Wizards’ Kyle Kuzma Speaks To Challenges Of Being Role Player For Lakers
LeBron James Kyle Kuzma Lakers
Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

When the Los Angeles Lakers won the NBA Championship in 2020, the role players stepped up in a big way to help superstars LeBron James and Anthony Davis. The likes of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Rajon Rondo, Dwight Howard and Alex Caruso all played huge roles, but one of the most crucial was Kyle Kuzma.

The versatile forward saw his role change regularly throughout his tenure with the Lakers but ultimately became a vital piece, proving he could not only score but crash the boards and work extremely hard on defense. He was eventually traded to the Washington Wizards in the Russell Westbrook deal where he is now thriving in a more consistent role.

But Kuzma does still catch some Lakers games from time to time and in an appearance on ESPN’s NBA Today, he admitted that things are much different from the time he was in purple and gold:

“I watch basketball a lot. Especially last year, because it was my first year getting traded, I probably watched every Laker game. I haven’t really watched too much this year, I might’ve seen a couple, but yea, things are definitely drastically different for sure. Definitely.”

Kuzma was then asked to elaborate on how things are different with the Lakers now and he noted all of the drama that comes with suiting up for the franchise and what it takes to be a role player there:

“They just got a lot going on. Obviously when you’re playing in a big market, you’re playing L.A., you’re always gonna have a lot of drama. And then you’re playing with one of the all-time greats in LeBron, it’s gonna add even more drama. You have to fight through it. You have to be strong-minded. When you’re a role player yo u have to be ready for that moment and sometimes its tough. There’s a lot of outside noise, there’s a lot of white noise. And playing in those type of markets, it definitely touches your mental toughness and challenges it too.”

The Lakers are one of those franchises that always has the entire world watching and adding James to that ups the pressure even more. Fans expect greatness, not only from their stars, but the role players as well. If a player is known as a shooter, they better knock down those shots and if someone was brought in for defense, they better be lockdown.

But when a player fights through it as Kuzma said, and thrives, those players get embraced like no other. The likes of Derek Fisher, Michael Cooper, Robert Horry and even Alex Caruso recently will forever be beloved by Lakers fans and there is nothing that compares to that feeling.

Anthony Davis hopes Lakers continue momentum after four-day break

While the Lakers are struggling to start, they are coming off an impressive victory over the Brooklyn Nets and with a few days off until they take the court again, Anthony Davis is hopeful the team can carry that momentum moving forward.

“Make it let us feel good going into this off week before Friday’s game and some good practices and days off, let guys get healthy,” Davis said after Sunday’s win. “We got some guys banged up and have four days to get healthy.”

“Hopefully, Bron and some other guys get to come back. And, you know, we go on the road from here. So I think it’s good that we got this win. Give a chance for guys to kind of get away from the game for a couple of days and you know, reset and come back with a mentality that we got to run some off in a row.”

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