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In case there was any question left, the Kobe draft-and-trade was filthy as you thought

Feb 24, 2010, 9:35 PM EDT

Jerry West could not be more iconic. Literally. It is not possible for him to be more iconic in the National Basketball Association. So there’s a lot of leeway given to him for all he’s given to the game.  And today, Dime Magazine found out just how much he’s gotten away with over the years, in particular when it comes to Kobe Bryant.

Dime excerpts the newest book from ESPN Books by Roland Lazenby about the Laker legend, Jerry West: The Life and Legend of a Basketball Icon, and relates the story of West talking John Calipari out of drafting Kobe Bryant and having Kobe tell him how much he only wanted to play for the Lakers.

Let’s be clear, there’s nothing illegal (that I know of) about what West did. A GM can tell another GM anything they want, and it’s the responsibility of that GM to do what they think is best. Likewise, even though it’s kind of a crappy move for the player to try and pick and choose where he plays (think Eli Manning with the Chargers when he was drafted), there’s nothing illegal about it.

But it’s just so odd that the most successful franchise in the NBA manages to talk an opposing coach out of drafting a player, then trade garbage for that player and wind up with one of the top five players in NBA history. I suppose history begets success, but it just seems a little too easy, doesn’t it?

Regardless, a note to opposing NBA GMs. If anyone from the Lakers calls you to talk about who to draft, or trade, or really any personnel move whatsoever? I have some advice. Hang up the phone as quickly as possible.

  1. Bizzle - Feb 25, 2010 at 2:33 AM

    I think Vlade Divac and the entire Kings franchise would take offense to you calling Vlade “garbage”

  2. Cali Mae - Feb 25, 2010 at 2:32 PM

    EXACTLY-how insulting. Jerry West is coming out with his autobiography in the fall; let’s wait and hear it from him. Lazenby’s book is rehashed old interviews and articles. How does he know what Jerry said??

  3. Dude Playing A Dude Disguised as Another Dude - Feb 25, 2010 at 9:41 PM

    It’s easy to look at the Kobe/Vlade trade as a “steal” because of the results. But the truth is, Jerry West took a huge risk, drafting a shooting guard straight out of high school of average to below average size. We’re not talking about a 7-footer or a physical specimen like LeBron, but a skinny 6’5ish shooting guard. But bigger than that, the Vlade trade was a salary cap space move so they could dump his salary and go after a free agent named Shaquille O’Neil. Remember, the Lakers signed him to a $120MM contract that same off-season.
    Here is a link to a story quoting people who actually made the trade:
    West ends up looking like a genius (and rightfully so) because he ended-up getting Shaq near the top of his game, and Kobe all in the same off-season. But it could have easily been a bust.

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