Kobe Bryant denies attending Lakers practices last season
Lance Stephenson recently mentioned that Kobe Bryant routinely attended Los Angeles Lakers practices last season, but the franchise icon has denied doing so, according to ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith.
Stephenson, currently a free agent after signing a one-year deal with Lakers ahead of this past season, told TMZ Sports that Bryant was “always” present at practices. Smith has since relayed that Bryant told him that is not accurate, saying he has “never been to a single practice,” though Smith points out that Bryant could be being somewhat cagey with that response.
“I spoke to [Bryant] yesterday. He says, quote: ‘I have never been to a single practice.’ Those were his exact words,” Smith said on Tuesday’s “First Take” of Bryant. “Obviously there’s going to be people who believe he’s lying. I’m going to take him at his word because I don’t have any proof that he’s lying, number one. Number two, it’s pretty easy to disprove.
“[…] But Kobe is not just smart, he’s brilliant, so you have to also pick apart his words from time to time. When he says ‘I haven’t been to a single practice,’ that does not mean he hasn’t been to the Lakers facility. It does not mean he didn’t have conversations with teammates…I definitely believe it’s plausible that Kobe could have talked to individual players about basketball, but I think the reason why Kobe felt the need to say that is because of something he had reiterated to me weeks ago. He don’t have nothing to do with this Lakers mess.”
As Smith mentions — again, according to the ESPN talking head’s own reporting — that Bryant was left “livid” over getting dragged into the latest Lakers’ mess.
The impetus to Bryant’s desire to keep the Lakers at arm’s length was how a stunning bombshell report from Baxter Holmes recently spotlighted a troubling level of dysfunction plaguing the team’s front office.
To no surprise, Bryant wanted no part of it, even if he was only tangentially mentioned in the reporting in a baffling anecdote about Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka.