Don’t ask United States soccer national team coach Jurgen Klinsman about Kobe Bryant’s contract because he blasted the Los Angeles Lakers star and the way American sports teams treat their superstars.
"This always happens in America," Klinsmann said via New York Times. "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?"
The 49-year-old German is not very popular these days in the United States after leaving out star midfielder Landon Donovan, considered the face of American soccer for years, off the national squad that will see action in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil later this June.
The decision by the former German national team member is at least consistent with his criticism of Bryant’s contract and the apparent American culture of rewarding players for their past accomplishments rather than actual contributions in the future.
“He came back, and he was playing in M.L.S., and people say, ‘Oh, he’s playing well,’ but what does that really mean? This is where M.L.S. hurts him. He was playing at 70 percent, 80 percent, and he was still dominant. That doesn’t help anyone,” stated Klinsmann in the same article reinforcing the sentiment of choosing players the right way—potential over the player’s brand or star status.
As if criticizing Bryant and leaving out Donovan off the NT is not enough, Klinsmann has also a not-so-positive warning to the Americans:
"We cannot win this World Cup, because we are not at that level yet. For us, we have to play the game of our lives seven times to win the tournament. Realistically, it is not possible."
Klinsmann played for the German soccer national team from 1990 to 1998 appearing in 80 games with 38 goals.