Kobe Bryant is known for being a quiet, humble person—except when it comes to basketball. At his annual Nike basketball camp, the Lakers’ star once said, “Tell your mother you want to play like Chris Bosh!” He’s not the only one who has this advice—NBA greats like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Jerry West have said similar things. But what goes with it?
Kobe Bryant hasn’t hidden the fact that he prefers to play second fiddle to his wife, Jeanie Buss. The former Laker star said that his wife was the driving force behind taking on LeBron James and signing him to a Lakers deal, and the two certainly seem like a good match.
The Lakers are on the verge of making history with their acquisition of LeBron James, but they didn’t get the deal done alone. James’ preferred destination of the Lakers was of course a crucial piece to the puzzle of his decision, but the Lakers star didn’t get that piece of information from Jeanie Buss. It was her father, former Lakers owner Jerry Buss, who gave the Lakers the key piece of information that would ultimately lead to the sale of the team to James.
LeBron James has helped the Los Angeles Lakers reclaim their previous grandeur over the last several years. Los Angeles moved from being one of the weakest teams in the NBA to a regular contender in 2021-22, hoping to capture its second title in three years. Many people are unaware, however, that Lakers icon Kobe Bryant had a tiny part in luring James back to his old club.
In fact, before the Lakers started on their franchise-altering chase of The King, Bryant offered Lakers owner Jeanie Buss some important advice.
In more ways than one, the Lakers were a laughingstock.
On Aug. 10, 2012, Los Angeles Lakers’ Jeanie Buss and her brother Jim Buss attended a press conference to welcome Dwight Howard to the city. Getty Images/Kevork Djansezian
The Lakers rapidly became the NBA’s laughingstock after entering the playoffs for eight consecutive seasons, winning two championships, and reaching the NBA Finals three times between 2005-06 and 2012-13.
Between 2013-14 and 2018-19, they missed six straight postseasons and had four years in which they won 27 games or less.
Their performance on the court, on the other hand, was just a consequence of the chaos in the front office.
According to USA Today’s For The Win, legendary Lakers owner Jerry Buss died in 2013 and bequeathed his six children equal shares of his 66 percent ownership in the team. After his death, Jeanie Buss, the team’s executive vice president of player personnel, and her brother Jim Buss, the team’s executive vice president of player personnel, got into a spat. Jeanie, on the other hand, dismissed Jim and his general manager, Mitch Kupchak, in February 2017. She also appointed Magic Johnson to the position of president of basketball operations for the Lakers.
According to ESPN, Jeanie’s decision was influenced by her discovery that her brother, Johnny Buss, was plotting to depose her as governor and majority owner. But, to cut a long tale short, the siblings’ feud ended up on the court, and Jeanie triumphed, permanently changing the course of NBA history.
A little more than a year later, the Lakers made a strong push at one of the best players in NBA history, LeBron James, and ultimately got him to LA. But, before they made their game-changing move, Kobe Bryant offered Jeanie some sound advise.
Kobe Bryant offered Jeanie Buss some sound advice.
On Dec. 18, 2017, Kobe Bryant addressed the audience at his Los Angeles Lakers jersey retirement ceremony. | Getty Images/Harry How
Kobe Bryant told The Undefeated in October 2018 how instrumental he was in convincing LeBron James to leave his local club, the Cleveland Cavaliers, and join the Los Angeles Lakers. And it seems that before the franchise approached him, he had a serious discussion with Jeanie.
According to The Undefeated, Bryant stated, “When Jeanie Buss came to me and said, ‘I really want to go after [LeBron],’ I told her, ‘Jeanie, he’s not coming here until you clean up this s— here.” “The last thing LeBron wants to do is join an organization that is rife with infighting and other issues.”
“I said, ‘Jeanie, it’s time for you to take control of this brand,’ he added. If you don’t arrive, he won’t come.’
This isn’t to suggest that Bryant was the catalyst for Jeanie’s takeover of the Lakers and the ouster of her brothers. She was probably well aware that she would have to accomplish it on her own. But she needed to know that if they wanted to add someone like James, there couldn’t be any more turmoil.
As previously said, Jeanie cleaned things up after that, and the Lakers have since returned to the top of the NBA.
LeBron James has aided the Lakers in regaining their previous grandeur.
Following LeBron James’ signing with the Lakers in 2018, and the team’s struggles during his first year, the Lakers traded for Anthony Davis in 2019. Since then, the two have helped the team regain its status as an NBA powerhouse.
James and Davis led the Lakers to the Western Conference’s No. 1 seed in 2019-20, and they went on to win the NBA championship that season. The dynamic combination then helped LA return to the playoffs in 2020-21 before the team’s roster was totally overhauled by the front office, which no longer includes Magic Johnson and is now led by Rob Pelinka.
With superstars like James, Davis, Russell Westbrook, Carmelo Anthony, and others, LA boasts probably the greatest team in basketball heading into the 2021-22 season. The Los Angeles Lakers have returned from the ashes with a vengeance and are once again a model club in the NBA.
LeBron James, of course, gets a lot of credit for that. But it was Kobe Bryant’s guidance and, most importantly, Jeanie Buss’ hard work that once again made the Lakers the Lake Show.
Basketball Reference provided the statistics.
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