Kobe criticism can’t all fall on Jim Buss

By Jeff Caplan, NBA.com


VIDEO: Shaq weighs in on Kobe’s frustration with the Lakers organization

HANG TIME SOUTHWEST – Phil Jackson is gone. Mike D’Antoni remains, for now. Two parties at the top of the Lakers pyramid aren’t going anywhere: Jim Buss and Kobe Bryant.

The latter, reduced to six games this season due to injury but signed to a two-year extension for $48.5 million, last week turned up the heat on the former to put the broken Lakers back together. This summer.

As Kobe should know after signing his over-market deal, it’s easier said than done. Yet during his press conference to officially announce that his slowly healing knee will prevent him from playing again this season, Bryant dug into the late, great owner Jerry Buss‘ son-in-charge Jim — and to an extent Jeanie, Jim’s sister and Phil’s girlfriend — to set a distinct course for the future on everything from team culture to the team’s coach.

“You got to start with Jim,” Bryant said. “You got to start with Jim and Jeanie and how that relationship plays out. It starts there and having a clear direction and clear authority. And then it goes down to the coaching staff and what Mike is going to do, what they’re going to do with Mike, and it goes from there. It’s got to start at the top.”

Of course no one, not Kobe, was fanning distress signals at the start of the 2012-13 season when the conversation was whether the Lakers would win 70. They had pulled off a deal for Dwight Howard (no complaints at the time in Lakerland), a move the club had planned to come after trading for Chris Paul following the 2011 lockout, but everybody knows that story.

Then-commissioner David Stern, acting as decision-maker for the then-New Orleans Hornets because the league owned the team at the time, vetoed the trade that would have joined Paul with Kobe. A week later Stern stamped Paul’s ticket to the Clippers, leaving Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak fuming. The next summer, as consolation, the Lakers made the swap with Phoenix for Steve Nash, again prompting praise void of complaint.

Only nobody could foretell the freak leg fracture Nash would suffer in his second game in purple-and-gold, an injury that spawned relentless nerve damage and could well end his career next month.

Mike Brown was fired five games into the season. The hiring of D’Antoni over Jackson was, yes, mishandled, messy and ill-advised, deserving of criticism. The maniacal Kobe despised the happy-go-lucky Dwight. Dwight pouted over D’Antoni’s no-post offense. Then Kobe blew out his Achilles in the final days of the regular season. Conveniently lost in the clutter was the 28-12 finish to the season. Before Kobe’s injury and before injury would again force Nash to bow out, experts on TV, including the highly critical Magic Johnson, were calling the Lakers a serious threat to beat the Spurs in the first round.

Only now, as this injury-plagued disaster of a season limps to the end, it seems so long ago.

Now, as Jackson takes the controls of the Knicks to Kobe’s dismay, the Lakers’ future, as murky as it is, will have to unfold one step at a time, regardless of how quickly Kobe wants a contending team to magically appear around him.

Jim Buss might not be his father, but it’s also not the same NBA. The collective bargaining agreement doesn’t make a quick rebuild easy even for big-market, high-revenue teams. Kobe’s high-priced extension eats into this summer’s cap space, making it next to impossible to re-sign Pau Gasol along with a max-level free agent despite Kobe’s constant lobbying to the front office keep Pau on board.

In fact, Jim Buss believed he had already secured contending seasons for Kobe’s final years by securing the franchise’s next superstar in Howard.

Kobe had no tolerance for Howard’s playfulness nor did he hold an interest in convincing him to stay. And now Kobe is short on teammates, patience and time. He says he’s not interested in a drawn-out rebuild, even as few other choices are plentiful.

His turning up the heat on Jim Buss can’t come without also looking in the mirror. The Lakers will have cap space to work with this summer and next, and a high draft pick this June. That’s Jim Buss’ new starting point.

“It’s my job to go out there on the court and perform. No excuses for it, right?” Kobe said. “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.”

Unfortunately for Kobe and the Lakers, it’s easier said than done.

