LOS ANGELES -- Although he didn't rescind his trade request,
Kobe Bryant softened his stance somewhat Thursday night, saying he
had apologized to Los Angeles Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak
in person for the way he handled his upset feelings five weeks ago.
"I just felt like as a man, it was important for me to tell
him, 'I'm sorry it came out that way,' " Bryant said at a lightly
attended news conference at Loyola Marymount, where he spoke mainly
about his camp for youngsters at the school this week.
Bryant said that while he could have called Kupchak, it was
important he speak with him face-to-face.
"I was frustrated, I was venting," Bryant said.
When asked whether he still wanted out, Bryant replied: "I
haven't thought about that in a long, long time. I've kind of
stepped away from that. I've concentrated on Team USA. What I say
is what I say. We'll just have to see where it goes."
The U.S. national team begins practice July 20 in Las Vegas.
Bryant, the NBA's leading scorer the past two seasons,
complained about a lack of talent around him at season's end, and
said May 30 he wanted to be traded, adding nothing could change his
Despite that request, the Lakers have made clear that trading
Bryant isn't in their plans. Bryant is owed $88.6 million over the
next four seasons, but could terminate his contract in two years.
The Lakers haven't won a playoff series since reaching the NBA Finals in 2004 for the fourth time in five years. With Bryant and
Shaquille O'Neal leading the way, they won three straight
championships from 2000-02.
O'Neal was traded to Miami in July 2004, a day before Bryant
signed a seven-year, $136.4 million contract to remain with the Lakers, who
haven't won a playoff series since O'Neal left.
Bryant said he hasn't spoken with Derek Fisher since Monday,
when Fisher was released by the Utah Jazz so he can concentrate on
finding the best care for his 11-month-old daughter, who has cancer
in her left eye.
Fisher said he wants to live in one of the six or seven cities
being considered for Tatum's care. Bryant and Fisher were teammates
and, from all indications, good friends while playing with the
Lakers from 1996-2004 -- the first eight seasons of their NBA
Kupchak didn't rule out the possibility of a return to the
Lakers for Fisher, who signed with Golden State as a free agent
after the 2003-04 season and was later traded to Utah.
Bryant said 450 kids aged 8-to-18 attended his camp.