Kobe Bryant couldn’t help himself. Neither could Magic Johnson. They both demanded action from the Lakers’ front office at nearly identical times Wednesday. As Bryant told reporters he had no patience to wait for the Lakers to retool, Johnson said on Twitter the team made a big mistake in not pursuing Phil Jackson to join the front office. Bryant was smoldering as he spoke an hour after the team announced he would not play the rest of this season because of a fractured knee. With the free-agent crop looking less enticing this summer than expected, Bryant said he had no patience to wait until July 2015, when All-Star forwards Kevin Love and LaMarcus Aldridge could become free agents. “No. No. Nope. Not one lick,” he said. Then Bryant became sarcastic when talking about next season.
“Oh, yeah, let’s just play next year and let’s just suck again. No. Absolutely not,” he said. “It’s my job to go out there on the court and perform, no excuses for it, right? You’ve got to get things done. Same thing with the front office. The same expectations they have of me when I perform on the court, it’s the same expectations I have for them up there.” He’s obviously not pleased with the Lakers’ upper management. “How can I be satisfied with it? We’re like 100 games under .500. I can’t be satisfied with that at all,” Bryant said. “This is not what we stand for; this is not what we play for.” Bryant’s window is small. He’ll be 36 in August and has two seasons left on his contract for $48.5 million. He said the Lakers need to play with championships in mind “or everything else is a complete failure. That’s how it was explained to me by Jerry [West] and all the other great Lakers that have played here. That’s just how it is,” he said.
Bryant said he wanted team executives Jim and Jeanie Buss to patch up differences created in November 2012, when the Lakers hired Coach Mike D’Antoni instead of Phil Jackson. Jim Buss, General Manager Mitch Kupchak and now-deceased team owner Jerry Buss said at the time they were equally behind D’Antoni’s hiring. Jackson is Jeanie Buss’ fiancé. Bryant was in disbelief that the Lakers would let Jackson join the New York Knicks’ front office, as numerous reports indicated this week. “You know how I feel about Phil. I have so much admiration for him and respect and have a great relationship with him,” he said. “Personally, it would be hard for me to understand that happening twice. It would be tough. I don’t really get it.” The “twice” refers to Jackson losing out to D’Antoni after Mike Brown was fired five games into the 2012-13 season. Bryant wasn’t quite done. “I think we have to start at the top in terms of the culture of our team,” he said. “What type of culture do you want to have? What type of system do you want to have? How do you want to play? It starts there.”