Kobe Bryant strolled down the hallway of what they now call Wachovia Center in Philadelphia on Friday night and smiled when he came across an old friend.
Bryant’s whole body seemed to relax as he embraced Sonny Hill, founder of the famous Philadelphia youth basketball league that bears his name.
Hill is one of the few people who truly have a window into Bryant’s complicated mind. He has known Bryant as long as he has been alive – or longer.
“I’ve known him,” Hill said, “since before he was born.”
Today, Bryant will walk into Madison Square Garden for his first appearance in nearly two years, needing 20 points to become the youngest player in NBA history to score 20,000. After an off-season of 20,000 trade demands and just as many doses of animosity, the Lakers’ superstar finally has settled down. But it seems only temporary.
After staying quiet about his desire to be traded Bryant opened up Saturday after practice
Yes, the Knicks were on the list of four teams he asked to be traded to back in June, Bryant acknowledged to a small group of reporters. And, he said, no teams have been taken off the list.
“They were, yeah,” Bryant said, when asked if the Knicks were among the teams for which he’d agree to waive his no-trade clause. After the Knicks and Bulls, Bryant said it was the Mavericks and Suns, marking the first time he has publicly disclosed the list.
Bryant’s answers on Saturday to a series of questions about his level of happiness with the Lakers, the mechanics and details of his trade request and where he goes from here qualified as his most revealing comments since he announced, then sort of rescinded his public trade demand in late May and early June.
Asked if the list is still on the back burner and if his formal trade request is still on the table, Bryant said: “Call Mitch Kupchak and see what he thinks about that. I don’t get into that. … It’s all what Mitch wants to do, really. Mitch and Dr. Buss. It’s all on them. They can either trade me or not trade me. It’s completely their decision.”