Phil Jackson: “A couple of weeks later, we’re still winning and Shaq is completely motivated. But Kobe was only averaging about 19 points per game. So Kobe called Jerry West and wanted to know how Jerry and Elgin Baylor both averaged 30 points. Kobe also said that he wanted to be traded. Of course, Jerry told me about the conversation. And, for a few minutes I thought about taking the Pistons up on an offer they made to trade Kobe for Grant Hill. Make that a few seconds.
Phil Jackson: “When I returned to the Lakers, the job of getting the team back on track enabled Kobe and I to get through all that. Kwame Brown was our holdover center, but he was very inconsistent and unable to carry the offensive load that we needed to succeed. So I got together with Kobe and we worked up a list of big guys he could play with. But we couldn’t come up with anything, and Kobe was very disappointed. “So disappointed that he sat out the last two weeks of training camp and said that he wanted to be traded. The two of us talked about how we could manage this, and we gave Kobe and his agent the liberty of finding a trade that would be acceptable to the team. In all the trades that I’ve been involved with, when you trade a player who moves the needle, you never get a fair recompense. So nothing came of this.
“The thing was that Kobe already saw himself as being one of the greatest players in the history of the NBA. I thought that, in time, he would indeed reach that goal. “Anyway, he was not going to be traded. So we’d talk about being patient, and letting the game come to him. But Kobe would sometimes still go off on his own, disregarding the offense and trying to single-handedly take over the game. When I called him on this, he’d say that for us to keep on winning, there was a lot for him to do.
“Kobe also had trouble relating to his teammates. One reason is that they were generally older than he was. They’d invite him to go out with them for a meal or to a club and he’d turn them down.