May 9, 2014, 9:22 AM EDT
And it worked.
D’Antoni resigned, surely feeling at least somewhat unwelcome in Los Angeles due to Kobe. Coaching an unhappy star during a lame-duck year rarely works.
Kobe played his hand effectively.
In the aftermath, Kobe isn’t spiking the football Magic Johnson style, but he’s not commending D’Antoni’s work, either.
“Honestly I didn’t care,” Bryant said Thursday during a guest appearance on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” when asked by Kimmel if he was “happy” that D’Antoni accepted a buyout of close to $2 million for next season rather than come back to coach the team.
“Mike was dealt a really bad hand in dealing with all the injuries that he had here,” Bryant said. “This is a tough place, man. If you’re not winning, you’re not going to survive, man.”
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Kobe also said he wants input on the Lakers’ next coaching move – something Mitch Kupchak said wouldn’t happen with whether or not the team kept D’Antoni. Even if the Lakers don’t seek Kobe’s advice, he’ll find ways to give it, anyway.
Really, the Lakers should consult Kobe. By giving him a $48.5 million extension, they enabled him to command the locker room for the next couple years. If they’d rather minimize his voice, they shouldn’t have extended him. But they did, so now they should take steps to ensure he’s happy and not working counter to the coach.
Kobe is a powerful leader. Give him a coach he cares about, and maybe his enthusiasm will trickle to the rest of the team.
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