Teammates unhappy with Bryant regime

Updated: December 12, 2004, 6:51 PM ET
By Chad Ford | ESPN Insider
Chad Ford's Chat Wrap with SportsNation on Thursday

What were the Lakers thinking this summer when they let Kobe Bryant dictate whom the team acquired in the offseason?

Everyone knows they were desperate to re-sign Bryant, but once you give up that type of power to a player, he isn't giving it back.

Since making his free agent power play this summer, Kobe already has helped exile Shaquille O'Neal, Gary Payton and Derek Fisher. Kareem Rush was given away last week for two second-round picks.

Tuesday, Bryant nailed the door shut on a Karl Malone return to the Lakers.

In a radio interview, Bryant said he didn't think Malone was coming back, then criticized the Mailman for leaving the team up in the air.

"It's not really fair to hold it over the guys' heads that are here," Bryant said. "The guys that we have here are working hard, practicing hard every day. It's kind of tough for them to be looking over their shoulder, wondering if he's going to come back and then everybody is going to disappear.

"It's really not fair for us to sit around and speculate how long this is going to go on. I mean, you can't sit up here and speculate for the remainder of the season whether or not he is going to come back. I mean, that's not fair to the guys that are working here."

Oh, the hypocrisy. Wasn't it Bryant who held his impending free agency over the heads of the entire organization last year? Wasn't everyone looking over their shoulders wondering if Bryant was going to bolt to the Clippers? Maybe Malone isn't the player the Lakers need right now, but Bryant shouldn't be the one making that decision or delivering the message.

But that's not the worst of it.

Chad Ford

ESPN Senior Writer