After visiting a pair of SoCal radio shows yesterday and professing his desire to retire a Laker, Kobe Bryant has reversed course in sensational fashion, opening up this afternoon on New York’s ESPN 1050.
“I would like to be traded, yeah,” Bryant said. “Tough as it is to come to that conclusion there’s no other alternative, you know?”
Bryant, interviewed by Stephen A. Smith, was asked if there was anything the Lakers could do to change his mind?
“No,” Bryan said. “I just want them to do the right thing.”
Earlier in the day, Bryant said team owner Jerry Buss masterminded the trade of Shaquille O’Neal — and Shaq later confirming Kobe’s account.
Bryant was left “beyond furious” by a report in Tuesday’s Los Angeles Times that read, “as a Lakers insider notes, it was Bryant’s insistence on getting away from Shaquille O’Neal that got them in this mess.”
“He (Buss) met with me at the Four Seasons Hotel here [in Los Angeles] across from Fashion Island, which is now the Island Hotel,” Bryant told Smith. “I went up to his penthouse suite. [Buss] looks me dead in the face and says: ‘Kobe, I am not going to re-sign Shaq. I am not about to pay him $30 million a year or $80 million over three years. No way in hell. I feel like he’s getting older. His body is breaking down, and I don’t want to pay that money to him when I can get value for him right now rather than wait.
“This is my decision. It’s independent of you. My mind is made up. It doesn’t matter to me what you do in free agency because I do not want to pay [Shaq], period.’ “
“Dr. Buss said that,” Bryant told Smith. “And I haven’t said anything for years because I’ve always felt like folks were just looking to create controversy. Now I know. I realize what extent [the Lakers] will go to, to cover themselves.”
Reached afterward, O’Neal told Smith that be believed his former teammate beyond reproach.
“I believe Kobe 100 percent,” O’Neal said when reached in Los Angeles. “Absolutely. There’s no doubt in my mind Kobe is telling the truth. I believe him a thousand percent.
“I would have respected Dr. Buss more as a man if he would have told me that himself, because I know he said it. But he didn’t [tell me]. He never said a damn word to me.”
The LA Times’ Bill Plaschke is talking all this in and eagerly awaits some sort of full disclosure from the Lakers.
The family is being attacked by its adopted son, a player they have coddled and protected through one of the biggest sports scandals in this city’s history.
Yet, so far, the family, does nothing.
Jerry Buss is essentially accused of lying about the teams’ rebuilding effort.
Mitch Kupchak is essentially called worthless.
The entire organization is essentially cast as untrustworthy because of a supposed media leak.
If the Lakers want to maintain the respect of a community that has blindly given them their hearts, now is the time for them to turn on the lights and let the world know they’re still here.
If Jerry Buss is still alive, now is the time for him to prove it.