DALLAS – Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant had a wry answer for the 3-year, $25 million hometown discount free agent contract Dirk Nowitzki signed with the Dallas Mavericks this past summer.
Bryant said: "I think it means he’s not playing in Los Angeles.’’
About a year ago Bryant took a lot of heat after he signed a two-year, $48.5 million contract with the Lakers. Many believe it left the Lakers very little wiggle room to sign more quality players.
Of course, Bryant saw it in another light.
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"It’s the popular thing to do -- the player takes less, blah blah, blah, blah,’’ Bryant said after Friday’s shootaround at American Airlines Center. "I think it’s a big coo for the owners to put players in situations where public perception puts pressure on them to take less money, because if you don’t, then you get criticized for it.
"It’s absolutely brilliant, but I’m not going for it. I know that the new head of the players association (Michelle Roberts) ain’t going for it either.’’
Despite constant criticism, Bryant steadfastly believes he didn’t take all the money he could have taken form the Lakers in his last contract.
Bryant said: "Did I take a discount? Yeah. Did I take as big a discount as some of you fans would want me to? No.
Is it a big enough discount to help us be a contender? Yeah. So what we try to do is be in a situation where they take care of the player and the player takes care of the organization enough to put us in a championship predicament eventually.’’
Bryant said those who fail to look at the business side of basketball are doing the players a grave disservice.
"I think this is where players get themselves in a lot of trouble, which with me in my 19th year in the league I really don’t care, so I kind of say what I need to say,’’ Bryant said. "I think you have to look at the business of basketball.
"I think for a lot of writers and for a lot of fans, that they have a very tough time distinguishing the two. This is a business and you have to look at individuals and what they generate in the market that they generate revenue in. You can’t separate those.’’
Bryant is adamant that folks have a ""hard time separating’’ the business side of basketball and what the players do on the court.
Bryant said: "And so from a business perspective you have to take that into account and you have to try, as players, be in situations where it can be a win-win for everybody.’’