Veteran forward Caron Butler only played 77 games for the Los Angeles Lakers during the 2004-05 NBA season and in that short time made a lifelong bond with Kobe Bryant.
Although a fan favorite and close friend of Bryant’s, the Lakers brass traded Butler to the Washington Wizards in August of 2005.
Despite his short stint alongside Bryant in Los Angeles, Butler says his time learning from one of the greatest players to ever play the game led a long NBA career.
The journeyman credits Kobe for giving him the knowledge to be successful in this league, via Eric Pincus of the Los Angeles Times:
Being up under the wing of Kobe Bryant and the relationship that we built over that time, I learned a lot about the game of basketball,” Butler said. “I took the things that I learned from him, and that’s why I had the success that I had in my career.”
During Bryant’s time in Los Angeles, the highly competitive superstar rubbed quite a few teammates the wrong way. Many players that have come and gone through the Lakers organization have found it tough to live up to Kobe’s expectations and therefore, left the team on a bad note.
Butler has been one of the exceptions with the veteran soaking up as much knowledge as possible in only one year and turning that knowledge into a career that has lasted 14 seasons thus far. Although Butler has played for nine different teams over that span, the veteran is still considered a valuable asset due to his experience and leadership in the locker room.
Even though Bryant only played alongside him for a single season, Kobe considers Butler to be one of the best teammates he’s ever had. The two veteran still keep in close contact with a mutual respect and friendship that will last beyond their playing days.