by Marcel Mutoni

Yesterday, ESPN The Magazine’s Ric Bucher got everyone excited with a report that Kobe Bryant wants to be traded from the Lakers if they don’t bring back The Logo, Jerry West. Bucher’s report was strange because it didn’t come with a direct quote from Bryant; Bucher just said he had a “conversation” with Kobe earlier in the day.

Someone from the Riverside Press-Enterprise got a hold of Kobe late last night, and he denied the whole thing.

“I’m not demanding anything,” Bryant said by phone late Sunday night. “I’m not making any threats. I didn’t say that. Those words didn’t come out of my mouth about a trade. I’m just making a suggestion. I think Jerry West is one of the greatest to ever do this thing. It’s undeniably so.

“When he becomes available — (when) the man that drafted me, that molded me my years in the league, is available …

“We have an issue here the past three years and we’ve passed on great players who are all friends of mine, and three years go by and we’re still sitting here in the same spot.”

Bryant had one last thing to say about a supposed trade demand.

“I never even uttered those words,” he said. “I haven’t spoken to anybody about it. I haven’t demanded nothing to nobody. I don’t want to even think about that. I love it out here.”

So, what the hell is going on here? Was Bucher exaggerating things to grab some national attention? Possibly. He does write for ESPN after all. Did Kobe play Bucher like a puppet to put a scare into Laker management and show them that he’s dead serious about them improving the team this summer? Entirely possible.

We’ll probably never know what really went down this past weekend, but one thing we do know is that it’s going to be a wild summer in L.A. I suggest you grab some popcorn.