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AUG. 26 In the first six weeks after the Colorado story broke, I did not speak to Kobe. He never returned my calls. Imagining his anxieties, I was not offended. Kobe will confide only in the people he trusts, and I have never been a card-carrying member of that group. G.M. Mitch Kupchak and I had wondered whether Kobe might sit out the season. We didn't wonder for too long: Kobe's people told us he intended to treat this season like any other. He must be in denial. This season cannot possibly be like any other.
Finally, earlier this week, Kobe came into my office. He looked gaunt, down to a little more than 200 pounds, 10 or 15 below his playing weight.
"We really want you to survive this thing," I told him.
"Are you getting help?" I asked. "Do you have anybody to talk to?"
"Kobe, you've got to have someone to talk to."
"We have a minister."
"That's a start."
We didn't rehash our conflicts. The conversation was harmless, until Kobe blurted out, "I'm not going to take any s--- from Shaq this year. If he starts saying things in the press, I'll fire back. I've had it."