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Report: Kobe’s rant directed at dysfunctional Lakers front office

Feb 21, 2012, 8:26 AM EDT

Los Angeles Lakers v Phoenix Suns Getty Images

There has been a growing buzz around the Lakers this year that as Jim Buss — son of long-time owner Jerry Buss — has taken control of the Lakers organization, nobody is sure what direction it is steering.

That includes Kobe Bryant. Which is why he made the remarks he did about the need to either trade Pau Gasol or say you’re not going to. Kobe wants some stability, reports Ken Berger of

Berger minces no words in laying this at the feet of the younger Buss.

So here it is: The Lakers’ front office is an uncommunicative, rudderless fiasco, and the unrest and paranoia that have been festering for years threaten to derail the team’s plans to ride Bryant to his sixth NBA title while they still can. And much of it can be traced to the growing influence of executive vice president Jim Buss, the owner’s bon vivant son, who has helped transform a great franchise into a steaming pool of nepotism and nincompoops….

And that brings us to what all this means in the grand scheme of things for the Lakers. Bryant isn’t the only one who doesn’t know what’s going on, who isn’t being kept in the loop on the organization’s plans. In short, nobody is. And that’s a problem….

“Kobe’s exploding, and he should,” said another person with ties to the franchise. “Your lead player, you should always have communication with him let him know what’s going on. There’s no communication, and that’s ridiculous.”

Jim Buss put his stamp on the Lakers this summer by trying to remove all traces of Phil Jackson from the organization — letting go scouts, front office people, even the equipment manager who had been around from the Showtime era. After that he has gone pretty much into a bunker mentality, not talking to the media, Kobe Bryant, or really laying out his vision to anyone. That mentality may have worked in the 1980s for the Lakers, but it doesn’t now.

Mitch Kupchak is still the GM but there are rumblings that he’s unhappy, that he doesn’t know who he can talk to or trust in the organization anymore. Make no mistake, this is Jim Buss’ show and other GMs know it.

If you don’t think all these rumors play into Dwight Howard’s thinking, you kid yourself.

To be fair, if David Stern doesn’t veto the Chris Paul three-team deal with the Rockets, this conversation is not happening. The Lakers would be contenders (most likely) and would have made the bold move the organization is known for to set itself up for the future.

But there seems to be no “plan B” and nobody is talking (save for Kupchak’s vague public statement). Kobe is frustrated. So are the Lakers fans.

  1. glink123 - Feb 21, 2012 at 8:45 AM

    David Stern really corn-holed this franchise by vetoing the CP3 trade. I’m still surprised there hasn’t been a lawsuit.

  2. t16rich - Feb 21, 2012 at 9:37 AM

    They seriously let go of the equptment trainer? What a bunch of clowns.

  3. cinnalocks - Feb 21, 2012 at 10:56 AM

    Clowns are people who cannot even spell “equipment trainer” with the assistance of spell check. The Lakers let go of a lot of people. The business side of the game is changing. The Lakers are far over cap, need to trim down but have a lot of old weight. Walton’s contract is a killer. If they let Odom go anybody but Kobe is on the blocks honestly.

    The CP3 trade was not a good trade. They Lakers do not need a star point guard, but rather a good young one, like Sessions. He has a good up side and will not cost an arm and a leg…..a Gasol or a Bynum. The Lakers need to keep Bynum and Gasol to make it work. D Howard is about the future but it will cost them the present…..Sessions give them the future and the present at a much lesser cost.

  4. skids003 - Feb 21, 2012 at 10:58 AM

    Kobe is a player and employee. His job is to shut up, play, and collect his $20 million salary.

    • david8726 - Feb 21, 2012 at 11:16 AM

      Well run organizations of all types do not tell their employees to “shut up, work, and collect their money.”

      Truly great organizations in and out of sports are run by leaders who work closely with their employees, exchanging ideas with them and making them part of what’s going on.

      Obviously the president / CEO has final say, but getting input from your employees can often help that person make better decisions than they would have on their own. And of course, keeping your employees plugged in on the direction of the organization results in a more motivated, focused worker.

