Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error “The loss led to the win,” Bryant said. “I don’t remember the loss as like a painful experience, I remember it as a beautiful moment because it helped me find the best version of myself and my teammates. I always remember the beauty of it. But at the time, not so much.”Similar frustration happened during Bryant’s third NBA season when the San Antonio Spurs swept the Lakers in the 1999 Western Conference semifinals. “I remember having to make a decision because the Spurs were such a fundamentally sound team and we had a reputation of being more flash than substance,” Bryant said. “I had to look at the Spurs and understand why they were so efficient, why they played winning basketball and then I had to step back and look at my game and figure out how to edit my game so I’d simplify it.”The Lakers then won three consecutive NBA championships. But what did Bryant do?“I was doing too much, particularly handling the ball,” Bryant said. “I made a conscious decision to not work on my handle at all and try to dumb down my game to be more efficient so I don’t dribble as much and learn to become more efficient and play winning basketball.” BOSTON >> This place meant so much to Kobe Bryant, namely because the Celtics partly shaped his NBA legacy. Bryant felt miserable as the Lakers lose to the Celtics in the 2008 NBA Finals, punctuated by a 39-point loss in Game 6. Yet, Bryant considered that moment the “most important piece” in the second half of his 20-year NBA career. “I was determined and said listen I have to figure a solution with this leadership thing and do whatever is necessary,” Bryant said. “I can’t go through this, and that was a turning point.”The Lakers then won consecutive NBA championships against Orlando (2009) and Boston (2010), while Bryant won two Finals MVP awards. The Lakers-Celtics rivalry usually produced winning basketball. The Celtics have won 17 NBA championships, while the Lakers have won 16. Yet, the Celtics had gone through a 20-year drought from 1987 to 2007 where they did not win an NBA title. “It wasn’t on my radar as much because I didn’t see the opportunity ever coming to be,” Bryant said. But in the 2007, the Celtics made two moves that caught Bryant’s attention as well as the rest of the NBA. Boston acquired Ray Allen and the draft rights to Glen Davis from the Seattle Sonics for forward Wally Szczerbiak, guard Delonte West and the draft rights to Jeff Green. The Celtics also landed Kevin Garnett from Minnesota for Ryan Gomes, Gerald Green, Al Jefferson, Theo Ratliff, Sebastian Telfair, a 2009 first round draft pick and conditional first round draft pick.Bryant’s first thought: “This would be pretty cool.” His second thought: “I can’t mess this up.”“I don’t want to be the player years from now where the Lakers lost twice to the Celtics,” Bryant said. “I don’t want to be that guy. There was a lot of pressure not to let that happen.”Instead, Bryant felt both the agony of defeat and joy of victory.Said Bryant: “I’ll take a 1-1 draw.”Solid helpLost amid Bryant’s last game in Boston entailed Lakers forward Brandon Bass facing against his former team. Bass would prefer it that way, though the Celtics praised him for his evolving role as starter and reserve both for contending and rebuilding teams (2011-15). “The Celtics have done so much for me,” said Bass, who signed a two-year deal last summer with the Lakers. “I’m grateful for the city of Boston and the fans and the organization.”Bass played an evolving role with the Celtics as a starter and reserve both for contending and rebuilding teams. In 2014, Bass won 2014 Red Auerbach award as a player who best represents what it means to be a Celtic.Lakers coach Byron Scott said Bass “doing the same thing for him.”“I knew what type of work ethic he had and know what type kind of guy he is. He’s going to bring it every single night,” said Scott, who coached Bass in New Orleans from 2005 to 2007. “I know he’s going to be very professional when he’s out there. On the court, he’ll help the young guys as much as possible.”While he said the Celtics are “doing some great things” after making the NBA playoffs last season as a seventh seed, Bass is playing for the Western Conference’s worst team.“But it’s been a cool experience,” Bass said. “My experience here with the Celtics prepared me for my current situation mentally. I’m able to deal with everything a lot better.”That includes handling a fluctuating role that has entailed Lakers coach Byron Scott playing the 6-foot-8, 250-pound Bass at center despite the vast height difference.“I can play whatever, man. You can put me at point guard. I’m the type of guy who will never lay down under no circumstances,” said Bass, who has averaged 7.2 points on 71.4 percent shooting, 4.0 rebounds and 1.8 blocks in the past five games. “I had to work twice as hard being undersized, anyway.”Memory laneBryant worked out for the Celtics before the 1996 NBA draft, but it came with some trepidation since he spent his childhood in Italy rooting for the Lakers.“I remember my dad telling me that I had a pre-draft work out in Boston and I was like, ‘What?! Why would you do that to me?!” Bryant recalled, laughing. “What kind of dad does that!?”Bryant soon relented, though the Celtics used their No. 6 pick in the 1996 NBA draft to select Antoine Walker. “I respected the franchise and history so much that I worked as hard as I could in the workout,” Bryant said. “I really wanted to impress them because of the legacy. If they decided to draft me I was going to carry this franchise the way they deserved to be.”Bold predictionBoth the Celtics (18-14) and Lakers (6-27) are in rebuilding stages. Will these two teams ever recapture the rivalry that produced a combined 33 NBA championships?“One thing we can trust as sports fans is you can trust the sports gods are going to line these teams up again,” Bryant said. “It’s going to happen.”He said itLakers coach Byron Scott on Bryant saying his favorite color is green: “He has a lot of green. He has so much of it that it might be his favorite color. I love money green. The green and white (the Celtics) are wearing, I’m not really fond of.”Injury updateLakers rookie forward Larry Nance Jr. rolled his right ankle in the first half against Boston. After icing the ankle, Nance Jr. played for 7 minutes, 33 seconds in the third quarter before resting in the final period.Scott acknowledged that he is “worried” and expressed uncertainty if he will play in Friday’s game vs. Philadelphia.