The proud franchise is 22-42 on the season, and Bryant shakes his head in dismay at the record.
“How can I be satisfied with it? We’re like 100 games under .500,” Bryant said. “I can’t be satisfied with that at all. This is not what we stand for. This is not what we play for. A lot of times, it’s hard to understand that message if you’re not a diehard Laker fan. It’s hard to really understand where we’re coming from and what we’re accustomed to, which is playing for championships and everything else is a complete failure. That’s just how it is. That’s how it was explained to me by Jerry (West) and all the other great Lakers who have played here and that’s how I grew up thinking. So that’s just how it is.”
Bryant said changes have to start in management.
“We have to start at the top in terms of the culture of our team,” he said. “What kind of culture do we want to have? What kind of system do we want to have? How do we want to play? It starts there and from there, you can start building out your team accordingly.
“You got to start with Jim,” Bryant continued. “You got to start with Jim and Jeanie and how that relationship plays out. It starts there and having a clear direction and clear authority. And then it goes down to the coaching staff and what (coach) Mike (D’Antoni) is going to do, what they’re going to do with Mike and it goes from there. It’s got to start at the top.”
D’Antoni has one year remaining on his contract worth $4 million. His teams are just 62-74 (.456) since joining the Lakers last November. Injuries have been a factor, but so has his system that does not appear suited for the talent.
Bryant said he has “not one lick” of patience for the Lakers’ management team of Jim Buss and general manager Mitch Kupchak to rebuild the team into a contender.
“Oh yeah, let’s just play next year and let’s just suck again,” Bryant said, sarcastically. “No. Absolutely not. Absolutely not. It’s my job to go out there on the court and perform. No excuses for it. Right? You got to get things done. It’s the same thing with the front office. The same expectations they have of me when I perform on the court, is the same expectations I have for them up there. You got to be able to figure out a way to do both.”
“You know how I feel about Phil (Jackson, who reportedly will take a job with the New York Knicks in management this week),” said Bryant, who won all five of his championships with Jackson as the coach. “I have so much admiration for him and respect and I have a great relationship with him. Personally, it would be hard for me to understand that happening twice. It would be tough. I don’t really get it.”