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Lakers Showed Their Faith In Kobe, Now He Must Return The Favor Reviewed by Momizat on . 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 excus 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 excus Rating: 0
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Lakers Showed Their Faith In Kobe, Now He Must Return The Favor

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Kobe

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.” – Kobe Bryant

On a day when he was supposed to be announcing that his season was effectively over before it really got the chance to start, both he and Magic Johnson made desperate public pleas for the Lakers to hire Phil Jackson before his becoming the next president of the New York Knicks was made official. Regardless of whether it was coordinated or not, nobody can really say they were surprised. Magic has expressed his concerns about the future of the franchise on numerous occasions and Kobe has never been one to bite his tongue either.

These days, you won’t find many people in Los Angeles who aren’t at least a little bit nervous about their beloved basketball team. For those who were hoping there was a still a chance that something between Phil and the Lakers could be worked out at the eleventh hour, they had the right two people acting on their behalf.

That wasn’t the surprising part. What was most shocking was the tone and the extent to which he called out the front office, as if they didn’t already know the difficult task at hand. If what he wants is to make sure that Jeanie and Jim Buss are on the same page, there are far more effective ways of doing that.

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ts_131125kobe_extension670What Kobe failed to mention is that the most glaring obstacle standing in the way of an immediate rebuild is his enormous contract. Every time I bring that up, I always get a ton of responses from Kobe supporters who love to ask me if Kobe was supposed to decline the Lakers generous offer. That is completely irrelevant. The Lakers aren’t complaining about the extension and neither am I. The only one currently complaining about anything right now is Kobe. So my complaint isn’t about Kobe’s extension — my complaint is about Kobe’s complaining.

As much as it stinks that Kobe’s contract will most likely cost them any shot at winning a title in the next two years, I understand why they did it. From a business perspective, Kobe is worth every single penny the Lakers will be paying him for the next two seasons.

Whether or not he’s worth that large a percentage of their salary cap is irrelevant. He is their most prized possession and the threat of losing him was far too big of a business risk than what it will mean in terms of wins, losses, and championships.

But for Kobe to sit there shaking his head and pretending like he didn’t know that there was a chance the team could be bad again next season, after he made zero effort to keep Dwight Howard from leaving, and then taking up two-fifths of next year’s salary cap, is either laughable, delusional, or both.

What happened to the guy who felt the need to defend his contract to all the Lakers fans who attacked him about it on Twitter and Instagram? Back then, he not only defended his contract, but he expressed his confidence in the Buss family, Mitch Kupchak, and the team’s ability to compete in spite of his extension:

kg-and-kobeWhat’s changed between then and now? Was it trading away Steve Blake without notifying him first, despite the fact that there are a number of scenarios in which they can bring him back as a free agent this summer? Was it just letting Phil go to New York, despite the fact that Phil was going to be the Knicks president, not their head coach?

Kobe’s comments, much like Magic Johnson’s criticisms earlier in the season, are only making an already insurmountable task even more difficult for the front office. I wouldn’t be so surprised about Kobe’s meddling if we hadn’t seen it once before. Here’s what Kevin Garnett told Dan Patrick in 2011 about what happened in 2007:

“I was pretty close [to going to L.A.] to be honest. What disturbed me about the whole Laker situation was Kobe [Bryant] and Phil [Jackson] at the time. They was pretty bad. That situation was something I didn’t want to get into. It was my choice. There was a lot going on and I didn’t want to be a part of it.”

What Garnett was referring to was Kobe’s trade demand during the 2007 season. He had called up every radio station that would have him to express his unhappiness with the Lakers and how he would rather “play on Pluto” than play for the Lakers again. That radio tour was enough to scare away Garnett, who had hoped to leave one toxic mess in Minnesota, without any risk of walking into another.

Whether or not Minnesota would have ever pulled the trigger on the Lakers reported offer of Lamar Odom, Andrew Bynum, and Kwame Brown’s expiring contract is beside the point. Kobe’s media tour made it an impossibility just by calling them out before the season was over and giving the front office the chance to improve the roster first.

