Some things just don’t go together, like oil and water, peas and guacamole, and the Lakers and the Celtics. Yet, despite the decades-long feud between the NBA’s two title-hogging behemoths, Lakers legend Kobe Bryant is currently spending his retirement by helping Celtics star Isaiah Thomas navigate the tricky waters of the NBA playoffs.
Bryant has been talking regularly to Thomas, helping him break down film and prepare for each game, and based on Thomas’ 53-point explosion in Tuesday night’s win over the Washington Wizards, it appears that it’s paying off.
As Thomas told Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe, Bryant’s basketball mind is proving to be a valuable weapon to have in his corner:
“Mentally, he’s on a different level than anybody I’ve ever met,” Thomas said on Wednesday. “We were on the phone for 30 minutes. I e-mailed him my film and he watched every second of it. He was telling me what times to go and what to look at, just certain plays and things I didn’t look at when I watched film. Like I said, mentally you could tell he’s one of the greatest ever.”
It may ruffle some feathers to see the man who has become synonymous with Lakers basketball helping their bitter rivals, but Thomas did grow up a Lakers fan and has always spoken extremely highly of Bryant. In fact, Thomas was long rumored to want to play for the Lakers when he was a free agent in 2014, but it just wasn’t in the cards.
Since then, Thomas has overcome his height disadvantage to become one of the deadliest guards in the NBA, and currently, has the Celtics up 2-0 over the Wizards in the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals. Thomas is also overcoming the tragic loss of his sister just weeks ago, and his recent scoring outburst came on what would have been her birthday.
Given the circumstances, it’s hard not to root for Thomas, even if he is wearing Celtic green, and it’s great to see Bryant pitching in with the wealth of knowledge that he has at his disposal. After all, some things are even more important than a sports rivalry.