      In the case of Kobe Bryant, he’s the biggest reason the Lakers have been as successful as they’ve been over the last decade. Only a fool would keep someone who is that important to the organization completely shut out of the decision making process.

  5. stadix093 - Feb 21, 2012 at 10:58 AM

    I think most Lakers (myself included) wanted Jeanie to take over the team for this very reason. She’s always watching games, is great with media and seems to genuinely love the LAL. It seems like handing the team to Jim was the only, and biggest mistake Dr Buss has ever made. Hope I’m wrong.

    • megatronownsyou - Feb 21, 2012 at 11:55 AM

      stadix093-You play for the Lakers?

  6. therealhtj - Feb 21, 2012 at 11:01 AM

    It’s not like the Lakers were making brilliant moves the last several years under Jerry Buss either. Let’s see what comes to mind, Max MLE deals for the worthless likes of Luke Walton, Ron Artest, and Vladimir Radmonovic. 3/15 for worthless Sasha Vujacic and 3/10.5 for a Derek Fisher that couldn’t challenge an opposing PG 3 years ago. But the most egregious mistakes were giving Kobe and Pau 3/85 and 3/57 respectively. It absolutely makes it impossible for the team to make any moves without losing either Pau or Bynum. Who would want any of the other pieces for anything of quality other than to make the salaries match up?

    Blame Jim Buss all you want, but those bonehead moves of the past several years have finally caught up to the Lakers. They completely mortgaged the future to reward players for those two rings. That’s all well and good, but Kobe has no business crying about his legacy when he’s always demanded nothing less than max money. Pau, for what it’s worth, got two rings and a ton of money – it really appears like that’s more than enough for him and he’s mentally checked out. The sad reality is still this – Kobe/Pau/Bynum alone put the Lakers over the cap and they’re one shaky Bynum knee injury away from ending out of the playoffs.

    • loungefly74 - Feb 21, 2012 at 11:15 AM

      yeah…horrible moves the past several years…including the moves that got them to 3 straight Finals…indeed, horrible. they should have done what Team “X” is doing when they did better then 3 Fianls appearances the past 4 years…oh wait…no one has been better than the Lakers the past 4 years! yeah…quit your “doomsday” argument. any laker fan knows youre just hatin…as you should…because your team less stellar then the Lakers.

      • therealhtj - Feb 21, 2012 at 11:34 AM

        The Lakers are my team. LA born and raised and been a fan since before I could pick up a basketball. Not hating, just being realistic. Bynum goes down, we’re in the lottery.

        We had a prime Kobe and Pau when we got our rings, LO would give us solid production half the time, were getting at least some production from the 3, and Fisher wasn’t the laughing stock of starting NBA PG’s back then. None of those things can be said today.

        And I certainly wouldn’t lump last year into your “past 4 years of greatness.” That was the beginning of the end, and nothing other than your purple and gold colored glasses would tell you otherwise.

      • loungefly74 - Feb 23, 2012 at 2:41 PM

        oh? i would say last year should count. if you recall…the Lakers were favored to appear in the NBA Finals out of the West. no one predicted the wheels would fall off against the Mavs…and I say 4 years because we have been to the Finals 3 out of the past 4 years…

        Hmmm…purple and gold glasses. well, as someone said earlier…The Laker reload not rebuild. It’s a L.A. mentality. you should know that already being from there. and yeah, i have been a fan since the 80’s when i was a little kid…so i have suffered thru the slumping years. but if your talking like its either championship or complete waste every year, then you have unrealistic expectations. I know the Lakers can’t win it EVERY year…damn, no team can. But you make it sound like this organization is the laughing stock of the league or soemthing…no, quite the opposite.

        …and I wouldn’t go as far to say they are a lottery team without Bynum. Damn…i hate to hear your opinion on the shortcomings of all the other teams…cause the Lakers, believe it or not, are doing alright.

