Bryant wants voice in choosing next Lakers coach

(Reuters) – Perennial All-Star Kobe Bryant, who has won five NBA titles with the Los Angeles Lakers, says he hopes the team will consult with him on finding their new head coach.

Mike D’Antoni resigned as coach of the tradition rich National Basketball Association team after an injury-riddled campaign that resulted in a woeful 27-55 record.

Bryant, who missed virtually all of the dismal season due to injury, told ABC television talk show host Jimmy Kimmel that he had no input in the team’s coaching hires since the retirement of Hall of Fame coach Phil Jackson in 2011. “On the last two they didn’t,” Bryant said, referring to Mike Brown and D’Antoni, who both failed to last the length of their contracts. “On the third one, I’m hoping they do.”

“Mike (D’Antoni) was dealt a really bad hand in dealing with all the injuries that he had here,” Bryant said on the Thursday program. “This is a tough place, man. If you’re not winning, you’re not going to survive, man.”

The Lakers had the second-worst record in the Western Conference.

Bryant said he had faith that Lakers president Jeanie Buss and her brother and personnel chief Jim Buss would put the team back on track. “They’re both on the same page and they want nothing but excellence here, so I have no doubt that we’ll make it happen,” he said. Bryant would not be drawn into naming candidates, but said he expected to be part of the process. “We talk back and forth,” Bryant said. “We’ll text or I’ll sit down with him.”

Bryant, who will turn 36 in August before his 19th NBA season, expressed confidence he would be able to fully contribute to the team’s turnaround next season. “From a health standpoint, 100 percent,” said Bryant, who missed 76 games last season because of a fractured knee and torn Achilles in his left leg. “I started doing a lot of on-court training and so I’m back into my routine.”

Bryant, who earned more than $30 million for six games played last season and is set to make over $23 million next season, laid out the blueprint for a Lakers comeback.

“We’ll make changes, for sure. There’s certain characteristics that you have to build your team around in speed and length and rebounding and defense,” he said. “We’ll make those adjustments.”

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