You don’t treat your superstar like just another player.
There are only a handful — 10, maybe — truly transcendent talents in the NBA at any time, and if you are a team that has one (or more) on your roster, you don’t treat them like a D-League call-up. You let them know your plans for the organization, you make sure they learn about trades before they read about them online (and let them offer comment, even if it is ignored), you show them how much they mean to you.
Long-time Lakers owner Jerry Buss got that (remember the ground-breaking personal services contract he gave Magic Johnson?). Jim Buss, Jerry’s son and the guy running the organization now, does not seem to.
Kobe Bryant learned about the hiring of Mike Brown as coach on the Internet. He doesn’t know what is going on with the organization, so he lashes out and tells management to make a call on Pau Gasol — trade him or say there will be no trade.
Maybe it’s time Buss sat down with Kobe and explained to him the grand plan. If there is one. Here is what Kobe said, via the Los Angeles Daily News.
When a reporter asked him after the Lakers’ morning shootaround if it might be about time to meet with team executive Jim Buss to talk about the franchise’s direction, the face of the franchise said simply, “Um, perhaps.”
Mike Brown said he is in essentially the same boat, he is told by the front office what is going to happen with players, he’s not consulted on moves. Which is not the norm around the league.
A former Lakers star who had a great relationship with management — Magic Johnson — put it this way, via the Daily News.
“(Bryant) just wants to be informed as a team leader and a future Hall of Famer and a guy who has brought five championships to the Lakers,” Johnson said. “He wants more communication, probably like he did when Phil Jackson was here and he worked well with Mitch. I don’t think Kobe feels he has that type of relationship with Jim.
“What probably has to happen is they need to sit Kobe down and sit Jim down. Dr. Buss was the master at taking you to lunch or taking you to dinner and going over what he was thinking and what he wanted to do with the team. Jerry West was good at that as well. Kobe, Mitch and Jim just have to get on the same page and things will be OK.”
Jim Buss is not talking — not to the media, the fans, his own coach or star player — and that creates uncertainty. What is the vision? Buss didn’t like Phil Jackson much and wiped all traces of him from the organization, but what is going to replace that? How?
Right now if there is a vision, a plan, it’s not clear. Buss needs to sit down with his superstar and explain what the plan is for the final few years of Kobe’s career. It’s how you treat a superstar.