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Lakers boss Jeanie Buss: Any free agent who won’t play with Kobe is ‘probably a loser’

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When Los Angeles Lakers president Jeanie Buss made her first comments in reaction to the scathing “ESPN The Magazine” piece by Henry Abbott regarding her team’s veteran superstar, she didn’t merely defend Kobe Bryant, she went on an aggressive offensive.

Unlike others who chose to directly criticize Abbott and the magazine over the content of the piece, Buss instead made a bold proclamation that denigrated the anonymous sources quoted in the article who claimed free agents don’t want to play with Kobe.

Buss, during an appearance on “SportsCenter” on Thursday, had the following to say about those supposed free agents, per ESPN.com: “Any free agent that would be afraid to play with Kobe Bryant is probably a loser, and I’m glad they wouldn’t come to the team.”

Buss admitted that she read the story but said she “agree with any of it.” She then promised to seek out any member of the Lakers organization who may have been anonymously quoted in the piece and drop the hammer on them.

“If there is somebody that’s on our payroll who is saying things like that, I’ll soon get to the bottom of it, and they won’t be working for us anymore.”

Buss clearly has complete faith in Bryant being able to lead the Lakers out of the abyss, but in a way she has few alternatives at this point. The team committed $48.5 million to the 36-year-old in a two-year deal signed last season.

Kobe, meanwhile, took a far less aggressive approach when reacting to the ESPN The Mag piece earlier this week.

“One thing I’ve come to understand over the years is that you’ll have a bad story that comes out on a Monday and it seems like it’s the end of the world and it seems like everybody’s taking shots at you,” he said. “But time goes by and then you look back on it and it was just a Monday. Then you have another great story that comes out maybe a month later, or something like that, and it’s a fantastic story. And then there’s a bad story that comes out one month after that. So you understand that it’s a cycle, and things are never as good or as bad as they seem in the moment in time…I just kind of roll with it.”

When Kobe has people like Buss willing to step up for him, not to mention how her fiancée, Knicks president Phil Jackson, took to Twitter to back Flea’s vitriolic critique of Abbott’s piece, what’s the point of getting all up in arms about it? Let others do the dirty work.

But Buss going so full frontal to defend her Lakers superstar could backfire if potential free agents take her comments as an indication that the organization is willing to do just about anything to back Bryant, even if that involves the risk of cutting off their nose to spite their face.

But ultimately, Buss has Kobe’s back and complete faith in him, saying, “I have no doubt that Kobe will make people regret ever saying” the anonymous quotes in the article. Whether or not Bryant can make good on Buss’ threat will be the topic of much discussion this coming season.

(photo credit: David Livingston/Getty Images North America/Zimbio)