As part of their efforts to restore the franchise to its previous heights, Los Angeles Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka arranged for high-profile visits, dubbed “Genius Talks,” throughout the season.
Film studio executive Jeffrey Katzenberg, rapper Kendrick Lamar, SpaceX founder Elon Musk and Olympian Allyson Felix were among those to address the Lakers at their UCLA Health Training Center. So too was actor Dwayne Johnson, also known by many as ‘The Rock’ from his wrestling days.
While Johnson is now a Hollywood titan, his life was hardly always glamorous. It was that message Johnson aimed to deliver to a young Lakers roster that’s working to establish themselves and continue improving.
Along with that, and perhaps more importantly, Johnson wanted to explain what it’s required for him to remain atop the mountain since scaling it. The sentiment is one Kobe Bryant and other champions have often pointed to as being the most difficult after enjoying the highest level of success.
“He was great,” Lakers head coach Luke Walton said the day of Johnson’s visit. “He really was. It was the first time I met him. Great messaging as far as what he’s done in his career. Learning from his disappointments, learning from his life experience and how he approaches different situations.
“I think it was really good for our guys to be able to hear that message, be able to ask him questions and relate to what he’s been through, and hopefully use that not only in their career but their life moving forward.”
Coincidentally, the night of Johnson speaking with the Lakers, Kyle Kuzma sprained his ankle but remained in the game. Walton wondered if he perhaps was influenced by Johnson’s wrestling background.
“Kuzma is a big wrestling fan, so maybe he used his inner DJ to play through that pain,” Walton joked.
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