AFTER THE SEASON ENDED, Jackson wrote that Kobe was “un-coachable” and revealed that he’d urged Lakers management to trade him.
But not only did Jackson coach Kobe again but they won two more championships together.
I ask how he got over being called “un-coachable.”
“I didn’t,” Kobe says.
“Wait, you didn’t get over it, or you never had a conversation?”
“Why should I have dealt with him?” he says, as if he can’t believe I still don’t get it.
“I think that’s the part that really drove him crazy. I just said, ‘Phil, listen. You don’t have to play that shit with me. I understand what you’re doing. But I don’t need that,'” Kobe says.
He used to be close to Lakers owner Dr. Jerry Buss. They’d meet for lunches at California Pizza Kitchen or this Italian restaurant in Marina Del Rey. Before Buss passed away in 2013, he told Kobe he hoped he’d be a Laker for life.
“Right, but he actually traded him. He wouldn’t trade you.”
“I look at it from a business perspective,” he says. “I would have made the same call. If you’re going to bet, you got to bet on the horse that you know is obsessive about what they do, day in and day out, and is going to be hell bent on trying to win a championship. If you’re going to bet on a horse, you always bet on the one that eats, sleeps and breathes the craft.”
Just a few weeks earlier, Kobe and O’Neal were hugging each other at the All-Star Game in Toronto. They’ve become friendlier in recent years, but Kobe doesn’t shy away from stinging him again.