Kobe Bryant: Jim Buss has been ‘phenomenal’

Kobe Bryant heard what Magic Johnson said about Lakers Vice President Jim Buss. It wasn’t kind.

But Bryant said he’s had no problem with the younger Buss.

“[Johnson’s] opinion is valued greater than most others because of what he’s done here with this franchise. I can only speak from my perspective in my dealings with Jim. He’s been phenomenal,” Bryant said. “He’s seemingly made all the right choices. Going back in time, I’m sure he would have called me and consulted me on the Mike Brown hiring but that is what it is. Other than that, he’s been behind some pretty good moves, some pretty good trades for this organization.”

Johnson said Wednesday on Twitter he was “mourning” because the Lakers hired Mike D’Antoni, not Phil Jackson, to be their coach.

Johnson, a Lakers executive, later said on ESPN that “I don’t believe in Jim Buss. He’s made two critical mistakes already” in reference to the hiring of Brown and the hiring of D’Antoni.

Will D’Antoni have a fair chance to do his job with all the pro-Phil sentiment?


“Probably not, but that’s L.A. for you,” Bryant said. “That’s just being in a big market. He’s fine with it, he’s comfortable with it. He understands the situation.

“He’s not going to sit around and ‘poor me’ type of thing. That’s not who he is. He’s pretty sarcastic so he’ll fit in with this bunch quite well.”

Bryant preferred Jackson but was perfectly fine with the hiring of D’Antoni.

“If I’m in here pouting and upset then he’ll have a very hard time here,” Bryant said. “The fact that I’m genuinely excited about it, Steve [Nash] is, Dwight [Howard] is, Pau [Gasol] is, it makes it easy for everybody else to fall behind that.”

D’Antoni’s brother, Dan, was the only addition to the Lakers assistant coaches. Bernie Bickerstaff, Chuck Person and Eddie Jordan were among the holdovers.

Bryant was impressed with the D’Antoni brothers.

“They’re enthusiastic, very smart and in a very short period of time, they were able to give us a shell and structure of what they want us to do,” Bryant said. “[Mike] did quite a bit. He was moving around on his crutches. It just shows the level of enthusiasm that he has.”

D’Antoni recently had knee-replacement surgery and probably will not coach Friday’s game against Phoenix. He thought his Lakers debut would be Sunday against Houston but said it might take him a month for his knee to be fully recovered.

Thursday’s practice was more like a training-camp session, with D’Antoni even saying it was akin to something a team would do “in September.”

It’s been a strange week -- the Lakers firing Brown last Friday and junking the Princeton offense as well.

“It’s better than doing it halfway through the season,” Bryant said. “It’s not like we’re having to kind of re-learn things. We never really learned what we were doing in the first place.”

The Lakers were conducting a series of pick-and-roll drills when reporters were allowed into Thursday’s practice.

“We’ll do a lot of that,” Bryant said. “We’ll put them in positions where they have to pick and choose what they’re going to do. Then it’s on us or the ball-handler to make the right decision.

“This [offense] is obviously easier to adapt to. We have a lot of guys here who are extremely skilled from a basketball standpoint and can do a myriad of things. It’s a pretty seamless transition for us.”

There was one overriding need for a team with a 3-5 record.

“Hopefully we’ll start winning some games here,” Bryant said.


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