Kobe Bryant didn't mince words when he told ESPN's Jalen Rose that only a "special" kind of player can be a Los Angeles Laker.
The future Hall of Famer, who played his entire 20-year career with the Lakers, was asked whether he would help the team recruit free agents this summer, given the amount of salary-cap space and young talent the franchise has as it attempts to climb back to a championship level.
After laughing off the idea of "coddling" players (or "babysitting" them, Rose suggested) and boasting his rings and team banners, Bryant didn't hold back.
"You know, the thing about this franchise is that you shouldn't need recruiting to come in it," Bryant said. "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 [Johnson]'s footsteps, myself and the dynasty that we've had, it takes a special person to do that.
"And if I need to convince you come here, to carry that legacy forward, then you ain't the one to be it."
Windhorst disagrees with Kobe's free agency strategy
Brian Windhorst disputes Kobe Bryant's recruitment strategy because the Lakers have changed since he played there.
The Lakers have 16 championships and last won in 2010, when Bryant was named Most Valuable Player of the Finals for the second straight year. Bryant won five championships as a Laker in seven trips to the Finals; Johnson won five championships in nine Finals appearances.
"When you're here, the most important thing is winning championships. I don't care about anything else. It's winning championships," Bryant said. "You don't have to like each other, but you will show up to practice every day and play hard, you will focus and commit to winning, and you know, if that's the case, then you'll be just fine."
"And if not?" Rose asked.
"Then you can go play someplace else," Bryant said. "That's fine, too. I mean, 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."
The Lakers are 23-34 at the All-Star break. They haven't reached the playoffs since the 2012-13 season.