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LOS ANGELES — Quite literally, Memphis Grizzlies general manager Jerry West epitomizes the NBA. He is "Logo Man," the silhouette of West dribbling the officially trademarked logo of the league.
Well, "Logo Man" isn't so happy with the emphasis on entertainment that has begun to overtake pure basketball in the league.
Specifically, West said he was appalled when Friday night's Rookie Challenge game devolved into a dunking exhibition.
"I turned it off," West said. "I couldn't stand to watch it."
West said some of the league's young players seem to focus more on entertaining the crowd, rather than focusing on doing what it takes to win.
"To me the thing that really makes you feel good about yourself is being able to compete and being able to beat the guy opposite you," said the Basketball Hall of Famer after a news conference at which this year's finalists for induction in the Hall were announced. "I think there's so much that is right about the NBA playoffs. Those guys are after each other.
"That (Rookie Challenge) game the other night looked like a bunch of kids out on the playground playing and having fun with no regard to who wins or loses. (It was) who can make the best dunk, or who can do the most spectacular thing, and if they make a mistake, they laugh about it.
"I don't like that, OK? But again, there's a lot I don't like. I like substance over style, always, and I think that wins for you in this league."
West pointed to the immaturity of players as something teams have to deal with.
"Some of these young kids are thrust into situations where maybe the thing they do best at that point in time is what they're doing," West said. "It takes a maturation process for them to get to a point in time to where they become a complete player. They become the player that, every night when he goes out there and plays, and if you're good enough you know your team has a chance to win.
"But it makes it very difficult for coaches. You see this revolving door of coaches and the pressure that's on the coaches today. But if you have a lot of young players who don't blossom or mature, they're going to fire the coaches, because they don't fire the players."
Bryant late: Lakers star Kobe Bryant showed up late for Sunday's game, rolling into Staples Center around 6:30 p.m. for a game that tipped off before 8 p.m. Bryant even missed the Western Conference team photo shoot.
NBA spokesperson Tim Andre said Bryant already was late for the required pregame check-in time before he phoned to say he would not make it on time.