During Tuesday’s tribute to Kobe Bryant on TNT, Jerry West revealed that he convinced Kobe to not join the LA Clippers in free agency.
Tuesday night’s tribute to Kobe Bryant on TNT was an extremely emotional event. Ernie Johnson, Shaquille O’Neal, Kenny Smith, Charles Barkley, and Dwyane Wade sat center court at Staples Center to honor the late Kobe Bryant. At one point in the evening, Jerry West joined the group to share his sentiments and a previously untold story about how he convinced Bryant to not join the LA Clippers.
West called Kobe’s death “the saddest day” of his life and said the loss of his brother in the Korean War was the only comparable thing he could think of. West continued to explain just how close he and Bryant’s relationship was, even mentioning at one point that he felt like his father for a couple of years.
We knew that Kobe considered joining the Clippers at one point in his career but never knew why he changed his mind. West was working for the Memphis Grizzlies as General Manager at the time when he spoke with Kobe who was unhappy with how the Lakers were being handled.
West told him not to play with the Clippers due to Donald Sterling still owning the team. You can check out the full clip below.
It’s hard not to wonder what may have been had Jerry not dissuaded him from changing LA teams. Yes, the Clippers would have been a lot better but Kobe may not have earned his fourth and fifth championship rings. We know that given the circumstances at that time that Jerry’s advice was the correct assessment of the situation.
The irony isn’t lost that Jerry West now works for that same franchise albeit under a different owner. The culture of the team has completely changed since Steve Ballmer took over after the league ousted Donald Sterling.
As people continue to mourn the loss of Kobe Bryant more and more stories are likely to come out. His life impacted many people and it seems each person he came across has a significant memory of their time together.