In a Q&A with Dave McMenamin of ESPNLosAngeles.comn, Chris Kaman revealed that he "hates" Kobe Bryant. Kaman said: "I always hated him. When you play against a guy like him, Kevin Durant, LeBron James, you don’t like them because they’re so competitive. I respect that, but I don’t like playing against them. But when you’re on their team, it’s a whole different story. You love the people. They’re good guys. Kobe, he’s just been working hard trying to get himself ready. He comes to practice and he works his butt off. I respect that as well. I’m excited for him to play. I’m hoping sooner than later."
While Kaman's dislike of Bryant is quiet amicable, that does not hold true for every NBA player who has played with or against him. Recently, several NBA agents told ESPN that Bryant is the reason that NBA players attempt to avoid the Los Angeles Lakers.
"Peek behind the banners," says one longtime NBA agent, "and it's rotten."
"Kobe is like the big rock in their front yard," says an agent who has had a Lakers client in recent years. "You can't mow over it, so you just have to mow around it."
There is at least some truth to these allegations. First, this is a guy who didn't invite his parents, agent or teammates to his wedding. Second, several players have publicly said that he is difficult to work with.
On the other side of this, if the Lakers were winning championships, or at least not a complete injury ridded mess, more players would be willing to deal with a few unpleasant fixtures.
Jeanie Buss told ESPN's SportsCenter that "Any free agent that would be afraid to play with Kobe Bryant is probably a loser, and I'm glad they wouldn't come to the team." Buss didn't directly engage with the comments. However, that is not really the case anyway. Here are ten players who don't like Kobe Bryant. And, they are not exactly a bunch of losers.
10 Paul George
According to the reports that surfaced earlier this month, Kobe Bryant was one of the main reasons that Paul George opted out of pursuing contract negations with the Los Angeles Lakers when he was a restricted free agent.
After losing Dwight Howard a summer earlier, the Lakers went after Carmelo Anthony and Chris Bosh as major pieces for the franchise during free agency. However, George was always their safe choice. An LA native, George would have grown up watching the Lakers and Kobe. George elected to sign a maximum contract extension with the Indiana Pacers as opposed to signing with the Lakers during the upcoming free agency.
Reports say George was turned off by the thought that Bryant would police his efforts. George himself simply said that signing with the Lakers wouldn't be a smart move.
9 Pau Gasol
Pau Gasol and Kobe Bryant always seemed to have a friendly relationship as co-workers during Gasol's tenure as a Laker. However, like any relationship, it wasn't without a few bumps. Like that one time Bryant unfollowed Gasol on Twitter because the Lakers were playing so poorly.
However, in 2011, rumors that Gasol and Bryant were fighting swirled when their chemistry on the court seemed very off. During that year, the Lakers were swept by the Dallas Mavericks during the NBA playoffs and many media sources reported that Bryant and his wife Vanessa were key factors in Gasol's breakup with girlfriend Sylvia Lopez Castro, a dancer and reality show star.
It was rumored that Bryant and Gasol got into such a heated argument that they stopped speaking to each other. But at the very least, the two had a better working relationship than that Bryant had with much of the Lakers' alumni.
8 Andrew Bynum
Andrew Bynum and Bryant had a little bit of an "on and off" relationship throughout Bynum's time wearing the purple and gold. Bynum told ESPN: "The guy wants to win so you always have issues with him if you're playing poorly or subpar. Other than that I think I'm a guy who can help this team win when I go out and play dominant and not have much of an issue."
Bynum is an incredibly talented center, however, it is often assessed he never really gives his all on the court. In fact, sources would tell Yahoo! Sports that Bynum, "Doesn't want to play basketball anymore. He never liked it that much in first place."
However, once Bynum was traded to the Philadelphia Sixers, things were definitely "off" between him and Bryant. As soon as Bynum was traded, Bryant released his true feelings on Bynum to the media and Bynum responded. He accused Bryant of stunting his growth as a basketball player.
7 Kwame Brown
Kwame Brown had a really rough experience with the Lakers, and the Lakers had a really rough experience with Brown. When Steve Nash signed with the Lakers, Bryant told reporters: "I tell Steve, you won MVP but I was playing with Smush Parker," Bryant joked of his former teammate. "He's playing with [Leandro] Barbosa. I'm playing with Smush and Kwame [Brown]. My goodness."
Bryant would tell stories about his time with Brown, one of those occurred against the Detroit Pistons. Bryant said:
"I’m surrounded by these players, Detroit players, and Kwame is under the basket, all by himself. Literally, like all by himself. So I pass him the ball, he bobbled it and it goes out of bounds. So we go back to the timeout and I’m [upset], right? He goes, ‘I was wide open.’ ‘Yeah, I know.’ This is how I’m talking to him, like, during the game. I said, ‘You’re going to be open again, Kwame, because Rasheed is just totally ignoring you.’ He said, ‘Well, if I’m open don’t throw it to me.’ I was like, ‘Huh?’ He said, ‘Don’t throw it to me.’ I said, ‘Why not?’ He said, well, ‘I’m nervous. If I catch it and he foul me, I won’t make the free throws.’ I said, ‘Hell no!’"
