Lakers Video: Kobe Bryant Shared Special Relationship With Bill Russell
Kobe Bryant Says Bill Russell Mentored Him About Managing Teammates

The NBA and its legendary players have continued to inspire others to be like them on the court while also motivating individuals to be the best version of themselves off the court with Kobe Bryant and Bill Russell being two great examples of that.

On Sunday, the NBA mourned the loss of Russell, who passed away at 88 years of age. Known for holding the most rings in NBA history and his participation in Civil Rights activism, Russell expanded his influence after his playing career by being a mentor for the leagues rising stars.

Bryant, the Los Angeles Lakers’ all-time leading scorer, was a stand-out mentee of Russell.

Despite the age gap between the two, Bryant made an effort to have a relationship with Russell that could help him gain wisdom on and off the court from the 11-time NBA champion. The father-son like chemistry the two basketball greats shared was unlike any other friendship the league has seen and has been brought to the attention of fans on social media in the wake of Russell’s death:

After winning three consecutive NBA finals with another Hall of Fame center in Shaquille O’Neal, Bryant discovered the importance of separating life on and off the court by creating his alter ego – the Black Mamba. While putting up career-high statistical performances during the 2004-2007 three-year stretch, Bryant still had not unlocked a winning component that he later discovered in his last two championships with Pau Gasol.

Bryant recognized that in order to win at the highest level, he had to be willing to trust his teammates and be unselfish. Russell, who is regarded as the greatest winner in sports history, taught Bryant how to lead and be an excellent teammate in order to bring more championships to the Purple and Gold:

While neither Bryant nor Russell remain with us now, the legacies they have stamped on the world on and off the court will last an eternity. A relationship that went beyond just basketball had an impact on their families after the tragic passing of Bryant, who passed away at 41 years old:

Many can appreciate the Lakers-Celtics rivalry, which led to some of the most heated battled in all sports. However, the admiration and brotherly love Russell had for Bryant had no match for a basketball rivalry.

After the earth-shattering loss of Bryant, Russell remained one of his biggest fans and took any opportunity he could to honor his friend and someone who he viewed as his own son:

Bryant and Russell’s relationship stood as a testimony that no matter how great you are, you can always learn from those who came before you and even gain a new friend along the way.

As the NBA continues to remember Russell’s life and legacy, the Lakers faithful can be confident in knowing that who Bryant turned out to be on and off the court went beyond just early mornings and late nights at the gym. It took a special individual like Russell to help unlock Bryant’s greatness and be a significant contributor to the Black Mamba’s all-time great NBA story.

Jerry West Puts Bill Russell In The Same Class As Jackie Robinson

The NBA finals battles between Lakers legend Jerry West and Russell sprouted one of the most memorable rivalries in sports history. Despite Russell stopping West from winning more championships in their era, the admiration West has for Russell is unparalleled.

When reflecting on the life and legacy Russell left on the game, West had high praise for the 11-time NBA champion, stating that Russell is in the same class as Major League Baseball legend Jackie Robinson.

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