Sunday, May 27, 2007 Updated: May 28, 11:02 AM ET
Kobe wants West to return to Lakers with full authority
ESPN.com news services
Kobe Bryant isn't happy with the Lakers' direction and wants Jerry West back in Los Angeles to fix things.
Bryant told ESPN The Magazine's Ric Bucher that he wants the Lakers to bring West back to the organization and give him full authority. If the Lakers don't want to do that, Bryant said he wants to be traded.
However, Bryant told The Los Angeles Times that he was just making a suggestion and wasn't demanding a trade if West wasn't brought back.
"I would love for him to be a part of this," Bryant told the newspaper. "But it's not something where I demand he comes here. All I can do is offer my thoughts. I love being a Laker. I want to retire a Laker. I want to fix this thing, or at least help any way I can."
In a story in Sunday's Los Angeles Times, Bryant said he was frustrated that the team has not made any significant moves since it re-signed him.
"I want to see us get to a contending level," he told The Times. "I want to see us become a championship contender. It's been a frustrating process for me and I'm sure it's been a frustrating process for all Laker fans. I'm just hoping we can get to that level. I'm still frustrated. I'm waiting for them to make some changes."
Stein: Part-time Solution
Kobe Bryant wants Jerry West back in L.A. That could happen, but West's expected level of involvement is uncertain, Marc Stein writes. Story
• Stein blog
• Rumor Central
Mitch Kupchak is the current Lakers general manager.
West, who spent five seasons in Memphis, will leave his post as the Grizzlies' director of basketball operations July 1 at the end of his contract. West helped build the Lakers' dynasty in the '80s and engineered their rebirth in the '90s, overseeing seven NBA championship teams -- including back-to-back champions in 1987-1988 and three consecutive crowns from 2000-2002.
"I haven't thought about it at all until Kobe brought it up today. My main priority is to [Grizzlies owner] Mike Heisley and to finish up with the Memphis Grizzlies," West told ESPN's Jim Gray on Sunday night. "I am fiercely loyal to Mike, as I am to Mitch Kupchak. Having said that, I'm a lifelong Laker and we will see what happens."
In Memphis, West never had the advantages he enjoyed in the large market of Los Angeles, where he signed Shaquille O'Neal and traded Vlade Divac for Bryant.
Bryant averaged 31.6 points per game in 2007 as the Lakers qualified for the seventh seed in the Western Conference with a 42-40 record. Los Angeles lost in five games to the Suns, however, and the Lakers haven't won a championship since O'Neal was traded to the Heat.