Lakers Executive Jim Buss Clears The Air On Kobe, Phil And More …

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — The relationship between Jim Buss and Kobe Bryant was discussed incessantly in the days after Phil Jackson departed the premises and before Mike Brown was hired to replace him.

But we never had a full grasp of exactly what that relationship was like for either man. Buss didn’t speak on it, and neither did Bryant. That left us to our own devices to imagine what that dynamic was like, a dangerous thing for folks looking in from the outside during such a pivotal time for the Los Angeles Lakers and their fans.

Buss was an easy target for those who didn’t like the choice to replace the legendary Jackson. And Bryant’s seemingly cool reaction to the choice and the fact that he had little input on the process (or the choice) only fueled the grumbling about Buss and his role in shaping the Lakers’ future.

Well, we finally have some extended answers from Buss about all that and more, courtesy of Dave McMenamin of McMenamin got it all in during this thorough two-part Q&A with Buss, the Lakers’ executive and heir apparent to Hall of Famer Dr. Jerry Buss.

Jim Buss cleared the air on Kobe and plenty more in the wide-ranging interview:

Q: Let’s go on to Kobe. I know he’s compensated very well by your franchise. He’s the highest-paid player in the league. Can you put a numerical value on what he actually means to this team?

“I think that’s impossible. I really do. I couldn’t put a figure on it, for sure. Obviously it goes so far reaching, you know? Just the image. Even Magic Johnson still is participating in the franchise’s wealth. It makes the team that much more valuable. Because Magic Johnson, we don’t pay him. So, to say what Kobe is worth would probably be impossible because he’s a Laker for life and who knows what he’s going to contribute later on, which could be an incredible amount.”

Q: Part of your job requires you to be in the moment of the season but also plan for the future. Have you guys even begun to think about life post-Kobe as a player?

“I don’t like to, but we have to. So, yeah, it goes through our minds but we don’t really [dwell on it]. We can’t anticipate what is going to happen. We can’t talk to him like I said, so I don’t know what he’s thinking. I don’t know if he’s thinking he wants to play a year more or two years more [after his current contract expires] or retire. I don’t know. I have zero idea.”

Q: In an interview with 710 ESPN’s “Mason & Ireland Show,” you did say that you thought he would play longer than two more years …

“That’s me thinking him. I can’t read his mind. What I said is I think he’s playing well enough to not hang them up. I think a caller asked me if Kobe is going to hang them up and I said I just don’t see that. I mean, he could have been the minutes leader this year. I don’t see him slowing down.”

Q: But an extension with Kobe has not been addressed yet?

“It can’t be.”

Q: Magic Johnson came out this year and said that you and Kobe should sit down and have a talk. Did that happen? 

“Yes, we had dinner. We talk all the time now. What it is is, be it my fault, I should communicate more with the players in a certain way. I’ve always felt that when it comes to decisions that it changes every 10 minutes when it’s actually going to happen. To inform a player or ask a player’s opinion about this guy or that guy, it would bore them to death and drive them crazy. So, I was under the impression that it was better to wait until the very last moment and then talk to him. But, Kobe is cool about it. He said, ‘Just let me know.’ Keep me in the loop, kind of thing. And I said, ‘OK, I have no problem with that.’”

That’s a different version of their dynamic than we imagined.

But it’s nice to actually have Buss on the record about his relationship with Bryant and so much more. Make sure you check out both parts of the interview for some insight into the mind of the man charged with charting the future course of one of the league’s flagship franchises.


  1. Shaq says:

    2nd fiddle? HA HA HA HA HA HA

  2. theycallmebigboy says:

    He’s amazinnnnnnnn!!! he’s amazinnnnnn!!!! kobe the amazinnnnnnn!!! kobe will play til his wheels fall off!!!!! he loves the game and he’s willing to show ppl wrong! He’s amazinnnnnn!!!!!!

  3. bigdaddyblue says:

    Kobe is in his final contract with the Lakers. In a interview he said he’s playing 2 more seasons max because of his injuries, Besides the Lakers aren’t that great any more. The Lakers are losing money because of attendance and popularity, -sources( My sister works for Jim Hill from LTV and also works for Staples Center) Odds are Kobe will get traded before his contract is over!!!

  4. Gervin says:

    KOBE has a high basketball iq. .he knows what to do. .he’s a tough guy. .he can still compete with the younger players. .he is still the best player you can have on your team. .

  5. NBAfan says:

    We all think we know Kobe, and then he goes out and do something we would never have expected. He’ll play if he wants to. He’ll retire if he wants to. I personally hope he plays longer until he is 40 and chase Kareem.

    Kobe won’t play 2nd fiddle? He has played it in the past. He’s been top dog for a while and he broke records, trophies, medals, and rings along the way. He’s smart, he knows that to chase Kareem, he has to do what Kareem did + alpha….the question is does he want to?

  6. jesus says:

    kobe is amazing

  7. free says:

    kobe es la estrella y sabe como jugar con su equipo para eso existe lo que llamamos experiencia como jugador y eso es lo que mas posee la manba negra

  8. Will says:

    Kobe will definitely NOT play til he’s 40! He will always see himself as a elite player and when he can’t perform like one he’ll call it a career and ride off into the sun set.

    Like someone already posted, when asked if he would stick around and be a a role player or back-up… Kobe basically said “Hell no”!

  9. Humberto says:

    Q. But an extension with Kobe has not been addressed yet?
    A. “It can’t be.”

    I might be missing something, but why not?

  10. pedro joel says:

    Kobe es el mejor de la liga cualquier cosa,que vayan a hacer los lakers deben de consultarlo con (KOBE BEAN BRYANT).

