He may be a big US National Team fan, but Kobe Bryant sure isn’t a big fan of Jurgen Klinsmann.
In a New York Times profile that ran about two weeks ago, Klinsmann had the following to say about deferring to the stars on the team:
“This always happens in America. Kobe Bryant, for example — why does he get a two-year contract extension for $50 million? Because of what he is going to do in the next two years for the Lakers? Of course not. Of course not. He gets it because of what he has done before. It makes no sense. Why do you pay for what has already happened?”
Fundamentally, of course, Klinsmann is right; the whole idea of contracts is that you are paying for future output, not what the person did in the past. But it’s also a highly simplistic view, given that when choosing to leave Landon Donovan off the national team Klinsmann didn’t have other teams trying to swoop in and sign him.
In an interview with ESPN today in Brazil, Bryant responded:
“I thought it was pretty funny. I thought it was pretty comical, actually. I see his perspective. But the one perspective that he's missing from an ownership point of view is that you want to be part of an ownership group that is rewarding its players for what they've done, while balancing the team going forward.
If you're another player in the future and you're looking at the Lakers organization, you want to be a part of an organization that takes care of its players while at the same time, planning for the future.
Jurgen is a coach, a manager. He’s not a GM or owner of the franchise. When you look at it from that perspective, it changes a little bit. But you probably could have used another player as an example.”
The comments are pretty measured, and quite accurate as well. He even resisted name-calling, which is always nice to see.
This will hopefully squash the beef between two of Los Angeles’ most famous sporting residents, although we’ll see if Klinsmann has anything to say when catching wind of Kobe’s rebuttal. With a match against Portugal on the horizon Sunday, let’s hope he is focused solely on the game and not the Lakers’ rehabbing star.