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Thursday, February 25, 2010
Jerry West: Smooth talker, possible Jedi

By Brian Kamenetzky

I've recommended a few times Roland Lazenby's The Show, a great and comprehensive history of the franchise. In his new book, Jerry West: Life and Legend of a Basketball Icon, Lazenby passes on a great story about how West managed to get his hands on Kobe Bryant ahead of the 1996 NBA Draft:
First West had to take the huge gamble of trading veteran center Vlade Divac to the Charlotte Hornets for their thirteenth pick in the draft. Then he learned that John Calipari, the coach of the New Jersey Nets, planned to take [Kobe] Bryant  with the eighth pick before the Lakers could snare him at thirteen.

“Jerry wanted Kobe, so he basically called up and talked Cal out of drafting Kobe,” explained Hal Wiseel, who was with the Nets at the time. West encouraged the Bryant family to talk to Calipari and explain that their son really wanted to play for the Lakers. “He knew if we didn’t take him at eight, he’d drop to Charlotte, and he could make the deal with Charlotte,” Wissel recalled. “Cal was young in the league and, hey, it’s Jerry West on the phone.”

Incidentally, Calipari ended up with Kerry Kittles. Didn't work out nearly as well.

Any shot the conversation went something like this?



This isn't the draft pick you're looking for, John. Move along.

(HT: Forum Blue and Gold)