Updated 11:15 PM EST, Mon, Jan 25, 2021

Los Angeles Lakers - News Update: Kobe Bryant Responds to Accusatory ESPN Article

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An ESPN the Magazine article blasting Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant for alienating marquee players has met heavy criticism since its release Monday.

Indian Pacers' cornerstone Paul George called Henry Abbott's piece "crazy." World-known bassist and die-hard Lakers fan Flea said the story was "a blatant irresponsible attack," and current New York Knicks President agreed, tweeting "Go get'em, Flea."

Bryant didn't issue a response until after the Lakers' 114-108 preseason overtime loss to Phoenix Tuesday night.

"It's not the first one and it won't be the last one," Bryant told ESPN Los Angeles. "One thing I've come to understand over the years is that you'll have a bad story that comes out on a Monday and it seems like it's the end of the world and it seems like everybody's taking shots at you. But time goes by and then you look back on it and it was just a Monday.

Among the claims put forward is one where Bryant's ego sabotaged the Lakers' championship efforts by deterring free agents. Abbott lucidly connects efforts to reel in LeBron James, Chris Bosh, and Carmelo Anthony last summer to Los Angeles losing Ramon Sessions in the spring of 2012. Sessions was seen as the Lakers' next star in the making before taking a bench role in Charlotte, albeit a higher paying one.

Abbott alludes to Houston Rockets big man Dwight Howard's miserable one-and-done season in Los Angeles and how the center knowingly lost $30 million to leave Lakerland. That Bryant talked down to teammates while letting them take the brunt of the media's blame was vital to Howard's departure and the team's inability to land big name talent.  

A majority of Abbott's piece, however, relies on unnamed sources and agents without direct ties to the Lakers organization.

Bryant, who is 592 points from surpassing Michael Jordan on the NBA's all-time scoring list, hasn't been a stranger to criticism over his 18-year career. Bryant's in-house quarrels with teammates have been well documented.

Howard's mannerisms got to a point where Bryant gave his unnerved teammate a mini lecture on how to win. Both would claim the feud was blown out of proportion. Years earlier, Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal got into a heavily publicized feud where Bryant said O'Neal was "fat and out of shape."

To Bryant, stories critical of his character are a dime a dozen. He's used to taking the good with the bad.

 "It's a cycle, and things are never as good or as bad as they seem in the moment in time," Bryant said. "Stay focused on the bigger picture and things are never as bleak as they seem at the time."

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