Report: Donald Sterling refused 2010 meeting with LeBron James, but met with Kobe Bryant
Former Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling was so bad at his job that he didn’t even meet with LeBron James during the summer of 2010 when The King was a free agent. Rumor has it that the only player Sterling ever met with in free agency was Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant.
The Clippers also went into the (LeBron James) meeting convinced he was leaving but unaware that having cap space for both Bosh and Wade could seal the deal. Team president Andy Roeser and general manager Neil Olshey were their lone representatives; owner Donald Sterling refused to be part of the contingent. “The farthest Donald has ever gone to meet with a free agent is to Newport Beach to meet with Kobe [Bryant],” a league source says.
Bryant was “very close” to signing with the Clippers as a free agent in 2004. At the time, the Lakers legend was a free agent and his relationship with Shaquille O’Neal had deteriorated severely.
In the end, though, Bryant stayed with the Lakers, while O’Neal was traded to the Miami Heat. The Black Mamba won two more titles with the Lakers in 2009 and 2010.
Fellow Lakers great Jerry West, while discussing the tragic death of Bryant earlier this year, revealed that he told Kobe not to sign with the Clippers because of Sterling.
“I remember when he was going to leave the Lakers, and I’ve never really mentioned this to anyone, he was going to come and sign with the Clippers, who I’m now involved with as a consultant. And I told him, ‘Kobe, under no circumstances can you do this.’
“And he was mad at everyone, the Lakers, the owner, everyone else. I said ‘Kobe you can’t go play with the Clippers. You can’t play for that owner, period.’ We had two conversations about it.”
West’s comments certainly offer some interesting insight into how the whole thing unfolded.