After head coach Mike D’Antoni resigned following a dismal 27-55 regular season, the Los Angeles Lakers will once again be tasked with hiring a new man to patrol the sideline. Star shooting guard Kobe Bryant wants to be in the loop when that decision is made.
In an interview Thursday on ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live (h/t Sporting News’ Sean Deveney), Kimmel asked the future Hall of Famer if management had sought his input with regard to the coaching situation.
“On the last two they didn’t,” Bryant said, referencing hires of Mike Brown (2011) and D’Antoni (2012). “On the third one, I hope they do.”
Bryant managed to play in just six games during the 2013-14 season. His recovery from an Achilles tear suffered last April, and a fractured lateral tibial plateau he sustained Dec. 17, ensured he’d watch the vast majority of the campaign in street clothes.
But what exactly was Bryant’s reaction when the organization severed ties with D’Antoni? After all, Deveney reported in March that Bryant had “no interest” in playing for the offensive-minded coach next season.
“Honestly, I didn’t care,” Bryant told Kimmel (h/t ESPN Los Angeles’ Dave McMenamin).
“Mike was dealt a really bad hand in dealing with all the injuries that he had here. This is a tough place, man. If you’re not winning, you’re not going to survive, man," he said.
Of course, even when coaches are winning—Mark Jackson, Lionel Hollins, George Karl—job security is never a guarantee.
Bryant’s frustrations are clearly at an all-time high. When asked what it was like to watch the Lakers' struggles, Bryant said, “I’d rather stay at home and eat paint chips.”
Tell us how you really feel, Mamba.
It’s interesting to note that the five-time NBA champion wants to be included in the next coaching search. He already stated in February that he doesn’t want any part of offseason moves with regard to the roster, per Brett Pollakoff of Pro Basketball Talk.
“In all honesty, I don’t want it,” he said.
Bryant added that he’d rather let general manager Mitch Kupchak and owner Jim Buss “do their job.”
The Lakers franchise is at a crucial juncture, as Bryant’s two-year, $48.5 million contract extension is set to kick in at the start of 2014-15.
While he may not want input regarding future teammates brought in by management via free agency, it certainly appears that he wants a say in who will coach.
Filling the shoes of legendary coach Phil Jackson has already proven to be an arduous task for Brown and D’Antoni, so who will be next?
One likely candidate is former coach of the year Byron Scott, per B/R's Kevin Ding. It's also possible that Lakerland could target veteran guard Derek Fisher if he decides to retire after his postseason run with the Oklahoma City Thunder comes to an end. It will be important, however, that Bryant signs off on the next hire.
He's still the face of the franchise and the team's best player, but success in LA will ultimately hinge on his ability to bounce back from an injury-riddled year.
Videos courtesy of CJ Fogler's Instagram.