This weekend will be a special one for Los Angeles Lakers and NBA fans with the late great Kobe Bryant being inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. The 2020 class was a historic one as not only did it include Bryant, but also Kevin Garnett and Tim Duncan, among others.
Perhaps no player had a bigger impact on the current generation than Bryant though after playing 20 seasons with the Lakers and winning five championships.
Current Lakers star Anthony Davis, who had a close relationship with Bryant dating back to their USA Basketball days, spoke to Bryant’s impact and legacy ahead of him being inducted into the Hall of Fame.
“I think his impact was very powerful. I think before the tragedy he became even more impactful on our youth and our generation,” Davis said. “You can see it with everyone wearing his shoes. Even before, the way he approached the game. The way he went about his life and work ethic. I think it was just very impactful for me just knowing him … all the way back to the USA team. Just seeing everything he did on and off the floor inspired me to follow that same path, have that same work ethic.
“Then just being here in a Laker uniform even more inspiring for me just to try to continue the legacy he built here. I think that goes for guys all around the league. Just being able to realize the importance of his body of work on our game. For our generation, he’s the guy that everyone looked up to and wanted to be like.”
Everyone has a different favorite story when it comes to Bryant, and Davis told his.
“I think I told this story a while ago. I was playing in New Orleans and he was obviously with the Lakers and they were playing in New Orleans. I was sitting on the bench and Quincy Pondexter was guarding him. The play before Kobe had dunked and dislocated his right shoulder.
“I think there was a timeout and the very next play he comes down and catches the ball in the post. No one knew it was dislocated, though. He was just holding his shoulder like this, so I figured something was bothering him and he came down the next play and hit a turnaround jumper left-handed from the post. That always sticks in my head for a guy to dislocate his shoulder and continue to play and come down and say, ‘F— it! I’m going to shoot left-handed. I can do it. I can get a bucket with either hand.’ Insane to me. The first time I’ve seen that. I’ve seen guys shoot left-handed and things like that, but to do it in a game where it counts and it matters is unreal. So that’s one of my favorite Kobe moments for sure.”
While Bryant’s tragic passing still hurts millions of people across the world, it will be cool to get to celebrate him for a day as he gets enshrined into the Hall of Fame. Michael Jordan will be the one tasked with presenting him, while Vanessa Bryant is also set to speak at the ceremony.
Davis discusses how Mamba Mentality has played a role in recovery
The 2020-21 season has been an injury-plagued one for Davis, who missed a significant amount of time due to a calf/Achilles injury and most recently missed a game due to a groin issue.
He discussed how he is feeling though and how Bryant’s “Mamba Mentality” has played a role in his recovery.
“I feel fine. I feel great. Went through some things during practice. Not everything. … Felt great today,” Davis said. “But I carry that mentality all the way throughout my life to now. He tried to instill that in me before his passing and it’s kind of like when something happens it’s like okay I see now. You get it. I get it.
“From being on the floor and off the floor. It’s the way of thinking and your approach to everything you do in this world and I think the entire world has adapted that a lot more since his passing. It’s a great mindset to have, to be honest.”
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