Los Angeles Lakers president and co-owner Jeanie Buss has today labelled as "losers" any NBA free agents who avoid joining the franchise because of not wishing to play with Kobe Bryant.
Appearing on ESPN's Sport Center Buss was holding no punches when quizzed on a recent article which suggested players, namely Indiana Pacers star Paul George and former Laker Dwight Howard, were put off the idea of linking up (or-resigning) with the famous purple and gold franchise due to Kobe and his notoriously intense character.
As you might expect from someone with a major position in the Lakers hierarchy, and someone who has held a close working relationship with Bryant for many years, this idea didn't sit well with Buss.
"Any free agent that would be afraid to play with Kobe is probably a loser and I'm glad they wouldn't come to the team," - Jeanie Buss on Sports Center.
She has a point
The Lakers may be a shadow of their former selves at this point in time but any free agent would be foolish not to give them serious consideration when plotting their next move.
Anyone who has watched the NBA for the past 20 years is well aware of Kobe's character, and that very character has been critical in helping the Lakers (and Bryant) to five NBA titles in that time.
Perhaps Buss is correct. Anyone unwilling to put themselves up alongside Bryant may not be the type of players the Lakers are looking for as they bid to regain a place at the top table.
ESPN vs the Lakers
Buss' appearance on the ESPN show offered a chance for the Lakers to directly respond to a number of articles published by the sports broadcaster recently that have shed a less than favorable light on Kobe Bryant.
With one article suggesting Kobe has played a major part in the franchise's recent demise, and another listing Bryant as just the 39th best player currently plying his trade in the NBA it is fair to say Buss had plenty to respond to.
As well as mocking those who were rumored to be scared of linking up with Bryant, she then laid down the law to anyone involved in LA who may or may not have been cited in Henry Abbott's controversial article:
"If there is somebody who is on our pay roll who is saying things like that I'll soon get to the bottom of it and they won't be working with us anymore."
With the Los Angeles Lakers, as usual, pinning their hopes on their veteran star it is no surprise that they have come out on the offensive so close to opening night.
If Kobe really is the cause of many of the Lakers' recent problems then the franchise is in bigger trouble that they thought. They had no choice but to respond to such accusations. And with Jeanie Buss leading that response who expected anything less that the excellent soundbite she gave fans this morning?