As it turns out, there was more behind Kobe’s death stare Wednesday night in Salt Lake City than what the Black Mamba led us to believe.
Grilled by a local writer following the Lakers’ underwhelming 95-86 loss to the Jazz, L.A.’s fourth loss in five games to open the season, Bryant sarcastically shrugged off the menacing look he gave head coach Mike Brown — captured by several cameras — during a timeout in the waning seconds of the loss.
“I don’t give a (expletive) how it was interpreted,” Bryant said. “It doesn’t really matter to me. I’m too old to deal with that stuff. I really am. I’ve been (Brown’s) biggest supporter. So, I’m really too old to be dealing with childish things.”
Less than 48 hours later, Brown, a puzzling choice to begin with as Phil Jackson’s successor, is out as coach.
Of course not.
The season's fresh and we're still six months from the playoffs, but it's never too soon to fire a coach whose expected to win with an all-star heavy roster that rivals what the Heat have assembled in South Beach. Bryant's body language is an indication that this team has given up on the current staff, even if it's early.
Jerry Buss, L.A.'s majority owner, publicly backed the former Cleveland Cavaliers coach on Thursday prior to Bryant shrugging off his opinion of Brown after practice a few hours later. Maybe it was a smokescreen for what was really transpiring inside the Staples Center, a plan to get Cleveland's 2009 Coach of the Year out of the spotlight and off the floor.
Brown didn't work for LeBron and he's not working for Kobe.
L.A.’s biggest off-season acquisitions, Steve Nash and Dwight Howard, haven’t equated to early success in Brown’s Princeton offense. Geared toward alleviating some of the scoring pressure off an aging Bryant, the Lakers have often looked lost on offense through the first two weeks. Nash has missed the last three games with a leg injury while Howard’s 22 and 10 average has been overshadowed by the Lakers’ uninspired start.
Paired with its star's noticeable displeasure and the pressure of winning another championship in a small window, L.A. made a decisive move faster than most thought was possible. But it's the right move, because Bryant says so.
And when future Hall of Famers speak, in Kobe's case react, management listens.