    • philliphernandez - Feb 21, 2012 at 11:15 AM

      @ therealhtj. You have a good point on the overpaying of roleplayers. They did overspend on a few, Walton in particular but the real Jim Buss peice has been Bynum how is untouchable even though he has never played a full season. With the right trade (D. Howard) the Lakers can keep the Championship window open for 1-2 more years. I like Bynum as a player but he makes to many mental mistakes and can’t stay on the floor. I do not see building the next stage of the Lakers on him.

      Then again if you have your personal bartender from your party days as your chief advisor like Jim does, maybe it does make sense to you.

    • jedifriedchicken - Feb 21, 2012 at 3:09 PM

      Luke, Ron, Derek, Pau

      Typical ‘what have you done for me lately’ mentality. The Lakers were a different team when they gave Luke his current contract. He was coming off a good season performance, & he’s a smart player. Unfortunately he started getting injured a lot thereafter, and the unforeseeable Gasol trade made him a bit irrelevant. His expiring contract will have value coming up. Fisher helped them win 2 finals, & make it to a third. He’d still be effective if he could be used as a back up. Hopefully, the team will pick up some one like Sessions to facilitate this. World Peace helped the Lakers win a championship his first year there. Mitch is a great GM. I hope that the Laker management is not restricting him from continuing to the best job he can. Things would probly be better for the team if David Stern hadn’t punked them for Chris Paul.

    • hoytdadd64 - Feb 21, 2012 at 5:08 PM

      Look you pay players based on their current value to your current system. So when the Lakers where running the triangle all those players showed certain value. Issue now is the Lakers have changed their system, and in the case of Walton there is also been lingering injuries.

  7. shockexchange - Feb 21, 2012 at 11:06 AM

    The Lakers created this monster years ago. They empowered Robert Horry, Jr. by trading Shaq when he and Shaq had beef. If the Lakers really wanted to upgrade the team they would try to trade Horry, Jr. for Lebron.

    • loungefly74 - Feb 21, 2012 at 11:17 AM

      shock…you continue to amaze me with your increasingly insane comments. bravo sir. i keep thinking no way does this person keep getting more ridiculous but you do.

  8. cinnalocks - Feb 21, 2012 at 11:08 AM

    Frustrated? Please. The Lakers are 14 and 2 at home. Frustrated by holding the Blazers to 7 points in the first quarter at home. I think not. I am a Fan and I am not frustrated. They just have to become better on the road. Currently the Lakers and Clippers would meet in the Playoffs it the happened today. That would be great for the city and both teams.

    Kobe pulled a “Phil Jackson Zen Move”…He knows they are not going to announce one way or the other! He is just making his own announcement backing Pau to help pump him up and get more out of him. They both know this is a business and how it works. Where is the rant? Where is the dysfunction? Media hypes it all to the point of lying even. Even the Lamar Odom trade does not look bad, Odom has done NOTHING in Dallas he is averaging 7 pts and 4 rebs a game not the double double he averaged in L.A.

    • loungefly74 - Feb 21, 2012 at 11:21 AM

      great points. Kobe did channel Phil with his recent comments.
      i am looking forward to some minor tweeking with the roster but really, no need to “blow it up”.

      • jedifriedchicken - Feb 21, 2012 at 3:13 PM

        The Lakers don’t rebuild, they reload…

  9. geo59 - Feb 21, 2012 at 11:29 AM

    Good article Kurt. I’ve been thinking the same about Jim Buss, starting with the rumors I read about him being one of the reasons Phil left. Then I questioned Buss’ judgement in selecting Mike Brown as coach. I’m still not sure how smart that was/is. But the most baffling and destructive thing that Buss has done is to allow the public and the players to find out about the potential Chris Paul trade before the trade was completely approved by New Orleans ownership. It doesn’t matter that the owner(s) are the league and David Stern. Buss and Kupchak still should have had final approval before anyone else heard about it. As it is that mistake cost them Lamar, has Pau feeling unwanted and de-stabilized the team. Not good management.

    • david8726 - Feb 21, 2012 at 11:35 AM

      I really don’t think you can blame Jum Buss at all for how that Chris Paul situation went down.

      That CP3 trade was done. GMs from all three times had approved it. It wasn’t just the Lakers who thought the trade was complete. The Rockets and Hornets thought it was going to happen too.

