Lakers’ Bryant says he won’t join Jordan as an NBA team owner in retirement
By Ben Golliver
Lakers guard Kobe Bryant joined basketball legend Michael Jordan in the 30,000-point club this week and, as the famous video of identical plays shown above made clear, no one has done a better MJ impersonation than the Black Mamba. The two guards have shared similar mannerisms, highlights and endorsement deals, but Bryant said this week that there’s one path Jordan has traveled that he has no plans to touch: NBA ownership.
“I don’t know if ownership is really the right thing for me,” Bryant told Bloomberg News in a video interview. “I’d go crazy. If a player misses a game because he has a broken fingernail, I’d lose my mind. I wouldn’t be able to take it.”
Jordan earned more than $90 million in NBA salary plus hundreds of millions more in endorsement revenue. Bryant has earned more than $220 million in salary and has more than $57 million guaranteed remaining on his contract, which runs through 2013-14. Ownership, as Jordan found out, is about far more than having the coin to cut the checks.
After winning six titles as a player, Jordan has suffered through some terrible losing seasons as owner of the Bobcats and as a front office executive for the Wizards. He reportedly had some memorable run-ins with players who weren’t as committed to the game as he was, including Kwame Brown. If that ownership grind isn’t for Bryant, he said he has no plans to fall off the face of the planet.
“I’ll be around the game and hopefully my brand can live on past my career,” Bryant said.
The “brand” talk was a nod to the success of Nike’s Jordan Brand and pertinent to the interview because Bryant was promoting the latest iteration of his own signature sneaker.
Following in Jordan’s sneaker steps at Nike has made Bryant a satisfied spokesperson.
“Nike is filled with ultra-competitive people,” he told Bloomberg News. “We’re all cut from the same cloth and speak the same language. Designers, tech engineers, so forth and so on, are as passionate about their respective fields as I am in mine. … When I first signed with Nike, I told Charlie Denson and Mark Parker, I felt like Harry Potter just landed at Hogwarts. I’m right at home surrounded by all these incredible designers.”
On the court, Bryant’s Lakers are off to a 9-10 start, arguably the NBA’s most disappointing team. Bryant didn’t address his team’s struggles in the interview, but said he was hoping to help set the Lakers up for their next chapter.
“Especially now at this stage of my career, you see the light at the end of the tunnel, you feel a sense of pride,” he said. “I’ve played for this organization but I want to see this organization be successful when I’m gone. It’s about helping them and doing whatever I can to help them set themselves up for the next generation.”