No one is safe from the sharp tongue of Kobe Bryant, not even his own teammates as rookie Jordan Clarkson would quickly find out at Los Angeles Lakers training camp.
King of trash talk
"Don't hurt yourself" were the words loudly pronounced by the Black Mamba as he hit one of his signature fade away jump-shots in the face of a falling-Clarkson in a Lakers scrimmage.
The veteran shooting guard looked very much like his old self as the Lakers scrimmaged three times on Thursday and Kobe was up to his old tricks, trash talking to his new teammate and letting everyone know who was still the alpha dog in Los Angeles.
Bryant is coming off knee and Achilles' tendon injuries which kept him out of most of last year but the rehabilitation seems to have payed off as he played and sounded like vintage Mamba in the Lakers training camp.
Clarkson wasn't the only man wearing purple and gold to hear the jawing of Bryant, fellow shooting guard for the Lakers Nick Young also received a little trash of the 36-year-old as Kobe would tell 'Swaggy P': "Don't play with me, you ain't strong enough!"
The Mamba's return
The competitive nature will never die with Bryant, there is no one more driven than the shooting guard even in training, but all the trash talking is in good nature as he would explain: "We're all having fun. We're competing. We try to push each other, That's really the key, especially when we're physically tired."
LeBron James may have stole the summer headlines with his return to Cleveland but a massive storyline that has every NBA fan thoroughly intrigued is the return of Bryant to the hardwood.
Lakers have kicked off their training camp and have been swarmed by media personnel looking to get any quote they can out of the mouth of the brutally honest Bryant.
Head Coach Byron Scott has pushed his players hard thus far, they have been put through their paces with a rigorous conditioning program.
Kobe's thoughts on teammates
Nick Young may have been the starting shooting guard in the absence of Kobe but he knows that an all-time great is returning to the squad without a single thought of playing second fiddle to anyone.
Kobe spoke about Young and their battles in training: "He playfully does it, but then, I kind of take it to another level, When you're tired, it's very easy to kind of go through the motions. Somebody talking to you, you have no choice but to try and perform."
Although Bryant certainly has high expectations of his teammate this year, he said: "He's a really, really big piece of this team,"
In fact Kobe has high expectations of the Lakers this year and there is no doubt he is looking to add a sixth championship to his collection, he may have been talking a little trash to the rookie Clarkson but he has also recognised the talent the team have acquired.
"I like Jordan. I think that was a steal of a pick. I'm surprised he slipped in the draft,Great pace, great feel for the game. He grasps concepts really well. He can shoot the deep ball. He has a really good floater and can get to the rim." Bryant said.
Things are looking bright but it is still early days in training camp and much more will be learned about the restructured Lakers outfit in the coming weeks.
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