Ben Golliver

It’s not even June, and the Los Angeles Lakers are already making a mess out of their summer.

This week, the team hired Mike Brown to coach the team. It was a somewhat controversial hire but not an altogether terrible one. The messy part wasn’t the result; it was the process and the aftermath.

During the search process, Lakers owner Jerry Buss specifically said that no Lakers players would be consulted regarding the search. He was quoted on Playboy Radio on XM/Sirius:

“We really don’t consult the players on these matters,” Buss said. “Obviously, we have to select somebody who has a reputation that players would be happy with. But to ask a direct player to select a particular coach, that’s general manager territory.”

OK, fine, if that your team policy, whatever. It’s a strange policy to have when Kobe Bryant, one of the best and certainly the most headstrong player in the NBA as the face of your franchise, but if that’s your policy, by all means go with it.

Of course, once Brown’s hiring was announced, Bryant offered a “no comment” and was said to be “surprised” by the hire. Was Bryant a bit peeved by this slight? Of course. Anyone in his position would be.

The decision to select Brown as the Lakers next coach has been widely attributed to Jim Buss, Lakers VP and son of the owner. In an interview with the Los Angeles Times on Saturday, Jim Buss does a 180 degree flip less than one week after the hiring was announced, admitting that Bryant should have been consulted during the process.

“Looking back on it, we should have contacted Kobe,” Buss says. “Kobe said it was management’s job to pick a coach. He just said, ‘Defense first.’ That’s what we were doing, but we should have reached out to him.”

Yeah, of course the Lakers should have reached out to Bryant. The only reason not to do so was is if the Lakers firmly and truly believed in their “no players consulted” stance. If they did, there should not be any backtracking. If it’s so important that it’s black and white, there should be no gray area hedging after the fact.

Just put yourself in Bryant’s shoes. You’ve busted your butt for more than a decade. You’ve brought home five rings. You’re entering the final chapter of your career. You’ve earned every last shred of respect a player can earn in the NBA. After all of that, you’re then informed that you will be left out of the process. Once the process is completed, you’re told that you should have been consulted. But the hiring has been completed, of course, and there’s no going back. You’re stuck with the guy that you weren’t asked about, whether you like it or not.

If you’re Bryant, how else do you read this situation except for butt-covering lip service? If Lakers management truly wanted to show respect, they could have reached out. If they truly didn’t care, they have no reason to apologize or back-track. If they don’t know what they are doing or simply can’t keep their story straight … well, then they do what they just did.

By admitting this mistake so quickly and readily, Jim Buss totally undercuts this management team’s credibility and makes a bad situation even more complicated. No one wins here: Bryant feels disrespected, Brown walks into an unnecessarily tense scene without first having Bryant’s support, Lakers management looks like it’s on different pages, and Jim Buss looks either weak, incosistent or indecisive.

Like I said, what a mess.

Comments (19)
  1. Jack says:

    Too late now Jim Buss! Kobe isn’t your typical “player”

  2. Chris says:

    This is all stupidity! This is all business people, no hard feelings to the players. You guys should just be happy with the easy money you guys r making for bouncing a ball up and down. Stop crying and cOmplaining!

  3. SHW NO MERCY says:

    Things are getting worse in Lakersland, Khloe Kardashian was not consulted either. It’s gonna be ugly.

  4. greg says:

    Players should NOT be consulted as to a new coach, you expect mgmt. to know who is right for the team, Kobe is a player good or bad, not mgmt.

    1. TT says:

      i was gonna say …. i know those boys make alot of money and of course are well respected- on the other hand – they are employees – And somebody has to be in charge, make descisions – as with any other job – not everyone will agree on any descisions….There has to be a way to do thing descently and in order -from management to the very bottom… I know in a regular blue collar job -our managers dont consult with us before they hire a new boss…Somebody has to make difficult descisions- I dont envy them – but it is necessary …

  5. Suz says:

    Ridiculous…. One of the biggest issues with Kobe all the way to his years with Shaq, is that his arrogance that he is so “everything” … I know, add a new team to NBA, Kobe can play all positions, be the coach and be the mgmt and make those decisions, too.

    Seriously Jerry Buss, you do not owe anyone an apology, except maybe yourself for even saying Kobe should have been consulted.

    1. Josh Butts says:

      I think it was Jim Buss who apologized.

  6. Chris Haddad-Bartosch says:


  7. jason h says:

    agreed…good article.

  8. Marcus says:

    If Mike Brown can’t deliver a championship to the Lakers; In the next couple years, Kobe will do whatever it takes to bring Coach K to LA…. Believe That.

  9. Odb says:

    He shouldn’t have been consulted necessarily BUT he for sure shoulda been called before the announcement!!!!!!! He shouldn’t find out from the press like everyone else. He’s the face of the team and why they sell seats for the last 10 years. A quick call would suffice. Jim Buss = white trash

    1. Rick says:

      ODB=Black Diarrhea!

  10. Mike says:

    Boy it sounds like the Lakers surely are headed down a path of uncertainty, almost, but not quite like the Dodgers.. pretty sad if you think about it. all the Lakers had to ask was for an perspective on what the candidtates actually had to offer to and for this group of players.. and then make a final judgement with the management picking the new coach , you need a team captains perspective, I wish Brown luck, but I think hes gonna need more than that alot more.. Go Lakers .. what else is there to say …

  11. Daisy says:

    I’m sorry, but isn’t the team “The L.A. Lakers” not “The L.A. Kobe’s”? Don’t get me wrong, the guy is good, but let’s face it, he’s not as good as he once was. The organization needs to bring in young, fresh talent. It’s an aging tean & last season proved it. They probably realized it themselves that’t why they were less focused on playing to win & concentrated their minds/efforts on reality shows, union business & endorsements.

  12. No Way says:

    Kobe doesn’t own any part of the Laker team. He’s a well paid employee and that’s it. Nobody owes him an apology. If he thinks he does, he should offer to buy a share of team if he feels he needs to be consulted.

  13. phiilip says:

    Kobe…just play ball and shut the hell up.

    1. Marco says:

      I second this comment !!

  14. latopia says:

    How precious.

    A blogger for Blazer’s Edge predicts doom & gloom for the Purple & Gold because they “disrespected” Kobe.

    But Kobe tells’s Dave McMenamin that he has great respect for Brown and is on board with the hiring, despite not being consulted about the choice. [ ]

    Say your prayers Laker Nation. A Blazer blogger says the sky is falling!!!!

  15. ES says:

    Kobe is an Employee just like everyone else. He works for the MAN and gets paid very well. Why does the owner of the team have to consult with his employees? Kobe, the day you sign the checks that’s the day you can call the shots.

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