Kobe Bryant says only "special" players deserve to play for the Lakers

With the Los Angeles Lakers concluding trades to send Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr. to the Cleveland Cavaliers before the trade deadline, it has allowed them to free up the necessary cap space to sign two max players this summer.

They are expected to pursue free agents LeBron James and Paul George as their top two targets.

President Magic Johnson is determined to make the Lakers a championship-contending team again and is hoping to attract marquee names to bring their talents to L.A.

The Purple and Gold are looking for their next big superstar after Kobe Bryant retired in 2016.

The Black Mamba’s shoes are big ones to fill and Magic and the Lakers front office will be doing everything they can to recruit a superstar.

That could potentially include asking Bryant himself to help with the recruiting of top free agents.

But the five-time champion has made it clear that he’s not willing to speak to any players about joining his former team as he doesn’t feel anybody should be convinced to play for the storied franchise.

“The thing about this franchise is that you shouldn’t need recruiting to come here,” Bryant told Jalen Rose of ESPN. “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’s footsteps and myself and the dynasty that we’ve had, it takes a special person to do that. And if I need to convince you to come here, to carry that legacy forward, you ain’t the one to be here.”

Bryant believes only a certain type of player can represent the Lakers and should have one mindset only; winning a championship.

“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.”

This would suggest that Kobe has no interest in being involved in his old team’s efforts to woo either LeBron or George when they hit free agency in the offseason.

But the Lakers’ hopes of being among the elite teams in the league again will largely depend on how successful they can be in bringing in the players that can make that happen this summer.

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