40 Comments

  1. julian says:

    i totally agree that kobe won championships with the help or helping guys like shaq and pau,but you haters will also agree the lbj won his rings with dwade and bosh.bill russel with havlicek and co.,bird with mchale,parish,dj and ainge,magic with kareem,worthy,b scott,cooper and a lot more and finally mj with pippen,rodman,horace grant and phil,i mean this a team game haters,everyone of these great players cannot win on their own if you know what i mean…

  2. Probe says:

    Kobe should stay in LA!!! As a Clipper. They have always lacked a 2 guard so it would fit him perfect. & Im not a Clipper fan but that would be very entertaining to watch bcuz the Clippers are pretty much the new showtime in LA & they have very good chances of winning a title. He could possibly get at least 7 titles he decides to go to the right team. I believe its the Clippers or the Bulls if he wants to get that chance to see more opportunity for rings. Otherwise, its live and die in a Laker uniform and I dont mind that but the drama needs to stop there if he stays in a Laker uniform bcuz they will not win anytime soon.

  3. Cotton says:

    Kobe aint nobody, needs help to win, just a ball hog and glad it ends like this. also so happy for the lakers to be at the bottom, nba can be fun again to watch

  4. raquan howard says:

    KOBE Bryant is the the 2 Greatest player to ever play this game behind Michael Jordan. Simply dont belive me look it up on http://WWW.youtube,.com LEBRON HIMSELFS SAYS KOBE IS THE GOAT OF ALL TIME .. D’ANTONI IS NOT THE COACH FOR LA HE NO’S NOTHING ABOUT WINNIING SHOULDVE HIRED PHIL JACKSON END OF STORY.

  5. "smart" nba fan says:

    Kobe will come back strong and have alot lot of time to completely heal and rest. When he does get back he will have alot of ammunition from all these people insulting Kobe and saying he cant do it hes finished. Really dont you learn that everytime you talk about him hes comes back and ruins your team? cmon people lets learn today and get smart! Kobe is the best player in the NBA still Lebron aint got nothing on Kobe. Lebron in cleveland left just like Melo. Kobe didnt switch teams ever lets not forget that important fact. Kobe 1996-2014 what almost 18 years with 1 team. Only like 2 or 3 players have him beat like Karl malone or someone like that. MJ is a legend Karl Malone is a legend and so is Kobe. Lebron has help from wade bosh how is he doing anything special? Melo cant get much done.Kobe is the only light at the end of the tunnel. Lets not forget Jordan is gone and Kobe is the closest guy to live up to his big shadow. Someday when Kevin Durant has 5 titles and mvps maybe he will sit next to Kobe in the Hall of Fame too.

    • MrNBA says:

      May I remind you that when Shaq left and before they acquired Gasol, the farthest Kobe took the Lakers was 7 games in the first round. And in one season they didn’t even make the playoffs…

    • hahahKobeRider says:

      awwie are you that pathetic….. KOBE was the face of the nba for 4 years THATS IT
      he HAS 1 MVP
      He needed PAU, BYNUM, ARTEST, FISHEr, ODOM
      to win a ring along with PHIL jackson running the show.

      What Kobe do with dwight? your a little hating herb… thats what u are…

      • MrNBA says:

        Hey dummy, you just made my point for me. Kobe couldn’t do much without Shaq or Gasol. I don’t hate, I state facts. And who said anything about Dwight?

      • raquan howard says:

        He doesnt care about MVP HE CARES ABOUT NBA RING! HE HAS MORE THEN YOUR FAVORITE TEAMS STARTING FIVE LOL .. YOU RIGHT HE NEEDED ALL OF THEM BUT THEY NEEDED KOBE TO IT DIDNT MATTER KOBE COULDVE WON RINGS WITH THE BOBCATS IF HE WANTED TO .. KOBE HAS OVER 30000 POINTS IN HIS CAREER I BET YOU CANT EVEN COUNT THAT HIGH .. A HEALTHY KOBE AVERAGES 27.9 POINTS PER GAME OOH I ALMOST FORGOT LETS NOT FORGET HES 35 STILL THE BEST SG in the leauge WHEN HEALTHY . Second best SG TO EVER LIVE BEHIND MJ…. AND FOR 4YEARS HES BEEN THE FACE OF THE NBA HAHAH TRY 16 YEARS BOY HE’S BEEN THE BEST SINCE I CAN REMEMEBER TF OUTTA HERE i HATE WHEN PEOPLE DONT NO WHAT THEY ARE TALKING ABOUT…

    • LBJ says:

      REAL SMART FANS GO FOR LEBRON. WIN NOW!!! FAKERS OLD LOSE NOW!!! GO HEAT!!!!

