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Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant has revealed that he had wanted to leave the franchise over a decade ago to play alongside Michael Jordan in Washington.
Bryant has long been compared to his idol give the similarities in their respective games, and according to a Washington Post report, the Lakers legend wanted to leave and play for the Wizards in order to join Jordan as he enjoyed the final year of his career.
“That’s true,” Bryant told the Post. “A long time ago? Yeah.”
“”I’ve always been very big on having mentors, on having muses, and I’ve been really, really big on that, being around guys who have done it before and done it at a high level and always tried to pick their brains and always tried to absorb knowledge. Obviously, being in that situation [with the Wizards], it would’ve helped having to be around him every day and so on.”
However, Bryant saw his dream scenario ruined when then-Wizards owner Abe Pollin parted ways with Jordan in 2003, a year before Bryant became a free agent.
The 36-year-old insisted that the pair would have won championships together on a great team and he also revealed that another major reason behind his desire to leave was his feud with teammate Shaquille O’Neal.
O’Neal was a three-time Finals MVP between 2000-02, and Bryant felt as though he had a point to prove in terms of being able to dominate on his own and guide the team to more championships without Shaq.
“The challenge had been thrown down upon me, of not being able to win without Shaq. A public challenge never really bothered me too much, but he made a couple of comments as well. I think he called me Penny Hardaway Part 2 or something like that. So that’s what [ticked] me off.
“Then it was like, ‘Listen, you know the step back that I took to help us win championships. Let’s not get [expletive] confused. I can dominate on my own. I decided to stay here and win championships and sacrifice MVPs and scoring titles and all that stuff.’ So once that was said, it was like a line in the sand now.”
Bryant opted to undergo surgery on a torn rotator cuff in his shoulder this week which effectively ends his season, and he will now look ahead to his rehabilitation process in order to get himself healthy for his final year in the league.