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T.J. SIMERS

For her, defending Kobe Bryant is the principal, er principle, of the thing

Breakfast chat between columnist and wife turns into a discourse on whether the Lakers star should have spoken publicly about the team's new coach.

June 13, 2011|T.J. Simers
  • Kobe Bryant demonstrates Sony's NBA 2K11 video game at the E3 Gaming Convention in Los Angeles.
Kobe Bryant demonstrates Sony's NBA 2K11 video game at the E3 Gaming… (Chris Weeks/AP Images for…)

I go away on vacation, come back and Kobe still hasn't commented on the hiring of Lakers Coach Mike Brown.

That's just Kobe, the Big Baby, petty and miffed because he wasn't consulted and now letting Brown hang out there to teach the Lakers' brass a lesson.

I mention this to the wife when we go to breakfast, and she drops her fork. She never does that with a plate full of food in front of her.

She says Kobe doesn't have to say anything to anybody, and maybe I should have stayed on vacation. "How can I miss you unless you really go away?" she says.

It's quite a jolt to learn the wife and Kobe think alike.

The wife is a teacher. Her school recently announced the hiring of a principal and she says she has no idea whether the new guy is going to be any good.

"So why should it be any different with Kobe?" she says.

Lakers fans want to know what Kobe thinks of Brown, which makes it a little different, I suggest.

"We have parents at our school who want to know what I think of the new principal," she says, her eggs, sausage, bacon, pancakes and toast getting cold while she sputters on. Good thing they're keeping the cinnamon roll warm for her.

So far the only thing Kobe has said about Brown's hiring is, "No comment" in a text response to The Times' Brad Turner's inquiry.

"If I was asked, I would tell someone the new principal ran a great introduction meeting," she says, "but I have no opinion beyond that."

A couple words of advice for the new principal if interested in getting off to a favorable start: Cinnamon rolls. Bring lots of them the first day of school. Maybe some for the other teachers, too.

Brown took the extra step with Kobe, making the trek to Orange County shortly before his intro news conference. At the very least, Kobe could have said, "We had a great introduction meeting."

"Maybe he didn't," says the wife. The only way that would happen is if Brown didn't agree with everything Kobe had to say.

How about looking at this from Brown's point of view?

He lost his previous job because management didn't think the Cleveland Cavaliers had a chance of keeping their superstar if they kept the coach. Then he rebounds by getting a dream job with the Lakers, and if human, he's probably a little nervous and anxious about it all.

Right away he hears more criticism than warm wishes, and Kobe can change all that with just a few words.

"Kobe shouldn't be looked upon in a derogatory way because he's not talking about the new coach," the wife says. "He's under no obligation. It's up to the coach to prove he can do the job."

Kobe carries a lot more weight in what he has to say about the new coach, though, than anything the wife might say about the principal. But I didn't mention that in our morning conversation. I never mention anything having to do with weight.

Kobe is guaranteed $83 million from the Lakers over the next three years, a little more than the wife makes. If the principal can do something about that, he's my kind of guy, that's for sure.

As for Kobe, it's too late to do anything about the new coach, so why not make the best of it?

Is it really too much for him to say something like, "I spent some time with Mike and look forward to getting to know him better. We all agree here the most important thing is to get back on the championship track."

The wife laughs. "Come on, I know you — like that would satisfy you."

I remember when I picked her up at a college dance 42 years ago. I don't recall her having any idea what might satisfy me for the longest time. And now she's an expert?

Kobe had his chance to quell any uncertainty surrounding Brown's hiring last week. He had a news conference to tell everyone he discovered there are folks who are homeless, apparently looking down on one of his helicopter rides between Staples and Newport Beach.

After several officials had spoken about the need to help the homeless, including Kobe, the session was opened for questions.

At one point, according to someone who was there, a woman told Kobe she supported his charitable efforts. Most reporters feel as if they must slobber all over him before asking a question.

She got around to asking Kobe why he hasn't said anything about Brown's hiring. Kobe got snippy, as if surprised anyone would dare inquire about the new Lakers coach.

If he's not a Laker, no one attends the news conference.

Agitated, he tells everyone it isn't the time or place for such a thing as if five minutes dedicated to Brown might negatively impact the homeless.

"He's absolutely right, it wasn't the time or place," says the wife, and I wonder whether the principal knows what he's in for when he takes over. "If I had a parent come up to me at eighth-grade graduation and ask about the new principal, I would have said, 'Let's just enjoy the graduation.'

"Isn't a person's credibility at stake here? What happens if the new guy bombs and Kobe has been telling everyone he's a great hire. You expect Kobe to make nice with the coach without really knowing him? I know I'm not going to kiss up to anyone."

How well I know.

t.j.simers@latimes.com

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