GQ published a lengthy and wide-ranging interview Tuesday with Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant. The full article by Chuck Klosterman is worth a read, and not only because it's the last interview Bryant gave before suffering yet another season-ending injury (rotator cuff) in January.
So what else makes it fascinating? Well, Kobe delves into his infamous and tumultuous relationships with former teammate and superstar Shaquille O'Neal and ex-coach Phil Jackson. He talks about why it's difficult for him to have close friendships. He discusses why it's too early to discount the Lakers as contenders next season.
And he even has words for his critics who say he takes far too many shots.
Kobe tackles all of these subjects, of course, as only he can -- while sprinkling in some surprising cultural references.
Here are our five favorite quotes from the interview:
1) On his time with Phil Jackson as his coach:
"I was like a wild horse that had the potential to become Secretariat, but who was just too f***ing wild."
2) Disputing that all branding has 'a conscious commercial purpose':
"That's like saying every wizard with Slytherin House is a villain." (This little gem is tucked away in the article's footnotes, but we felt compelled to highlight it. "Lumos maxima!")
3) On whether other stars want to play with him (it has been suggested by multiple critics that they do not):
"Does my nature make me less enjoyable to play with? Of course," he says. "Of course it does. Is it possible that some top players in the league are intimidated by that? Yes. But do I want to play with those players? Does the Laker organization want those specific players? No."
4) On what will happen when grunge fashion returns to prominence (he predicts both it and the midrange jumper will enjoy a resurgence):
"GQ and Vogue will have an absolute sh** fit."
5) On whether he shoots too much:
"Mozart ... responded to critics by saying there were neither too many notes or too few. There were as many as necessary."
There's plenty more to delve into, and again, we suggest you take a look at the full article.
Kobe's clearly got a lot on his mind.
While you're at it, take a spin through our 17 great moments in Black Mamba history.