The rivalry between the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics is the oldest in the NBA, stretching all the way back to the days of Bill Russell and Jerry West. Magic Johnson and Larry Bird brought it to the mainstream and the latest Finals face-off with Kobe Bryant and Paul Pierce leading the way was just as fierce as any other.
Kobe, of course, is now retired but has always said that he would pass on his knowledge to any player and recently one of those was revealed to be Celtics star point guard Isaiah Thomas. Kobe has been helping with some film study and says that he was happy to help Thomas according to ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan:
“I was happy to help him. He had the courage to ask. I did the same thing with Michael Jordan when I was a young player.”
As for his thoughts on helping a Celtic out? Kobe completely dismissed the idea that he wouldn’t help someone just because he plays in Boston:
“Well that’s complete nonsense,” he says. “I love watching IT play. Is he a superstar? I don’t even know that means. All I know is he goes out and competes every single night. He’s been playing at a level rarely seen.
Even before he retired from the NBA Kobe always spoke about giving advice and helping out younger players who came to him and asked because that is what he did to the legends when he first entered the league. The NBA is a brotherhood and Kobe feels obligated to help those in the same way that he was helped.
It may seem weird to some that a former Laker would help out a current Celtic, but for Kobe, and Thomas for that matter, some things are deeper than a sports rivalry.