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Monday, May 28th, 2007 at 2:05 pm  |  50 responses

What’s the Deal With Kobe?

Reports, Denials, Questions…

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.

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  • the brown guy

    1st

  • Goody

    Nice piece Marcel. This Kobe thing is out of control but whose playin’ who?

  • http://slamonline.com Russ Bengtson

    He just wants attention, and we’re all giving it to him. Fantastic. I hate this game.

  • http://slamonline.com mutoni

    who, bucher or kobe? or both?!?!?

  • http://slamonline.com mutoni

    is it wrong of me to be enjoying some nice bbq even though we don’t celebrate memorial day in canada? i’m full of questions today.

  • http://slamonline.com Russ Bengtson

    Kobe, of course.

  • Waters1981

    Nothing wrong with enjoying some nice BBQ, just throw some veggie burgers on the grill.

    And where is the Champions League coverage?

  • Goody

    Russ, it’s a trend in sports. We have watched Kobe single-handedly manipulate the system. From the press to the locker room. From the locker room to upstairs. Each and every All-Star player has this ability but most of them don’t abuse the priveldge. Los Angeles needs to act like the father in this situation and chastise their baby boy. No one is going to want to play with him and that’s a problem in the lockeroom.
    Dennis Rodman was the last player with this much drama.

  • RM # 0

    damn right

  • http://www.prepaidlegal.com/hub/hollie30 Billy Blanks

    What’s so bad about wanting to play for a contender? What would u do if Kwame Brown and Smush Parker were your starting center and point guard?

  • http://slamonline.com Russ Bengtson

    When you’re making $150 million freaking dollars, you’re supposed to be the one MAKING your team into a contender. I can’t wait for Kwame and Smush (and whoever else gets to leave the Lakers) go somewhere else and succeed.

  • http://slamonline.com mutoni

    yeah, because kwame was such a tremendous success before he joined the lakers. damn that kobe, and his talent-destroying ways.

  • http://mvn.com/nba-endofthebench Chris Clarke

    I was just about to write about this situation myself. I think Bucher just took something Kobe said out of context, knowing those guys at ESPN. Not much going on in the playoffs right now – no big names left, except LeBron. Everyone else is a “team” player. ESPN needs something to talk about. They still need to sell magazines and lead off their SportsCenter shows.

  • http://slamonline.com Russ Bengtson

    Didin’t say Kwame was a success before the Lakers—Jordan sure did a number on him before he even played a single NBA game—but he’s had at least SOME success as a Laker. Last year’s playoffs, right? Since then he’s been nothing but a convenient scapegoat. I never thought I’d feel sorry for Kwame Brown, but I sort of do. And I hope he eventually finds his way.

  • http://slamonline.com Russ Bengtson

    And I never said Kobe destroys talent, but he sure doesn’t nurture it either.

  • Doctor X

    The Kobe and Shaq era are over! Neither will never win another NBA title! Kobe a has been who want attention!

  • http://slamonline.com mutoni

    i think in order for someone to be able to nurture talent, he has to have, you know, “talent” to work with in the first place. the only talented players he has are odom and bynum, and those two have done ok for themselves so far. get him a star to work with, and the lakers are automatic contenders.

  • http://slamonline.com mutoni

    to all those who say kobe is a bad teammate or whatever other nonsense, i ask: what great players has he had that he’s failed to achieve success with?

  • http://slamonline.com Russ Bengtson

    I’m not getting into this whole mess again—I’ve been called a hater enough. All I WILL say is that, in the NBA, you need ALL of your teammates to contribute. And I find it hard to believe that the Lakers have the worst team in the League.

  • http://slamonline.com mutoni

    i don’t think any (sane) person has claimed that the lakers have the worst team in the league, but you can’t tell me that they could’ve done any better than they have since shaq left.

  • chuck nevitt

    Look where trying “to make your teammates better” got Lebron. He got SLAMmed in the media for passing to a teammate.

  • Drolfe

    *grabs popcorn and watches Mutoni and Russ go at it*

  • Drolfe

    Another reason Kobe wants to be traded: one more off-season that his fans have to cop a new jersey.

  • http://slamonline.com mutoni

    @Drolfe: are you not entertained?!

  • Drolfe

    I very much am. *orders more popcorn*

  • Je2030

    Kobe, I love you, please don’t go.

  • http://slamonline.com Russ Bengtson

    They could have done better since Shaq left, but I still feel like Kobe could have shown more trust in his teammates during the regular season. He’s basically Stephon Marbury circa 2001.

  • Allenp

    Russ, I think you are asking for a lot if you expect Kobe to make that team a contender. They have no bench and their second best player has never averaged 20 points or 10 rebounds in a season. I love Lamar’s heart now, but he’s not even close to All-Star level. And, when Smush and Kwame are integral to your success, well you’re skating on thin ice. The truth is, Kobe had that team clicking early, even with the lack of talent, but then injuries hit, chemistry was lost and Kobe had to go into jack mode. That’s it.

  • Atown

    Kobe has a valid point: Kupchak has had various opportunities to score perennial all-stars with the load of young talent they possess. He hasn’t wanted to pull the trigger because he somehow envisions this team progression only achievable in a video game in which the team improves every year, individually and collectively, and then POOF – we have a dynasty. It doesn’t work like that – a bunch of young cats with limited talents, specializing in certain attributes only kobe/odom) will not get it done in the NBA. People say Walton is some kind of triangle genius, but come on – its not rocket science – its basketball just bring in some guys with athletic ability and half a brain that want to compete. Odom and Kobe is a good core with an effective low-post presence and an established point guard (andre miller type).

