says before taking a long pause, “it’ll be a challenge. But I’m up for it. I’m not going to speculate on other people and how they interacted with him and their relationships, but I feel like if I put my best foot forward in practices and in games, I don’t feel like there will be any tension. And I’m the type of person that will be like, ‘Hey, if I did something, let’s talk it out,’ as opposed to just going back and forth every day.”
Kobe has gotten more patient with his teammates, but that doesn’t make him patient with his teammates.
Will Kobe take a different approach with Hibbert? Maybe. If Kobe wants to make the playoffs, the Lakers need major contributions from Hibbert. His rim protection alone could transform what had been a lousy defense.
But I have plenty of doubt this relationship will work.
I’m reminded of the scorpion-and-frog fable. A scorpion wants to cross a river, but he can’t swim. So, he asks a frog to carry him across the water. The frog says no, fearing the scorpion will sting him. The scorpion assures the frog that he wont, because if he did, they’d both drown during passage. The frog relents, and the scorpion hops on his back. As they reach the middle of the river, the scorpion stings the frog, who begins to sink. The frog asks the scorpion why he did that, knowing it will kill them both.
“I couldn’t help it,” the scorpion says. “It’s in my nature.”
For Hibbert and Kobe to mesh, at least one will have to change his nature. That’s far from impossible, but I wouldn’t bet on it.