After the Los Angeles Lakers surrendered a seven-point lead with only two minutes left in Wednesday's Game 2 contest against the Oklahoma City Thunder, many people, including our favorites over at ESPN, were  beginning to question Kobe Bryant and his ability to close out games. Of course, Kobe must have been hearing all the chatter because when the time came for KB to come through again in the clutch during Game 3 last night, the 14-time All-Star did not disappoint. In the end, the Lake Show defeated Durant and Co., 99-96.

Throughout his career, Kobe has also taken on a different opponent off the court: the media. In a conversation with Yahoo! Sports, the Lakers guard talks about the media and his outlook towards failing in the big moment. Here are some excerpts from the story by Adrian Wojnarowski

“I don’t give a [expletive] what you say,” Bryant told Yahoo! Sports late Friday. “If I go out there and miss game winners, and people say, 'Kobe choked, or Kobe is seven for whatever in pressure situations.'

“Because I don’t play for your [expletive] approval. I play for my own love and enjoyment of the game. And to win. That’s what I play for. Most of the time, when guys feel the pressure, they’re worried about what people might say about them. I don’t have that fear, and it enables me to forget bad plays and to take shots and play my game."

“I found it pretty funny, entertaining, that I made a bunch of mistakes down the stretch, mistakes that I normally don’t make,” Bryant said. “So yeah, I ended up laughing at myself. I knew we’d have a chance to get it back.

“And maybe that’s what separates me from a lot of people: I can laugh at myself in those situations, whereas most people might feel really insecure or nervous about the next one, or pissed off and hold that anger for the next game. I can find the entertainment and humor in it.”

“The fallout is always something that makes some guys hesitant,” Bryant said. “They’re thinking about their legacies, their reputations.”

Overall, you have to believe that it's not as easy as wiping the metaphorical dirt of your shoulder for Kobe Bryant. Deep down, he does care what people say about him because, after all, he wants people, the media included, to recognize him as one of the best to ever play the game.  

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[via Yahoo! Sports]