  • http://slamonline.com Russ Bengtson

    Honestly I think Kobe would have been better off getting his teammates involved all year and just seeing what happened. What’s the worst case scenario? They miss the playoffs? Hell, at least then they would have gotten a lottery pick in one of the deepest drafts ever—and maybe one of these alleged no-good teammates would have actually started to progress. Instead they got to play all of one round in a series they had no hope of winning anyway. What did that prove?

  • tsmooth

    kobe’s the illest player in the L. he needs to go with kg and the timberwolves

  • http://www.slamonline.com Ryan Jones

    “What’s the deal with Kobe?” Well, I might need a few days, but I’ll try to explain…

  • http://slamonline.com Russ Bengtson

    PLEASE DO. Oh, and pardon my ignorance, but who’s the cracker in the photo?

  • http://espn.com Reggie Evans

    Ryan, has the time come?

  • http://slamonline.com mutoni

    the guy in the photo with kob’ is a dude that works for nike.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Ryan Jones

    I’m torn, because my actual day job is demanding more than its usual share of my attention right now, and because a nutshell version of this epic sage may seem like a cop-out — but what the hell!
    Here’s what I find interesting about this particular incident: Bucher falls into a category that Jim Gray does and that I, too, did — once, at least, and briefly — that being the “pseudo Kobe confidant.” Bucher did a big ESPN Mag feature a few years ago where he actually hung out at Kobe’s house. Anyone who knows anything about Kobe knows he’s MAD private, and I was personally surprised and at least a little bit professionally jealous that Bucher got that access. In truth, I had once suggested coming to Kobe’s crib for an interview, thinking he’d be more comfortable on his home turf, but he politely made it clear that wasn’t an option. Anyway…
    My point is that Bucher is a guy who’s gotten terrific access to Kobe at times, just as we all know Jim “Kobe Bryant just called me” Gray has. Having briefly been that guy myself, the guy Kobe has seemed to trust and reached out to — unsolicited even; arguably the craziest moments of my professional life involved me sitting at home with my then-fiance one night and my cell phone ringing, and it was Kobe, waiting for the Lakers team plane to take off and saying he literally just called to say what’s up and see how things were — I have some understanding of how dude works in these situations. And then last night, my man Stephen Naismith made a few references to having spoken to Kobe multiple times in the past few days and pretty much confirming what Bucher wrote, that Kobe was DEMANDING a Jerry West return or he wanted out.
    So, these are respected (well, sort of) media sources who have direct access to Kobe — meaning Kobe has consciously granted them this access, which he’s proven to be very choosy and fickle about— saying that he said one thing, and then Kobe coming out to other media and saying “Who, me?” Well, are Bucher and Screamin’ A just flat-out lying? It seems unlikely. Could they both, independently, have misinterpreted Kobe’s point? I guess so, but again, that seems sort of far-fetched. What seems more likely, to me, is that the player in question is saying one thing to one or two media guys, and then saying something TOTALLY different to a couple of other media guys. From personal experience with said player, this does not surprise me AT ALL. It seems very calculated, and it speaks to the way he seems to operate in general, which would seem to be with something less than full transparency.
    Or maybe Chuck and Flav said it best: Can’t truss it.

  • http://slamonline.com mutoni

    thanks for writing a comment that’s longer than my post. get your own blog, jerk!

  • http://www.slamonline.com Ryan Jones

    And I didn’t even need links to pad my stats. I own you, Marcel.

  • http://slamonline.com mutoni

    this isn’t over, jones.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Ryan Jones

    We need to organize a vodka-fueled get-together someday for all the regular slamonline contributors, just so we can put faces to screen names and sarcastic writing styles. We have this breezy familiarity, you and me, and yet I wouldn’t know you if I ran over you in my tractor.

  • http://slamonline.com mutoni

    couldn’t agree more. i’m trying to find a way to get to nyc for the draft this summer, so, maybe.

  • Young C

    I guess Kobe just cant do any right by some people(Russ). First, he blames Kobe for the lack of progression of softies like Kwame and Smush. Then he actually gets criticized for not tanking and leading his team into the playoffs, albeit against a much better Suns team. I dont see people saying the same things about Kevin Garnett. Maybe if Garnett would say some of the things Kobe says and use the media to his advantage then he wouldnt be in the lottery every year. He could have been out of Minnesota if he would just have some balls and either demand better teammates, better management, or demand a trade. I understand you may not like Kobe personally, but dont criticize him because hes trying to get things done for his organization rather then end up like Garnett the rest of his career.

  • Young C

    And dont even use the excuse that he drove Shaq out of town, because Shaq wasnt exactly an angel either.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Ryan Jones

    Don’t forget global warming, Young C. Kobe did that, too.

  • Young C

    I heard Kobe caused Hurricane Katrina…

  • http://dkosei2.blogspot.com dkosei2

    Kobe always wanted to prove that he can be the MAN, do it without Shaq…
    Well guess what, he ain’t winnin’ another chip regardless of what he tries to pull…
    HA!!!!!!!

  • http://espn.com Reggie Evans

    But if you listen to Bucher, he says that Kobe would “be willing to waive his no-trade clause” if West doesn’t come. I know it’s splitting hairs, but it’s not exactly a demand for a trade.

  • Pat B

    Kobe misses Shaq…

  • http://slamonline.com Russ Bengtson

    Wait, what did i do?

  • Pingback: » Did Kobe Change His Mind? - SLAM ONLINE

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