Los Angeles Lakers third-year forward Kyle Kuzma made headlines not just with his game-winning 3-pointer against the Denver Nuggets, but his comments about the play as well.
Kuzma was inserted into the lineup in the absence of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and recorded another impressive night in the Orlando bubble. He ended the game with 25 points, six rebounds, and three assists, proving his form is rising and confidence growing.
His self-belief has soared so much he said he would make the dagger three even if it was Jesus, not Denver’s Bol Bol, standing in front of him on Monday night. The comment sparked a discussion during TNT’s postgame show.
Host Adam Lefkoe said Kuzma’s remark caught Lakers legend Shaquille O’Neal by surprise. O’Neal laughed and joked Kuzma better not face Jesus on the court next time around.
“I think Jesus could be in front of me, and I would probably still shoot it.” ????@kylekuzma's postgame comments caught @SHAQ off guard. pic.twitter.com/NPL5nqLlhy
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) August 11, 2020
It is unclear what Shaq referred to. Boston Celtics and Miami Heat legend Ray Allen used to be called “Jesus Shuttlesworth” after his character in the movie “He Got Game.” Meanwhile, his fellow Hall of Famers Michael Jordan and Earl Monroe have been associated with the nickname “Black Jesus” in the past.
None of them, of course, will be on the court when the Lakers face the Sacramento Kings on Thursday. It’s also plausible O’Neal was simply referencing Jesus himself.
Vogel: Kuzma important as a third target
Lakers head coach Frank Vogel said it is unlikely Kuzma will remain in the starting lineup upon Caldwell-Pope’s return. But he revealed the young forward could be tasked with executing more end-of-game sets in the playoffs, similar to his dagger three in the Nuggets victory.
“It’s important to have a third target out there,” Vogel said. “We knew some of our sets we may go to in that situation we may not want to show in a game like this and hold for the playoffs, but Kuz is going to be an option in those situations.”
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