Paul George refutes report he didn’t want to play with Kobe Bryant: ‘Media reaching again’

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The largest sports media outlet in existence published two hit jobs on Kobe Bryant inside of the same week.

The first piece, which was in defense of placing Bryant at 40 in their individual player rankings, wasn’t worth responding to, mainly because of the bizarre, angry tone with which the screed was written. And, a line near the end stating that “the current version of Kobe is not much of an NBA player” essentially erased the entire argument, because if that were true (or at least if that was the true belief of those who compiled the rankings), he should have been much further down on the list.

The second piece, however, which claimed that Bryant is almost entirely to blame for the current state of the Lakers franchise, was different. It contained detailed reporting from numerous (anonymous) sources, some of which specifically called out players by name who refused to consider Los Angeles as a free agent destination while Kobe was still around.

One of those players has responded.

That would be Paul George, who re-signed with the Pacers in 2013 because, at least according to this piece, he reportedly “was turned off by the thought that Bryant would police his efforts.”

The problem here — besides the player personally refuting the information — is that it wasn’t like George ever had a chance to sign with the Lakers. He would have been a restricted free agent this summer had the Pacers not offered him a five-year max contract in advance of the 2013 deadline to do so, and even if George decided that he wanted to leave to play in Los Angeles, it wouldn’t have been his decision because Indiana would have had the right to match any offer he would have received.

That’s just one of many issues in the piece, which was well-written but comes from a very one-sided perspective.

It’s disappointing to see such a prominent outlet continue to take shots at one of the game’s greatest players. It feels like we should be celebrating Bryant in the final years of his career, especially after seeing him hobble through only six games a season ago. But for some reason, this particular network seems to feel that tearing him down is the way to go instead, which is even more odd considering that it’s one of the league’s broadcast partners, and the Lakers (as usual) will be heavily featured this season during nationally televised contests.

But as the kids are saying these days, that’s none of my business.