Lakers president Jeanie Buss defended Kobe Bryant from popular criticism publicly on Thursday.
In their annual preseason NBA player rankings, ESPN ranked Kobe Bryant at no. 40, a ranking any supporter of the future Hall of Famer would consider atrocious.
Then in this week’s ESPN Magazine, columnist Henry Abbott’s top feature story was heavily driven to a conclusion that the Lakers have lost out on big time free agents of late because they don’t want to play with Kobe Bryant.
Jeanie Buss was interviewed by ESPN on Thursday and gave her reaction,
Any free agent that would be afraid to play with Kobe Bryant is probably a loser, and I’m glad they wouldn’t come to the team.
I read the story. I don’t agree with any of it. If there is somebody that’s on our payroll who is saying things like that, I’ll soon get to the bottom of it, and they won’t be working for us anymore.
We made a very good case for [Carmelo] coming to Los Angeles, Buss said. But he’s from New York, he sees a mission. I understand why he chose to stay with New York. I don’t think any of that has to do with Kobe Bryant.
So Buss gave Carmelo a pass, and according to her terms, players are just ‘afraid’ to play with Kobe. Whatever the case, the Lakers aren’t anywhere close to having the kind of talent needed to compete for a championship.
Bryant, 36, is the league’s highest paid player per his two-year, $48.5 million extension with the Lakers. His contract has called into question his desires when other elite players in the league are taking less money so their team can sign better players. For now, Kobe’s boss is perfectly confident in her investment,
I have no doubt that Kobe will make people regret ever saying.