  11. Ya Boy says:

    Kobe will continue until he gets his 6th ring. From there he will see his age and decide if he can go anymore. But trust me, he wants #6 and then the sky’s the limit.

  12. Ro says:

    Kobe is a winner and a scorer…he is not thinking about outlasting Jordan or Malone for total points, he is chasing Kareem for All-Time-Leader. He’ll play until 40 if more or less healthy…

  13. beantownallday says:

    kobes def not gonna get 6 or 7 rings. he should go upstairs and put a suit on if he wants to be a shot caller over there instead of a player.

    • TooOld4Gold says:

      ha ha ha ha! you’re just mad cuz the celtics are irrelevent in contension talks.

      • beantownallday says:

        oh ya buddy? i think not, and all the writers on here including shaq think they will take it this year

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  15. thetruth says:

    Jim Buss was totally hypocritical, his answers were well calculated and carefully chosen. I am a Kobe fan not a lakers fan, if Kobe becomes a Cavalier tomorrow morning Ill be a Cavalier fan by tomorrow. However, as Kobe played there for his entire career I cried when they are not doing well and celebrate when they win. For the sake of the fans and the love of basketball Jim Buss and Kobe better get on the same page.

  16. frere josue says:

    Kobe is a tough man and he is fun to watch playing.I think he can make it to 40 years.I think he will get one or two more rings then he is going to retire.Kobe and Mike made basketball more enjoyble.The way Andrew is playing,I can see 2 more rings coming but Kobe will need to reduce his playing time.That will keep him fresh and strong.

  17. abdin says:

    kobe is aaaaight but not like paul pierce

    • That's Right!! says:

      Correct. Pierce will never be like Kobe. He’s got to much catching up to do on glamorizing his fingers (rings!) Pierce is not a true leader and does not have the potential to become any more than the sub par player and excellent dramatizing flopper he is. The Celtics are too old to keep up with the young teams like oklahoma, Chicago & Miami(though i’m only a Laker fan. Hate all others, unless their game improves the seeding of the lakers!)

      • beantownallday says:

        get outta here dude celts would smoke the lakers right now.. only team in the league id be somewhat skeptical going 7 games with would be OKC. but i still think the celts would pull it out and stop hatin on peirce. Least he doesnt lick his lips for the camera every time he throws up a shot. But im sure that only turns u lakers gans on considering the majority of ya are hangin so far off his nuts i can see u when he jumps

      • Clips Fan says:

        “Does not have the potential to become any more than a sub par player” ???
        You outta your mind?
        Don’t hate on Pierce man they’re both champion players

  18. JordanL says:

    Kobe wont play until he is 40 because in an interview with Michael WIlbon he said he does not see himself sticking around so long to where he is only averaging like 18pts…. He wants to retire as an elite top NBA player…..

    My prediction on Kobe’s numbers the next 2 seasons:

    2011-12: 28.1pts, 5.4reb, 4.6ast

    2012-2013: 26.8pts, 6reb, 4.5ast, 34min

    2013-2014: 24.8pts, 5reb, 5ast, 32min

  19. Ebanks has potential says:

    Lakers get deng and Gibson for Gasol & Artest

  20. susie says:

    Lakers needs a new star! Oh but wait, they won’t make the Finals this year or the next, so why bother!

  21. KB24 says:

    Kobe’s the man! I believe he’ll do what’s right for the team! He’s not dumb, he knows how much farther his legs can take his team.

  22. Anthony says:

    I don’t see Kobe wanting to play until 40. If he left today his career would still be a victory, and I don’t think he wants to end up like Ray Allen. Kobe is a boss, and I will watch him until he decides to retire. However, with Bynum playing like the best center in the league, it is possible he will stay for a couple more years.

    • I'm with you on this says:

      I agree. He will be like Forrest Gump and run until he thinks it’s time to go home (hopefully not in the middle of a game lol)!

  23. RobertH says:

    “Jim Buss Clears the Air on Kobe” ??? No, he didn’t. I read it twice.
    @allaroundballer: you right!

  24. Ben H. says:

    Yeah I definitely see Kobe playing til 40. Now, whether he will or not is up in the air because only he knows, but his game is so versatile to where he can always keep you guessing and put up high points. Kobe MUST play less minutes though, he can’t keep playing 38-40 minutes a night. You don’t have to sit him out as often as Tim Duncan has been these last couple of years, but keep him at 34 MPG and sit him out for about 10 games throughout a full season. Bynum, Gasol, and Sessions can give you more than enough minutes (probably Bynum and Sessions more than Gasol, due to their youth). Then when you need Kobe he will be there and be sharp.

    • Bball fan says:

      he should shoots less and get 2 best big men involved more. and when it’s time to take over, attack with full strength and agressiveness. like MJ did, just let pippen and other role players do their thing and keep the game in striking distance, once midfway in 4th quarter, be that killer.

  25. jesse123 says:

    kobe will do whatever it takes to get 6 or 7 rings. what ever it takes. expect to see him for a long time barring any serious injury. which wouldent stop him anyway

  26. Sea Pea says:

    If it means having better career numbers than Jordan then Kobe will be second fiddle. He will do whatever he can to outshine Jordan on his way to the Hall of Fame. If he puts up big numbers as second fiddle on his way to 4 more championships I think he would take it.

    • underdog says:

      Outshine Jordan? Kobe vs Jordan would always be of what you value most, Quantity or Quality. Kobe has had the advantage at playing at a younger age and not retiring for about 4 seasons on his career. He won’t outshine Jordan, his years to prove that is already over.

  27. allaroundballer says:

    LA is a big masket, Buss will get another star after Kobe and always able to afford. The problem is Kobe will never want to play as second guy. Just like Abdul-Jabbar gave his role to Magic. So when he’s done, he really is