Back in November of 2013, the Los Angeles Lakers made a bold move by signing Kobe Bryant to a lucrative contract extension before he returned from an Achilles injury that threatened to end his career.
The extension was highly criticized due to the amount owed to the superstar shooting guard. Kobe will earn $23.5 million this season and $25 million in the next. The veteran will be 37-years-old in the final year of his new deal.
Many have blamed the lucrative extension for the Lakers recent struggles to bring in top tier talent in free agency. The Lakers brass went after Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James this past summer, but were unable to lure either player to Los Angeles.
Michael Jordan recently sat down with Ken Berger of CBS Sports and was asked about Kobe’s extension. Jordan was asked whether it was fair to criticize Kobe for the taking max money in the twilight of his career:
“I can’t speak in terms how Kobe feels about the scenario. Can I criticize him for maximizing his opportunity from a financial standpoint? No. Does his decision affect how the team structures certain things? Maybe. But that’s something the team didn’t have to give him. They could’ve easily said no. They could’ve given a different scenario with Kobe and he can make a choice from that standpoint. It’s easy to criticize from where we sit, and you don’t know all the dynamics and why and what the opportunities were for him. I’m not going to criticize him for taking advantage of the opportunity presented to him from a financial standpoint.”
With the Lakers coming off a 27-win season and Kobe going down with a season-ending injury last December, the five-time NBA champion’s contract extension became a hot topic of discussion. It’d be safe to say that Kobe’s contract will continue to be discussed if the Lakers continue to struggle without another legitimate star playing alongside the future Hall of Famer.
In the meantime, the Lakers are coming off two disappointing losses to start the season. The Houston Rockets and Phoenix Suns dominated the Lakers and in the process, the team lost rookie forward Julius Randle to a broken leg.
At 36, it’ll be interesting to see how Kobe’s body holds up over the course of an 82-game season. The superstar guard remains confident that he can still produce at a high level while keeping the Lakers competitive, but it remains to be seen moving forward.[divide]
Lakers Julius Randle Fractures Right Tibia, Kobe’s Reaction