Kobe Bryant ‘was the greatest Laker ever’ team owner Jeanie Buss writes in cryptic tweet as fans plead with her to trade for polarizing star Kyrie Irving and reunite him with LeBron James
The late Kobe Bryant ‘was the greatest Laker ever,’ according to a cryptic tweet from the team’s controlling owner, Jeanie Buss.
That high praise from the 60-year-old scioness comes as fans are pushing the Lakers to trade for Brooklyn Nets point guard Kyrie Irving and reunite him with his former Cleveland Cavaliers teammate, LeBron James, following Los Angeles‘ dreadful 33-49 season.
‘I miss KB,’ Buss tweeted. ‘He would understand and explain everything that I’m not allowed to. Honestly he was the greatest Laker ever. He understood team over self. Meaning your rewards would come if you valued team goals over your own then everything would fall into place.’
Kobe Bryant ‘was the greatest Laker ever,’ according to a cryptic tweet from the team owner, Jeanie Buss, who is rumored to be interested in reuniting Kyrie Irving with LeBron James in LA
Lakers controlling owner Jeanie Buss was particularly close to Kobe Bryant and his family. Her tweet was obviously meant to reflect how much she missed Bryant, who died in a helicopter crash in 2020, but may have also been a reference to LA’s rumored interest in Kyrie Irving
Buss was particularly close to Kobe Bryant and his family prior to his death in a 2020 helicopter accident, so the tweet was obviously meant as an homage to the five-time NBA champion with not one, but two, different numbers retired by the team.
However, it’s not clear if Buss was addressing fans’ hopes that the Lakers can acquire Irving, the 30-year-old All-Star point guard who has faced criticism amid an ongoing, and ostensibly acrimonious, departure from Brooklyn.
Regardless of her intentions, fans took the post to be a reference to Irving, who is reportedly ‘focused on getting to the Lakers,’ according to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst.
‘We all miss Kobe,’ responded one fan, who posted a mockup of Irving in a Lakers jersey alongside James. ‘But get Kyrie Jeanie.’
‘Make him proud and deliver Kyrie to this franchise,’ tweeted another fan, alongside a faded image of Bryant picture among the clouds. ‘He was meant to don purple and gold.’
Fans took Buss’s post to be a reference to Kyrie Irving, who is reportedly ‘focused on getting to the Lakers,’ according to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst. ‘We all miss Kobe,’ responded one fan, who posted a mockup of Irving (left) in a Lakers jersey alongside James (right). ‘But get Kyrie Jeanie’
One Laker fan posted the image of a faded Bryant look on from the clouds to push the team to acquire Brooklyn Nets point guard Kyrie Irving
Irving’s reported interest in the Lakers is a bit curious, given the fact that he opted into the final season and $37 million of his contract with the Nets last week, forgoing the chance to become a free agent.
But that decision does make financial sense for Irving.
Given the Lakers’ roughly $170 million payroll, LA is hopelessly over the league’s ‘soft’ salary cap ($123.7 million) and luxury tax apron ($150.3 million), so they’d only be able to offer Irving the tax-payer’s mid-level exception of $6.3 million for the 2022-23 season.
By opting into the final year of his contract, Irving preserved his eight-figure salary, but now he needs Brooklyn’s front office to help accommodate his hope for a trade.
And that’s where things get tricky.
Irving’s relationship with the Nets has reportedly become strained following a season in which he played only 29 games, in part, due to his refusal to comply with New York City’s vaccine mandate. Brooklyn was swept in the first round of the Eastern Conference Playoffs by the Boston Celtics, Irving’s former team.
On Saturday, Yahoo! Sports reported that the Nets and Lakers are actively engaged in a trade that would send Irving to LA and bring former All-Star point guard Russell Westbrook back to Brooklyn.
However, there are considerable obstacles, not least of which is Westbrook’s notable decline in recent seasons.
The 33-year-old former UCLA star averaged just 18.5 points a game last season (his lowest mark since his second season in 2009-10) while shooting an abysmal 29.8 percent from 3-point range and just 66.7 percent at the line.
The Lakers are also facing a dwindling number of trade assets to sweeten any reported deal, having traded several future first-round picks to the New Orleans Pelicans to acquire Anthony Davis in 2020.
For his part, LeBron James is reportedly interested in reuniting with Irving, according to veteran NBA reporter Marc Stein.
‘It stems from repeated rumbles in circulation that LeBron James is rooting hard for Irving’s addition to the roster,’ Stein wrote on Substack.
‘James, I’m told, wants to see Irving in Lakerland more than anyone.’
The two famously won a title together in Cleveland, coming back from a 3-1 Finals deficit against the Golden State Warriors in 2016 to capture the club’s first championship, but the relationship fizzled soon after.
Irving ultimately asked for a trade in 2017, and the team complied, sending him to the Boston Celtics. As ESPN reported at the time, the New Jersey native no longer wanted to play alongside James, citing a desire to be a team’s focal point. The two have remained hospitable when facing off on the court and are typically seen greeting each other with a hug.
An unceremonious departure from Brooklyn would be the third of Irving’s career, following Cleveland and, ultimately, Boston.
After two strong seasons with the Celtics, Irving walked back a pledge to re-sign with the team to ink a deal with the rival Nets, along with Kevin Durant, in July of 2019.
Now Durant, too, is reportedly seeking a trade out of Brooklyn, according to multiple reports.
Irving has become a controversial figure around NBA arenas following his refusal to get vaccinated against COVID-19. The seven-time All-Star played only 29 of 82 games this season due to a local New York City mandate, for which he was ultimately given an exemption, and the team’s decision to hold him out of practice and road games, which the club reversed in late December.
Following the first-round playoff exit, Nets assistant coach and former NBA All-Star Amar’e Stoudemire admitted that Irving’s frequent absences had a significant impact on Brooklyn this year.
‘Yeah, I think it hurt us’ Stoudemire, who has since left the Nets, told ESPN in May. ‘It definitely hurt us because we didn’t have consistency enough with Kyrie to build chemistry with the group, with the team.
‘He’s playing only away games depending which city it is … can’t play in New York … therefore we had different lineups, different matchups depending on the game schedule. So it made it difficult for us coaches to figure out who’s going to play in spite of Kyrie. So it was difficult for us to manage that so yeah, it was part of that.’
Despite the turmoil, Irving once again made it seem like he’d be staying put after the season.
‘I don’t really plan on going anywhere,’ he said following the Nets’ elimination.
Once again, with Irving, that appears not to be the case.