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Wednesday, May 30, 2007
Updated: May 31, 10:55 AM ET
Bryant: 'I want to be a Laker'

ESPN.com

Lakers guard Kobe Bryant went on 1050 ESPN Radio in New York and told Stephen A. Smith that he wants to be traded. A few hours later, he went on Dan Patrick's show and said he wants to remain a Laker. The following is a complete transcript of Dan's radio interview with Kobe.

DAN PATRICK: Kobe Bryant a couple hours ago was on with Stephen A. Smith saying he wanted to be traded. Kobe joins us now a couple of hours after the fact. Your thoughts on wanting to be traded, Kobe?

KOBE BRYANT: No, it's just -- is a real tough -- it's a real tough, tough situation, you know. DP: But you still feel that way?

KB: Yeah. It's -- it ain't -- it's not easy at all. But, you know --

DP: Are you angry? You sound down, depressed.

KB: I'm just -- it's just -- I'm disappointed more than anything, you know.

DP: About what?

KB: Well, when they told me from the beginning of this whole process, before I re-signed, the promises that they made to rebuild right now, then to find out, they told Phil something different, which was a long-term plan. But to get me to re-sign they told me that they were rebuilding ... rebuild right now. Then just the whole thing with Shaquille kind of just leaving me out there to dry.

DP: Yeah, I don't understand the timing of this, Kobe. Maybe you can help clarify it for me. I thought we had moved past the Shaquille O'Neal is not a Laker any more, all of a sudden you're to blame for Shaq leaving, or at least partially to blame. Explain the timing of that unnamed source, the article in the L.A. Times, and then your response.

KB: Well, when all this stuff broke out about Mr. West coming back, and me supposedly making the demand to be traded, which I never did, I was still in the pocket of just getting ready for this summer ... getting ready for next season. When Phil and I talked it was all about next year, me just training and certain things that I'm working on defensively to get prepared. So, that's the pocket I stayed in.

Just the next day, getting up, train early in the morning, and, picking up the paper after that, seeing a Laker insider saying that I ran Shaq out. Now, for me to see that, I just -- that just drove me through the roof.

DP: Yeah, but any thoughts that they planted this, that maybe they do want to move in a different direction and maybe they want you to be the bad guy.

KB: You know what, nothing surprises me at this point. Nothing surprises me at this point because, they know what happened with the Shaquille situation. They know what they told me, you know. They know I had nothing to do with that. For Laker insider to say that, it's extremely hurtful.

DP: Would you wave your no trade?

KB: Yeah, absolutely.

DP: So you don't care where you go? The Lakers could make a deal and send you to Atlanta?

KB: Oh, at this point, man, I told you, I'll play anywhere. I just want to play basketball. I want to play basketball and not worry about anything else, not worry about being a scapegoat for anything. I just want to play.

DP: But here's the thing, though. You want to win again. How important is it to win again or how important is it to just get out of Los Angeles?

KB: Well, see ... this is what ... the message when Phil and I talked ... this was the underlining message: Okay, we don't have a championship-caliber team right now. I'm frustrated about that. He's frustrated about that. But he assured me. He said, 'We will get there. We're going to do things. We're going to try to get there.'

So, that's why I was in the pocket of just getting ready for next year, just training hard for this summer. we took it to the next level with this Laker insider just coming out, just blaming me for the whole Shaquille thing. Prior to seeing that, I just assumed it was, media saying I was the one that ran him out, so forth and so on. I never thought that, it was somebody inside the Lakers' walls kind of fanning that flame.

When I saw that, now it was, okay, you know what, I'm taking that bullet. I'm not taking the bullet for something I did not do. It's time for me to go out and say what I need to say about what happened. That's what I did.

DP: Lakers owner Jerry Buss has issued a statement we just got. "We're aware of the media reports, however Kobe has not told us directly that he wants to be traded. We have made it very clear that we are building our team around Kobe and that we intend for him to be a Laker his entire career. We will speak directly to Kobe, and until we do that we will not comment publicly about this."

Your reaction?

KB: Well, I know we put the call into Mitch. He's the general manager. We put the call into him.

DP: You called Mitch today?

KB: Yeah, we called Mitch today.

DP: And did you leave a message? How did that go?

KB: No, we spoke to him.

DP: And what did you say?

KB: Yeah, I wasn't on the phone personally myself. I don't -- if I'm going to speak somebody about this, I'll speak to Dr. Buss. I know he was out of town. Sounds like he's back in town now. So maybe he'll call me. He has my number. Maybe he'll call.

DP: Did your representatives say to Mitch exactly what you've been saying, that you want to be dealt?

KB: Yeah.

DP: What if they don't trade you?

KB: They don't trade me, what am I going to do? I'll step on the basketball floor, still got to perform. I got to play well. This is -- I'm not going to go out there --

DP: If you were the Lakers, would you trade you?

KB: Would I trade me?

DP: Yes.

KB: I would just want them to do the right thing. They know what they promised me. They know somebody in there is saying something that's completely inaccurate, completely not true and they're just letting me take the bullet for something I did not do. Just do the right thing.

DP: Kobe Bryant joining us, Dan Patrick show on ESPN Radio. After you saw the quote from Shaq, he told Stephen A. that you were a hundred percent correct, backing you up, what did that do for your resolve in facing the Lakers and wanting out?

KB: Well, it made me feel good in the sense that, I don't think Shaquille ever even heard what I had to say. You know what I mean? Because I never said anything about it. I just kept quiet about it. So I think when Stephen A. talked to him he heard what I had to say. I think it just completed the puzzle for him.

