Lakers News: Latest Buzz on Kobe Bryant's Role in LeBron James Pursuit and More

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistOctober 15, 2018

LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 10:  LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers posts up against Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers at STAPLES Center on March 10, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2016 NBAE (Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images)
Noah Graham/Getty Images

The thing about LeBron James stories is that we'll never get enough of him.

That was true before the four-time MVP joined the NBA's most famous franchise. Our interest has only trended up since.

It almost doesn't matter what the story involves; if James is included, that's usually enough. When other All-Stars are added to the reports, though, that's when reports go from just being juicy to becoming must-reads.

The following three clips all fall into that category.


Kobe Bryant's Advice for Landing LeBron

LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 18:  Lakers owner Jeanie Buss speaks at Kobe Bryant's jersey retirement ceremony during halftime of a basketball game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Golden State Warriors at Staples Center on December 18, 2017 in Los Ang
Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images

Before Magic Johnson served as the Lakers president of basketball operations, there were a couple of weeks where he served as an adviser to the club's co-owner and CEO, Jeanie Buss.

In order to for Johnson to climb all the way up the ladder, the former flashy point guard needed an assist from someone else. Kobe Bryant stepped in with the nudge Buss needed to make such a dramatic change.

"He said, 'If you're going to do this, then go all the way,'" Buss told The Athletic's Sam Amick. "He's Mamba, so he said, 'If you're going to play (around), then they'll come back and kill you if you don't go all the way. ... Be decisive and be quick, and go all-in or don't do it at all, because you'll sabotage yourself before you even get to start.'"

Bryant jazzed up the language a bit, but the message to Buss was essentially to depose her brother Jim, the team's executive VP of basketball operations, and longtime general manager Mitch Kupchak and give Johnson the controls. The way Bryant saw it, that was the only way the Lakers would give themselves a chance at ever landing LeBron.

"Jeanie, I know who we're trying to get; we know who we're trying to get, so that player is not going to come here with all of this s--t going on. It's not going to happen," Bryant told Buss. "So if you do want to have that focus and go after that player, then I'm telling you that you've gotta clean house, and you've gotta just reshuffle the deck and start anew."

Buss, of course, pulled the trigger and then watched Johnson enter a one-on-one meeting with James that would elicit the King's commitment to the franchise a few hours later.

The biggest takeaway here is that if the Black Mamba speaks, it's probably worth listening.


Kevin Love Would Recommend LeBron As Teammate

CLEVELAND, OH - MAY 19:  Kevin Love #0 and LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers look on in the first half against the Boston Celtics during Game Three of the 2018 NBA Eastern Conference Finals at Quicken Loans Arena on May 19, 2018 in Cleveland, Oh
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Playing with LeBron isn't easy. Doing so inside the Lakers' fishbowl might up the difficulty level even further.

But Kevin Love has something to tell prospective targets of the Purple and Gold: He'd recommend suiting up with the three-time champion.

As Love told's Brian Windhorst, there's more to gain than lose alongside LeBron:

"You have to be resilient. I had a lot of hard nights. There were dark times. But I always believed keep fighting, I was stubborn about it. And LeBron makes sure you have a chance to win every year. He's gotten a lot of guys rings. You're going to win at the highest level. We won and we bonded and we're going to continue this brotherhood."

Love's message resonates for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is the absence of fluff.

He doesn't glorify the experience. It's painful, it's humbling and it'll challenge a player's resolve.

But in the end, the payoff is worth it. And that's a potentially critical conclusion for Love if any top-shelf 2019 free agents are paying attention.


Kevin Durant Says LeBron Recruitment Didn't Happen

LAS VEGAS, NV- OCTOBER 10:   LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers handles the ball against Kevin Durant #35 of the Golden State Warriors on October 10, 2018 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees
Chris Elise/Getty Images

James' relationship with Kevin Durant has yielded some epic on-court battles, legendary training sessions and even a hip-hop collaboration.

What it didn't produce, though—according to Durant—was any recruitment effort on James' side for the superstars to join forces in L.A. this summer, as ESPN's Stephen A. Smith had reported hearing.

"That was all false," Durant told Bay Area News Group's Mark Medina. "All false. 100 percent false. He didn't talk about none of that stuff."

It'll be fascinating to see whether that's the case next summer.

Durant can re-enter free agency in 2019, and he hasn't exactly quieted speculation that he might be open to changing addresses. The Lakers will have major money to spend, and their stock might be up dramatically after a full season with James and another developmental year for their youngsters.

At the very least, it should give Durant something to think about.


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