Kobe Bryant is objectively great at what he does. That is, when he’s not busy being America’s ambassador to soccer, he’s really, really good at basketball. But while his on-court skills have earned him the position of team captain for the Lakers, they’ve yet to earn him a seat at the hiring table, at least when it comes to coaches. Bryant wants that to change.
Bryant sat down with Jimmy Kimmel on Thursday night and said no one ran the last two Lakers coaching decisions by him, but he’s “hoping they do” this time. Fair enough. Perhaps Lakers owners Jim and Jeannie Buss, who Bryant said he still has faith in, need another opinion to avoid a third instance of a coach leaving before his contract ends. Mike D’Antoni accepted a buyout of around $2 million last week and his predecessor Mike Brown also failed to go the length of his contract.
Regarding the former, Bryant told Kimmel, “Honestly, I didn’t care.” He added: “Mike [D’Antoni] 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.”
There has been some speculation about who the Lakers’ next coach will be, but Bryant kept tight-lipped about his favorites. (Among the names are Derek Fisher, Steve Kerr and Lionel Hollins.) He did generalize his thoughts, however, on the qualities it takes to be a great coach. He told Kimmel:
“Honestly it’s not really about whether the players like the coach or not. It’s really about getting results. Liking somebody and those results don’t necessarily go hand-in-hand. Sometimes when a coach is driving you, you don’t necessarily like it, but it’s a part of the process and then once you win, everybody is buddy-buddy after that.”
And winning is what the Lakers need to do. Bryant found out this year it’s not fun to lose, as the team went 27-55. When Kimmel asked Bryant if he enjoyed watching the Lakers this year, Bryant laughed and said he’d “rather stay home and eat paint chips.”