Kobe Bryant doesn’t take disrespect lightly.
Hours after learning that ESPN ranked him the 40th-best NBA player on Thursday, Bryant scored a game-high 27 points in 28 minutes of action in the Los Angeles Lakers’ 119-86 preseason loss to the Utah Jazz.
He then brushed off the notion that he used ESPN’s ranking as motivation.
"I've known for a long time [that] they're a bunch of idiots," Bryant said to reporters about the Worldwide Leader in Sports.
He added that the ranking is "laughable" and "silly" and that he tends to "use things as motivation that tend to be in the realm of reality."
"Honestly, all jokes aside, it really doesn't bother me too much. I'm going to do what I do regardless," Bryant continued. "God willing, I can stay healthy, and if I wind up proving a lot of people wrong in the process, that will just wind up being collateral damage."
Bryant is 593 points shy from overtaking Michael Jordan for third-most in NBA career points. But the 16-time NBA All-Star and five-time champion did play only six games last season due to a broken leg and, at age 36, durability is definitely an issue.
Los Angeles Lakers coach Byron Scott told reporters that he would "hate to be one of the guys that doubted him."
This will mark Bryant’s 19th season in the NBA.
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(Photo: Harry How/Getty Images)