After being officially shut down for the remainder of the 2013-14 campaign per Mike Trudell of Lakers.com (h/t Bleacher Report's Kevin Ding), the 35-year-old addressed media members at the team's practice facility. It was a wide-ranging discussion hitting everything from his rehab to the state of the franchise to his former coach, Phil Jackson.
Bryant was asked about the swirling rumors surrounding Jackson possibly joining the New York Knicks front office, and the perennial All-Star didn't mask any of his disappointment.
"You know how I feel about Phil," he said, via Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times. "I have so much admiration for him. ...Personally, it’d be hard for me to understand. ... It would be tough. I don’t really get it."
Frankly, there isn't much to get.
The Lakers had the chance to reunite with Jackson, the coach responsible for guiding them to their last championships. He was in the running to take over for Mike Brown, fired five games into the 2012-13 campaign, but the front office gave the job to Mike D'Antoni instead.
With the 11-time champion coach "ready to go back to work," as a Jackson source put it to ESPN's Ramona Shelburne earlier this month, the Lakers had the chance to mend that bridge.
There was a clamoring from Lakers Nation to do just that, including a personal plea from one of the franchise's most iconic figures:
I love Jim & Jeanie Buss, but we need Phil Jackson to be the face of our great organization, the Los Angeles Lakers.— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) March 12, 2014
That offer never came.
What did, though, were reports that Jackson had officially joined the Knicks' front office, per NBA TV and Greg Anthony:
Neither Jackson nor the Knicks have yet confirmed the move, but that may be simply a formality. Knicks superstar Carmelo Anthony said he heard Jackson "will be coming on board," via Peter Botte of the New York Daily News.
As for Bryant, Jackson now appears to be the one that got away. Again.
And Bryant sees LA's problems coming from the top, both in terms of ownership and the coach.
Will Mike D'Antoni be coaching the Lakers next season?
"You have to start with Jim (Buss) and Jeanie (Buss), and how that relationship plays out," he said, via Lakers.com. "It starts with having a clear direction and clear authority. Then it goes down to the coaching staff, what Mike (D’Antoni) is going to do, what they want to do with Mike."
Bryant, reportedly, knows what he would like to see done with D'Antoni. According to Sean Deveney of Sporting News, sources said Bryant has "no interest" in playing under D'Antoni next season.
Who would Bryant want as the Lakers' next coach? Probably the guy he knows his team can't get.
The one who appears to be bound for the Big Apple.