Kobe Bryant On Jeremy Lin: 'The Biggest Thing To Me Is How Everybody Missed It'
Before Kobe Bryant fell victim to Linsanity earlier this month at Madison Square Garden, the five-time NBA champion admitted that he had no clue what was happening in the Big Apple. Before that Lakers' loss to the Knicks, Bryant didn't know about Jeremy Lin's stats, his explosiveness, his unselfishness, and most certainly the puns. But throw in a 38-point performance in a victory over the Lakers and nine wins out of 12 games before the All-Star break, now Bryant (along with everyone else) can't understand how so many teams missed out on Lin.
"The biggest thing to me is how everybody missed it," Bryant said before the All-Star Game, via the New York Post. "They all would be fired if I was owning a team. I hear this stuff, 'It came out of nowhere.' I think it's a load of [garbage]. You can't play that well and just come out of nowhere. There has to be something there and everybody missed it. So heads would roll [if I was owner]."
As it turns out, Kobe may have been talking about the Lakers' decision makers, who had a chance to snag Lin.
During the 2010 offseason, the Lakers showed interested in the undrafted Asian-American out of Harvard and even started contract discussions with Lin's agent Roger Montgomery. Lin had played well for the Dallas Mavericks summer league team in Las Vegas, even outperforming John Wall in the process. But the Golden State Warriors eventually swooped in and signed the Palo Alto native.
After the Warriors released him before the 2011-12 season, the Lakers had another chance to bring in Lin and it was again discussed within the front office.
"I knew who [Lin] was because when he was floating out there, I know Mitch [Kupchak] had some interest in him and he brought his name up to me," coach Mike Brown told the L.A. Times earlier this month. "We brought up a million names. This was back before we had the team together. I know that Mitch liked the guy and thought highly of him, but I didn't know anything about him back then."
The Lakers actually tried signing him off waivers, but the Rockets also put in a waiver claim and were able to sign him because they had a worse record.
It's unclear how Bryant's latest comments will be interpreted within the Lakers organization, but it might not go over well considering he recently lashed out at management for dangling Pau Gasol out in trade talks.
General Manager Mitch Kupchak fired back at Bryant for those remarks, saying that he must explore every opportunity to improve the team.
According to Ken Berger of CBSSports.com, the recent feud shows just how messy and dysfunctional the Lakers organization has become.