Jerry West has revealed that Kobe Bryant had made a commitment to join the Los Angeles Clippers while he was playing in the NBA with the Los Angeles Lakers. The former Lakers general manager, head coach, and player revealed that the 5-time NBA champion came close to joining the Lakers' city rivals but had to be talked out of it.
"Can't play for that owner"
West was making an appearance on NBA on TNT to pay tribute to Bryant, who died when the helicopter he was traveling in crashed on Sunday afternoon in Calabasas, California. The crash also claimed the life of the former Lakers star's daughter Gianna and seven other people on board.
"I remember when he was going to leave the Lakers and I've never really mentioned this to anyone," West said, as quoted on Sporting News. "He was going to come and sign with the Clippers, who I'm now involved with as a consultant. And I told him, 'Kobe, under no circumstances can you do this.' And he was mad at everyone at the Lakers, the owner, everyone else. I said, 'Kobe, you can't go play with the Clippers, you can't play for that owner [Donald Sterling], period'."
Put aside his frustration to stay with the Lakers
Sterling, the then owner of the Clippers was caught making racist remarks during a conversation with his mistress, which eventually saw him banned from the NBA for life. However, Bryant was seeking a move to the Lakers' closest rivals as he had made a commitment and was miffed with the Lakers' management at the time.
"We had two conversations about it, and he had supposedly made a commitment to the Clippers," West said. "There's so many things that we talked about as he was just seeking information. His parents were with him for a while and honestly, I felt like his father for two years. I don't know if I can get over this."
However, despite all his frustrations and the commitment, Bryant never left the Lakers for the Clippers. He remained in the purple and gold from when he was traded for in 1996 until his final game before retirement in 2006. He won five championships along with two NBA Final MVP accolades and two Olympic gold medals during his time with the Lakers.