Claiming that Kobe Bryant has “moved forward”, the LA Times’ Mike Bresnahan considers the Lakers SG’s stellar ’05-’06 regular season, and how public perceptions of him might be changing.

Bryant still declines to answer questions about the Eagle, Colo., incident, doing so twice in an interview with The Times, but he provided some insight into the importance of image, how he feels about the direction of the Lakers and what makes him push and pull on teammates.

“That’s how I am,” Bryant said. “I’m more determined than my opposition all the time. What you see from us as a team, what you see from us when we play now, we play with that edge.”

To watch Bryant work is to witness an athlete dominate a craft with nary a smile ” every possession personal, every miss to be scrutinized later on tape. He steps on the court with a scowl, rarely changes expression except to plead his case to referees, and then concludes games with the same glower, even if his final shot is the winning one.

He gave notice during a preseason practice, booting a water bottle across the court when the team couldn’t make enough free throws to end a conditioning drill. Since then, he toppled a TV monitor and yelled at Lamar Odom after a last-second loss to Washington in December and, more recently, gave second-year guard Sasha Vujacic a healthy shove on the bench during a home loss to hapless Seattle.

Bryant says he sees results.

“You see it from Kwame [Brown], Sasha, Lamar, all the guys,” Bryant said. “They play with that chip.

And with that, Kwame Brown receives the most effusive praise of his basketball career.