  6. sally says:

    He can always go to New York so he can be the big cheese for New York along with PJ……that is if PJ would have him ???? Kobe’s going to bitch no matter where he goes, he just thinks he’s mr. NBA himself…he done !!!

  7. Juliano says:

    I feel Kobe can say what he want to his employer. I never been the type to hold my tongue about what my workplace should expect from me and vice versa. The only reason Kobe deals with all this media attention and has the whole NBA listening is because the NBA knows if Kobe decides to leave the Lakers (which I think he should #CLIPPERNATION) he would make almost any team a contender for a championship. #FACT

  8. kobeballhog says:

    Lakers will be in the dumps until kobe retires. Just like ever before he thinks about himself. Drive all superstars away. Who ever wants to play with the greatest ballhog ever? Now he held hostage the lakers with his overpriced salary he took most of the salary cap. If he really is into the team the fans then we wouldve settle for much much less to help the team. He earned so much already throught the years and almost guaranteed he will still be paid after his playing career. What a ballhog on and off the court

  9. okc2014 says:

    My take on Kobe’s “speech’ to the media is just that; he talks too much, tweets too much and blogs too much. His comments were disrespectful of his management and I’m surprised he hasn’t been fined or reprimanded. What I got out of what he said, was that if the Fakers don’t shape up (because he plans to do his part), he will be out of there. Who knows, he may follow Phil Jackson and play out his golden years with Carmello Anthony and the Knickerbockers. I do agree with some of the comments. If Kobe Bryant (like Carmello Anthony) is looking to win a championship right away, he has to leave his current team because both New York and the Fakers need time to rebuild, Just sayin.

  10. ARTHUR PETERSON says:

    GOD or Koby s teammates SHOULD not forgive the RAPERS comments after the fack SHAQ DOES IT ALL THW+E BTIME
    THAT killed him for me forever. True or not.

  11. MrNBA says:

    It’s become grossly pathetic how Lakers fans keep whining about Phil this and Phil that like some jilted lover. Phil is gone, move on! Bulls fans never acted this way when Jackson left. But at least they’re not like Heat fans who have no basketball IQ whatsoever.
    As for Kobe, you better live up to your $48.5 mil deal. And try not to drive away your teammates. You wouldn’t have won 3 rings if it wasn’t for Shaq. And you definitely wouldn’t have won 2 more if it wasn’t for Gasol. You do have impressive records but you owe a lot of it to many of your teammates who you love to berate.

    • krishawn-MIA says:

      …I was almost insulted by your heat fans lack of basketbell I.q but no I’m good

  12. slider821 says:

    I dont really understand this article and I’ve read it twice…

    Headline says ‘kobe criticism cant all fall on jim buss’…OK but you don’t argue this point at all in the article. Kobes comments are mentioned but who else does the criticism fall on? I was expecting you to say it falls on Kobe as well, but no mention of that. You mentioned the league nixed CP3 trade, is Stern to blame? You also mention the Mike Brown firing and dwight leaving. Are you saying Papa Buss is partially to blame (actually i don’t know if it was Jim or PapaBuss who made those decisions)?

    Clearly Kobe’s criticism was directed at the front office, not necessarily Jim Buss the person. He mentioned Jim becuase that is the face of the FO now. However all these things you mention are also FO blunders with either Jim or Jerry at the helm deciding on all of them.

    So shouldn’t all the criticism fall on Jim or whoever is leading the FO? That’s what your article is arguing but I don’t see any counterpoint saying it should fall on someone other than the FO head (Jim). Maybe I am confused.

    • krishawn-MIA says:

      Nope you’re actually right I’m really surprised someone even brought it up because I saw that there wasn’t an argument to go with the headline but I ignored it, and the stern thing is irrelevant that was so 2 years ago, kobe should criticize the league for not making a basketball trade for the time that they owned at that time? No!

