One of the first names linked to the Los Angeles Lakers in free agency was veteran wing Wesley Matthews and he would ultimately sign a one-year deal with the team. Matthews is one of the best 3-and-D wings in the league and has carved out an excellent career after going undrafted out of Marquette.
Perhaps even more impressive is Matthews’ recovery after tearing his Achilles in 2015. It is well known that it is one of the toughest injuries to recover from, but Matthews has done as good a job as anyone. And he was helped through the recovery by late Lakers legend Kobe Bryant.
“It’s tough, I’m not going to lie. The Achilles injury is a debilitating one,” Matthews admitted. “It’s crazy, one of the people that helped me through mine — rest in peace — was Kobe. I tore it when I was in Portland, I was playing against Dallas.
“He didn’t have my number, we didn’t reach out any time before that, but I’m pulling into my driveway and I remember getting a call. I had no idea what this number is, and it’s Kobe. “He was just sharing his wisdom about it and it helped motivate me because he was honest and he said it’s hard. He said it is going to be hard.
“At the time that’s not what you want to hear but it’s what I needed to hear. I didn’t want anything sugarcoated. I wanted to know what I was going to have to go through. That helped, and he was always an outlet for me.”
And because of everything Kobe did for him during that tough time, Matthews wants to do the same for players going through an Achilles injury. “I like to think I can be that for other people. Rodney Hood reached out to me last season. I gave him some advice. I talked to Boogie when he did his, talked to KD briefly when he did his,” Matthews said.
“This thing is a fraternity. It’s a brotherhood, it really is. You never want to see anybody go down. If you’ve been through something, then you want to share it. You always want to pass it on. That’s one thing that Kobe did for me, and I wish I could thank him again. If I can be that for other people I’ll gladly do that.”
Warriors guard Klay Thompson is the latest to suffer the injury and Matthews will surely be available to help him through that. Like Matthews said, and Bryant demonstrated, the NBA is a fraternity.
Matthews focused on championship
More than anything Matthews is looking to win his first NBA championship by joining the Lakers, and he gave a very clear message as to what fans can expect from him this season.
“My message to Lakers fans is you’re going to get somebody who shows up every single night, ready to compete, ready to make life hell for whoever it is that I’m going up against,” he said.
“And someone that’s not going to quit, someone that’s not going to back down and someone that’s going to do everything in their power to make sure that an 18th banner gets raised.”
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