Kobe Bryant calls out fans for booing

DENVER -- Kobe Bryant clarified his remarks that Denver Nuggets fans are "stupid" for booing Carmelo Anthony over his trade stance.

The Lakers were in town to play the Nuggets, and after shootaround Friday, Bryant was asked again about Anthony getting roundly booed following his 35-point performance against Oklahoma City 48 hours earlier.

"I said they were idiots for booing," Bryant recounted.

Reminded that a day earlier he had characterized those frustrated fans as "stupid" for booing their own superstar, Bryant replied, "Stupid and idiots are synonymous."

Idiots might be harsher.

"I don't know," Bryant said. "They're close. They're cousins."

Either way, the Los Angeles Lakers star who regularly gets booed at Pepsi Center himself, contends Anthony -- his teammate on the 2008 Olympic gold-medal team -- doesn't deserve similar treatment from his home crowd.

Bryant quieted the Nuggets fans his own way, scoring 14 of his 18 points in the decisive third quarter as the Lakers won 107-97.

He suggested that if Anthony were at all waffling about his desire for a trade, the Nuggets fans' hostile treatment just might push him out of Denver.

"Melo's a good friend of mine and it's the truth," Bryant said after the game. "It's stupid. You don't boo him. It's silly. You boo him the first time, let him know how you feel and get over it."

Anthony has been the subject of trade talk since refusing to sign a three-year, $65 million extension last summer. Two potential blockbuster trades with the New Jersey Nets have fallen apart.

Nuggets general manager Masai Ujiri said after the Nets halted negotiations on their latest megadeal Wednesday that he still was talking to several teams about his All-Star forward.

Anthony missed the Nuggets' shootaround Friday morning because of what coach George Karl called a personal matter (it was an excused absence), but he was in the starting lineup Friday night, scoring 23 points.

"I see both sides," Karl said. "I want to support Melo. I also want to support the fans. They're part of us. They're part of our organization. We can't be successful without them. I can't deny that some of them are probably very frustrated."

The situation reminded Bryant of a difficult time in his own career, when in May 2007, he demanded to be traded because the Lakers were not focused on building a winning team.

"In my situation, we weren't spending the money to get players [to the Lakers]," Bryant said. "They had me playing around with Smush Parker. So until they decided that they wanted to make the necessary sacrifice financially and give me a team that was going to be competitive, then I didn't want to be here. It was as simple as that.

In Bryant's view, it's clear what the Nuggets -- who have salary-cap space to play with this summer -- have to do to keep Anthony.

" . . . It's about winning. If you want to keep a player here, make the right decisions," Bryant said. "Make the right choices, first of all. Get a team around a guy that can help you win and there won't be no problem."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.