Kobe Not Willing to Take Pay Cut to Keep Lakers Together?

Not long ago I was raving about Gilbert Arenas volunteering to take a pay cut to keep the current Wizards together. How much more clear can you make it that you prioritize winning over money than by volunteering to take a pay cut? That’s truly putting your money where your mouth is, or something like that. Anyway, I heard about some comments Kobe made regarding this very subject on KLAC recently. Here’s what he was asked and here was his response:

Hartman: [Mychal Thompson] said that you would accept less money in order to ensure that you keep all the pieces in place so all these great young players can stay with the team. Is that going to be a consideration when you do get a new deal, that everyone stays aboard so this team can stay together?

Kobe: That’s Mitch [Kupchak]‘s responsibility to make sure the team stays together. For me, what I have to do is show up as a player and play the game. One thing that I learned throughout the season is that Mitch might make a million bad decisions, but then he made two great ones this season. Honestly I just lay off of him, he’s done a tremendous job with this team.

So when the pressure was put on him, Kobe quickly deflected and put everything on Mitch Kupchak. Hmm, Kobe passing the buck to Mitch? Why does that sound so familiar? I thought it was quite interesting that Kobe had the opportunity to say he’s willing to take a pay cut to keep this team together but he wouldn’t volunteer publicly to do so. Then again this is the same guy who couldn’t get along with Shaq forcing the Lakers to break up what could have been one of the NBA’s great dynasties. Why would we expect him to volunteer to sacrifice a paycheck to win?

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  • Anders(on) Varejao

    “Then again this is the same guy who couldn’t get along with Shaq forcing the Lakers to break up what could have been one of the NBA’s great dynasties.”

    Hmmm…I seem to remember one of the reasons Shaq was traded was because he wanted a max money extension despite the terrible work ethic and fact that he was beginning the slide past his prime. Even at one point yelling at Dr. Buss “Pay me Mother F***er” during a preseason game.

    Say what you will about Kobe deflecting the question about taking less money, but it seems to me that Gilbert Arenas is the exception to the rule, not the norm. Why single out Kobe for wanting to maximize their income like Shaq, MJ, and all the other greats. Dr. Buss can certainly afford the luxury tax if his team is consistently going deep in the playoffs.

  • SpinMax

    Great dynasty?? It ticks me off every time I hear someone talk about how ‘they could have won more titles together.
    At the time, their roster was Shaq, Kobe and a bunch of guys earning almost nothing. Remember Medvedenko?
    BOTH Shaq and Kobe were in for salary increases that offseason…which would have resulted in their supporting
    cast being even WORSE. And they just got owned by the Pistons who returned to the finals the following year.
    And with Shaq still in the west they go back 3 years in a row. There’s no way in hell they’d win another title with those
    two guys surrounded by Medvedenko-like garbage.

  • http://s2nblog.wordpress.com Signal to Noise

    Nah, man, it is Kupchak’s responsibility to keep the team together. Kobe’ s is to earn as much as he can while he plays at a high level.

    It’s hard for me to read anything advocating a player should seek to take a pay cut in order to help the team when more often than not, teams will do anything to a player that they can under a collective bargaining agreement to do the opposite for the player. Bryant’s skills and status have earned him his large contract and a no-trade clause.

    Would it be magnanimous of him to say, “Yes, I would take a pay cut to keep the team together”? Totally, and it would be cool, too. But it’s not his place to, and more importantly, if he said so publicly, it takes a bargaining chip off the table. When the time comes to decide whether to opt out or not, he may be more than willing to play for less than his market value in L.A. so he can keep a good team together — but smart agents and star players never say that publicly.

  • D.C. Girl FAN

    I was born and raised in D.C. but my alltime favorites have been MJ and Kobe-B period. Gilbert is in my oppionion innovatively arrogant – I wish he would get traded SERIOUSLY! How in a full moon do you stay out all regular season then decide to show up in the playoffs and mess that up too! – management needs to seriously look at what in the sam’s hill they are doing – the team was just fine without him – Let that ZERO GO!
    Kobe-B should NEVER volunteer for a pay cut – L.A. looks for Kobe it’s like NO KOBE and NO DEAL you want empty seats then let Kobe go and you should be able to hear a pin drop! I Love Kobe-B – always have and always will!

