Kobe Bryant was a Los Angeles Laker for more than half of his life. So even after his 20-year playing career ended with his retirement last April, it always seemed likely that Kobe would have some sort of role to play with the organization going forward.
According to Magic Johnson, a fellow Lakers great and now the team’s president of basketball operations, Kobe is ready to put his mark on the future direction of the franchise.
Speaking on SiriusXM NBA Radio this week, Magic said Kobe “wants to be involved” with the Lakers, and said he and the front office were “going to implement a plan” to accommodate Kobe’s wish. Here’s what Magic said in full:
“Kobe wants to be a part of it. He wants to be involved, and I told him any kind of way he wants to be involved. We don’t want him to come into work every day, no. We just want his expertise and pick his brain and also, show me or tell me what’s missing. So then I can say, ‘Okay, hey, maybe I missed that. I’m going to jump on that.’ He got great ideas, so we going to implement a plan where we can have him involved.”
Magic took his seat in the basketball operations department back in February as part of a front office overhaul, and said that he hoped to incorporate Kobe’s input. “First call I make if I’m in charge? Kobe Bryant,” he said on ESPN. “Because Kobe understands winning. He understands, also, these players.”
Magic said he would call Kobe and ask him, “What role do you want? … Whatever time he has, I want him to come and be a part of it.”
The following month, the Lakers hired Rob Pelinka as their new general manager. Pelinka, too, spoke of hoping to get Kobe involved. From his introductory news conference:
Rob Pelinka said he has "absolutely" talked to Kobe about having possible involvement. Pelinka: "He's 100% behind everything Laker"
— Mark Medina (@MarkG_Medina) March 10, 2017
He also spoke of, um, his relationship with Kobe?
Rob Pelinka: “Kobe: What Michelangelo is to art, what Beethoven is to music, what Shakespeare is to words, you are to me as a friend."
— Baxter Holmes (@BaxterHolmes) March 10, 2017
Bryant, for his part, praised the hire:
No one knows the business of basketball more than @robpelinka. I wish him & the Lakers much success as they bring winning bball back to LA.
— Kobe Bryant (@kobebryant) March 7, 2017
It appears that all the talk is closer to coming to fruition. Magic made it somewhat clear that Kobe is not going to be brought in for a full-time position. But if Kobe does want to be a part of the decision-making, there’s no chance the Lakers turn him away. And it sounds like Magic doesn’t want to anyway.
The Lakers have a couple crucial offseasons ahead of them. They were awarded the No. 2 pick in the 2017 draft at Tuesday night’s draft lottery. All indications are that Paul George will head back home to LA as a free agent next summer. But the Lakers might have to get creative with current and future contracts to make their plans for a return to the NBA elite feasible. Perhaps Kobe has some ideas up his sleeve to allow them to do so.
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