N.Y. Post: WAY I hear it, Phil Jackson banned Kobe Bryant from being around the Lakers Tuesday when his petulant VIP – offended that owner Jerry Buss alerted the Los Angeles media he was available in an equitable trade – informed him he wouldn’t be practicing, for the third straight day, because he wanted to rest his legs, knee, bruised ego, whatever.
“I don’t want you riding the exercise bike in front of the team,” Jackson hipped Bryant, according to a source. “There’s nothing wrong with your legs. I need you to be part of the team. I need to come to practice and work hard. And I need you to come to games and play defense.”
Last season, Inaction Jackson felt Bryant had gotten a little lazy on the sidelines and at practice. In his considered opinion, he and his coaching staff were too easy, too soft on the players, especially Mr. Big Stuff.
Jackson demanded that change this season. He notified his assistants he wanted them to be considerably more proactive and expected them to be in the players’ faces whenever there was an conspicuous lack of discipline, effort and respect regarding team goals.
Jackson proved he wasn’t spewing idle chatter by manning his battle station and confronting Bryant concerning his sit-down. Far better to crack down now before the hostage-of-services-situation became unmanageable, before the season starts for real. Far better to set the ground rules, establish limitations while Bryant’s merely testing his teacher. Better to find how far Bryant’s willing to push the envelope. Is he intent on leveraging his way out of Los Angeles or will he cooperate and play nice with the other kids?