As expected, Kobe Bryant has officially been ruled out for the final stretch of the Lakers seasons. Bryant’s knee fracture still hasn’t healed, and with 18 games left in a losing season, there’s no point – even if he was physically able – to return to the court.
“Obviously this has been a frustrating and disappointing season, but I appreciate all the support I’ve received from the Lakers and the fans and look forward to being back and ready for the start of training camp,” Bryant said in a statement released by the team.
But, that’s not the story here. Kobe signed a two year extension with the Lakers for almost $50 million earlier in the season. On Wednesday, Bryant had strong words about the Lakers organization and the direction for the future.
“I think we have to start at the top in terms of the culture of our team,” Bryant said. “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.”
The follow up question is obviously going to ask for specifics, Kobe didn’t back down or hesitate to call names.
“You got to start with Jim,” Bryant said. “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.”
Kobe addressed the elephant in the room. Jim and Jeanie Buss weren’t on great terms before their father, Jerry Buss, passed away last February. Per their father’s wish, Jim has taken over the controls on the basketball operations side. But many feel Jim runs the team on ego and not in theteam’s best interest. The general feeling is the moves he makes are ultimately ripping apart the foundation of the legendary franchise.
Bryant is also upset that Phil Jackson appears to be headed to the New York Knicks as President of basketball operations. When asked if he would be willing to go through another season of rebuilding and moral victories, Bryant made it clear that’s not what’s on his agenda.
“Oh yeah, let’s just play next year and let’s just suck again,” Bryant said, sarcastically. “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.”
The Black Mamba is also still upset that he wasn’t even given a courtesy phone call about the Steve Blake trade. As the face of the franchise whose been with the team almost 18 years, he feels that’s the least they could do. I’d be inclined to agree.