PAGE 2: Lakers Showed Their Faith In Kobe, Now He Must Return The Favor

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About The Author

Andrew Ungvari is a Los Angeles native and a Lakers season ticket holder since 1989. Follow him on twitter @DrewUnga.

Number of Entries : 46
  • Jim213

    KB24 has over half the year to prepare and should make the most of it. Otherwise, his own brand may be affected if the global masses fail to view him as the top figure.

    • Jim213

      Aside of that enough said…

  • purp&goldpride

    Yeah, maybe the way kobe discussed his disgust for the Lakers (at that moment) was wrong, but the.effect.and outcome no one.would argue. The Lakers would have been ok with kobe scoring 81 and selling tickets, had he not complained, that gasol trade might not have happened. The Lakers have failed to be consistent. Unlike the spurs, the Lakers are constantly changing coaches, players, hiring the wrong coach. Why would they hire mike d when they had Howard & gasol? That’s not on kobe. Yeah he signed that contract, but if anyone, including the Lakers brass thought that $$ would keep him “happy” if their not competitive, is delusional. The Lakers can’t cry poor. They need to put a better product out on the floor, period.

    • Daryl Peek

      “The Lakers have failed to be consistent. Unlike the spurs”

      There are so many levels and angles this can be attacked. The most glaring one is the main point of this article, Kobe was not willing to give the Lakers FO the Duncan discount and humble himself like the Spurs players. Apples to oranges but you open the door for the critique of how Kobe has accorded himself publicly as KG stated, when you compare the Lakers FO to the Spurs in regards to how Kobe has been treated by the Buss family in trying to appease him building around him..

      • Jim213

        “The Lakers have failed to be consistent. Unlike the spurs”

        Disagree, overall within the past close to 2 decades somewhat true. But championship (title) wise a different story.

        • Daryl Peek

          Why are you addressing me on this? I quoted those words in disagreement also.

          • SensibleMan

            Kobe’s “max” deal was actually upwards of 33 million, he took roughly a 10 million dollar paycut. He took the first deal that was offered to him and didn’t haggle for it by the admission of him, his agent, Jim Buss and Mitch. As a Laker fan would I have liked to see him take 15 million a year instead of 24? Of course. But I’m not going to blame him for taking a 9 million pay cut instead of a 18 million paycut

          • Daryl Peek

            I’m far from blaming him for getting his money. He deserves it but that’s a whole different story from wanting a championship team built around him given the new CBA and looming luxury tax the franchise has to get under.

      • what

        First of all I think this article itself took what Kobe was saying out of context. If I remember correctly Kobe was asked the question like would he be alright with the Lakers waiting till 2015 and getting Love of course he was going to say no he’s the ultimate competitor he wants to win now I think what he was saying if their is any deal that they could make this summer free agency sign and trade or prayer make it this summer to put a competitive team on the court sitting back and waiting to get for Love in 2015 or Durant in 2016 is not promised to you the team needs to make something happen in my opinion Kobe should have said HE’LL NO I DON’T WANT TO WAIT after all who wants to lose!!!!

        • Daryl Peek

          It’s all in how you perceive. Kobe was absolutely calling the FO out and that was wrong no matter how you cut it. Why change so rapidly on how you feel about the FO in 4 months? Kobe wanted Phil back and that drove him to say those things when asked. Prior to that it was all gravy as the article points out.

          Of course he does not want to lose but do your really think the FO does? Why would they tell Kobe they have a plan and get him to buy into it, as he’s signing the dotted line if it was losing? Are we to believe Kobe was good with a plan of losing when the money was thrown at him? This is how ridiculous that sounds. Again, Kobe had no reason to say that! All he had to do is say I trust the FO just like he said earlier in the season. The Mamba is calculated and cool, so why let your emotions put your foot in your mouth now?

