Jerry West Rumors
Baxter Holmes: Former Los Angeles Lakers executive Jerry West credited Kobe Bryant’s former agent for helping steer Bryant to the Lakers back in 1996. “His agent, Arn Tellem, told the New Jersey Nets [who had the 8th overall pick] he didn’t want to play there,” West said Thursday. “It was too close to Philadelphia, [Bryant’s hometown]. Other teams talked about drafting him, and we didn’t hear much talk about it at all. Then Kobe’s parents got involved, and he would really basically try to tell people that he didn’t want to play so close to his hometown. So to say that we did this on our own would be fiction. We had a lot of help along the way.”
Baxter Holmes: Former Los Angeles Lakers executive Jerry West said he was fortunate enough to be “like a father” to Kobe Bryant shortly after the Lakers acquired Bryant in 1996. “He spent time in my house, [I] interacted with him,” West said Thursday. “[I] tried to be a father figure to tell him that this is not as easy as you think it’s going to be, regardless of how skilled you are. I said, You’re going to have to learn how to play with your teammates. You’re going to have to learn how to play an NBA game. This is not one against five; it’s five against five.'”
Baxter Holmes: Jerry West said Kobe Bryant “was fixated on not having a career; he was fixated on having an incredible career.” But Bryant still had to learn to play team basketball. “I would go to practice and there are five guys out there…he’d be dribbling through all five of them, make a dunk or something, and look back and try to laugh at them, right?” West said Thursday. “And he’d start talking afterwards. ‘What do you think of that?’ And I said, ‘I thought that’s pretty good, but that’s not going to win in the NBA.'” West added, “They used to call him ‘Showboat.’ Used to call him ‘Showboat.’ And I told him, ‘That’s not a becoming name.’ I said, ‘You don’t want to be a showboat.’ When somebody looks at you, they want to see the greatness you can attain if you change some of the things you’re doing, and, boy, did he ever do that.”
Baxter Holmes: Kobe Bryant very much appreciated the Golden State Warriors’ farewell gift to him before Thursday’s game — a five-day vacation package in Napa Valley. “That was sweet. It’s a five-star stay and get a chance to enjoy Napa Valley at the highest, highest level,” Bryant said. “I told them before the game, ‘I wish I would’ve had my last game here earlier in the season because you guys just elevate the bar in terms of gifts that I’m receiving.’ It was awesome to see them and get a chance to spend some time with [Warriors executive board member Jerry West] and spend some time with [Warriors general manager Bob Myers], who I’ve known for a long time. Just an absolute class organization.”
Jerry West: ”My admiration for him will be my lasting memories when I leave this Earth, but he’s just someone I’ve always loved. I’ve loved him like my son, to be honest with you. He was different, unique, spent a lot of time with him when he was young. For me now, at the end of two eras I guess, it’s almost sad, to be honest with you. But for him I just wish him all the success in the world going forward and I know he’ll find a way to be successful in something else.”
West on Kobe’s case to be crowned as the greatest Laker of all time: “I would never get into that, to be honest with you. There’s been so many unbelieveable players in Los Angeles, maybe the best of the best. And I just don’t think you can get into those areas, I don’t. Earvin Johnson, [Kareem] Abdul-Jabbar … what an incredible player he is and doesn’t get enough credit. Earvin … one of the most unique players I’ve ever seen in my life. Shaquille O’Neal, my goodness, I’m going to miss somebody.