In an excellent, in-depth article posted by the Los Angeles Times on the Los Angeles Lakers braintrust (Jeanie Buss, Jim Buss, Joey Buss, Mike Kupchak), Mike Brenahan reveals which of the four was responsible for the Kobe Bryant 2-year, $48 million contract extension:
One choice Jeanie shaped last November was to sign the team’s aging superstar, Bryant, 35, to a two-year, $48.5-million contract extension.
Jeanie was enamored by the idea of Bryant spending his entire career with the Lakers and pushed for an extension to get him to 20 years with the team. The deal honored Bryant’s long career but also limited the Lakers’ rebuilding possibilities while anchoring them to a suddenly injury-prone player.
Bryant signed his contract while getting ready to return from surgery on his Achilles’ tendon
via Buss family faces crucial moment with the Lakers | Los Angeles Times Times
Following the extension signing, Kobe Bryant return to the court at the age 34, recovering from an achilles injury, and produced little for an already struggling group, playing a total of six games in which he averaged 13.8 points, 6.3 assists, and 4.3 rebounds. Bryant would later fracture his knee, forcing him to miss the remainder of the 2013-14 season.
While the extension was a nice gesture, commending a superstar who had been the face of the NBA’s biggest franchise since the early 2000s, allowing Bryant to follow in the foot-steps of George Mikan, Jerry West, Elgin Baylor, and Magic Johnson, Laker greats who remained with the club for their entire careers, the extension capped what the Lakers would be able to accomplish in the near future.
History precedes the Lakers front office, but in the upcoming future, there are no guarantees that the Lakers will return to their dominant form for the remainder of Kobe Bryant’s tenure. For marketing purposes, Jeanie made the right decision. As long as Kobe Bryant remains, fans will continue to buy Lakers merchandise, attend the games while the NBA continues to place the group on national television.
But what has been a gift is slowly turning into a curse. Maybe their luck will change with the 2014 NBA Draft upcoming.