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NBA: Malone Shuns Lakers Following Kobe Bryant Comments

Veteran National Basketball Association star Karl Malone will not return to the Los Angeles Lakers once he recovers from off-season knee surgery.

The 41-year-old forward said he made his decision after hearing comments made by Lakers' star Kobe Bryant in a radio interview. Bryant said Monday, he did not believe Malone would be returning to the Lakers, and that it was tough for the team's players to be working hard while wondering if they would be cut from the team if Malone returned.

Malone's agent said "Karl was furious." He said Malone "felt very disrespected and betrayed" after standing up for Kobe over the last year throughout his rape charge.

Malone is a 14-time NBA All-Star and the number two all-time scorer in league history.

He joins star center Shaquille O'Neal, now with the Miami Heat, and nine-time NBA champion coach Phil Jackson as departing the Lakers largely due to Kobe Bryant. Karl Malone is expected to decide next month whether to retire or return to the NBA.