Jordan Clarkson had an outstanding rookie season for the Los Angeles Lakers last season, going from the 46th overall pick to All-Rookie First Team selection. One thing he credits for his growth was being able to learn from Lakers legend, Kobe Bryant up close and personal.
Clarkson penned a piece for The Player’s Tribune and reflected on learning from Kobe, recalling his time having to defend Bryant early on in training camp:
It wasn’t even preseason yet, but Kobe was going full speed. Somehow he made it look as if he was just gliding around. I don’t think he had played all summer due to his injury, but he still killed everyone. The first possession, he caught the rock along the baseline and hit a turn-around jumper in my face … a shot I’ve seen him hit literally a thousand times on TV. “Hey, don’t hurt yourself, young fella,” Kobe uttered to me.
While Kobe is known for bearing down on his teammates, Clarkson says that Kobe lifted them up as well, though that didn’t get as much attention:
There aren’t too many guys who get an opportunity to sit down, talk to Kobe and actually pick his brain, but I was afforded this privilege. It was an incredible learning experience for me, to say the least. For all the stories you hear about Kobe talking trash and demanding a lot from his teammates, on many occasions he’s picked us up, too. He leads by example; however, you don’t hear about that much in the media.
There are many players who get the opportunity to learn from legendary players, but not all of them take advantage of that opportunity. Clarkson did and it is a big reason why he is now looked at as one part of the Lakers’ promising young core.
Heading into his second season, Clarkson has the chance to prove that last year wasn’t a fluke. He believes the team will surprise people and if they do, he will be a big reason why.[divide]