WASHINGTON – For 24 hours, Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant listened to the residue of culture created out of the genius of commissioner David Stern and his owners. Between the incompetence of Players Association executive director Billy Hunter and an indifferent and uninformed union membership, the NBA skillfully rigged a collective bargaining agreement to devalue and defang the superstars responsible for driving the game to unprecedented popularity and profitability.
The disdain delivered to Kobe Bryant for signing a two-year, $48.5 million contract extension had left him surprised, but ultimately understanding of how the conversation has conspired to turn this way. Bryant hadn't come to apologize for his deal on Tuesday night, but hold it up and tell the rest of his peers: Bleep this system.
"Most of us have aspirations for being businessmen when our playing careers are over," Bryant told Yahoo Sports in a corridor of the Verizon Center. "But that starts now. You have to be able to wear both hats. You can't sit up there and say, 'Well, I'm going to take substantially less because there's public pressure, because all of a sudden, if you don't take less, you don't give a crap about winning. That's total bull----.
"I'm very fortunate to be with an organization that understands how to take care of its players, and put a great team out on the floor. They've figured out how to do both.
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