Kobe Bryant Responds to Jurgen Klinsmann’s Contract Criticisms

Having spent a good chunk of his formative years living in Italy, Kobe Bryant developed a passion and appreciation for soccer—a love the Los Angeles Lakers star has been showcasing as one of the World Cup's most high-profile celebrity attendees.

We're guessing that defending himself against criticism from U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann wasn't part of Kobe's travel itinerary.

In a recent interview with Sam Borden of The New York Times Magazine, Klinsmann used Bryant's recent $48.5 million contract extension to defend his decision to cut longtime men's national team staple Landon Donovan just weeks before the start of the World Cup:

This always happens in America. Kobe Bryant, for example — why does he get a two-year contract extension for $50 million? Because of what he is going to do in the next two years for the Lakers? Of course not. Of course not. He gets it because of what he has done before. It makes no sense. Why do you pay for what has already happened?

Bryant then took the occasion of an ESPN studio interview—conducted on location in Brazil—to respond to Klinsmann's remarks, via InsideSoCal.com's Mark Medina:

I thought it was pretty funny. 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. If you're another player in the future and you're looking at the Lakers organization, you want to be a part of an organization that takes care of its players while at the same time planning for the future. Jurgen is a coach, a manager. He's not a GM or owner of the franchise. When you look at it from that perspective, it changes a little bit. But you probably could have used another player as an example.

Here's the thing: They're both ri...

About the Author