LOS ANGELES - Lakers guard Kobe Bryant joined basketball legend Michael Jordan in the 30,000-point club this week. No one has done a better MJ impersonation than the Black Mamba.
The two guards have shared similar mannerisms, highlights and endorsement deals, but Bryant said this week that there’s one path Jordan has travelled that he has no plans to touch: NBA ownership.
“I don’t know if ownership is really the right thing for me,” Bryant told Bloomberg News in a video interview. “I’d go crazy. If a player misses a game because he has a broken fingernail, I’d lose my mind. I wouldn’t be able to take it.”
Jordan earned more than $90 million in NBA salary plus hundreds of millions more in endorsement revenue.
Bryant has earned more than $220 million in salary and has more than $57 million guaranteed remaining on his contract, which runs through 2013-14. Ownership, as Jordan found out, is about far more than having the coin to cut the checks.
After winning six titles as a player, Jordan has suffered through some terrible losing seasons as owner of the Bobcats and as a front office executive for the Wizards.
He reportedly had some memorable run-ins with players who weren’t as committed to the game as he was, including Kwame Brown. If that ownership grind isn’t for Bryant, he said he has no plans to fall off the face of the planet.
“I’ll be around the game and hopefully my brand can live on past my career,” Bryant said.
The “brand” talk was a nod to the success of Nike’s Jordan Brand and pertinent to the interview because Bryant was promoting the latest iteration of his own signature sneaker.
Following in Jordan’s sneaker steps at Nike has made Bryant a satisfied spokesperson. “Nike is filled with ultra-competitive people,” he told Bloomberg News.
On the court, Bryant’s Lakers are off to a 9-10 start, arguably the NBA’s most disappointing team. Bryant didn’t address his team’s struggles in the interview, but said he was hoping to help set the Lakers up for their next chapter.
“Especially now at this stage of my career, you see the light at the end of the tunnel, you feel a sense of pride,” he said.
“I’ve played for this organization but I want to see this organization be successful when I’m gone. It’s about helping them and doing whatever I can to help them set themselves up for the next generation.”
Bryant reached the 30,000-point plateau at 34 years and 104 days. Information notes that Bryant topped Chamberlain (35 years and 179 days), Malone (36 years and 189 days), Abdul-Jabbar (36 years and 217 days) and Jordan (38 years and 321 days).
Bryant ranks fifth all time in scoring and should move past Chamberlain and Jordan into third place before the end of the 2013-14 season, assuming he maintains good health and a scoring average comparable to his league-leading 28 points per game this season.