Kobe Bryant told LaMarcus Aldridge that he could trust the Los Angeles Lakers front office to make the kind of moves required to build a championship contending team around him, according to Kevin Ding of Bleacher Report. Bryant specifically told Aldridge about a time when he had "lost faith" in the Lakers, that he "did not believe the franchise could help him win again."
That was in 2007, when Bryant spent his offseason publicly demanding a trade to the Chicago Bulls or even Pluto. Then the Lakers roared out of the gate in the Western Conference behind a young Andrew Bynum and Bryant, but the big man suffered a knee injury. The team traded for the Memphis Grizzlies' Pau Gasol out of nowhere and made it all the way to the 2008 NBA Finals before falling in six games to the Boston Celtics. The front office traded for New Orleans Hornets point guard Chris Paul further down the road, only to see the trade blocked by then NBA commissioner David Stern, acting as the owner of the Hornets at the time.
Bryant told Aldridge about the failed trade during the Lakers' meeting and tried to drive home that the Lakers always push to find a way of making big things happen because of their commitment to winning, according to Ding:
He had lost faith in the Los Angeles Lakers, Bryant told LaMarcus Aldridge.
Bryant did not believe the franchise could help him win again. Until, much to his awe and delight, Bryant said, the Lakers turned it all around in 2008, getting him Pau Gasol and two more titles.
Bryant didn't stop there: He brought up the blocked Chris Paul trade to Aldridge as even greater proof of Mitch Kupchak's team-building brilliance.
Bryant suggested to Aldridge that attempting to land Paul wasn't just paving the way for even more championships; the Lakers were set to save a ton of money in that deal in an even more extraordinary victory. Although the Paul trade wasn't allowed to go down, Bryant said, it just goes to show that you can count on Kupchak and the Lakers to find a way to get you the help you need.
It was strong, passionate, inspiring stuff. But Bryant's message, and everything else presented to Aldridge in the Lakers' two-hour free-agent meeting with him late Tuesday night, did not hit home.
The Lakers will meet with Aldridge for the second time on Thursday afternoon, after the free agent forward reportedly did not "gel" with Bryant in the first meeting. The Lakers second meeting with Aldridge will include just head coach Byron Scott and general manager Mitch Kupchak, and will focus solely on basketball.