Kobe Bryant, Magic Johnson questions Lakers’ ownership

Kobe Bryant talks to media at Lakers practice earlier this season. (Photo by Brad Graverson/The Daily Breeze

Kobe Bryant talks to media at Lakers practice earlier this season. (Photo by Brad Graverson/The Daily Breeze

Kobe Bryant and Magic Johnson have helped build the Lakers brand by delivering multiple NBA championships and dazzling performances.

Now they’re trying to lift the Lakers in another way.

Blasting the organization’s front office.

After vowing for parts of this season that he would stay quiet with his Lakers’ criticism, Johnson voiced his concerns through 140 characters on Twitter.

Bryant wondered the same thing. After praising the Lakers’ front office in recent years for their decision making including securing him to a two-year, $48.5 million extension before even healing from his left Achilles tendon, Bryant voiced concerns surrounding the Buss family. Namely vice president of basketball personnel Jim Buss and team president Jeanie Buss.

“You’ve got to start with Jim and Jeanie, and how all that relationship plays out,” Bryant said. “It starts there and having a clear direction and clear authority and then goes to the coaching staff, what Mike (D’Antoni is) going to do, what they want to do with Mike and it goes from there it’s got to start from the top.”

Some of the concerns echoed by Johnson and Bryant stem from similar reasons.

They’re both irked that former Lakers coach Phil Jackson reportedly will accept a front office position with the New York Knicks.

Yet, despite delivering five of his 11 NBA titles with the Lakers, the Lakers wouldn’t even make him the head coach last season to replace Mike Brown. Instead, the Lakers chose D’Antoni. The Lakers also have denied Jackson having a formal role within the front office despite his extensive basketball resume and his long-term relationship with Jeanie Buss, Jackson’s fiance.

“You know how I feel about Phil. I have so much admiration for him and respect and have a great relationship with him,” Bryant said. “Personally, it would be hard for me to understand that happening twice. It would be tough. I don’t really get it.”

Meanwhile, the Lakers are destined to miss the playoffs for only the fifth time in franchise history. Plenty of that stems from significant injuries to Bryant and Steve Nash. But the Lakers also field a roster full of young players on one-year contracts, many of which struggled to attain a roster spot. Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak has suggested that next season they may adopt the same strategy to ensure more cap flexibility for a star-studded 2015 free agent class.

Bryant remains disturbed with the losing and the Lakers not informing him they would trade Steve Blake last month to the Golden State Warriors for Kent Bazemore and MarShon Brooks.

“We can’t be satisfied that we’re 100 games under .500,” Bryant said. “That’s not what we stand for. That’s not what we play for. A lot of times it’s hard to understand that message if you’re not a diehard Lakers fan. It’s hard to understand where we’re coming from and what we’re used to. We play for championships. Everything else is a complete failure.”

And how do the Lakers fix that?

“We have to start at the top in terms of the culture of our team and what kind of culture we want to have and what kind of system we want to have,” Bryant said. “It starts there.”

*L.A. Daily News columnist Jill Painter contributed to this report


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Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter. E-mail him at mark.medina@langnews.com