Since Kobe Bryant’s death on Sunday morning, the internet has been filled with anecdotes about how much he meant to people. Over the years, Kobe became synonymous with the Los Angeles Lakers, a team he almost singlehandedly kept relevant for over a decade. Outside of Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks, Kobe played more seasons with a single team than any other player in NBA history.
There’s no doubt Kobe bled purple and gold until the end. However, there were a couple of times throughout his career where the narrative could’ve shifted significantly. In 2007, frustrated with the Lakers’ lack of talent, Kobe requested to be traded. Luckily, the team landed Pau Gasol in a trade and the rest is history. Apparently, that wasn’t the only time the superstar had doubts about his future with the team.
According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, towards the end of Kobe’s career, he grew uneasy with the front office and thought he could be shown the door soon. If it were to happen, he wasn’t going to retire just yet:
“Once, we were having dinner at Javier’s in Newport Beach and out of nowhere began one of our strangest conversations: Kobe was convinced that Lakers president Jim Buss wanted to amnesty the remaining money and years on his contract and force him to leave the Lakers. He had no evidence, just a hunch.
‘That is never happening,’ I told him. ‘They’d burn the city down.’
‘I think he wants to do it,’ Kobe insisted.
Well, what would happen then?
‘I’ll go to New York and play for Phil [Jackson].'”
Wojnarowski pointed out that there was no evidence Jim Buss was preparing to make that big of a move, but it would’ve sent shockwaves throughout the NBA if it would’ve happened. At that point in his career, Kobe had already cemented his legacy with the Lakers. That said, it would’ve been really difficult to see him in a different jersey.
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Phil Jackson Called Kobe ‘a Chosen One’
Phil Jackson had the pleasure of coaching two of the greatest players in NBA history in Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant. It’s not a secret that Jackson and Kobe had a rocky relationship at times, but the two paired together won five NBA championships. The former coach mourned the loss of Kobe on Sunday:
“The crash was a tragedy for multiple families. My heart goes out to Vanessa and the families that lost loved ones,” Jackson said, per Bleacher Reports Howard Beck. “Kobe was a chosen one—special in many ways to many people. Our relationship as coach/player transcended the norm. He went beyond the veil.”
Despite all the great players who spent time in the NBA, Kobe was unique. He was intense and worked harder than anybody. Though he rubbed some people the wrong way throughout his career, there’s no doubt he was one of the most respected players in NBA history.
Lakers Postponing Matchup With Clippers
The loss of Kobe was absolutely devastating to the Lakers and they have made the decision to postpone Tuesday’s matchup with the Los Angeles Clippers until a later date.
Kobe is a gargantuan figure in Los Angeles and it’s hard to imagine players who grew so close to him playing a basketball game before they’ve properly mourned. It’s a good call by the NBA to allow the Lakers to postpone the game.