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Carmelo Anthony drama reminds Lakers' Kobe Bryant about his trade demand in 2007

Bryant, who wanted to be moved because he felt the Lakers weren't trying to build a winner, says he offered support to the Nuggets' star forward.

January 20, 2011|By Broderick Turner

Reporting from Denver — Kobe Bryant sat on a chair with his black letterman's-looking jacket on, a smile crossing his face when he saw a few reporters who cover the Denver Nuggets approach him before the Lakers began practice Thursday.

Bryant looked at the group and joked that they had "lots to write about" regarding the on-again, off-again trade saga with forward Carmelo Anthony.

As Bryant talked about how he supported and advised Anthony during the time the Nuggets were engaged in discussions with the New Jersey Nets that were called off Wednesday, he reflected on his drama in 2007.

It was May of that year when Bryant went on Los Angeles radio stations and called newspaper reporters, insisting that he be traded because he felt the Lakers weren't trying to build a winner right away.

Bryant's situation dragged into the start of the regular season. He wanted to play for the Chicago Bulls.

As Bryant reminisced about that, a day before the Lakers were scheduled to play the Nuggets on Friday night, he said he and Anthony have a common goal.

"I know for me, it was all about winning," Bryant said. "In my situation, we weren't spending the money to get players [to the Lakers]. They had me playing around with Smush Parker. So until they decided that they wanted to make the necessary sacrifice financially and give me a team that was going to be competitive, then I didn't want to be here. It was as simple as that."

The Lakers acquired Pau Gasol in February of 2008, went to the NBA Finals that season and won the last two championships.

Bryant was asked what the Lakers would have done if he hadn't spoken out.

"They probably would have just coasted," Bryant said. "But, I wasn't going for that."

When Lakers Coach Phil Jackson was asked what he recalled from that period, he joked that he had "amnesia."

"Didn't [Lakers owner Jerry Buss] fly to Barcelona to meet him?" Jackson said, recalling certain events. "Yes, I remember it now. That's going in the book."

Jackson laughed, indicating that the story of Bryant's trade request will be in his book when this season is over and the coach is presumably retired.

"Yeah, it was pretty intense," Jackson said. "It was an intense time for our team. I think the most amazing thing is he stepped up out of not playing for like a week or something like that and started the season off right with a bang."

As for Anthony, Bryant said he didn't feel bad for his friend and that Anthony was not turning his back on Denver.

"It has nothing to do with a bigger market," Bryant said. "It's about winning. If you want to keep a player here, make the right decisions. Make the right choices, first of all. Get a team around a guy that can help you win and there won't be no problem."

broderick.turner@latimes.com

twitter.com/BA_Turner

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