  13. marlon green says:

    I really dont understand how so many people can hate on 5 time nba champion, gold medalist, multiple all star, league mvp, several all star mvp’s scoring champ, and the closest thing next to Jordan. And by the way, 81 points in a game. I dont care who it was against, all I know is Jordan and Lebron hasn’t even done it. How? How can anyone possibly saw something negative about the man. Please keep your personal thoughts to yourself and just think about what the man has done on the court. Kobe deserves every penny he gets and no one is saying anything about him when he guaranteed the Lakers would make the playoffs and none of his teammates stepped up and backed his statement up last season. Kobe played his heart out and blow out his achillies just to get them into the playoffs last year. This man played entire games back to back and one of them was even a game that went into overtime. So whle Dwight was whinning and shooting 3 pointers last year when he cant even make a free throw, Kobe was willing his team into the playoffs. And Kobe even took less shots just to get Dwight and Pau more shots so they could stop crying last year. And when they had the perfect opportunity to show the world what they could do without Kobe they got swept! So please shut up with this negativity about Kobe, the man has earned the right to say whatever he wants pertaining to the Lakers. And who cares if he is 36, he is still one of the top 20 players in the league. You guys harping on Kobe so bad but he was in the top 3 or 4 in scoring last year. 75% of the players in the league cant do that.

    • skrutz says:

      “How can anyone possibly saw something negative about the man. Please keep your personal thoughts to yourself…”

      Keep YOUR thoughts to yourself. Kobe is great, no doubt, but has always seemed to be a bit of a prick and definitely a mega-super-ego. I’m not saying he’s not a legend, but jeez… get off his damn lap.

      • marlon green says:

        See what I mean, all I did was state the facts and Skrutz wants to cop an attitude. Must be a Lebron lover. And do you personally know the man to say he’s a prick? If not then shut the hell up. And of course he is a mega super ego, he’s got 5 rings! All the greats have had to get nasty and mean to get the most out of their players. Bottom line stop hatin!

  14. raquan howard says:

    Kobe Bean Bryant has over 35000 points and you wanna talk about his injurys lol haha he’s always played through injurys he;s a Warrior .. last year the game against the Warriors he tore his achilles he came right back to hit the game tying freethrows .. Kobe Is the closest thing to Michael Jordan the world has ever seen Dont belive me ask Jordan.. Kevin Love is coming to Lakers next season most likely and Carmelo wants a championship he wants to play for a great team were there have been many greats and why not LA? His wife life’s in LA Lala anthony.. You see Lebron join Wade and Bosh in Mami went to the Nba finals the next year . and Last year before the injury Kobe was Kobe the best Sg in the world . Ask DWade or LBJ. A healthy Kobe averages 27.9 a Game and less not forget he’s 36 .

    R-Lo says:
    March 12, 2014 at 7:50 pm
    I can’t believe the Lakers signed Kobe for another 2 years for $48 million. I don’t think he will ever be the same after these last two injuries. Especially at 36. RIP Kobe and the Fakers.

    BOY the TEAM YOU CALL FAKERS (LAKERS) GOT ENOUGH CHAMPIONSHIPS TO DONATE TO EVER TEAM IN THE LEAUGUE ALMOST YOU FOOLISH CHILD.. KOBE Individualy GOT MORE RINGS THEN ANY STARTING 5 IN THE NBA.. IGNORANT PEOPLE NEED TO SHUTUP KOBE IS THE SECONDS GOAT OF ALL TIME TO MICHAEL JORDAN… KOBE HAS OVER 35000 POINTS I BET R-Lo cant even count up that high.

