Since the news came that NBA legend Kobe Bryant and eight others died in a tragic helicopter crash on Sunday, there’s been a tremendous outpouring of love for the recently deceased superstar. While it’s difficult for many to wrap their heads around the death of an icon, the best thing anybody can do is relive some of his most significant moments.
Current NBA executive and former Los Angeles Lakers player Jerry West played a massive role in Kobe becoming an icon. Fresh out of high school, Kobe was drafted by the Charlotte Hornets, but West had to have him on the Lakers and made a blockbuster trade. The rest is history as Kobe won five NBA championships and became the face of the Lakers.
However, things weren’t always going perfectly for Kobe while he was a Laker. It’s well-documented that the star requested a trade back in 2007 and apparently, he almost signed with the Clippers at one point, according to West.
“No one knows the intimate talks I had with him,” West said on TNT on Tuesday. “I remember when he was gonna leave the Lakers. I’ve never really mentioned this to anyone. He was gonna sign with the Clippers. I told him, ‘Kobe under no circumstances can you do this.’ He was mad at everyone, the Lakers, the owner, everyone.”
West Didn’t Want Him to Play for Donald Sterling
It’s unclear exactly when Kobe was contemplating making this move. West dropped some more information that gives a better idea of the timeline.
“I said, ‘Kobe you can’t go play with the Clippers, you can’t play for that owner (Donald Sterling). Period.’ We had two conversations about it,” West said. “He supposedly made a commitment to the Clippers, and after the last one we talked the last time. But there’s so many things we talked about as he was just seeking information.”
If Kobe was thinking about going to the Clippers when Donald Sterling still owned the team, it had to be before 2014. A move like that would’ve sent shockwaves across the NBA. Kobe was a winner, so it’s easy to understand the frustrations he had at the time. Based on Sterling’s very public scandal that caused him to lose the team, West made the right call in playing a role in stopping Kobe from joining the Clippers.
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Shaq Has Heartbreaking Response
There was probably no athlete who’s legacy was as entwined with Kobe Bryant as Shaquille O’Neal was. The two former teammates often butted heads but formed one of the most dominant dynasties in NBA history. Fortunately, the two hashed things out long before Kobe’s death and formed a very strong brotherhood with each other. O’Neal had a tearful statement about the news on Tuesday.
“We, our names will be attached together for what we did,” O’Neal said on TNT. “People always ask about our relationship, and I tell them it’s just like me and Charles [Barkley]. You got two strong-minded people that are going to get it done that way … going to say certain things, but the respect will never be lost, but when it comes to being inside the lines and winning, that is what me and him, that is what we did.”
O’Neal was clearly affected greatly by the news as he couldn’t hold back the tears as he talked about his late friend.
“The fact that we are not going to be able to joke at his Hall of Fame ceremony, the fact that we are not going to be able to say, ‘Ha, I got five. You got four [championships],'” O’Neal said. “The fact that we are not going to be able to say if we would have stayed together, we could have gotten 10… those are the things you can’t get back. With the loss of my father and my sister … that is the only thing I wish, I could just say something to them again.”