From Brazil, Kobe Shrugs off Jurgen Klinsmann’s Contract Criticism

Kobe Bryant has been in Brazil taking in all the World Cup festivities, which is not a surprise considering he grew up in Italy and is a huge soccer fan. He has done several media appearances and interviews since arriving in Brazil, and addressed comments made by United States national soccer team coach Jurgen Klinsmann about his contract extension.

A bit of context: in a New York Times article several weeks ago, Klinsmann spoke about Kobe’s two-year contract extension with the Lakers, and lamented how American teams like to reward their athletes for what they’ve done in the past, and not for future results.

When asked about it, Kobe said

“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.”

In the interview, Kobe was also asked about the Spurs beating the Heat in the Finals, which means Tim Duncan is now tied with him with five titles. Many like to play up the Kobe versus LeBron narrative, but in reality, the Spurs and Lakers were the two teams who have battled for Western Conference supremacy during Kobe’s career, so Duncan is the more natural rival.

Kobe was visibly upset when asked if he was happy for Duncan, “If you ask me if I’m okay with Tim doing it, I’m not. I’m not okay with that.”

It’d be fun to see the Lakers and Spurs battle one more time for Western Conference bragging rights before Kobe retires. The Spurs will be in the mix next season. The Lakers? Stay tuned.

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