DP: Give me scenarios here. Where do you want to go?

KB: I don't know. I don't know.

DP: Yeah, but you have to look at it with logic here, Kobe.

KB: I'm not looking at anything right now. It's just -- it's just really tough right now.

DP: So it's more not where I'm going; it's where I've been and I want out of there?

KB: Yeah, it's -- it's tough. It's just rougher right now. It's -- the person that I lean on a lot right now is Phil. We spoke twice today. he was -- he said he couldn't blame me for it, he'd do the same thing. He said at the same time, we believe that we can figure some things out here and make sure that something like that, within the organization doesn't happen again, that they got to take care of the business internally so players who play for the organization feel safe, feel trusted, and we're going to try to go from there.

DP: What if Jerry West decides to in back, even as a consultant?

KB: Well, that would be -- Jerry West, I trust Jerry West with everything.

DP: Is that enough to keep you in Los Angeles?

KB: That -- that would definitely -- that would definitely help out of the situation because I want to feel like there's somebody up there I can trust, you know. And Phil is one of those people. I don't know who -- I have an idea who said it. I'm not going to get into speculation. I don't know if there's anybody else out there who's helping out with it. But, I know who is the insider.

DP: Take me into the Four Seasons Hotel, when you're there with Dr. Jerry Buss and he says, I'm not bringing Shaq back, I can't pay him that kind of money. What was your reaction?

KB: I just said to him, okay, kind of why are you telling me this, what do I have to do with this. He then went from that to talking about my free agency, rebuilding, things of that nature. I just kind of sat there and listened.

DP: I guess I'm surprised, though, when you drafted Andrew Bynum, why would Phil Jackson come back? This looks like you're rebuilding, not reloading. Then you bring in Kwame and trade Butler. Did you get a feeling there was handwriting on the wall here, wait a minute, I'm getting a mixed message, a couple years ago?

KB: Yeah. Oh, absolutely, absolutely.

DP: But you still resigned, though?

KB: Yeah, but that was prior.

DP: Before that?

KB: Yeah, right. So, when we have Baron Davis, who was a getable player, we passed on that. Carlos Boozer was a getable player, we passed on that.

DP: What about the J Kidd at the trade deadline and you didn't get him?

KB: Right. All these things added to the frustration, obviously. But I think, we just want to try to get -- just want to try to get to that elite level. What I was told was we were going to try to do that now as opposed to, have a long-term plan for it.

DP: Is Phil coming back?

KB: Is Phil coming back? When Phil and I spoke, he was optimistic and determined to --

DP: But is his future tied to yours?

KB: What I was going to say is he's optimistic and determined that we'll both be back. And, Phil is somebody, I listen to, I listen to heavily. I lean on him a lot. He assured me, said things are going to be okay, things are going to be all right. Don't go full bore just yet. Just take a deep breath, kind of let us work these things out, and everything will be all right, which was very encouraging for me to hear because, I don't want to go anyplace else. I don't want to. I want to be a Laker. I want to be here for the rest of my career. It was encouraging to hear that.

DP: So after you made the trade demands with Stephen A. Smith, then you talked to Phil, and did that offer different perspective? I mean, it sounds like that was a little more perspective for you, to think bigger terms here. You're frustrated, you're angry, hold on, just trust me, let's go through this together. Am I paraphrasing correctly?

KB: Well, he said, I can't blame you for feeling that way. He said, (I - I'd?) feel the same way. We have to figure things out within the organization so that players feel, you know -- he doesn't want to have players on the team that don't feel like they can trust somebody within the organization. He said, you know what, let us work some things out. I'm optimistic that we'll both come back.

DP: Is there a player that would keep you there?

KB: Is there a player?

DP: Yeah, that you bring in.

KB: Uhm --

DP: What would signal okay, now I feel like that's the move that was made and I'm ready to go and I think we have a chance to compete instead of just struggling to be an eighth seed.

KB: All this started from the frustration of us not making strides, forward and trying to improve the team, and obviously, jumped to another level when insider blamed me for what we've talked about now.

The whole team thing, I believe that, with all that's been going on and all the talk that's been going on, we feel the sense of urgency to go out there and try to get some players and do it now as opposed to waiting.

DP: But my concern is, Kobe, they've made moves, they made bad moves. So how much confidence do you have in the front office that even if they do make a move, that they won't screw it up again?

KB: Right. I just -- like I said, I don't really have much to lean on, you know what I mean, outside of PJ, the confidence that he has, because I know how badly he wants to win. I know how badly he wants to win. He know how badly I want to win. So if you can draw confidence from somewhere, I'll believe in him.

DP: So what's the next step for you?

KB: Just continue my training, right now. My daughter has a ballet class. I'm going to take my daughter to ballet, watch her do her thing there.

DP: Well, you got your priorities in order.

KB: It's my girl. My girl is -- kids just bring balance to everything, you know.

DP: But you're going to be quiet? Do you just sit there and say, Okay, now the ball's in your court, Lakers?

KB: I'm so tired of talking, you know what I mean? It's tough, man. I always dreamed about retiring as a Laker, you know. I hope, I just hope, hope and hope that, something can -- something can be resolved, something can be figured out, just something, so I can stay here and be in the city and be with the team I love.

DP: Thanks for joining us, Kobe. Good luck with the rest of the summer and, more importantly, enjoy ballet class.

KB: Thanks, man. Appreciate it.