It’s been about sixteen months, yet Kobe Bryant still doesn’t understand why the Los Angeles Lakers didn’t hire Phil Jackson in 2012.
We all know the story of how the Lakers interviewed Jackson with things apparently looking good until Mitch Kupchak called the legendary coach at midnight and told him the team had decided to hire Mike D’Antoni instead.
For Bryant, the decision to hire D’Antoni instead of Jackson is still a confusing one, yet he told Dan Patrick last week that he had faith in the Lakers’ organization to build yet another winning team.
“I don’t understand it much,” Bryant said of the decision to pass on Jackson. “But what we can do is players is just trust the organization. I’ve had conversations with Jimmy [Buss]. Jimmy’s really adamant about the direction that he wants to go with this organization and he feels really confident in the fact that we can turn it around. Him and Jeanie seem really focussed on being on the same page and pushing this organization to have the same legacy that their father was able to maintain for so many years.”
That’s quite a U-turn from what Bryant was saying a couple of weeks ago.
“You’ve gotta start with Jim,” Bryant said at a press conference after it was announced that he’d be out for the rest of the season. “You’ve gotta start with Jim and Jeanie and how that relationship plays out. It starts there, and having clear direction and clear authority.”
The fact that Kobe’s now showing more faith in the Lakers’ front office could lead one to believe that those strong comments a few weeks ago were an attempt to bring Phil back.
At the time, Jackson hadn’t signed with the New York Knicks and was still a free agent.
However, the Lakers didn’t respond to Bryant’s apparent request – and here’s why – and Jackson signed with the Knicks.
So, Phil’s now gone and Kobe has to rely on the team’s current front office to turn things around, and while he admits that “the future seems really bleak” right now, he insists that Jim and Jeanie Buss “bleed purple and gold” and want to build yet another championship contending team.
“It’s hard to really [keep faith] when you’re in this type of situation when the future seems really bleak. It’s really tough to have that faith and that trust but that’s what you have to have,” Bryant told Patrick. “I’ve been with this organization since I was seventeen years old and I’ve known Jimmy, I’ve known Jeanie and I know they bleed purple and gold and they want to do the right thing for this organization. When you have people that are that passionate about it, it’s really just about communication and moving forward in the same direction and I have no doubt that will happen.”
That definitely sounds like more of a relaxed an assured Kobe – I wonder if he met with Jim and/or Jeanie after firing those shots at the front office?
As Bryant said, it’s about communication, and hopefully that’s something that has improved and Kobe will now be kept in the loop with the majority of the team’s decisions going forward.