NEW YORK — Kobe Bryant "does phone interviews about as often as Osama bin Laden strolls through Central Park," John Black, Lakers VP of public relations, responded by e-mail to my request for an interview. "But I will ask him if he wants to call you."

Black asked what the interview would be about and I told him "the state of the Lakers. I know what I read. . . . I want to ask questions no one seems to be addressing."

"I can guarantee you before he calls (if he even agrees to do so) he's going to want to know the gist of (those questions)," Black replied. "I know it may not be 'appropriate' to ask you to do this journalistically, but I'm just letting you know he's going to ask. I'll leave it up to you whether you want to do so or not."