Before being traded by the Los Angeles Lakers to the Brooklyn Nets in the summer of 2017 for Brook Lopez and a draft pick that turned out to be Kyle Kuzma, D’Angelo Russell had the opportunity to start his NBA career playing alongside Kobe Bryant.
Although there was nothing spectacular about the 2015-16 NBA season for Los Angeles, with the Lakers finishing with a record of 17-65, the young team got to witness the end of Bryant’s playing career, which ended with a 60-point performance against the Utah Jazz.
Bryant left an impact on all the young players he played with that year, from Russell to Julius Randle, Jordan Clarkson, and Larry Nance Jr. Each of these players has shared numerous stories about playing with Bryant and what they learned.
On Thursday, ahead of the matchup with the defending NBA champion Denver Nuggets at Crypto.com Arena, the Lakers will unveil Bryant’s bronze statue to the public, which sparked questions to Russell about his former teammate and how deserving he is of this statue, via Dave McMenamin of ESPN.
“For the Lakers organization, for his legacy that he left behind, I think it’s a huge deal. Well-deserved. I don’t even think that’s enough, I think he should have a Kobe Day, Kobe all of that. I think he deserves more.”
Russell would also discuss what he learned from Bryant during their time together:
“Honestly, I’d say the biggest thing I learned was just how he moved. Not what he said. Not anything directly towards me. Just being able to sit back in the shadows and watch how he went about his business. As a young player, I didn’t know how big of a deal that was, but when I look back on it, those are kind of vivid memories for me. His response or the way he talked or the way he walked. Things like that.”
Russell, who is the only member of that squad left in Los Angeles who played with Bryant during his last season, clearly has felt the impact of playing with such an icon. He is now trying to carve his own path while back with the Lakers in hopes of extending his long-term future with the team and helping this franchise get back to form as a perennial title contender in the Western Conference.
As we get closer to Bryant’s statue unveiling later this week, more and more stories are bound to surface about the Hall of Famer and what he meant for the players and coaches he played with and played under. Bryant has been gone for over four years now, but his memory remains as strong as ever, as the franchise he helped lead to five NBA titles will pay tribute to him once again with a well-deserved statue outside of Crypto.com Arena.
Lakers’ D’Angelo Russell explains difference of playing with Kobe Bryant & LeBron James
Russell is one of the few that has had the privilege of playing with both Bryant and LeBron James in his career, and he recently discussed the difference in the two Lakers legends.
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