Kobe Bryant didn’t quite take to Mike D’Antoni.
The recently resigned Lakers coach brings a lot of positives to the sidelines, but he coaches to an up-tempo system and doesn’t communicate especially well. D’Antoni can be stubborn.
And so can Kobe, which led to clashing.
Kobe wants – and deserves, given his role in the organization – a say in the coaching he receives the rest of his career. He might not get it, but the next coach will still have to work with him.
Byron Scott recently interviewed with the Lakers, and he discussed how he’d handle Kobe. Scott on ESPN LA:
I am the perfect guy for this job. I’ve got a great relationship with Kobe. I know the team, know the roster, watched them all season long. And I just think it would be a great fit.
Obviously, if I get the job, the first conversation with Kobe. We have to talk about the future of the Los Angles Lakers. We have to also talk about the type of direction we’re going to be taking and also talk about the type of game that he’s going to be playing, because he’s going to have to change his game a little bit, and I think he knows that. We’ve got to sit down and talk about the minutes and things like that. We’ve just got to come to an agreement. But he knows me. I’m an old-school type guy, old-school type guy. And I want him to understand that, and I think he does understand that. We communicate during the summer by text, and every now and then, I’ll run into him somewhere and we’ll talk a little bit more about basketball. But I think the biggest thing is, No. 1, I respect the hell out of Kobe, and I think he respects me. That’s the first hurdle you’ve got to get past, and then other things, we’ll solve all those little issues.
Maybe Scott, a former Lakers player, has the rapport with Kobe necessary to demand Kobe change his game. But as we saw with D’Antoni, a headstrong Kobe probably won’t be the one to meet a headstrong coach halfway.
Really, it probably depends on what changes Scott means. He implies Kobe playing fewer minutes, which might not go over well. It’s probably not a pace adjustment – Scott’s New Orleans teams played pretty low tempo, though his Nets relied on the fastbreak, and his Cavs weren’t slow.
No matter whom the Lakers hire, Kobe can enter next season with the best of intentions. That’s especially true if the new coach is some he respects, like Scott. But once the relationship changes to player-coach and the coach tells Kobe to do something Kobe doesn’t want to do, we’ve seen how that has usually gone (unless Phil Jackson is coaching, and even then sometimes).
Maybe Scott is the best man for the job. It still won’t be an easy job for anyone.