Was Kobe Bryant happy to see Mike D'Antoni step down as coach of the Lakers?
"Honestly, I didn't care," Bryant said on Thursday night, visiting the set of "Jimmy Kimmel Live!"
D'Antoni resigned last week after almost two seasons with the Lakers.
"Mike was dealt a really bad hand in dealing with all the injuries that he had," Bryant said. "[Los Angeles] is a tough place, if you are not winning."
The Lakers' all-star guard said he would like to have some influence with team officials concerning their decision on the next coach.
On the last two choices, Lakers officials didn't consult him, Bryant of D'Antoni and his predecessor, Mike Brown. "The third one, I'm hoping they do."
Bryant missed the 2013 playoffs with a torn Achilles. He made it through just six games of this past season before sitting out with a knee injury.
"I started to do a lot of on-court training, so I'm back into my routine," he said. "I started lifting [weights] and then started doing the running, which I hate. But by the time the season comes around [in late October], I will be ready to go."
It was a difficult year for Bryant, who could only watch as his teammates won just 27 games.
"I'd rather stay home and eat paint chips," he said of watching Lakers games. "When you go through seasons like that, it just adds fuel to the fire to come back."
It's unclear how the franchise will move forward, both with its roster and coach. On May 20, the Lakers will learn their draft position (a shot at one of the first three spots, but more likely sixth or seventh).
"We'll make changes for sure," Bryant said. "There are certain characteristics you have to build your team around with speed and length and rebuilding and defense. We'll make those adjustments."
Whatever the path, Bryant said he's confident in owners/executives Jeanie and Jim Buss, who took over the Lakers' front office after the death of Jerry Buss in February 2013.
"Jimmy and Jeanie both, they're really determined and excited about the possibility of next season -- rebuilding this and building on their father's legacy and what he accomplished," he said. "They're taking the challenge extremely, extremely seriously. They're both on the same page. They want nothing but excellence here. I have no doubt."
Bryant also talked about meeting Clippers owner Donald Sterling, when Bryant was considering a move to the other Los Angeles franchise in 2004. Sterling is now the subject of controversy over recent racially charged comments, and the NBA is moving to find new ownership for the team.
"At the time, the biggest concern was, was he willing to spend to have a successful team," Bryant said. "He said during the meeting that he's willing to make that commitment to bring another championship team to Los Angeles."
Bryant said he is ambivalent about the remaining eight teams in the playoffs, including the Clippers.
"It doesn't really matter to me 'cause I'm not winning, so what the hell do I care who wins?" he said.
Bryant said he doesn't begrudge the Clippers their recent success.
"I think it's great for the city. It's great for the competition," he said. "I love it when they do well. I would love nothing more than for the Lakers to get to the championship level and meet the Clippers in the playoffs."Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times