      No one could have anticipated that Dictator Stern would swoop in to kill the trade after it was approved by all three GMs. That was a completely unprecedented move.

      • geo59 - Feb 21, 2012 at 12:05 PM

        You may be right. I just thought that trades had to be approved by ownership before they went into effect. I guess it depends on the team and how much autonomy the owner gives the GM. At any rate I agree with you about Stern being a dictator. The league would be better off if he retired and was replaced with someone who’s more in touch with the fans and the players.

      • zxrated - Feb 21, 2012 at 2:58 PM

        You can absolutely blame Jim and Mitch for the CP3 mess. Mark Cuban and Phil Jackson warned everyone of it when the league took over the Hornets in 2010. The main reason for the lockout was small market owners against big market owners, the conditions of the luxury tax in the new CBA is the mandate. Jim and Mitch knew all of this and still tried to do business as usual, an extremely arrogant move if you ask me. I don’t agree with what Stern did but I could see it a mile away given the mood of the lockout.

  10. fouldwimmerlaik - Feb 21, 2012 at 12:25 PM

    There would be no need for a great PG if they would stick to the triangle. Their present roster works well for that kind of system…

    …oh yeah I forgot, Jimmy Boy, in his attempt to make it clear that he is Alpha Male now in Lalaland, pissing everywhere to mark his territory by getting rid of every non-player Laker staff during Phil J’s time, got rid of Brian Shaw and whatever triangle knowledge that would have been utilized after PJ left.

    Brian Shaw would have been a better choice than Mike Brown.

    • geo59 - Feb 21, 2012 at 3:26 PM

      I agree!!

  11. thedripfeed - Feb 21, 2012 at 12:44 PM

    Welcome to life as a Knicks fan the last 12 years: Its a shame the NBA can let such inept ownership/Front Offices run two of the marquee franchises in the NBA…..its a shame. Nepotisim is the downfall of society

  12. zxrated - Feb 21, 2012 at 3:14 PM

    As a Laker fan, I’ve watched the front office trade away or release all our championship youth to get older vets in decline since 09. Ariza, Farmar, Sasha, Turiaf & S. Brown. These were all young role players on a championship team, we are slow and old due to abandoning grooming and retaining young talent. Jerry West used the draft, free agency, grooming and trades to build Showtime and the Lakeshow. Mitch got too caught up in the three peat trade youth for veterans, of P-Jack. Phil NEVER leaves a legacy when his time is up, see the Bulls. Sasha was traded for a five million dollar trade exception Mitch let expire this season?

    • Kurt Helin - Feb 22, 2012 at 12:28 PM

      Do not assume Mitch is the guy making all the basketball calls right now. Think Jim Buss.

      • zxrated - Mar 8, 2012 at 7:01 PM

        We’ve been making bad FO decisions for a while now. Yes Mitch did well to get Gasol in 07 but he fell too deeply into the trade draft picks and young talent trying to procure championships today. West did not make core trades like that and used the draft coupled with allowing young talent to be groomed and retained. Allowing Ariza to go for Artest was a huge mistake. Same thing with Farmar for Joe Smith, then adding Theo Ratliff. We needed that back ou length because we let go of players like Brian cook and Ronnie Turiaf… too much role player change when we have had young talent. It’s time to lick our self inflicted wounds and start to groom once again.

  13. losangelasbasketball - Feb 21, 2012 at 5:06 PM

    Y blame jim buss? People are just doing pre emptive blaming for when jerry buss is completely out of the picture.

    • fouldwimmerlaik - Feb 22, 2012 at 10:48 AM

      Why blame Jim Buss?

      Why not? *rolleyes*

      • losangelasbasketball - Feb 27, 2012 at 4:19 AM

        Mr big shot has an asterisk button…If my piece of crap computer had an asterisk button… Things would get real interesting…

      • fouldwimmerlaik - Feb 27, 2012 at 8:14 AM

        @LAbball: LOL! Reminds me of this writing on a school desk that says, “Press button to eject teacher…”

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