          • what

            You may be right about the FO had told him they had a plan but it wasn’t FO asking him the question it was the media to my knowledge the FO has never come out publicly and said they were waiting on 2015 or 2016 that was the media again he was answering the question that was asked for all we know FO may be all in this summer do think they are really going to tell us or the media that so what Kobe said FO and him may already be on the same page about it do you think he would be #purpleandgold4life if they weren’t

          • Daryl Peek

            Big picture this will likely end up just another public episode of much ado about nothing but my point is, why couldn’t Kobe stay the course of saying he trusts the FO like he did over the summer and earlier in the season just after signing his new contract when he was defending it over the media questioning him about it? Keep in mind the change of his tone in emotion when recently asked again about the FO, likely frustration over all of the losing but possibly an attempted jab at the FO about Phil…

            “Everyone knows how I feel about Phil. I don’t understand why they would let him go twice”

            What’s not to understand? He was not let go this time or last time. D’Antoni was chosen over Phil. They never offered him a FO job thjis time (which is what Phil wanted) and never had any plans to as directed by Dr. Buss’s will. All of this was known before Kobe signed his contract. I’m just saying.

    • AndrewUngvari

      Did you really say that had he not complained the Gasol trade might not have happened? You don’t think they were actively trying to improve the roster before he complained? People forget the Lakers were 25-11 and in first place in the Pacific before Bynum got hurt. If anything convinced them to make the Pau trade, it was Bynum’s injury and not Kobe’s complaining. Regardless, no GM would have turned down the trade they made for Pau. They didn’t need Kobe to egg them on.

      You can talk about the Spurs being more consistent but they’ve only played in one Finals since winning their last title in 2007 and they lost. The Lakers have played in three since then and won two of them. In the six seasons since their last title, the Spurs have been (in no particular order) swept by the Suns, eliminated by the Lakers in 5 games, eliminated in the first round by both a 6-seed and an 8-seed, lost one series 4-2 after leading 2-0, and lost the Finals after being up 1-0, 2-1, and 3-2. So yeah, they have been consistent — at underachieving.

      Neither can we ignore that their first title came in a 50-game season, their second came when the Lakers were trying to win four straight titles, and their third and fourth came while the Lakers were rebuilding. In other words, they only seem to win titles when the Lakers are down.

      The Lakers had the same coach for all but one season between 1999 and 2011 and have had two since then. That hardly qualifies as constantly changing coaches. Nobody is saying the Lakers thought money would keep him happy if they weren’t competitive. Nor are the Lakers crying poor. I never said any of those things. They do need to put a better product on the floor. But neither you or Kobe can’t deny that his contract is the biggest obstacle standing in the way of that. The difference is that the Lakers aren’t complaining or ignoring that. Kobe is.

      • Daryl Peek

        Well said.

  • Daryl Peek

    “If he still wants to defend his extension than he forfeits the right to complain about the front office. At least before giving them the chance to bail him out again.”

    REAL TALK!

    • Jim213

      Real Talk! (pun)

      • Daryl Peek

        I rarely go with the caps but that statement warranted it given the big picture (Change) circumstances the franchise is in at this point.

  • KOBE

    Andrew Wiggins impressive play tonight kansas vs EKU wow..

  • Patrick Jackson

    Nothing wrong with kobe being kobe

  • westsideboy

    then he proceeded to bring us not (1) more Championship but (2)!! jeez this writer is a douche’

    • AndrewUngvari

      Alan, Why do you put numbers in parentheses?

  • Get Kobe the Rock Now

    The general consensus in the media has been the same since this deal was announced. Blah blah blah, too much$, kills their cap space. Not one has said what contract they would have offered. Some suggested a number around $15M. Kobe’s still twice as valuable as any other player they may add. And who would they add to LA roster in summer FA assuming everyone that could opted out.

    • AndrewUngvari

      There’s no doubt that from a business sense, Kobe is actually worth more than what the Lakers will be paying him next year. Unfortunately, there’s a salary cap.

      So when you look at Kobe’s contract as a percentage of that salary cap, instead of his fair market value, he’ll be paid 40% of the total amount of money they’re allowed to spend next year. Is 36-year-old Kobe worth 40% of a team’s salary cap? I don’t think so but clearly the Lakers do.

      But in making that decision, both the team and Kobe know that it will severely impact their ability to surround him with enough talent to compete for a championship. If you don’t see that, I don’t know what to tell you.

      He could have left enough room for them to have the flexibility to sign two big free agents over the next two summers. Instead they’ll only be able to sign one, and even then, they will have very little money left over to fill out the rest of their roster.

