ORLANDO — When the man many people consider the greatest Laker of them all reaches out to the man everyone else considers the greatest Laker of them all in an effort to mend fences and heal the franchise, you know things are serious.
Magic Johnson‘s message to Kobe Bryant is simple … go to the source!
And according to Magic, the issues Kobe has raised recently regarding Pau Gasol, trade rumors and any other drama begin and end with Lakers’ vice president of player personnel (and son of owner Dr. Jerry Buss) Jim Buss and not Lakers’ general manager Mitch Kupchack.
“I think first of all we have to remember now it’s not Mitch’s situation anymore. He’s not running the team,” Johnson, a Lakers vice president said yesterday. “Jim Buss is running the team. So Mitch has to follow the direction of Jim Buss and what he wants. I wouldn’t say Mitch is the problem or anything. He’s going to do his job. But I think it’s great that you can see that Kobe is supporting his teammate. That’s a great thing.”
Folks who had a problem with Kobe blasting the front office earlier this week, and suggesting they either move Gasol or leave him alone so he can get back to playing comfortably and without the drama swirling around him, have to be furious with Magic for taking it a step further.
I had someone tell me “Kobe can’t do that to management. He can’t put his bosses on blast like that because it puts them in a tight spot trying to work the trade circuit behind the scenes.”
That’s craziness. Magic is only exposing what folks who follow the Lakers’ soap opera closest insist has been brewing since Mike Brown was hired to replace Phil Jackson without Bryant being consulted.
“I think what Kobe really probably wants is to just be informed. As a leader, as a future Hall of Famer, as a guy who has brought five championships to the Lakers and the fans of Los Angeles, he just wants to probably have more communication probably like he did when Phil Jackson was there, and he worked well with Mitch.
“I don’t think Kobe feels he’s probably got that type of relationship or the communication has been there with Jim. So I think what has to probably happen is, hey, sit Kobe down. Jim, sit him down, and say, hey, Dr. Buss was a master at taking you to lunch or taking you to dinner and really going over what he thought about or what he was thinking and what he wanted to do with the team, and Jerry West was great at that as well. So I think that Kobe, Mitch and Jim just got to get on the same page and things will be okay.”
Maybe all the Lakers needed was for Bryant to clear the air. Did you watch them last night against Dallas? Behind the inside work of Gasol and Andrew Bynum and the clutch shooting of Derek Fisher, they handled the reigning world champs on their home floor, the same team that blew the Lakers away on that same floor in that playoff sweep last season.
Maybe Bryant is right to tell the front office (Buss) to leave Gasol alone? Unlike many, he thinks this group is capable of contending for a title and said as much before the win over the Mavericks (per Mike Bresnahan of The Los Angeles Times):
Earlier in the day, Bryant was asked if Dallas dinged the Lakers’ mystique last season.
“It’s tough to put a dent in mystique with all of them [championship] banners,” Bryant said.
Can the Lakers get another one with their current roster?
“Yeah, we can,” Bryant said, “but we’ve got to be damn near perfect.”
The Lakers need to get their house in order to chase perfect. The greatest Lakers of all time both agree on that much!