Will Kobe Bryant Win the PR War vs. Los Angeles Lakers?

Whether you like him or not, Kobe Bryant’s learned to play all the angles—on court and, most recently, off it. This isn’t your headstrong rookie or the angry superstar who asked for a trade seven years ago. This is a 35-year-old athlete coming off back-to-back serious injuries, heading into what will presumably be the last two years of his NBA career.

But he’s still one of the most successful brands in sports, and he works the old public relations push-and-pull to perfection—dropping a few tough words and following up with some sugar.

Bryant recently made an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live on ABC, as excerpted and discussed on TWC SportsNet. Kimmel mentioned the resignation of Los Angeles Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni and then asked his guest if management runs coaching names by him beforehand.

The answer was: “On the last two they didn't. On the third one, I'm hoping they do." Bryant button-hooked the line perfectly with a chuckle and then segued into the praise portion:

"Jimmy and Jeanie both, they're just really determined and excited about the possibilities of next season and rebuilding this and building on their father's legacy and everything that he's accomplished. And they're taking the challenge extremely, extremely seriously.”

This comes about a month after he stated at a press conference, per Lakers.com:

“You have to start with Jim and Jeanie, and how that relationship plays out. It starts with having a clear direction and clear authority. Then it goes down to the coaching staff, what Mike is going to do, what they want to do with Mike and it goes from there. It’s gotta start from the top.”

Set the hook, make sure it goes viral and watch as a strategic target is removed. That’s not to say the Mamba gets everything he wants or that he is the deciding factor when it comes to big decisions.<...

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