Kobe Bryant's impact on the decisions that Los Angeles Lakers ownership and management make has been grossly overstated for a while now. There is no denying that in his heyday, when he was on the verge of becoming the biggest free agent in sports 10 years ago, Kobe’s opinion mattered. In there here and now, though? Their aging veteran’s (who has two or so years left in the NBA) opinion on personnel matters very little Jim Buss and Mitch Kupchak.
That’s why Kobe has been so approving of every decision that Buss has made over the past two years. That’s why he signed off on Mike Brown (after acknowledging that he wasn’t consulted on the hire), and Phil Jackson, and Mike D’Antoni. That’s why he insisted that he had faith in the Lakers’ ability to re-tool and reload. That’s why he has been playing the part of the good solider ever since Pau Gasol’s arrival. He knows that his opinion matters very little these days, and that there is no point in being petulant about decisions that are out of his control.
During a recent interview with ESPN, Kobe opened up about what exactly reuniting with Phil Jackson would have meant to him.
"You always want to kind of reconnect because you’ve had that relationship with him forever. It’s the same thing with Steve (Nash) with Coach (Mike) D’Antoni. They’ve had that relationship. So, it’s always a part of me that misses that, but I’m very thankful and very happy for the years that we’ve spent."
Translation: If I had the option, I’d have taken Phil because of our history. But I’m fine with D’Antoni, just like I was fine with Brown.
When people act like Kobe has this giant decision-making role within the organization, what they are really doing is minimizing what a team player he has become. All of the talk about him being a prima donna is really old. He’s been playing his part for years now, and his ability to go with the flow as far as this year’s coaching situation goes only further illustrates that point.