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LOS ANGELES -- After openly questioning Los Angeles Lakers management and declaring he has no patience for a rebuilding effort in L.A., Kobe Bryant has since opened up communication with the Lakers front office, the 18-year veteran said in a conversation with ESPN's Darren Rovell on Sunday.
On the same day Bryant was recently officially ruled out for the remainder of the season because of a fractured knee in his left leg, the 35-year-old told reporters he expects the Lakers to return to championship form immediately, starting with the moves they make with their salary-cap space this summer. That diatribe prompted a meeting of the minds between Bryant and the Lakers' brass.
|Said Kobe Bryant on the Lakers' front office: I don't want to hear the comments of dissension between Jim and Jeanie. We need to figure this thing out. We're all moving in the same direction."|
"Jimmy [executive vice president of player personnel Jim Buss] and I actually talked after that and it's important for us to have that conversation because this is their team, it's been in their family for years and we all know what the track record is for that, but I've also been part of this franchise since I was 17 years old," Bryant told Rovell. "I feel like I bleed purple and gold and I want to see this franchise be successful. I don't want to hear the comments of dissension between Jim and [Lakers president] Jeanie [Buss]. We need to figure this thing out. We're all moving in the same direction."
Bryant, who signed a two-year, $48.5 million extension with the team in November to lock up his 19th and 20th seasons in L.A., reiterated his message of urgency to Buss to return to the top as soon as possible.
"This organization is just not going to go [down]," Bryant said. "It's not going to take a nose dive. But I think we need to accelerate it a little bit for selfish reasons, because I want to win and I want to win next season. So, it's kind of getting them going now as opposed to two years from now."
Despite already airing his concerns about what direction the Lakers might be heading, Bryant said his faith is as strong as ever in the Lakers' ability to bounce back to contender status.
"Extremely confident," Bryant said. "That was one of my concerns [when he re-signed] and they assured me, 'This is fair for you for everything you've done for the franchise and will continue to do while being able to construct a team that is going to contend for a championship here over the next couple of years.'"
Bryant also responded to Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban's assertion that "I don't know if the Lakers will ever be the Lakers," because of the absence of longtime owner Dr. Jerry Buss, who died last year.
"It will be different," Bryant said. "You can't lead the way [Dr. Buss] did. Because Jeanie is different. Jimmy, who is running basketball operations, is different.
"So they have to find their rhythm and get in sync with each other and figure out exactly what their leadership style is going to be. It's nearly impossible to try to separate basketball operations from the business standpoint so you got to kind of get in sync that with that and have one voice that is leading that charge. But once that happens, the idea might take shape. But you can't look at what Dr. Buss did and say, 'I'm going to try replicate that,' and be exactly what he was. That's just not going to happen."
One thing Bryant has no interest in replicating is the 2013-14 season in which he played just six games. The Lakers (23-46) are on pace to finish with the worst record in franchise history, replacing the 1974-75 team's all-time futility mark of 30-52.
"Well, if you're going to fail, I guess fail and be the best at it," Bryant said, sarcastically. "You got to have a sense of humor in very dark moments. The reality is, it's been a brutal year but there's nothing we can do about it right now. So it's important to try not to beat ourselves up too much about it. It is what it is. We've been decimated with injuries, but now it's time to regroup and look ahead and start strategizing as an organization, 'Alright, how are we going to turn this thing around?'
"We might have had the worst season ever or could have the worst season ever for a Lakers team, but now let's have the greatest comeback that the league has ever seen."
Information from ESPN.com's Darren Rovell was used in this report.