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Kobe Bryant denies Lance Stephenson’s claim that he has been showing up to Lakers practices

Kobe Bryant, Lakers, Lance Stephenson

According to ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith, Kobe Bryant hasn’t been showing up to Los Angeles Lakers practices as Lance Stephenson has claimed.

Stephenson recently told TMZ Bryant is “always” at the team’s practices. Smith, however, says he spoke to Bryant himself and the Lakers legend refuted Stephenson’s claim.

“I spoke to him yesterday,” Smith said on ESPN’s First take. “He says, quote: ‘I have never been to a single practice.’ Those were his exact words. Obviously, there’s going to be people who believe he’s lying. I’m going to take him at his word because I don’t have any proof that he’s lying, number one. Number two, it’s pretty easy to disprove.

“But Kobe is not just smart, he’s brilliant, so you have to also pick apart his words from time to time. When he says, ‘I haven’t been to a single practice,’ that does not mean he hasn’t been to the Lakers facility. It does not mean he didn’t have conversations with teammates…I definitely believe it’s plausible that Kobe could have talked to individual players about basketball, but I think the reason why Kobe felt the need to say that is because of something he had reiterated to me weeks ago. He don’t have nothing to do with this Lakers mess.”

Yes, the Lakers are a mess right now and no one is going to blame Bryant — the best player in franchise history — for wanting to stay away from the Purple and Gold at the moment.

Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka can win over Laker fans this summer if he can sign Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard or Kyrie Irving, or trade for Anthony Davis.

However, the Lakers aren’t favored to sign KD, Leonard or Irving, while the New Orleans Pelicans will have a bunch of teams trying to acquire AD from them.