Bryant requested that Phil Jackson take Brown out of the game but Jackson wanted him to figure it out.
Unlike Smush Parker who responded to Bryant's allegations, Brown has kept very quiet.
6 Ray Allen
Ray Allen and Kobe Bryant's rivalry dates back to 2004, stemming from some comments that Allen made about Bryant regarding his need to prove himself without Shaq. "He's going to be very selfish," Allen told the media in October of 2004, during the NBA preseason. "And he feels like he needs to show this league and the people in this country that he is better without Shaq. He can win championships without Shaq. So offensively, he's going to jump out and say, 'I can average 30 points. I can still carry the load on this team.'"
It was reported that Bryant became upset upon seeing the remarks from Allen, and left him a voicemail saying, "I'm going to bust your a**."
Bryant says this never happened, adding, “Don’t even put me and dude [Allen] in the same breath" when a reporter questioned him about Allen.
The next evening, Bryant would walk up to the Seattle SuperSonics bench, where Allen was seated and trashed talked him. Teammates would get involved, including Lamar Odom, who uttered that Allen had "started it."
When Allen's Boston Celtics beat the Lakers in a six-game Finals, things seemed to finally cooled off between Allen and Bryant. However, the level of competition between them hasn't reached that height since.
5 Chris Mihm
Chris Mihm played with the Lakers from 2004 to 2009. He was one of the teammates Bryant expressed his dislike for in 2012 when he went after Mihm, Brown and Parker with some very defamatory comments. Bryant, while reflecting on the post-Shaq and pre-Pau Gasol era, said: "I was shooting 45 times a game. What was I supposed to do? Pass it into Chris Mihm and Kwame Brown?"
During these years, Bryant would sit on the back of the team plane by himself. He would sit with his security team at a separate table at dinners while the rest of the team dined together.
Mihm never publicly commented on Bryant but it is very unlikely that the feelings were one-sided.
4 Karl Malone
In 2004, things became heated between Bryant and the Hall of Fame power forward, Karl Malone. The feud would became intense when Bryant accused Malone of making a pass at his wife while attending a Lakers game.
Bryant's agent, Rob Pelinka, told ESPN that Malone made "several inappropriate comments" to Bryant's wife, Vanessa Bryant, during the Lakers home game against the Milwaukee Bucks.
Malone did not deny the claim but rather commented that he would not be “a star in another Bryant soap opera."
Malone contends Bryant called him twice and threatened him. The situation infuriated Malone and led him to end his relationship with the Lakers.
3 Smush Parker
Smush Parker's relationship with Bryant turned sour on their first day of practice. Parker attempted to engage Bryant in a conversation about football and Bryant told him, ‘You can’t talk to me. You need more accolades under your belt before you come talk to me.'
Not a great day one.
Bryant showed the same dislike he showed on day one when he told the Los Angeles Times, "Smush Parker was the worst. He shouldn't have been in the NBA, but we were too cheap to pay for a point guard. We let him walk on."
Parker said that playing with the Lakers was "very overrated." In 2009, Parker said something that has been repeated a lot as of late. He commented that"the problem with that team starts with him and ends with him."
2 Dwight Howard
Dwight Howard and Kobe Bryant made an effort to appear as if they liked each other even when everybody knew that they didn’t like each other. The Lakers used comedy to project a more peaceful image, just as Shaq had done years earlier. The Lakers' Twitter account would post photos of Howard and Bryant with coach Mike D'Antoni between them, acting like he was preventing them from fighting.
Other than a lot of airing their problems with each other to the media, things between Howard and Bryant never really got into it as teammates. However, now that they aren't both wearing gold and purple, things are a lot more out there.
Lakers coach Byron Scott simply stated that the two “don’t like each other.” While in the most recent meet up between the Lakers and the Houston Rockets, Howard threw an elbow Bryant's way. It was followed by some mutual trash talking.
Howard maintains that he is totally over Bryant but trying to smack him in the head suggests otherwise.
1 Shaquille O'Neal
Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal's dislike for each other as teammates is legendary. During the 1999-2000 season, Shaq stated Kobe was playing too selfishly for the team to win during a team meeting. According to Roland Lazenby's book, The Show, Shaq slapped Kobe during a pickup game at the Lakers' practice facility.
During discussions regarding Bryant's sexual assault case, Bryant accused Shaq, who was married at the time, of paying women to avoid such situations. Bryant alleged that Shaq had paid up to a $1 million dollars to keep women quiet. Shaq responded by saying that it was not he, but rather Bryant who was "buying love."
At one point, Shaq would perform a free-style rap in which he expressed his feelings forwards Bryant.
Never in sports has such an elite combo had such severe problems as teammates that they couldn’t play together. The battle to beat each other dominated the battle to beat other teams. Even after Shaq left, the two would rarely acknowledge one another when they played against each other.
Bryant didn't attend Shaq's jersey retirement ceremony at the Staples Center while he was in the building. His reason? He was stretching.