During an appearance on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” Thursday, Bryant claims that he wasn’t affected in any way by D’Antoni’s decision, but Kobe – who says he’s now fully healthy, and expects the Lakers to return to their winning ways next season — hopes the team’s front-office changes their policy on not consulting with him on future coaching hiring decisions. Per ESPN:
“Honestly I didn’t care,” Bryant said Thursday when asked by Kimmel if he was “happy” that D’Antoni accepted a buyout of close to $2 million for next season rather than come back to coach the team.
“Mike was dealt a really bad hand in dealing with all the injuries that he had here,” Bryant said. “This is a tough place, man. If you’re not winning, you’re not going to survive, man.”
Bryant added that Magic Johnson’s controversial tweet in which he celebrated D’Antoni’s departure reminded him of a scene out of “The Wizard of Oz.”
“The first thing I thought of was seeing the Munchkins on the Yellow Brick Road dancing and singing, ‘The Wicked Witch is dead,’ ” Bryant said. “When he tweeted that, that song just came to mind.”
Bryant hopes the Lakers will sing a different tune than they have in the past when it comes to consulting him about hiring their next coach.
“On the last two they didn’t,” Bryant said, referring to Mike Brown and D’Antoni, who both failed to endure the length of the initial contracts they signed with the Lakers before parting ways. “On the third one, I’m hoping they do.”
Taking over for a legend like Phil Jackson is never easy, of course. Bryant said he still speaks to Jackson “often” and expects the 11-time championship winning coach to transfer those results to his front-office role with the New York Knicks.
“I think he’ll do fantastic,” Bryant said. “Especially the more people say that he won’t be successful.”
“Jimmy (Buss) and Jeanie (Buss) both, they’re just really determined and excited about the possibilities of next season and rebuilding this and building on their father’s legacy and everything that he’s accomplished,” Bryant said. “And they’re taking the challenge extremely, extremely seriously. They’re both on the same page and they want nothing but excellence here, so I have no doubt that we’ll make it happen.”