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Mike Brown and Kobe Bryant are just fine, thanks

New coach apparently has won over his star in face-to-face meetings, even if Kobe hasn't mentioned it in public.

June 18, 2011|Mark Heisler
  • Kobe Bryant is congratulated by fans in New Orleans after eliminating the Hornets in Game 6 of the NBA playoffs. The Lakers advanced to play Dallas but were swept by the eventual-champion Mavericks.
Kobe Bryant is congratulated by fans in New Orleans after eliminating the… (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles…)

Just when you thought it was time to sell your courtside seats and buy a beach home . . .

Peace in our time in Lakerdom?

Despite Kobe Bryant's silence, people close to both sides say Coach Mike Brown has won over his new star in two face-to-face meetings.

Their first was May 31 at Bryant's home in Newport Beach, on Brown's way to his news conference in downtown Los Angeles . . . more or less.

Photos: Kobe Bryant through the years

Apparently, the meeting went well. The second was 10 days later at the El Segundo practice facility, where they went through plays on the court

So why hasn't anyone bothered to mention it?

Brown did mention it, which, in the absence of a single peep from Bryant, didn't settle the issue.

So why is Bryant still maintaining his silence, allowing the perception that he's unhappy to stand?

Unhappy at having been left out of the loop on the hiring, he's letting his silence speak for him, as he did in after his days or rage in 2007, leaving the Lakers to spend three months wondering if he would report for training camp until he showed up that morning.

Bryant signaled his skepticism when Brown's hiring was announced May 25, exchanging texts with him but declining to talk on the phone.

Of course, Bryant knew more about LeBron James' split with Brown in Cleveland than Jim Buss, who hired Brown.

Among the things that went down in flames last spring was Brown's relationship with James.

With James passing the word he wanted a former player who would drive him as coach, the Cavaliers fired Brown and hired Byron Scott, who was also close to Chris Paul, LeBron's close friend.

However, as mild-mannered as Brown comes off before microphones, one-on-one his charm and intensity jump out.

Cleveland owner Dan Gilbert, who hired him in 2005, said Brown's interview was the best he had ever seen.

Brown has since blown away Jim Buss and Kobe Bryant, pretty much covering the spectrum.

Jim Buss, on the other hand, hasn't had two one-on-one meetings with Bryant since the hire, or ever.

Personal relationships with their franchise players is one more thing that has yet to make the transition from Jerry Buss to his son.

Strained as his relationship with Bryant would become, Jerry's eleventh-hour call was all that kept Kobe from going to the Clippers in 2004.

After that, things drifted in another direction.

Bryant, still a free agent, was part of the search for Phil Jackson's successor in 2004, calling Coach Mike Krzyzewski, signing off on Rudy Tomjanovich.

A year later, with Bryant on a long-term deal, coming off a 34-38 debacle, no one cared if he wanted Jackson back or not.

(Bryant didn't but, needing Jackson as he did, quickly got over it.)

Two tacit alliances formed — Jerry-Jim and Kobe-Phil-Jeanie Buss — even as the team made three Finals in a row and won back-to-back titles.

This just in: Better start worrying about what Kobe thinks if you want him to carry your team, as opposed to, oh, say, Carmelo Anthony.

This stuff used to be basic for them.

In Jerry Buss' debut season, he ran around town with just-turned-20 Magic Johnson, all the way to the winner's circle.

If Buss went overboard, giving Magic a 25-year, $25-million "lifetime" contract that blew the minds of veterans Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Jamaal Wilkes and wrecked their next season, it's still better to err on the side of your superstar.

Oh, yeah, about my Kobe-for-Melo tab....

Not that it can't happen, but Kobe's back, for the moment.

Photos: Lakers coaches through the years

Feel a draft?

If not, it may be because the Lakers and Clippers don't have No. 1 picks and half the projected lottery (Jared Sullinger, Harrison Barnes, Perry Jones, Terrence Jones, John Henson) stayed in school.

New names are all over the radar:

Klay Thompson, 6-5, Jr., Washington State — This is really getting embarrassing.

I had to listen to this guy's dad moan about not ever putting his son in my mock drafts.

Of course, his dad, Mychal Thompson, tells me every season the Lakers will win 72.

Klay, a great shooter, stayed under the radar on a mediocre team, but could go in the top 10.

Nikola Vucevic, 6-10, 260, Jr., USC — Size and skill always works. Projected in the teens.

Tyler Honeycutt, 6-8, 188, So., UCLA — Didn't burn up the Pac-10, rapped for coasting but looked good in workouts and might make the first round.

Malcolm Lee, 6-5, 200, Jr., UCLA — Didn't live up to prep hype but rated draft's best backcourt defender. He could get into first round.

So many Bruins (Kevin Love, Russell Westbrook, Jrue Holiday, Arron Afflalo, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, Darren Collison) have blown away expectations, scouts now say Ben Howland players will be better in the NBA.

If Bruins fans thinks in terms of NCAA titles, the last coach with that rep was Dean Smith.

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