Most talent in the NBA grows up idolizing the greats that came before them and for the current stars, one name that regularly comes up as someone who they grew up watching is the late Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant.
One thing that was beloved about Kobe was his willingness and desire to pass on his knowledge to that next generation, and among those from the current wave of players to benefit is Denver Nuggets guard Jamal Murray.
Now in his fourth season, Murray has established himself as one of the best young guards in the NBA, especially on the offensive end. Murray helped lead the Nuggets to the Western Conference Finals last season, averaging 26.5 points and 6.6 assists in the playoffs, up from 18.5 and 4.8 during the regular season.
But despite being known for his outstanding offensive exploits it was the other end of the floor that he was looking to improve heading into the 2020 season and he turned to Bryant for help.
According to Harrison Wind of theDNVR.com, Murray worked with Bryant at the Mamba Academy heading into last season, asking him how to improve his post defense:
So Murray got stronger and added muscle. At the Mamba Academy, he asked Bryant, a five-time NBA Champion and nine-time First Team All-Defense selection, how to improve his post defense. Murray then arrived back in Denver last fall, determined to re-write the narrative on his defensive flaws. He did just that in the playoffs this past season, a stretch which Michael Malone continually refers to as the best defense of his franchise point guard’s career.
Coming off his first playoff appearance, Murray had his first experience of teams really looking to take advantage of weaknesses over and over and for him that meant making him guard stronger players in the post. Credit to Murray for identifying that and working hard to improve that aspect of his game and there are few better to turn to than Kobe to do so.
In all likelihood this took place during an invite-only camp that Kobe held at the Mamba Academy in the summer of 2019 which saw a number of young NBA stars in attendance. Bryant was passionate about helping to shape the new generation of basketball and it is extremely unfortunate that he was unable to do so further.
Lakers White House visit may come after Inauguration Day
Unfortunately for Murray, his work did not result in the ultimate goal of an NBA championship as his Nuggets lost to the Lakers in the Western Conference Finals in five games. Of course, the Lakers would go on to win the championship over the Miami Heat.
Teams in all sports who win the championship usually visit the White House, and now with a new administration in office the Lakers could soon take that visit.
With Joe Biden officially in office, the Lakers are reportedly looking forward to visiting the White House when they take their trip to Washington to play the Wizards, should Biden’s schedule allow for it.
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