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Kobe Bryant: ‘I couldn’t play for him’

Apr 26, 2014, 8:24 PM EDT

Considering the news of the day, Kobe Bryant’s latest tweet is almost certainly about Donald Sterling:

When Kobe was a free agent 10 years ago, he said, “I could see myself playing for the Clippers.”

That doesn’t necessarily make Kobe a hypocrite. For one, he didn’t sign with the Clippers, and it’s possible Sterling’s ownership was the reason. It’s also possible Kobe learned more about Sterling since, though Sterling’s racism has long-been alleged.

But it’s also possible Kobe is saying one thing now when he would have done the opposite in a different situation – and maybe that’s a reasonable way to handle two different situations.

It’s a question with no easy answer. How should people handle working for someone whose worldview doesn’t align with their own?

Kobe has a large contract with the Lakers, and there’s no chance of them trading him to Los Angeles’ other team. He’s stable now.

When he was a free agent and his future was more tenuous, maybe playing for Sterling wasn’t so unappealing if it came with other advantages.

I have no doubt Kobe, even if his previous comments on race have caused confusion, abhors what Sterling allegedly said. I’m sure he’d prefer not to play for an owner like that, and now that there are no advantages to doing so, Kobe no longer must bite his tongue.

But when the Clippers could offer him the best combination of winning, money, location and any other factor Kobe deemed important… should he have let Sterling set back his professional aspirations? That isn’t fair to Kobe.

It’s why LeBron James, who also came out strongly against Sterling today, also entertained the Clippers as a free agent option. It’s why Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, Doc Rivers and the rest aren’t wrong for working for the Clippers now. They shouldn’t necessarily deny themselves professional opportunities in very a very competitive field with very limited openings.

So, today, Kobe can truthfully say he wouldn’t play for Sterling – even if it was a legitimate option for him 10 years ago.

  1. nfl4days - Apr 26, 2014 at 8:33 PM

    Dang. Kobe AND Lebron? The superstars of the NBA need to speak up because that really puts the pressure on Silver to deal with this scumbag. He’s spread his bigotry long enough and the Clippers players, coaches, and fans shouldn’t have to deal with this crap during what is their most successful season in franchise history.

  2. jimeejohnson - Apr 26, 2014 at 8:34 PM

    Donald Sterling: karma caught up with you, and it’s a bitch! Kobe had no reason to keep quiet and said what a lot of other players, black and white, are thinking. Prejudice = ignorance, whether inbred or through indoctrination.

    And now back to Gilligan’s Island!!!

  3. antistratfordian - Apr 26, 2014 at 8:41 PM

    But he could play for his best friend.

  4. 700levelvet - Apr 26, 2014 at 8:43 PM

    Remember when Karl Malone was hunting for ” young Mexican girls” … His wife had more balls than he did…End of story… Couldn’t wouldn’t my ass…

  5. agent0027 - Apr 26, 2014 at 8:46 PM

    I’m just hoping he’s talking about D’Antoni and he’s finally fed up. Strange timing perhaps, but…..please be that

  6. ourempirestrikesback - Apr 26, 2014 at 9:02 PM

    But he has no problem with sexual assault, right?

    • macka4 - May 29, 2014 at 1:34 AM

      Don’t blame him. And there are plenty of players who wouldn’t want to play with you.

    • ranfan12 - Jun 7, 2014 at 12:22 AM

      Hitting it from the back over the chair is not assault no matter how hard the other person is receiving on the other end

  7. gborange - Apr 26, 2014 at 9:10 PM

    For 10 mil a year I’d let him say anything he wanted to about me… Or to me for that matter

  8. dbfan4ever - Apr 26, 2014 at 9:25 PM

    White players shouldn’t want to play for this owner! Maybe he can convince Riley Cooper to switch sports!

  9. dolphindubs - Apr 26, 2014 at 9:33 PM

    The Clippers players should rip the name “Clippers” off the front of their jerseys and play for the names on the back of their and each others jerseys. Take away Sterlings team name.

    March on Paul, Griffin, Jordan, Crawford, Reddick, Bullock, Collison, Davis, Barnes, Granger, Dudley, Turkoglo, Green, Hollins, and coach Rivers!

    • redbaronx - Apr 27, 2014 at 9:52 AM

      @dolphindubs – I like your idea much better than a player boycott. The Clippers worked hard all year and they shouldn’t have to throw all of that away. But taking the name off their Jerseys for one game would be a smart way to do it. While the NBA might not be able to force Stirling out, Stirling might be persuaded to sell the team if all his employees show that they don’t want to play for him.

    • 00maltliquor - Apr 27, 2014 at 3:53 PM

      I really dig that idea. but I’m pretty sure Silver would fine them heavy for that. But that would be the coolest thing in the world to see.

  10. rodge1 - Apr 26, 2014 at 9:38 PM

    Is Kobe still playing?

  11. urodaddy07 - Apr 26, 2014 at 9:39 PM

    I’m trying to figure why it’s necessary to dissect a simple statement like this

  12. onbucky96 - Apr 26, 2014 at 9:44 PM

    That’s funny, he didn’t show up for the Lakers finale either.

  13. CrownsDownFootball420 - Apr 26, 2014 at 9:57 PM

    Report: Kobe Bryant would rather play for Donald Sterling before playing for Mike D’Antoni for one more year

  14. genericcommenter - Apr 26, 2014 at 10:11 PM

    When you are a free agent trying maximize your deal, you don’t rule out playing for anyone.

  15. psly2124 - Apr 26, 2014 at 10:55 PM

    20 million says you would play for the clippers.

  16. addict2sport - Apr 26, 2014 at 11:00 PM

    Maybe he was referring to the reports of the Lakers bringing D’Antoni back.

  17. rainmaker1982 - Apr 26, 2014 at 11:02 PM

    Before I clicked on the link, I was hoping he was referring to D’Antoni.

    It’s really sad the Lakers are getting worse by the day.

  18. eagles3333 - Apr 26, 2014 at 11:32 PM

    B.S. He would play for him if the money was right.

  19. campcouch - Apr 27, 2014 at 5:44 AM

    didn’t affect my day whatsoever,besides reading about it.

  20. sumkat - Apr 27, 2014 at 10:51 AM

    ” I couldn’t see myself playing for him….except in a situation where he is willing to give me more money, just like in 2004″

  21. djshnooks - Apr 27, 2014 at 4:26 PM

    Wouldn’t or couldn’t? Which one is it?

  22. tombstone7 - May 28, 2014 at 7:57 AM

    Why isn’t David Stern being held accountable?
    Sterling has long been a bigot and Stern knew.

    Shame on David Stern & Stu Jackson!

  23. adouglass28 - Jun 18, 2014 at 9:40 AM

    Well Kobe couldn’t play with Shaq either so I don’t know why this is a story.

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