In his recently-published autobiography, NBA legend Jerry West says, “I think it’s fair to say that I became a father figure to” Kobe Bryant.
West, of course, was the general manager who made the trade to bring Bryant to the Los Angeles Lakers as an 18-year-old rookie in 1996. Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal propelled West’s Lakers back to the heights they had reached in the 1980s “Showtime” era.
Yet Bryant declined to be interviewed for West’s book, “West by West: My Charmed, Tormented Life.”
Kobe’s a different person than when he was here and when he was young. I think he would have been concerned that this might be a controversial book. I am speculating, and I shouldn’t do this, but that’s what I think. It made no difference to me at all. I am sure his agent had something to do with it.
Coleman, who interviewed West’s family members, friends, teammates, rivals and more for the book, added:
Kobe was the only one of significance who didn’t participate. It was surprising and disappointing in equal measure, especially given the nature of the relationship. ... If you look at the pictures in the book, he celebrated the 2001 championship in Jerry’s jersey. And in another picture, the way they look at each other tells everything. Every effort was made, including a long letter sent through his agent, Rob Pelinka.
Earlier in the chat, a reader asked West — whose autobiography has been praised for tackling West’s difficult upbringing and his battle with depression — if considerations of how family members and friends could be hurt by revelations in the book factored into his decision to write it.
I think the sensitivity issue was a major one for me, and Jonathan will confirm that. But at the end of the day, there’s nothing really controversial in [the book]. I don’t rip anyone in it. My relationship with my father was the most telling thing I put in the book, that and my depression....
At the end of the day, I knew I wasn’t going to make everyone happy. There were things I didn’t want to talk about, but I said the hell with it, if I’m going to do this book, it’s going to be honest.
So why did West wrote the book?
I’m hopeful that this book would be inspirational to some young kid who can’t find a way to be competitive, and can’t find a way to show tenacity -- I’m just hopeful that kids can see that there’s a way through this. You just have to have imagination and you just have to dream big.