One thing Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant understood about basketball is that it’s bigger than the game. He knew more than anyone before him that the people you inspire means more than the number of wins you get.
Once he figured this out, it became part of his mission. After retirement, he hosted Kobe Camp, an invite-only sports academy where he worked with NBA and WNBA players on their skills. He also launched the Mamba and Mambacita Sports Foundation in 2018, a nonprofit organization that helps underserved boys and girls through sports programs and funding.
For everything Bryant did publicly, there are also countless stories from players, sports journalists and fans of their experiences with the Black Mamba. During JJ Reddicks latest podcast, “The Old Man & The Three,” Dallas Mavericks’ superstar Luka Doncic shared his own story of advice Bryant gave him:
“Just after I was drafted, I think, it was the Nike campus,” said Doncic. “He was there, and the one advice he gave me was, ‘Watch out, they’re going to come after you because you’re from Europe. They’re gonna try and go after you.’ And it was true.”
Bryant was no stranger to the media rollercoaster that comes with being an international superstar. Especially in his first couple of years with the Lakers, Bryant struggled to gain the acceptance of his teammates and dealt with enormous pressure from Los Angeles fans.
Doncic and Bryant share similar backgrounds in growing up in Italy. While Bryant returned to the United States at age 13 and had much more time to get acclimated, Doncic was essentially a fish out of European waters. He barely spoke English when he was drafted by the Mavericks and found it difficult to connect with anyone.
Doncic’s next encounter with Bryant took him back to his roots once again, this time in front of thousands. With Bryant and his daughter, Gianna sitting courtside at a Lakers-Mavericks game, Doncic heard his home language being spoken, or rather, being trash-talked. He spun around to see Bryant laughing. It was one of the most memorable public moments we got of him just weeks before his tragic death.
LeBron James says this Lakers season is all about being patient
While Lakers fans collectively wait for news on an Anthony Davis return, the best we can do is hope for James to keep us afloat long enough to compete. He’s been doing his part offensively to keep the team close in matches, which he says is part of his no-lose mentality.
“I think it’s just testing my patience a little bit more than any season in the last few years just because of the way we’re playing, the losses coming in a bunch,” James said. “It’s testing your patience and how you can continue to keep the focus out on the floor, figure out ways how you can be better for your teammates and not fall into the notion of a loser mentality.”
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