No way Kobe Bryant was leaving town

Kobe shoots down rumors

This just in: Kobe Bryant Still a Laker.

There’s an old joke in the newspaper biz about editors racking their brains for another angle on the sensational death of actor John Garfield when one suggests:

“John Garfield Still Dead.”

There were times when Bryant didn’t just think about leaving but was set to go — in 2004 when he told the Clippers he was there; in 2007 when he got permission to try to put together a trade to Chicago — but this wasn’t one.

Talk about a no-brainer: glamour market... great organization... supporting cast with two All-Star-caliber 7-footers.

Of course, he’s Kobe, so anything’s possible, like maintaining an ominous silence so it won’t be a distraction ... creating a vacuum the Internet rushes into, making it a distraction.

Noting Bryant was “definitely in the mix,” an unnamed general manager recently told’s Ken Berger, “Don’t rule him out if LeBron [James] says no to New York....

“He can use the Clippers all he wants, but he’s not going to [them] — unless he gets to pick his own coach and GM or something like that.”

You’ve heard of stupid pet tricks. Well, there are more stupid pet theories.

This guy not only knows Kobe is open to leaving but where he’d go, whom he’ll use for leverage — which he hardly needs — and on what basis he’d change his mind.

Trust me, no one ever has a clue what Bryant will do, which is why everyone always wonders what he’ll do.

A smile and a “no comment” would have kept it from ever coming up. There isn’t a word on the Internet about Dallas’ Dirk Nowitzki, who’ll also be a free agent but hasn’t done the coy thing like LeBron, or the deadly silent thing like our Mamba.

Got to love the Madness

Players who helped, or were helping themselves in the NCAA tournament:

John Wall, Kentucky — So much for “debate” on who’s No. 1. Derrick Rose times two. Most athletic point guard ever at any level. Blows by defenders as if they’re traffic cones.

Says a GM: “People look for little point guards who are fast with the ball, or big ones like Jason Kidd who overpower people. He’s both. He can change directions at full speed. And he never charges.”

Epke Udoh, Baylor — Athletic power forward with surprising floor game. Anyone who didn’t have him in the lottery does now.

Jordan Crawford, Xavier — Sophomore guard, already considered comer before breaking out with 28-27-32 in tourney.

Gordon Hayward, Butler — Despite stereotypes and boy-next-door look, just OK shooter, but hard-nosed and a leaper.

Kyle Singler, Duke — ESPN’s Chad Ford has him No. 52 after his struggle with move to small forward, but he’s now more like 20s. Over 50% on threes in last 17 games, making almost three a game.

Durrell Summers, Michigan State — Powerful, inconsistent {"schizo” says scout) shooting guard. Stepped up with Kalin Lucas out, averaging 20 in first four in tourney.

Jimmer Fredette, Brigham Young — New choice among shooting point guards. Better shooter than Villanova’s Scottie Reynolds.

Jon Scheyer, Duke — Athletic Nolan Smith gets more attention, but he’s not a point guard. Scheyer, considered an undraftable shooting guard, showing he can play point and is tough, to boot.