Kobe Bryant: Trades are business
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant was the first person to speak on behalf of the team Friday after the trade fiasco that went down a day before. By his mundane response, one would hardly think anything was out of the ordinary in Laker Land.
"It's part of the business," Bryant said.
NBA commissioner David Stern vetoed a three-team trade between the Lakers, Hornets and Rockets on Thursday evening that would have brought Chris Paul to the Lakers and sent Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom out of town.
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Neither Gasol nor Odom practiced with the team on the first day of training camp and both exited the facility before speaking to the media.
"Unfortunately, it's just the nature of the beast, man," said Bryant. "In the business that we're in, owners can make trades and in this situation the commissioner has a right to void the trade. So, for the players involved it's always tough to hear your name mentioned in trade rumors and trade discussions. But, at the end of the day, you just got to do your job. You can only control so much.
"I don't really think about it. It's not our job to. It's our job to show up and play."
When asked again by a reporter about Stern's decision, Bryant repeated his stance in more colorful fashion.
"He can do whatever the hell he wants, he's commissioner," he said.
Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak addressed the team as a group before the start of practice and Bryant said he spoke to Gasol and Odom individually, but the five-time champion vowed the situation hasn't affected his or his team's focus.
"Everybody here is just going to do their jobs," Bryant said. "There's not anything really crazy or mystical about we have to do. We have to show up, work hard, focus on each other and our chemistry and we'll be fine."
For a man who created an even crazier start to Lakers training camp in 2007 by requesting a trade during that offseason and then going silent for the rest of the summer, Friday was child's play.
"I've been in this business for 16 years, I've done seen a lot of crazy s---," Bryant said.
He shrugged off the suggestion that any "hurt feelings" Gasol and Odom might have initially experienced would have any lingering effects on the team's performance as it opens up a lockout-shortened, 66-game season under new coach Mike Brown.
"I'm sure it's a little tough at first when you first hear it, kind of the whole shock of the whole situation, but after that, they'll get over it," Bryant said. "You don't win back-to-back championships while being soft emotionally, that's not the case."
Bryant thinks that Gasol and Odom should have more hurt feelings over the way the Lakers were swept out of the playoffs by Dallas in embarrassing fashion last spring than over the fact that they were almost traded.
"I think that's probably where some of the hurt comes from because I think everybody wants a chance to come back and do this again and try to avenge what happened last season," Bryant said. "So, I think that's where some of the hurt probably comes from on Lamar's and Pau's part."
With only 15 days of training camp and two preseason games before the curtains open on the season Christmas Day at Staples Center against the Chicago Bulls, Bryant said there is no time to dwell on anything.
"You have no choice. You got to do your job," Bryant said before adding a subtle jab at the owners who demanded player salaries be reduced during the lockout negotiations. "This is what we do and we're overpaid to do it. ... Well some of us. ... That's a whole other topic."
Dave McMenamin covers the Lakers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.