Sports Out West

Kobe Bryant, Magic Johnson question Lakers’ management

Photo Credit: Joe Kohen/AP

As the Los Angeles Lakers continue through their most difficult season in recent memory, two of their living legends are questioning the leadership at the top.

Kobe Bryant in a press conference at the team’s training facility in El Segundo on Wednesday voiced his displeasure with how the team has played this season.

Via Lakers.com:

“How can I be satisfied with it? We are about 100 games under .500. You can’t be satisfied with that at all. This is not what we stand for and what we play for,” Bryant said. “A lot of the times it’s hard to not fully understand that message if you’re not a die-hard Lakers fan.”

“It’s hard to understand where we are coming from and accustomed to, which is playing for championships or everything else is a complete failure. That’s just how it is. That is how it was explained to me by Jerry (West) and all the other great Lakers that played here. That is just how I grew up thinking. That is just how it is.”

Los Angeles’ struggles this year have been monumental as they currently rank in last place in the Western Conference and are in a five-way tie for the fourth-worst record in the league. As for Bryant, he believes that the change in the culture must start from the top.

“We have to start at the top in terms of the culture of our team,” Bryant said. “What kind of culture do we want to have? What kind of system do we want to have? How do we want to play? It starts there and from there you can start building out your team accordingly.”

“You have to start with Jim (Buss) and Jeanie (Buss) and how that relationship plays out. It starts there in having clear direction and clear authority. Then it goes down to the coaching staff. What’s Mike (D’Antoni) going to do and what they are going to do with Mike. It goes from there.”

Former Lakers great and five-time NBA champion with the team, Earvin Magic Johnson has heavily criticized  Jim Buss and Los Angeles’ front office over the past two seasons.  Johnson on Wednesday once again took to Twitter to voice his doubts about the direction of the organization.

 Johnson also urged his former team to make Phil Jackson a part of their franchise before he headed to the New York Knicks front office as their team president of basketball operations.

This is not the first time Johnson has had an issue with the Lakers’ front office not bringing Jackson on board, as he aired his dismay with the team choosing to hire D’Antoni over Jackson two seasons ago in an on-air interview with “Max and Marcellus Show” on ESPNLA 710 last November.

“It blows me away that we could’ve had Phil Jackson,” Johnson said. “As much as we all would like to see Phil a part of it, he understands it can’t happen.”

As for Bryant, he also voiced his displeasure with the thought that the team could once again pass on adding Jackson to the organization.

“You know how I feel about Phil,” Bryant said. “I have so much admiration for him and respect. I have a great relationship with him. Personally it would be hard for me to understand that happening twice. I don’t really get it.”

With that said, the 18-year veteran is hopeful that the organization will make moves to improve their roster this upcoming season as he does not want to endure another embarrassing season.

“Absolutely, let’s play next year and let’s suck again,” Bryant said sarcastically. “No. Absolutely not. It’s my job to go on the court and perform, there are no excuses for it. It’s my job to get it done. It’s the same thing for the front office, the same expectations that they have for me on the court are the same ones I have in them to get it done up there.”

But at the same time he would like to be informed of any possible changes to the team’s roster moving forward.

“I just want to get a phone call when somebody gets traded,” Bryant said. “Let’s start there first.”

Bryant on Wednesday was also asked if he would be willing to wait for the summer of 2015 for the team to make any  significant moves in free agency, which he quickly made his position known about that possibility.

“No, No, No,” Bryant said, “Nope, not one lick.”

Adding more fuel to the fire, Sporting News is reporting that Bryant is telling others behind the scenes that he has “no interest” to play for D’Antoni next season. Other players on the team such as Pau Gasol have stated numerous times this season his displeasure with D’Antoni’s style of play and lack of success using it.

The idea of this potential move could increase stock in the Lakers’ interest in pursuing Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony should he choose to become a free agent this summer. It has been well documented that both Anthony and D’Antoni did not necessarily see eye-to-eye during their time together in New York, so with D’Antoni possibly out of the picture Los Angeles’ offseason plans could certainly change. 

So with the additional criticism of the Lakers’ management coming from two of the biggest names in the franchise, it will be interesting to see how things shape up and what actions the organization will take this upcoming offseason.

Photo Credit: Joe Kohen/AP

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Bob Garcia IV

Bob Garcia is a sports journalist from Southern California. He was a reporter for the award-winning newspaper, The Daily Sundial, at California State University, Northridge. You can follow him on Twitter, @BGarcia90.