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SPORTS: Bryant Seeks "Free Agent" Status in Two Courts

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posted on Feb, 13 2004 @ 07:07 PM
Embattled in both basketball and legal courts, Kobe Bryant plans to opt out of his contract and become a free agent this summer though he said repeatedly Friday that he still wants to be a Laker "for life."

Responding to a report that he has already made it clear to the Lakers organization that he has decided to leave, Bryant said the story was untrue. "I want to be a Laker for the rest of my life. That hasn't changed," said Bryant, who has been with Los Angeles throughout his eight-year NBA career.

He said he wants to opt out of his contract to experience what it would be like to be courted as a free agent.

Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak, who faces the prospect of losing Bryant as a free agent with nothing in return if the 25-year-old superstar decides to leave said this week "Kobe's not going anywhere."

Though, Colorado prosecuters may be of another opinion. Eagle County may in fact have the final say regarding Bryant's "free agent status" as they continue investigating his alleged rape of a 19-year-old Colorado resort worker in July of last year.

A day after interview with the NBA star by investigators was debated in court last week with defense attorneys saying prosecutors shouldn't be allowed to use the interview because it was secretly taped and he was never read his rights during what amounted to being in custody.

Hearings are expected to continue for quite some time, as is Bryant's career.


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