Kobe Bryant is a not a great friend, according to a very reliable source: Kobe Bryant.
The Los Angeles Lakers star told Chuck Klosterman in a lengthy GQ interview, published Tuesday, that he will never be a “great friend,” or a great "like mind,” as he calls them.
But that's okay, Bryant says, because his friends know that he’s a so-so friend and have just learned to live with it. In fact, he says they all know that he’s going to forget their birthdays, so it’s not a big deal when he does, which is just, like, so sad. I mean, it’s not hard to imagine Pau Gasol gently weeping while reading this article, right?
Bryant seems to enjoy being known as an ultra-competitive loner. But even considering that, it's sort of shocking that Klosterman can ask Bryant if he has any friends whatsoever and have it come across perfectly naturally, no?
So how much are you willing to give up? Have you given up the possibility of having friends? Do you have any friends?
I have "like minds." You know, I've been fortunate to play in Los Angeles, where there are a lot of people like me. Actors. Musicians. Businessmen. Obsessives. People who feel like God put them on earth to do whatever it is that they do. Now, do we have time to build great relationships? Do we have time to build great friendships? No. Do we have time to socialize and to hangout aimlessly? No. Do we want to do that? No. We want to work. I enjoy working.
Wow, that was a lot to take in. Let’s take a breath. Okay, ready again?
So is this a choice? Are you actively choosing not to have friends?
Well, yes and no. I have friends. But being a "great friend" is something I will never be. I can be a good friend. But not a great friend. A great friend will call you every day and remember your birthday. I'll get so wrapped up in my shit, I'll never remember that stuff. And the people who are my friends understand this, and they're usually the same way. You gravitate toward people who are like you. But the kind of relationships you see in movies—that's impossible for me. I have good relationships with players around the league. LeBron and I will text every now and then. KG and I will text every now and then. But in terms of having one of those great, bonding friendships—that's something I will probably never have. And it's not some smug thing. It's a weakness. It's a weakness.
Now Bryant sounds a little less defiant and little more lonely. I'm suddenly envisioning Kobe, alone in a dark room lit only by a fire, texting Lebron something like “Great game tonight, LJ!” and waiting silently while the “...” on the other side slowly fade away. Alright, one more paragraph?
Do you miss the idea of having a great friendship?
Of course. It's not like I'm saying, 'I don't need friends because I'm so strong.' It's a weakness. When I was growing up in Italy, I grew up in isolation. It was not an environment suited to me. I was the only black kid. I didn't speak the language. I'd be in one city, but then we'd move to a different city and I'd have to do everything again. I'd make friends, but I'd never be part of the group, because the other kids were already growing up together. So this is how I grew up, and these are the weaknesses that I have.
Someone needs to give Kobe a hug.