Torch passing has always been a funny thing, mainly because nobody's really had to pass one torch from one person to another in several hundred years, and certainly never in some sort of setting that would involve an older practitioner of a particular spirit passing that torch to his successor-to-be. Because that would make the "successor-to-be" his successor, post-passing, which is a bit awkward for all involved.
And then there's England, where you'd think they still pass torches all over the place as they move from castle to castle. But over there they call flashlights "torches," so while the assumption is right, the actual image you have in your head of the passing is wrong. It's just a bunch of guys in tweed jackets handing each other flashlights as they work on what went wrong under the hood of that Lotus (and because it's a Lotus, everything's gone wrong with it).
So if you couldn't understand that, you can surely understand Bryant's amusement when Friday's post-practice conversation turned from Friday night's Lakers/Bulls tilt to musings about whether or not the 2008 NBA MVP is ready to pass the symbolic torch to exciting Bulls point man Derrick Rose.
Asked if that conversation might have any symbolic passing of the torch undertones to it, Bryant flashed his legendary competitiveness.
"Oh, sure, but I ain't passing (expletive)," Bryant said.
Asked if Rose has to come take the torch from Bryant, the Lakers' superstar smiled.
"He can certainly try," Bryant said.
It should be noted that Kobe was jovial in his back and forth and complimentary to Rose throughout.
But he's also the best player at his position right now and the dominant force on the two-time defending champions. He ain't passing [expletive].