KOBE BRYANT ON LAKERS ORGANIZATION - “IT’S A MESS“: After torching the Lakers organization on his website and likewise on ESPN Radio in L.A. (audio) today, Kobe Bryant unleashed his strongest criticism of the team’s front office during an interview on the Lakers radio play-by-play home: KLAC-AM. (Click here for entire interview)
Why is Bryant talking now? The flashpoint came in a piece by Mark Heisler of the LOS ANGELES TIMES today, in which an anonymous Lakers “insider” claimed that Bryant was to blame for Shaq departing the team.
Bryant appeared on KLAC’s “Petros and Money Show” and said of the front office: “That place is a mess. What I’m speaking about is, I want us to get to a point where we’re contending for titles. It’s not about who has control. Now they want me to use me as a scapegoat with this Laker insider thing. Don’t throw me under the bus for something I did not say or do. I haven’t heard anything from anybody since my exit meeting. And I found out like you guys found out about Jim Buss dissing Phil on the radio.”
On the perception he pushed Shaq out of L.A.: “This is what really pisses me off. I assumed it was media guys talking about it or people assuming. Now I read this that a Laker insider says I ran Shaq off. I took it in stride the first time. Now I’m not taking a bullet season for something I did not say. I had nothing to do with that.
“I spoke with Phil today. I’m training, I still get up at 4:30am. Now the tone has switched and now I have serious trust issue. (Today) I asked Phil, ‘when you left in ‘04, what did they tell you?’. What he told me was that they didnt want to bring him (Phil) back because they wanted scale back and put in a long term plan. Dr. Buss wants to trade Shaq because he doesnt want to fork out $30M per year.
“That’s drastically different from what they told me. They said NOTHING to me about a long term plan. Absolutely nothing. Now I just found out about this today (from Phil). This had been the worst day, I have a headache. I love this city, my wife’s from here.”
Other ruminations from Bryant: “They traded my man, Caron Butler, he and I had been training together all summer. And then I get a call that he’s been traded. They called me and asked me what I thought, and I said ‘why are you asking me now? he’s already been traded.’”
“I look at what Kevin Garnett is going through in Minnesota. I don’t want us to go through that by any means.”
“Enough is enough, that’s why I’ve been very vocal. The truth is coming out. Lakers fan are finally hearing the truth.”
Meanwhile, Bryant also busted Buss, who coincidentally was arrested for DUI this morning, and the rest of the Lakers front office on his website on KSPN-AM.
Bryant earlier today to KSPN-AM’s Steve Mason and John Ireland (click here for entire interview): “A Laker insider is saying I ran Shaq out? That’s tough for me to deal with. I’m beyond furious. That’s an understatement. They know I had nothing to do with it. Whoever that Laker insider is, I know what Jerry Buss said to me and the direction he wanted to take the organization. I kept quiet and took a bullet for them last time.”
Bryant also made it clear during the radio interview that he seriously considered leaving the Lakers for the Clippers or Chicago Bulls after his contract ran out with the club in 2004, only re-signing with the team after assurances that a plan was in place to win immediately.
But Bryant now says he was deceived by Buss and his minions, and that they instead planned on a five-year rebuilding plan: “Before I signed, I didn’t know about a five year plan. It was all about winning right now, being aggressive. That’s the reason I re-signed. I was willing to go to the Clippers who had a good team, good young talent. And Chicago. I didnt know we were on a 5-6 year plan, I had no idea about that.”
Lakers management has been widely criticized for its inactivity over the past three years, as impact players like Baron Davis, Carlos Boozer and Ron Artest were all made available.
When asked about that trio of players in particular, Bryant said that all three had contacted him about joining the Lakers, but that team management wasn’t interested in each case: “All those guys called me first. Baron, Boozer, Artest. But they (Lakers front office) always had a reason not to do a deal“.
Despite his profound discontent, Bryant isn’t ready just yet to demand a trade, instead ending his diatribe with, “If I want a trade I’ll ask for one. I want to work this stuff out. I want to be Laker.“