Kobe Bryant on Dan Patrick
After dropping the "Trade me" bomb this morning on Stephen A. Smith's radio show, Kobe Bryant appeared on ESPN radio's Dan Patrick Show. While he's clearly still ticked, it did sound like there's a little wiggle room in Kobe's stance to see if things might improve. He's gone from saying nothing can be done to repair the relationship to opening the door to the possibility something could put things right (ex: Bryant told Smith that even if Jerry West came back, he still wants out. Later, Bryant seemed to indicate to Patrick that the return of The Logo would at least help).
Click below the jump for excerpts of the Q & A, along with some summary.
Bryant started the interview by reiterating some of his frustrations with the now infamous Mark Heisler article that referenced a Laker insider's contention that Kobe helped put the team in the situation they're in now by helping chase Shaq out of town.
"...DP: Any thoughts that they planted this, that maybe they do want to move in a different direction and want you to be the bad guy?
KB: You know what? Nothing surprises me at this point. They know what happened with the Shaquille situation. They know what they told me. They know I had nothing to do with that, but for a Laker insider to say that, it's extremely hurtful..."
Obviously, Bryant is still ticked at the idea that someone within the organization slagged him like that to the media on the Shaq , especially when he says he was a good soldier on the issue since the trade went down.
"DP: Would you waive your no-trade?
KB: Absolutely... I just want to play basketball. I want to play basketball and not worry about anything else. Not worry about being a scapegoat for anything. I just want to play... I never thought it was somebody inside the Lakers walls kind of fanning that flame. When I saw that, now it was, "Okay, I'm not taking that bullet. I'm not taking the bullet for something I did not do. It's time for me to go out and say what I need to say about what happened..."
At this point, Patrick and Kobe got more into the nuts and bolts of what's happened over the course of the day, starting with Patrick reading the statement from Lakers ownership saying the Lakers hadn't yet received direct word from Kobe that he wanted a trade, they wanted to build around him, and they'd speak to Kobe before commenting publicly.
"DP: You called Mitch today?
KB:... I wasn't on the phone personally, myself. If I'm going to speak to somebody about this, I'll speak to Dr. Buss...
...DP: Did your representatives say to Mitch exactly what you've been saying? That you want to be dealt?
So what now?
"...KB: It's rough right now... The person that I lean on a lot right now is Phil. We've spoke twice today, and he basically couldn't blame me for it, and he'd do the same thing. He said at the same time, we believe that we can figure some things out here and make sure that something like that within the organization never happens again and then kind of take care of business internally so players who play for the organization feel safe, feel trusted. And we're going to try and go from there."
"DP: What if Jerry West decides to come back, even as a consultant.
KB: Jerry West- I trust Jerry West with everything.
DP: Would that be enough to keep you in Los Angeles?
KB: That would definitely help out the situation, because I want to feel like there's somebody up there I can trust, you know?..."
So there's your wiggle room. This morning, Kobe told Smith that nothing, even the return of West, could get him to change his mind. Later, he backed off that a little. So what about Phil?
"KB:... He's optimistic and determined that we'll both be back. Phil's somebody that I listen to. I listen to heavily. I lean on him a lot. He assured me, saying, you know, "Things are going to be okay. Things will be alright. Don't go full bore just yet. Just take a deep breath, kind of let us work these things out and everything will be alright." Which was very encouraging for me to hear, because I don't want to go any place else. I don't want to. I want to be a Laker. I want to be here for the rest of my career."
Kobe didn't give any names about players the Lakers could bring in that would make him happy. He reiterated his frustration that guys like Baron Davis and Carlos Boozer were available and the Lakers passed (he's also spoken about Ron Artest in those terms, and on this point, I'm not sure I agree with him). Generally, he seemed very frustrated with the quality of personnel the team has had over the last three seasons. Put it all together with the controversy from the weekend, and here we are. He wants to feel like there's a "sense of urgency to try to get some players and do it now, as opposed to waiting."
Patrick then reminded him that the Lakers have made some moves over the last few seasons- they just haven't all been very good. What makes Kobe think they can start making good ones now?
"...Like I said, I don't really have much to lean on outside of P.J., and the confidence that he has. I know how badly he wants to win, and I he knows how badly I want to win. So if he can draw confidence from somewhere, I'll believe in him."
Hardly a ringing endorsement of the current management structure, not that you'd expect it. Kobe's radio tour continued on the Loose Cannons (AM 570) later in the afternoon. I'm sure between that and everything else that will be written/said on this issue today, there will be plenty more to come.