As far as Kobe Bryant’s concerned, he’d like to be consulted on every move the Los Angeles Lakers make from now until his retirement. The Black Mamba, standing at the precipice of a career made up entirely of the past tense, is gunning for at least one more ring and at least one more spot higher on the all time scoring list. That’s all he can reasonably look to achieve in the last two years of his contract, which will pay him $48.5 million from now until 2016.
Bryant was candid about his lack of involvement in the selection of the last two Lakers head coaches, Mike Brown and Mike D’Antoni (who compiled a combined record of 109-117) when he appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live recently, saying that he wished that he would be consulted on the third. While the Lakers are publicly avoiding discussing the hiring process until after the draft lottery, which happens on Tuesday right before Game Two between Miami and Indiana, General Manager Mitch Kupchak did take a half-shot at Bryant in comments to ESPN.
“I think a coach’s success, in a great part, depends on the players,” Kupchak said. “You do have to get good players to win in this league. So, whether it’s an experienced coach or inexperienced coach, I’m not quite sure what direction we’ll go right now.”
Kobe, who had compared this season to eating paint chips when he talked about it with Jimmy Kimmel, is in no mood to wait for the Lakers’ budding lottery pick. When Mike Brown was let go, Bryant campaigned for the rehiring of Phil Jackson, who was publicly embarrassed when he engaged in talks with the LA franchise before being left at the altar, as it were, when they went with D’Antoni. To further complicate the arrangement, while Jim Buss was in charge of the basketball ops for the Lakers at the time, it was widely seen as a pull-the-chair-out setup to screw over Jackson, who is engaged to Jeanie Buss, now president of LA’s basketball operations after the Jackson fiasco essentially proved that Jim Buss wasn’t making the best basketball decisions.
Confusing? Imagine how it must have felt on the inside of the organization. Bryant, who had been all in on rehiring Jackson, was unhappy with both the D’Antoni decision in 2013 and with the fact that the Lakers lost the Zen Master to New York earlier this year. According to Kupchak, Kobe’s relationship with the front office decision making is intermittent.
“From time to time we ask his advice. He really won’t weigh in on something like this. I’m not even sure that we’ll talk to him prior to interviews,” the GM said. “But from time to time, he is in our facility, I’ll go downstairs and I’ll talk to him about a bunch of different things.”