  15. kobefanjay says:

    I think the unthinkable has to happen in order to rectify things…Kobe has to be bought out, amnestied or somehow traded…its the only way for Kobe and the lakers to get what they want…just because he originally said he wanted to be a laker for life and eveyone thinks he is the forever face of the organization…all you need is a slight paradigm shift…do it with me…Kobe playing for another team…there not so hard…

    • As a lifetime Laker fan says:

      I have to reluctantly agree. Kobe’s been a monster stalwart and champion for The Lakers, but it seems the windows to success for him are closing fast. After hitting 30, most players – regardless of caliber, begin to wane over each year. By the time they hit mid-30’s they lose a few inches in vertical leap.. they cover the length of the court in a second or two more, and as much as their hearts are in it, their bodies are telling them different. Nash, Kobe, Nowitzki, KG, Pierce, Big Fundamental, RayRay and Vince Carter all fall into that category. Great players all.. but like all of us, eventually Father Time catches up and takes his toll. I think he should opt to move and join some squad that already has a couple of border-line All Stars and have a realistic shot at one more title: because as it stands in Laker Land now? Nothing doing, forget it, it ain’t happening.

  16. arthur n says:

    Yes, it can! Jim Buss is all to blame, that idiot has run his father’s franchise into the ground. Get rid of him and things will be instantly be better. First Jim Buss needs to go, if he’s gone then Mike Toni will be gone as well.

  17. lino says:

    kobe needs to shut his yapper, play ball, and leave front office decisions to the front office. oh, wait, he can’t play ball. well, then, maybe he should just shut his yapper. pity the high draft pick starting his nba career with i-me-my bryant.

  18. Lucky Star says:

    I can sort of see them trading their draft pick for Josh Smith or something like that.

  19. bormasina says:

    Kobe, just retire, will you … Please! You old and done. If you were more kind and human you would not be in this position without teammates. Nobody wants to play with you, go home, game is over for you … There is no time for another run … You’ve done it to your self, nobody did it to you.

    • raquan howard says:

      THATS WHY hE’S HAS OVER 30000 POINTS IN HIS CAREER LAST YEAR WHEN HEALTHY LEAD THE LEAGUE IN SCORING UNTIL HE GOT INJURY AND KEVIN DURANT TOOK THE SCORING TITLE I BET YOU DIDNT NO THAT .. YOUR FOOLISH KOBE RETIRE’S WHEN KOBE RETIRES gET TF OUTTA hERE kOBE DONE HAHAH hE GOT ENOUGH RINGS TO DONATE TO YOUR FAVORITE TEAMS STARTING FIVE

  20. Reginald says:

    So Kobe has to politic for guys to come play with him? Should be interesting to watch. Lakers are in full rebuild mode and now that Phil is in NY, I don’t see Melo leaving. They may land Love a year later but Kobe at 36 or 37 leading a team to a title doesn’t seem likely. Stranger things have happened tho.

  21. Daniel says:

    You should know by now that Kobe won’t share anything with anybody.

  22. Fred says:

    Kobe should go for a buy out and go to NY to fight for shots against Melo

  23. Kome the Black Dumba says:

    Lovin’ this every moment. Great players make their teamates better not forcing them out so you can be the man or having the orange in your hands all the time.

    First Shaq, mind you that last season as a Lakers was still borderline MVP. 21-11-2.

    Last season D12, 17-12-2, wasn’t great number but are there any decent centers around anymore?(willing to come to LA)

    Lakers gave up two center just for the sake of kobe’s ego, one is one of the most dominant center and one got potential.

    Good job, Kobe. And now you can play 1 on 5 like you always want! Hero ball time!

    Or maybe you can start by giving a call to Smush Parker in Venezuela.

  24. Bill says:

    I have watched the video of the interview and don’t interpret Kobe’s comments as criticism. He did allude to some dysfunction between Jimmie and Jeannie but he didn’t provide any detail so even that is unclear. What he did say was he expects them to perform going forward but he never said that they weren’t performing now.

    However, as a Lakers fan, I am not pleased to see Jackson align with NY. Is there no way the Lakers could have utilized his basketball insight? Does Jimmie really think he knows more about the game than Phil?

  25. The Black Mamba 24 says:

    Ummm, thats kinda how it goes when one is the President of something.. Duh! Try some schooling. BTW, Jim already has Mitch’s head up his butt, he dont need yours too.

  26. Cordell says:

    This falls squarely on Buss’s shoulders when he manipulated Phil Jackson and hired D’Antoni instead, he has ruined this franchise and destroyed the culture of Lakers basketball.