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.