#NBA News: Why Kobe Bryant is Right on Jim Buss, LA Lakers

kobe bryant mad on the bench

I know there are a lot of Lakers and Kobe haters out there, but Kobe Bryant’s recent comments on the dysfunction and disarray of the Los(e) Angeles Lakers organization are right on target.

Kobe, when asked about the current state of the Lakers, said the following (via ESPN.com):

“I think we have to start at the top in terms of the culture of our team…What kind of culture do we want to have? What kind of system do we want to have? How do we want to play? It starts there and from there, you can start building out your team accordingly.”

“You got to start with Jim. You got to start with Jim and Jeanie and how that relationship plays out. It starts there and having a clear direction and clear authority. And then it goes down to the coaching staff and what Mike (D’Antoni) is going to do, what they’re going to do with Mike and it goes from there. It’s got to start at the top.”

“You know how I feel about Phil. I have so much admiration for him and respect and I have a great relationship with him. Personally, it would be hard for me to understand that happening twice. It would be tough. I don’t really get it.”

“How can I be satisfied with it? We’re like 100 games under .500. I can’t be satisfied with that at all. This is not what we stand for. This is not what we play for. A lot of times it’s hard to understand that message if you’re not a diehard Laker fan. It’s hard to really understand where we’re coming from and what we’re accustomed to, which is playing for championships and everything else is a complete failure. That’s just how it is. That’s how it was explained to me by Jerry (West) and all the other great Lakers who have played here and that’s how I grew up thinking. So that’s just how it is.”

“Oh yeah, let’s just play next year and let’s just suck again. No. Absolutely not. Absolutely not. It’s my job to go out there on the court and perform. No excuses for it. Right? You got to get things done. It’s the same thing with the front office. The same expectations they have of me when I perform on the court is the same expectations I have for them up there. You got to be able to figure out a way to do both.”

“I just want to get a phone call before somebody gets traded.  Let’s start there first.”

Well, he’s right. After Jerry Buss passed away, his son Jim decided to put his imprint on the organization. He hired (then fired) Mike Brown, hired Mike D’Antoni and pretty much kept his sister, Jeanie, on the sidelines. According to ESPN’s Dave McMenamin, D’Antoni has one year left on his contract worth $4 million and has a 62-74 record, or a 0.456 winning percentage. Yes, he barely has anyone on his roster, but his roster has been riddled with injuries.

phil jackson

But, how do you NOT get Phil Jackson, a Hall of Fame coach, to come back to the Lakers when he strongly considered it? He was willing to come out of retirement to coach the team in 2012, but Jim Buss nixed it. Jackson himself said he was shocked at not being offered the job. Jackson had won the Lakers FIVE championships. How do you treat your championship coach that way? If you weren’t going to hire him in the first place, don’t even start the process.

jeannie buss

Yet, what had worked for years was how Jeanie, a well-respected NBA executive, was able to help improve the roster and manage Lakers coach (and her fiance) Phil Jackson. That is no longer the Lakers organization today.Even Kobe Bryant joked, after the Lakers lost by 48 points to the Los Angeles Clippers, “Now I know what it feels like to be a Clippers fan all these years.” (hat tip to Bleacher Report). Ouch. 

Colin Cowherd, also an ESPN personality, disagreed with Kobe and said that he should put up or shut up after the Lakers graciously (and foolishly) paid him $48 million for the next two years. I see where Cowherd is coming from, but I just think that Kobe makes a better argument of why the Lakers are so toxic. Here’s what Cowherd said about Kobe playing general manager on his radio show “The Herd“:

“The new Laker president Kobe Bryant spoke out yesterday. He is currently the new Laker president. Oh, he’s not in management? He’s the only one talking too…”

“In the NBA when you lack leadership, your aging, popular super star becomes your leader. Coaching hires, player acquisitions, trades, Kobe is now the new Laker spokesperson.”

“In the NBA…who is the most popular guy and he gets the megaphone…it’s that players, aging, 35-year old super stars in the NBA should not be making the trades, asked about acquisitions, that’s why you have scouts…”

kobe bryant shrug

Kobe is spot on. He is a great competitor and if he ever wants to, could be a great assistant coach or mentor down the road. The Lakers have to get Jim Buss off his high horse and allow Jeanie to run things as she used to. There’s one thing to hire and appoint people, but it’s a whole ‘nother thing to empower them to do their job.

Now that the New York Knicks, the epitome of disarray in the NBA due to their meddlesome owner Jim Dolan, have Phil Jackson… Jim Buss is on the clock in the Lakers fan nation’s eyes.

Oh, and another thing. I have historically hated the Lakers because I feel they’re the New York Yankees of basketball. I just want the Lakers to be respectable so SportsCenter can stop talking about the Lakers drama and get back to talking basketball X’s and O’s.

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About Spencer Irvine

Fun loving, D.C. area sports fan, which means I'm frustrated and still can't get a grip on what a win truly means (or a championship for that matter).

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