Kobe Bryant has dazzled so many people over so many years with his countless highlight reels, his ability to play through injuries and his steely competitiveness. Yet, the Lakers’ star is currently in Brazil showing the same giddy enthusiasm over the soccer landscape as most Lakers fans do when he’s performing on the court. Bryant appeared on set with ESPN gushing about the growth of American soccer, a possible Argentina-Brazil final and his impressions on Brazilian star Neymar. But he hardly shared the same enthusiasm for U.S. Coach Jurgen Klinnsman, who questioned Bryant’s two-year, $48.5 million contract as an example of American sports organizations deferring too much to veteran stars. Klinnsman invoked Bryant’s name as an example illustrating why he cut star American veteran Landon Donovan from the U.S. roster. “Kobe Bryant, for example—why does he get a two-year contract extension for $50 million?” Klinsmann recently told New York Times magazine. “Because of what he is going to do in the next two years for the Lakers? Of course not. Of course not. He gets it because of what he has done before. It makes no sense. Why do you pay for what has already happened?” Bryant smiled when those words were read back to him. “I thought it was pretty funny. I thought it was pretty comical actually,” Bryant said. “I see his perspective. But the one perspective that he’s missing from an ownership point of view is that you want to be part of an ownership group that is rewarding its players for what they’ve done while balancing the team going forward. If you’re another player in the future and you’re looking at the Lakers organization, you want to be a part of an organization that takes care of its players while at the same time planning for the future. Jurgen is a coach, a manager. He’s not a GM or owner of the franchise. When you look at it from that perspective, it changes a little bit. But you probably could have used another player as an example.” Klinnsman found Bryant as the perfect example for obvious reasons.
Bryant laughs off Jurgen Klinnsman’s criticism on contract extension
Inside Socal | Jun 16