When Mark Cuban brought up the suggestion recently for the Lakers to amnesty Kobe Bryant and his over $30 million salary next year, Lakers fans reacted pretty much how we always react to Cuban’s comments. Cuban was only looking at the financial aspect of Kobe’s contract, and failed to count his intangibles of what he represents to the organization, the team and the city of Los Angeles.
This is where the Lakers are separated from the rest of the pack. Their dedication to winning precedes everything else, including salary caps. While Kobe Bryant answered back to Cuban’s comments spectacularly on the court Sunday in Dallas and on Twitter, he went deeper into what winning means to the Lakers and what the team does in return for their players. Bryant shared:
“This is one of those franchises, they really take care of their own,” Bryant said of the financial commitment the Lakers made to him, by agreeing to foot a $100 million payroll — the highest in the NBA — so he could chase another title at the back end of his career.
“They make it a family atmosphere. For those who sacrifice for this organization, play hard for this organization, and commit to them, they really do a good job of returning that favor.”
First year Laker Antawn Jamison knew what the Lakers’ tradition to winning was when he signed a veteran’s minimum contract with LA after getting paid over $15 million alone last season with Cleveland. Jamison remarked after the game on Sunday:
“That’s the one thing you really have to love about the Lakers is that no matter what, it’s all about winning,” Lakers forward Antawn Jamison said. “They’ve shown that in the past and definitely by the moves they made this offseason as well.”
Winning was at the forefront of the vision of Dr. Jerry Buss. During his memorial service last week, we witnessed several accounts of how that winning vision made the Lakers one of the most consistently successful franchises in professional sports. We also were reminded of that “family atmosphere” that Kobe discussed that embodies the rich tradition and winning vision that Dr. Buss created and the Buss family strives to sustain.