Stresses too much for Rudy T, Kobe

Originally Published: February 2, 2005
By Chad Ford | ESPN Insider
For all of the conspiracy theorists out there that want to turn Los Angeles Lakers coach Rudy Tomjanovich's resignation into something more than it really is, let's get this out on the table right now.

The decision had nothing to do with Kobe Bryant – and everything to do with Kobe Bryant.

Nothing to do with Bryant because, despite a few allusions to the contrary, league sources close to both Tomjanovich and Bryant insist that there wasn't a rift between the two. As has been widely reported, Tomjanovich's decision centers on a health-related issue that has been exacerbated by the intense pressures that come with being the coach of the Lakers.

There are no signs that Kobe pressured Tomjanovich to leave. Tomjanovich apparently likes coaching Kobe, so his resignation is not because of any exasperation with Bryant.

Coaching the Lakers is stressful enough as it is. The expectations are enormous, the team is embroiled in one of the most sordid NBA soap operas of the last decade, and Bryant, for all of his strengths, isn't the easiest guy in the world to coach (neither was Michael Jordan, by the way).

Those pressures would cause the healthiest coaches in the league to mull retirement. Tomjanovich appears exhausted both mentally and physically. Who can blame him?

However, the Lakers and Bryant can't escape the blame here.

Chad Ford

ESPN Senior Writer