No team in the NBA is built quite like the San Antonio Spurs. During the Tim Duncan, Gregg Popovich era—which dates back to the 1997-98 season—the Spurs have made the playoffs 17 consecutive times and won four titles. That success and longevity has made Los Angeles Lakers shooting guard Kobe Bryant, of all people, envious.
“I’m jealous of Tim,” Bryant said, per ESPN’s Marc Stein. “Playing for the same historically great coach for his entire career.”
L.A.’s future Hall of Famer may simply be bitter following the dreadful 2013-14 campaign posted by his Lakers. Bryant managed to play in just six games due to injuries. As a result, the Purple and Gold went 27-55—the worst record since the franchise moved to Los Angeles for the 1960-61 season.
The Black Mamba actually has one more championship ring when compared with Duncan (five versus four). However, TD has played his entire career under Pop. Bryant has played for nine different coaches, when including short-lived interim guys.
|Kobe Bryant's Coaches|
|Phil Jackson||1999-00—2003-04 and 2005-06—2010-11||610-292|
The most notable of that bunch is 11-time champion Phil Jackson, who led the Lakers to all five of Kobe’s championship seasons.
The Zen Master retired from coaching after the 2010-11 season and has frequently cited health problems, per Frank Isola of the New York Daily News, as a key reason he doesn’t plan on returning to the sideline.
While the Spurs are continuing to chase their fifth Larry O’Brien trophy during the Popovich/Duncan years, Bryant is left wondering what the future holds for his own organization.
The Lakers are still in the midst of a coaching search and essentially have to fill out the roster from scratch during the 2014 offseason.
As Bleacher Report’s J.M. Poulard wrote, Bryant may be his own worst enemy with regard to the uncertain coaching situation:
"Bryant will make the coaching search this offseason difficult. His stubbornness and lack of patience will get in L.A.’s way as it pertains to picking its next headman."
Bryant is stuck with a sour taste in his mouth after the most disappointing season of his illustrious career. Duncan, meanwhile, is still competing for a shot at winning a championship 15 years removed from his first one.
Provided Bryant’s injury woes and the murky future in Lakerland, he has every reason to be jealous of Duncan’s prolonged consistency.