Kobe Bryant has never been afraid of conflict. In fact, he welcomes it.
Antawn Jamison, a 15-year veteran playing with Bryant for the first time this season, said during a radio interview with the “Max and Marcellus Show”, which Dave McMenamin of ESPN Los Angeles documented, that it's a good thing.
Jamison, who called Bryant “a different dude,” said that the Lakers star has cultivated an atmosphere of contentiousness, and that it has helped the team come together. The reason for that might be that Bryant has made sure that it’s a two-way street with his teammates – not only will he criticize them when he feels the need, but he welcomes their input in return. As McMenamin writes:
"Kobe will tell you," Jamison said. "He's like, 'Look, you guys as my teammates, yell at me. Let me know that you're open because I'm so programmed,' and this guy has told me this, 'I see nothing but that basket. You could be open, there could be three guys on me, but the only thing I see is that basket so you have to tell me, Look, I was open. Or yell at me mid-play. That doesn't affect me at all and I respect that.' "
Jamison said the veteran-laden roster has adapted to Bryant's style and the players have no problem with confronting the five-time champion.
"I think the thing we've seen in the past was most teammates might have been afraid to come to him or express, 'Kob' I was open,' or, 'That's not what we drew up,' " Jamison said. "The thing I like about this team, Steve Nash -- who is a Hall of Famer -- and Dwight [Howard] as well, Dwight and Kobe have gotten into shouting matches on the bench because Dwight will be like, 'Kob', that's your rotation. Get there.' And after the game he'll be like, 'Appreciate it, big fella. I needed that.' "
Jamison said he doesn’t even have to say anything to Bryant, but can get his message across with the mere lifting of an eyebrow.
Bryant told Andy Adler (watch video above) that it's all about his own maturity.
"I think it's age, I think it's maturity, it's slowing down a little bit," he said. "You also understand how to channel that temper, and channel it in a positive way where it's helping others, enhancing others."
Jamison said that the Lakers players have earned the trust of Bryant, which has led to better chemistry on the court, and that the legend’s high standards have been a benefit for the team.
"It's great to be with him," Jamison said. "I love a guy who expects so much from his teammates.”
You can follow Bob Harkins on Twitter at @bharks.