Back in November, Kobe Bryant signed a two-year, $48 million extension to remain with the Lakers through the 2015-16 season. Many people were astounded by the signing because it gave the Lakers very little cap flexibility to rebuild the team heading into Kobe’s twilight years. It turns out, Team USA’s soccer coach Jurgen Klinsmann was one of those people.
For some context, Klinsmann left long-time national team star Landon Donovan off the roster for the upcoming World Cup. Donovan — like Kobe — is a star in his sport who is no longer in his prime. But many fans felt he was owed a spot on the team for his past performance and contributions to Team USA.
In an interview with the New York Times, Klinsmann used Kobe’s extension as an example of what’s wrong with American sports:
To Klinsmann, the idea that Donovan deserved a place on the team represented much that is wrong with American sports. He has never understood the American coaching custom of deferring to a team’s stars.
“This always happens in America,” Klinsmann told me, waving his hands in the air. “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?”
His take on Kobe’s extension is fair, but only to a degree. Klinsmann is ignoring the value of Kobe to the Lakers franchise from a marketing standpoint, and the intrinsic value of a franchise player spending 20 years of his career with one team. Also, keeping Kobe in the fold could be integral to the Lakers as they may have plans for him to stay and work with the organization after he retires.
The extension is a lot of money, eating up a lot of cap space for a player already deep in decline, but it’s not simply a matter of paying Kobe for what he’s done in the past. We’re now refreshing Kobe’s Twitter feed in anticipation of a reply to this, hopefully with a couple of newly created hashtags. #MambaGOALLLLLLLLL
What do you think?
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