Kobe Bryant probably wouldn’t have made Jurgen Klinsmann’s World Cup roster, either.
If Bryant played soccer – or Klinsmann coached basketball – that is.
And it’s safe to say, after an ESPN interview with the Los Angeles Lakers star (watch it above), that Bryant isn’t a fan of the US national team coach’s views on how to handle aging stars. Bryant took exception with Klinsmann’s comments of what he sees as an American custom of catering to star players.
"I thought it was pretty funny," Bryant told ESPN's Julie Foudy in Brazil, where he's taking in three World Cup matches, the most recent of which was Mexico’s scoreless draw against Brazil. "I thought it was pretty comical, actually. I see his perspective.
"But the one perspective that he's missing from an ownership point of view is that you want to be part of an ownership group that is rewarding its players for what they've done, while balancing the team going forward.”
Klinsmann’s comments came in a recent feature story in The New York Times Magazine, when the German native wondered why the Lakers would give Bryant a two-year, $48.5 million extension when his best years are behind him and he’s still facing injury issues, perhaps offering insight into his exclusion of former US star Landon Donovan on this year’s World Cup roster.
“[Bryant] gets it because of what he has done before,” Klinsmann said in the interview. “It makes no sense. Why do you pay for what has already happened?"
The five-time NBA champion said there is a different dynamic at work when dealing with a professional franchise as opposed to a national team.
“He's not a GM or owner of the franchise,” Bryant said. “When you look at it from that perspective, it changes a little bit. But you probably could have used another player as an example.”
Bryant also thinks Klinsmann’s comments from the same article that the USMNT “cannot win this World Cup” could be a rallying point for the team.
"I don't think they'd ever say that to me," he said. "My reputation precedes me."