Kobe Bryant says Lakers 'shouldn't need' to recruit free agents
Many expect the Los Angeles Lakers roster to be overhauled during the NBA off-season but icon Kobe Bryant does not believe the franchise should spend much energy trying to lure players.
There will be several high-profile free agents potentially available for the Lakers to target, including LeBron James and Paul George.
But Bryant, who spent his entire 20-year career with the Lakers – winning five NBA championships while claiming the NBA Finals MVP in 2009 and 2010, told ESPN: "You know, the thing about this franchise is that you shouldn't need recruiting to come in it.
"It takes a special person to want to play for this franchise, and take the pressure that comes along with playing for this franchise. The pressure of following Magic [Johnson]'s footsteps, myself and the dynasty that we've had, it takes a special person to do that.
"And if I need to convince you come here, to carry that legacy forward, then you ain't the one to be it."
The 2010 title is the last time the Lakers won a championship and they have not made the playoffs since getting swept in the first round by the San Antonio Spurs in 2013.
But the Lakers, who are 23-34 at the All-Star break this season, are still one of the NBA's most storied franchises with 16 championships.
Bryant thinks that should be enough to tempt star names.
"When you're here, the most important thing is winning championships. I don't care about anything else. It's winning championships," Bryant said. "You don't have to like each other, but you will show up to practice every day and play hard, you will focus and commit to winning, and you know, if that's the case, then you'll be just fine.
"You can go play someplace else," Bryant added. "That's fine, too. I mean, it's a certain personality that comes along with it. It's a brand thing. I mean, the Lakers stand for excellence. They stand for winning. We don't hang division banners. You know what I'm saying? We don't do that. We don't retire everyone's jerseys. We retire Hall of Fame jerseys.
"... The people that are here need to be able to lift that standard and hold themselves to that standard. Which in turn gives you the ability to hold everybody else to that standard. If you can't do that, you can't be here."