Bryant: Thoughts lack perspective

Kobe Bryant is rooting for the United States at the World Cup in Brazil, but that doesn't mean the Los Angeles Lakers star is on board with everything the team's coach, Jurgen Klinsmann, has said.

In an interview with ESPN, Bryant took exception to comments Klinsmann made in which he criticized what he sees as an American custom of sports teams catering to their star players.

"I thought it was pretty funny," Bryant said in Brazil, where he's taking in three World Cup matches. "I thought it was pretty comical, actually. I see his perspective. But the one perspective that he's missing from an ownership point of view is that you want to be part of an ownership group that is rewarding its players for what they've done, while balancing the team going forward. If you're another player in the future and you're looking at the Lakers organization, you want to be a part of an organization that takes care of its players while at the same time, planning for the future."

In an interview with The New York Times Magazine in December, Klinsmann questioned why a team like the Lakers would give the 35-year-old Bryant a two-year, $48.5 million extension when his best days on the basketball court are behind him.

"This always happens in America," Klinsmann, a native of Germany, said in the interview. "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?"

Bryant thinks the U.S. coach needs to take a look at the bigger picture when evaluating how teams in the U.S. operate.

"Jurgen is a coach, a manager," he said. "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."

Klinsmann also made waves in the same interview with the Times Magazine when he said the U.S. "cannot win this World Cup." He has since backtracked on those remarks, saying, "I booked my flight after the final."

Bryant was asked what his reaction would be if a coach said that about a team he was on.

"I don't think they'd ever say that to me; my reputation precedes me," Bryant said, laughing. "But as a team, I think you rally around it."

The U.S. is 1-0-0 in Brazil, toppling Ghana 2-1 in its Group G opener Monday night. Bryant said he will take in three Cup games in Brazil, but won't get a chance to attend a U.S. match.