In the latest phase of a weeks-long ordeal, Kobe Bryant appears to be turning back ever so slightly toward the Lakers.
It might be tantamount to the smallest sign of thawing in a glacier, but Bryant revealed a partly conciliatory side while talking to reporters toward the end of his week-long youth basketball camp at Loyola Marymount.
When given the chance, the nine-time All-Star did not reiterate his demand to be traded by the Lakers.
"Nah, you know what?" Bryant said Thursday. "What I said is what I said. Everybody knows that we need to make some adjustments and need to get better. That's not a shock, that's not a secret. We just have to see where that goes."
That he chose to use the word "we" instead of "they," or something worse, would indicate some sort of change-over in his opinion of the Lakers. In an entirely upbeat mood that differed from his ire in the weeks after the Lakers were eliminated in the playoffs by the Phoenix Suns, Bryant did not choose a small side room at Gersten Pavilion as a forum to further pressure the Lakers into meeting his trade wishes.
It's possible that will come later this month at the Team USA training camp in Las Vegas -- when Bryant is expected to speak publicly again -- but he said he hadn't contemplated his future with the Lakers, or perhaps his future without them, in a while.
"Honestly, you all might be disappointed about it or whatever, but I haven't even thought about it in a long, long time," Bryant said. "I kind of stepped away from all of that and just focused on Team USA and just getting better. I get up early in the morning, I train hard, three to five hours, and just get ready." (That is the Kobe I know and love)
Bryant has made headlines consistently since publicly demanding a trade on May 30. The Lakers have no intention of trading Bryant, who has four years and $88.6 million remaining on his contract. He can void the contract in two years.
Bryant did reveal further details of his meeting two weeks ago with Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak at the team's practice facility in El Segundo. Bryant and Kupchak discussed the amateur video in which Bryant said the Lakers should trade 19-year-old center Andrew Bynum.
"That's a shame," Bryant said. "I went in just to tell [Kupchak], 'You know what, man? I'm sorry that thing came out like that. You never want that to happen.' I just felt like as a man, that was important to say that to him. I could have easily picked up the phone and called him, but that's not something that I wanted to do. I wanted to go down and see him face-to-face and tell him that face-to-face."
As designed by his publicists, Bryant answered very few questions about his situation with the Lakers -- only three, to be exact -- in a media briefing that was planned to be entirely about his camp, the Kobe Basketball Academy.
On that subject, Bryant spoke exuberantly about the 450 campers ages eight to 18. Some groups at the camp have learned facets of both the Princeton offense and the triangle offense in the span of a few days.
"I think kids can be pushed beyond what camps kind of have been demanding from them," Bryant said. "There's always been real serious basketball camps for players or kids that have the aspiration of playing in the NBA…but with these type of camps, it's normally not like that. They normally just throw the ball up and just let the kids go out there and play. You don't really learn much. That's why I wanted to do it. I believe kids can learn a great deal, even at seven, eight years old."