The greatest NBA free agent of all time, LeBron James, is quietly making overtures to the Los Angeles Lakers.
He wants to play for them. And James is not all that concerned whether Kobe Bryant is part of the equation. Bryant, of course, has yet to sign a contract extension with L.A. and could wind up a free-agent himself, albeit one with high mileage.
But the overtures have been made. LeBron wants to wear the purple and gold. Mainly, he wants to wear a championship ring, which means he wants to play for Lakers coach Phil Jackson.
“LeBron wants to win. He’s a smart guy,” explainsone of my best inside sources, a close Jackson associate. “And Phil loves LeBron, absolutely LOVES him.”
Lebron knows Phil is a genius, and he also knows that Phil’s contract is set to expire which makes him very enticing. Whats more is that Jim and Jerry Buss do not like the Lakers playing under the triangle offense, they want them to run more and bring back the “showtime run offense” era back.
Jackson himself has been quite accommodating of Jim Buss, who travels with the team frequently if for no other reason than to remind the coach of the value of young center Andrew Bynum. Jim Buss believes Bynum is the next Kareem Abdul-Jabbarwhile the coaching staff would like Bynum to quit pouting about shots and anchor the defense with enthusiasm.
“Phil puts up with it,” the confidant said of his exchanges with Jim Buss. “I was talking to your brother…,” Jackson will tell Jeanie in informing her of events. The wild card in all of this is Bryant himself. Jackson’s camp wonders why the L.A. press hasn’t put questions to Bryant to get him to complain that Jackson is being driven out. Jordan spoke out on Jackson’s behalf early in the 1997-98 season, and that enhanced the coach’s power in his struggle with Bulls chairman Jerry Reinsdorf and GM Jerry Krause.
“Kobe’s the only guy that can press the issue as a Laker,” Jackson’s confidant explained. “What Kobe says will speak volumes. Kobe could go to management right now and say he wants to spend the rest of his career as a Laker with PJ as his coach.” This time around, though, Bryant has kept his own counsel and stayed above the fray. Perhaps he has sought advice from Jordan, who felt let down when Jackson walked away after the 1998 championship. Jordan got into the fight and spoke up for Phil but still lost the balance of his career when Jackson quit anyway.
Phil wants to win a champion right away especially with all the franchises losing money, the owners are set to meet up with the players association this off-season and attempt (attempt being the key word) to reach a new agreement. It seems unlikely, especially with all the new demands being made by the NBA franchises in order to pocket more money and profit. Currently almost 60% of the NBA franchises are losing money instead of making money. So Phil wants to coach somewhere where he’s bound to grab another title before the impending lockout. Its all set up perfectly in which Phil hasn’t been re-signed, Lebron’s contract is expiring, and time is running out. Furthermore Jim and Jerry Buss have been furthering tensions with Phil throughout this season and last. It will make to be an interesting off-season indeed.
“That was the best thing that ever could have happened for me personally for my career. To play alongside a guy like that, see his preparation and what it takes to get to that level, that’s why I was able to be so good in Washington. I took everything I learned from him, being under his wing, and took that to Washington and it made me very successful.”—Caron Butler on Kobe Bryant
“I think the Lakers are the only reason I rock purple sometimes. I don’t wear purple too much, but I rock this [purple Dodgers] hat to the game with some Lakers shoes and cock it on backwards and cheer on Kobe and all the rest of my boys on the Lakers.”—Matt Kemp, Dodgers CF, on the Lakers and New Era hats
Kobe drains a 3 to put the Lakers up by 1 against the Grizzlies with 4.1 seconds left. OJ Mayo misses the potential game-winner and the Lakers win. They are now tied with the Cavs for the best record in the NBA.
Kobe scored the final 9 points for the Lakers. #MVP.
“He’s a great player, probably the best player in the game today. His ability to come back and improve every year is mostly the reason why he’s the best player. But he does everything: Shoot the three, gets to the basket, and he plays with attitude.”—Brandon Roy on Kobe Bryant