  • Gene

    Maybe Gilbert isn’t the best example of a team player, but other than that, you are right on.

    Kobe is, and has always been a “me firster”. He’s the guy who almost cost the Lakers a playoff series by only taking one shot in the second half against Sacramento. MJ would have never behaved like that. Kobe also took 26 shots against Denver earlier in the series on a night when he was very cold (9-26) and Gasol and Odom were very hot. Other superstars would have deferred under those conditions, but not Kobe.

    Here, he had a chance to at least pay lip service to being a “team player”, and he couldn’t even bring himself to say the right thing. Remember, he does have a certain responsibility to the fans who support him and pay the big bucks so that he can live like a king. Athletes in other sports seem to “get it”. For instance, Tom Brady restructured his deal so that the Patriots could keep Randy Moss.

    I agree with SpinMax that Shaq is another guy who is a “me first” player. I can still remember him, during that exhibition game in Hawaii, running down the court and yelling at Buss and Kupchak “pay me” after he made a dunk. That Laker dynasty ended because they were each more interested in money and interested whose team it was.

    Kobe is the best player in the league from the neck down, but LeBron will get his stats and still pass the ball to an open teammate with the game on the line.

    Kobe will also take the maximum and then cry about how the Lakers don’t have other good players around him. If his only responsibilty is to make money and play hard, then he should quit whining about not having good players around him. His contract, I believe, does not contain a “win” clause.

  • http://larrybrownsports.com Larry Brown

    Anders, you’re completely right — the team breaking up was at least equal parts Shaq’s fault as well as Kobe’s. But as far as taking a paycut, I was not suggesting Kobe do it — I only brought it up because it was asked of him after Mychal Thompson said Kobe already said he would do so. Maybe he says he’ll do it privately but doesn’t want to say it publicly like Signal said so he doesn’t lose a bargaining chip.

    If you’re Kobe though, I think it would be a smart thing to do; he’s not exactly a media darling, and this could really endear him to the media and the fans. You’re also right that Gil’s more the exception than the rule, but I can also remember both Curt Schilling and Mike Lowell taking less money this offseason to stick with the Red Sox coming off their World Series title. And as Gene pointed out, Brady restructured his contract for Moss, and Moss also took less money than he was offered elsewhere to remain with New England, so there are players out there who will do it.

  • Anders(on) Varejao

    Larry, I totally agree that it would be a smart thing for him to do and would go a long way towards showing people that he has completely embraced the team first attitude, but i certainly won’t begrudge him either way.

  • dan

    this sure does not surprise me. I cant stand that Prima Donna. I hope Utah kicks their ass in the next round.
    Plus I cant stomach listening Hartman. He is such a friggin tool. I was so glad when Xtra switched to KLAC cuz I could not pick up the signal. Then again the sports talk here SD sucked until we got a fox affiliate in Nov.

  • Gene

    Dan, I agree with you about Hartman being hard to listen to, but he in my opinion, Vic The Brick Jacobs is the biggest tool of them all. If you are looking for Vic’s Lips, find out where Kobe’s ass is located.

    Unfortunately, we are stuck with the Loser Cannons up here in Los Angeles. Count your blessings in San Diego.

  • dan

    Oh man I totally forgot about that fool. Maybe its a blessing in disguise. Nice of the brick to steal JT the Bricks name. (Who I dont really like, but he owes his career to winning the first smack off) The best person on the Loose Cannons was Chet Forte (god bless his soul). Maybe I am a little lucky

  • nomuskles

    as far as i know, NBA players are not allowed to restructure their contracts as they can in the NFL due to the current CBA. The point is not necessarily moot, I’m just saying, even if he wanted to, he couldn’t until it’s time to sign a new contract.

  • Kevin

    Zero isn’t earning his money like Kobe is, injuries aside. Why single out Kobe? Is Lebron willing to take a pay cut? Dirk? Kidd?……how about Shaq? He’s STILL earning $20 million next year, despite being a shadow of his former self, yet he hasn’t said anything about taking a pay cut to help the Suns get some more help…..and who’s believing ANYTHING that Mychal Thompson says? The same Mychal Thompson that said during a game that Kobe is amphibious because he can drive to the hoop with his right or his left? ROFL.