EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- With the 2013-14 season officially in the rearview window for Kobe Bryant after Wednesday's announcement that his left knee injury will keep him out of the final 18 games, the veteran guard took aim at the Lakers' front office in regards to the team's future.
"I think we have to start at the top in terms of the culture of our team," Bryant said. "What kind of culture do we want to have? What kind of system do we want to have? How do we want to play? It starts there and from there, you can start building out your team accordingly."
When asked to clarify what "the top" meant, Bryant pointed to executive vice president, Jim Buss, and his sister, Lakers president, Jeanie Buss. They assumed joint control of the franchise, along with their four other siblings, when longtime Lakers owner Dr. Jerry Buss died last February.
"You got to start with Jim," Bryant said. "You got to start with Jim and Jeanie and how that relationship plays out. It starts there and having a clear direction and clear authority. And then it goes down to the coaching staff and what Mike (D'Antoni) is going to do, what they're going to do with Mike and it goes from there. It's got to start at the top."
D'Antoni has one year remaining on his contract with the team, set to pay him $4 million, but has gone just 62-74 (.456) since joining the team last November, with a slew of injuries sabotaging the Lakers' roster in that time.
When there is talk of Jeanie Buss, her fiancé, Phil Jackson, is never too far behind. Bryant was also asked about the possibility of Jackson joining the New York Knicks in a front office capacity, which ESPN's Chris Broussard reported will happen by the end of the week.
"You know how I feel about Phil," said Bryant, who won all five of his championships with Jackson as the coach. "I have so much admiration for him and respect and I have a great relationship with him. Personally, it would be hard for me to understand that happening twice. It would be tough. I don't really get it."
By "that" Bryant was referring to the Lakers passing over Jackson for a job after he interviewed for L.A.'s coaching vacancy after Mike Brown was fired last November and the team went with D'Antoni instead.
Magic Johnson also had strong things to say about Jackson on Wednesday in a series of tweets:
I love Jim & Jeanie Buss, but we need Phil Jackson to be the face of our great organization, the Los Angeles Lakers.- Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) March 12, 2014
Kobe Bryant is the face of the Lakers' team. Who is the face of the Lakers' organization?- Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) March 12, 2014
In signing Phil Jackson Owner Jim Dolan & Steve Mills are saying to the Knicks fans, they're ready to win now!- Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) March 12, 2014
Johnson broke a self-appointed gag order on commenting on the Lakers after tweeting in late January:
Laker Nation: I'm going to stop complaining. I'm going to support and encourage Jim Buss and Coach D'Antoni because I love the Lakers!