Sports Out West

Kobe Bryant on free agency: ‘Everybody wants to play in Los Angeles’

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

If Carmelo Anthony does decide to opt out of his contract with the New York Knicks at the end of the season, don’t expect Kobe Bryant to recruit him to play with the Los Angeles Lakers this offseason, according to Dave McMenamin of ESPNLosAngeles.com.

“Well, everybody wants to play in Los Angeles,” Bryant said before the Lakers’ 110-103 loss to the Knicks on Sunday when asked about Anthony’s potential interest in joining him in purple and gold. “I mean New York is a beautiful place, don’t get me wrong, but it is colder than s— out here. You know, palm trees and beaches obviously are a little more appealing.

“All jokes aside, I think that players, when that time comes, will have to make the best decision for them and their families. I try not to think about it too much. If he wants to call me for advice later as a friend, I will be more than happy to give it to him.”

It comes to not much of a surprise that Bryant will not look to persuade Anthony to join him in Los Angeles next season, as last offseason in the Lakers meeting with Dwight Howard it was reported that the 35-year-old gave him the “either you’re with us or your not” ultimatum. Bryant is a hard-nosed player, who will go to battle with whoever is willing to match his intensity and desire to win.

“It is hard, from a psychological perspective as a player, you don’t want to get too frustrated about things that you can’t control,” Bryant said. “You have to find that balance. At the same time, it is important for the organization to understand the level of competitiveness that you have, that you won’t tolerate having a team that is not in contention for an NBA championship, which is what I did. It rubbed a lot of people the wrong way but sometimes you got to kick down a few doors and piss some people off and trust that it will pay off in the long run. If you are willing to do that, more times than not, you will be OK.”

Anthony, like Bryant in 2007, is on a team that does not appear to be going anywhere any time soon, and to add to that the Knicks are locked up with large unwanted contracts with Amar’e Stoudemire, who will be making roughly $45 million over the next two seasons, and J.R. Smith, who has been a locker room problem this year and is scheduled to make about $17.5 million for the next three seasons if he picks up his player option in the 2015-16 season.

So if anybody can relate to Anthony’s current situation, it’s Bryant as he has dealt with the frustration of losing and the feeling that the organization does not have a championship-or-bust mentality. Bryant also shares common ground with the Knicks star as he once too was labeled as just being a scorer.

“It can contribute to a lot of frustration,” Bryant said. “That is why I was so frustrated with this organization back in 2006 and 2007 because I didn’t want to be known as a scorer. I wanted to make sure I had a team around me that could contend for a championship. So this is a team sport. A lot of times you have to work with what you have around you. You have to be lucky in the sense of having an organization that can put a great team around you and be successful.”

The 15-time All-Star also knows that the only way that label can be shed is if he wins a championship.

“The only way to do that is win,” Bryant said. “That’s it. I won five championships and there’s some of you guys still say that. You just got to take it and roll with it. The important thing is winning a championship. That’s the only way to shake it. That’s the only way Michael [Jordan] shook it. That’s the only way any top scorer will be able to shake it.”

So with that said, the Knicks have struggled mightily this season as they current hold a 17-27 record that has them 10th in the Eastern Conference and one game behind the 8th seeded Charlotte Bobcats. Although they lie a game out of the playoffs, it’s hard to believe that even if New York does make it to the playoffs that another first round exit won’t likely happen.

But ultimately, it all comes down to the organization proving to the player that they want him and that they will look to contend for a title by making moves that demonstrate that they are working towards that, and so far the Knicks have not proven the latter. There still may be plenty of basketball to play this season, but up this point New York has shown that they will not fare better than being an average team in the Eastern Conference with no championship aspirations.

In case you missed Carmelo Anthony’s 62-point outburst this past week:

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Bob Garcia IV

Bob Garcia is a sports journalist from Southern California. He was a reporter for the award-winning newspaper, The Daily Sundial, at California State University, Northridge. You can follow him on Twitter, @BGarcia90.