LOS ANGELES (AP) - Kobe Bryant asked to be traded from the Lakers on Wednesday, a day after calling the team's front office "a mess." He said there was nothing the Lakers could do to change his mind.
"I would like to be traded, yeah," Bryant told ESPN radio. "Tough as it is to come to that conclusion there's no other alternative."
Bryant, who helped the Lakers win three consecutive NBA championships, has four years left on the seven-year, $136.4 million contract he signed July 15, 2004. That was a day after Shaquille O'Neal was traded to the Miami Heat.
Bryant became infuriated Tuesday when a Los Angeles Times columnist quoted what he called a Lakers insider as saying it was Bryant's insistence on getting away from O'Neal that prompted the trade to Miami.
The Lakers did not immediately respond to a message left by The Associated Press.
Bryant, an 11-year veteran who turns 29 in August, urged the team at season's end to do whatever it takes to get back into championship contention. He essentially repeated those comments last weekend in an interview with the Los Angeles Times.
On Sunday, he suggested former Lakers general manager Jerry West should return to the team. West left the team in the summer of 2000 and was succeeded by current GM Mitch Kupchak.
West, an employee of the Lakers for some 40 years as a player, coach and executive, is under contract as the Memphis Grizzlies' president until July 1. He turned 69 this week and has remained a close friend of Kupchak's. West said in a statement he has "no plans to seek employment with any other organization."
On Tuesday, Bryant did a series of radio interviews bashing the Lakers. He contended owner Jerry Buss misled him three years ago, saying the team would try immediately to rejoin the NBA's elite.
Bryant earned $17.72 million last season and is owed $88.6 million over the next four years. He can terminate his contract following the 2008-09 season.
He would obviously waive his no-trade clause, but he has a trade clause in his contract that is believed to add about $13 million to his total contract value, a cost to be absorbed by any team that acquires him. The money would be paid like a signing bonus and would not count toward the salary cap. The Lakers had to pay a similar fee to Lamar Odom when they acquired him from Miami three years ago, paying him about $8 million.
With O'Neal and Bryant leading the way, the Lakers won championships from 2000-02 and reached the NBA finals again in 2004, losing to the Detroit Pistons in five games.
The team was broken up at that time, with O'Neal traded, coach Phil Jackson leaving and other stalwarts - Karl Malone, Gary Payton, Derek Fisher, Robert Horry and Rick Fox - going elsewhere or retiring.
The Lakers failed to make the playoffs the following season. With Jackson returning, they finished seventh in the Western Conference in each of the past two years but were eliminated by the Phoenix Suns in the first round of the playoffs.