During a touching pregame broadcast in honor of Kobe Bryant Tuesday on TNT, Hall of Fame point guard Jerry West said he discouraged the late Lakers legend from signing with the Los Angeles Clippers in 2004. The 81-year-old didn't want Bryant to play on a team owned by Donald Sterling.
"I never really mentioned this to anyone. He (Bryant) was going to come and sign with the Clippers," West said. "... I told him, 'Kobe, under no circumstances can you do this.' ... I said 'Kobe, you can't go play with the Clippers. You can't play for that owner, period,'" West continued.
Sterling served as the Clippers' owner for 33 years. He received a lifetime ban from the NBA in April 2014 after a leaked audio recording captured him making racist remarks.
Bryant was apparently extremely close to joining the Clippers in 2004, the team's former broadcaster Ralph Lawler told the Los Angeles Times' Andrew Greif. However, the 18-time All-Star re-signed with the Lakers where he ended up spending his entire 20-year career.
Bryant won five championships as a Laker and scored 33,643 career points with the franchise, the fourth-highest total in NBA history.