      Again, I totally understand why the Lakers gave him the contract. He’s earned it, he’s worth it from a business sense, and they’re not regretting it, at least not publicly. So why does he feel the need to call them out and practically insist they give him a competitive team. His comments suggest he won’t settle for anything less than a competitive team. His contract suggests that he cared more about money than he did about winning. He had that right. I’m not knocking it. I’m just stating a fact.

  • Get Kobe the Rock Now

    Jim Buss destroyed Lakers future when he couldnt check his ego at the door and give Phil what he wanted. Last year he said that the great thing about D’Antoni’s system is that it works for any player. Well I hope he realizes just how stupid a statement that was and how worthless the leftovers of that Phoenix team really are. Yep thats you Mike, Steve, & Amare! Kobe was 100% right to call out the front office as it is the puppet of Buss.

    • john

      the thing about that phoneix was all 3 point shooters obviously triangle trumps showtime. the lakers have a sorry roster last time they had a decent bench they won a championship then the following year that bench didnt exist. tbh any team would believe in kobe he’s an amazing player.and he’s earned every dime but if you dont have a atleast a decent coach a bench that can score and a solid support cast from starters how the heck do you expect to win in la i guess they want him to drop 100 in a game.

    • AndrewUngvari

      I don’t know how many more people need to publicly state that Dr. Buss hired D’Antoni because he feared giving Jeanie too much power amongst his kids after he died. Just search for Sam Amick’s Phil Jackson interview in USA Today from earlier this month. He was just the latest to go public with it.

      Besides, Phil has no desire to coach again or he’d be the coach of the Knicks and not just their president. If the Buss family had hired him last year then he would have probably only finished out the season and that roster wasn’t winning a championship. They had one above average defender on the team.

      So you can keep pretending the Lakers are where they are right now because of Jim and not because of the new CBA and an aging roster that Dr. Buss signed to multi-year deals when they were still winning championships. This is the first summer that Jim and Mitch will actually have some freedom to make moves. All Kobe had to do was give them the chance.

  • Ritee Cha

    Andrew Ungvari this is the most disgraceful and ignorant post I have ever read. Lakers can afford to pay the luxury tax, period, there is no question about that.

    If you boss was worth billions and offered you 80% of your worth, would you take it or would you say, pay me 60% and hire a new employee. Why should you take the pay cut when he makes all the money. Why can’t you win a championship and be paid your fair share?

    If you ever get promoted, ask your boss to pay you less to hire better help. If you do that, I will apologize cause at least you stand by your beliefs. At this time, your just being disrespectful.

    • AndrewUngvari

      Ritee, I don’t think you understand how the luxury tax works. Teams can’t just spend whatever they want so long they’re willing to pay the luxury tax. The luxury tax is designed only for allowing teams to re-sign their own players. If the Lakers could compensate Kobe fairly and also field a championship contending team, you don’t they would?

      Since it looks like the Lakers will be under the salary cap after this season they will only be allowed to spend up to the salary cap limit. This year it’s around $58M. Next year it won’t increase by much. Let’s assume that the cap increases to $60M. Kobe is scheduled to make $23.5M and Steve Nash is scheduled to make $9.7M. That’s $33.2M out of $60M. That leaves them with $26.8M for 13 other players, an average of about $2M to spend per player.

      So your hypothetical about me asking my boss to reduce my pay has no relevancy because even though businesses have budgets, they don’t have salary caps. If a business needs money to hire more staff, they can move to a less expensive office space or move to another city. That’s not illegal. There are only a few ways that NBA teams are allowed to exceed the salary cap and signing whoever you want because you can afford to isn’t one of them.

      As I wrote, Kobe is worth every dollar he’s getting and the Lakers clearly have no complaints about what they’re paying him. But if he chooses to ignore that his contract is the biggest obstacle standing in the way of the team improving significantly next season, he’s lying. He’s going to be 36 next season, coming off multiple knee injuries and a torn Achilles, and making 40% of the amount of money they’re allowed to spend on their payroll.

      Lastly, if this is the most disgraceful and ignorant post you have ever read, you probably don’t read a lot. May I recommend searching for a post I wrote last year on ’10 Misconceptions Regarding The Lakers and Free Agency’. You might actually learn something.

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