Kobe Bryant always referred to the Los Angeles Lakers’ 2010 NBA championship against the Boston Celtics as one of his proudest achievements.
Pau Gasol, Metta World Peace, Andrew Bynum, Lamar Odom and others were part of a fun and dominant team that helped the Lakers defeat their bitter rivals and get Bryant a fifth career title.
Beyond just the classic Lakers-Celtics rivalry, Bryant also sought revenge after Boston dismantled L.A. in Game 6 of the 2008 NBA Finals. That helped the Celtics secure their 17th championship as a franchise, a number that still holds today.
After that Game 6 blowout, World Peace, who was not yet a member of the Lakers, found his way to the locker room with a specific purpose in mind.
While the rumor circulating was that him being in the locker room was his way of saying he wanted to be on the team, World Peace really wanted to speak to a couple players, specifically Odom and Bryant.
“What happened was I had never been to an NBA championship, so I said I’m going to go so when I do get to the Finals, I just want to know how everything is going to be,” World Peace said in an exclusive interview with LakersNation.com.
“I just wanted to experience it. So I go see the Finals and I see Boston just blow out L.A. And then I want to go see Lamar because I’ve played with Lamar since I was like 13 years old. So I go in the locker room, I see Lamar, I see P.J., my favorite coach ever.
“So then I saw Brian Shaw and I wanted to say good job to Kobe because I’m a big fan of Kobe. So B. Shaw was like, ‘He’s back there if you want to see him.’ So I wanted to leave, there were a lot of people and I was trying to go home.
“So I just went in the shower and just tapped Kobe and said, ‘Great game. You’ll get them next time. You did very well.’ I just wanted to congratulate him because I’m a fan and he worked so hard. And that was it. I never said I want to play with you or we’re going to get the Celtics. I didn’t say that. I’m way too competitive for that.”
Knowing Bryant’s competitive nature, he likely kept his conversation with World Peace after that loss short and sweet. However, the rapport between World Peace and the Lakers players is likely what allowed for such a seamless transition when he joined the team for the 2009-10 season.
World Peace will also forever have the honor of hitting one of the biggest shots in the history of the Lakers franchise.
LeBron James in awe of Bryant
While World Peace and his generation of NBA players saw Bryant as a teammate and competitor, LeBron James and his generation viewed him as an icon and a mentor. James recounted this when describing playing against him for the first time.
“I was just in awe. It’s a guy who, along with a lot of other guys, was on my wall. That I would tape on my wall when I lived in Spring Hill in apartment 602. He was on my wall. He had a nice collage on my wall,” James said.
“It’s a guy who decided to make the jump from high school to the NBA. I was thinking about doing that at one point in my junior year, then really stopped thinking about it. But I kind of thought, ‘If Kobe’s done it, it’s someone I can hopefully learn from one day.
“To be able to share the floor with him, for any kid who has aspirations or aspiring moments, it’s like a sense of awe of the grace that he played the game with and the passion and the determination to just go out and dominate you was something that I loved.”
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