Kobe Bryant, who turns 36 this summer, signed a two-year, $48.5 million extension last November. (Evan Gole/Getty Images)
Kobe Bryant responded this week to comments made in December by U.S. soccer coach Jurgen Klinsmann about how athletes in America are often paid on past accomplishments, and used Bryant as an example.
In November, Bryant, who turns 36 this summer, signed a two-year, $48.5 million extension with the Lakers to keep him the highest paid player in the NBA. Despite a Hall of Fame career for the five-time NBA champion, he played in just six games last season. He was ruled out for the season in March following a fracture of the lateral tibial plateau in his left knee.
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Klinsmann said in the New York Times Magazine interview it "always happens in America" that a player, like Bryant, is rewarded for what already happened, and it "makes no sense."
"This always happens in America.Kobe Bryant, for example -- why does he get a two-year contract extension for $50 million? Because of what he is going to do in the next two years for the Lakers? Of course not. Of course not. He gets it because of what he has done before. It makes no sense. Why do you pay for what has already happened?"
In the segment that aired on ESPN on Thursday, Bryant, who is currently in Brazil to watch the World Cup, called Klinsmann's comments "comical" and said while he can appreciate the comments from a coach's perspective, Klinsmann needs to recognize he's not approaching a negotiation process from the point of view of a general manager or owner of a franchise.
"Jurgen is a coach, a manager. He's not a GM or owner of the franchise. When you look at it from that perspective, it changes a little bit. But you probably could have used another player as an example."