Lakers: Video - Bryant Frustrated
Recently Basketball News was approached with the opportunity to purchase video footage featuring Los Angeles Lakers All-Star Kobe Bryant. In what was apparently a chance encounter outside of a Newport Beach deli, Bryant spoke openly about his frustration with the team's personnel decisions.
It is outside of our journalistic ethics to obtain a video for money. However, the owners of the clip are committed to making the content public.
Having turned away a lucrative offer (by an unknown party) to destroy the tape, the group has put the video on the market to the highest bidder.
Whether they make a little bit, or as one of the gentlemen indicated, "more than a little bit," eventually it will make headlines.
I have seen the video. Bryant is wearing a red shirt and sunglasses. Apparently the videographer and Bryant frequent the same establishment and are on general speaking terms.
While the conversation was purported to have lasted approximately 15 minutes, the video is brief. It was taken with a digital camera and leaves no doubt that it is in fact Bryant.
Interspersed with numerous cuss words, Bryant discusses the Lakers' decision not to trade Andrew Bynum to the New Jersey Nets at the trade deadline in February.
"Ship his [rear end] out. We're talking Jason Kidd," said Bryant. "They didn't want to do that. That's why we're in this [messed up] position."
The footage was shot in early June, close to the date when Bryant went on numerous radio stations to express his unhappiness in the team's direction . . . and ultimately demand a trade.
In addition to the video the group has an audio clip captured on a cell phone on June 10th.
Bryant is approached with the query, "Please tell us you're staying!"
His response: "Get a [Chicago] Bulls uniform fellas."
The "Kobe Video Guys", as they wish to be called, feel the "public has a right to know." Justifying their individual pursuit, they feel Bryant has no reasonable expectation of privacy. He was speaking openly in front of a camera without any request of confidentiality.
This is a difficult subject to breach as I'm not a fan of sensationalist journalism. The bottom line is that these quotes (and/or clips) will end up on sites like TMZ.com and ESPN.com within a week's time.
Laker spokesman John Black declined comment Sunday.
Having covered the Los Angeles Lakers for some time now, there is no question that it is Bryant on the video.
While an audio clip can be doctored, based on my experience interviewing Bryant numerous times . . . I am confident it is his voice.
In the meantime, the administrator of his website (kb24.com) is under explicit instructions from Bryant to keep the Laker All-Star's "farewell" message current. The Associated Press recently reported it as a new statement, but it was just Bryant reiterating his commitment to leaving the Lakers.
Team owner Dr. Jerry Buss recently met with Kobe in Barcelona to discuss Bryant's future. As reported by Basketball News on Saturday, Bryant has not backed off his trade demand.
It's difficult to tell how Buss will respond to Bryant's request or if this new information will have any impact on that decision.
Ultimately the team has Bryant under contract until at least 2009. While he can use the media to pressure the team, he cannot force the Lakers to deal him.
Buss reportedly plans on meeting again with Bryant, but with the NBA Draft approaching quickly, decisions need to be made . . . and soon.