While Kobe Bryant has remained steadfast in his refusal to accept any sort of formal position with the Los Angeles Lakers or NBA, he’s made himself available to inquiring minds. Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum became the latest to take the five-time champion up on his offer.
Tatum recently shared photographs of his workout session with Bryant, who the 20-year-old idolized when he was a young child. Despite Tatum’s affinity for Bryant, his father insisted that Tatum instead pattern his game after Paul Pierce.
The reasoning was Tatum’s physique and style of play more closely mirrored Pierce than Bryant. Tatum nonetheless studied and modeled himself after some aspects of Bryant’s game.
Tatum’s work has come with Pure Sweat CEO Drew Hanlen, who revealed in an interview with Evan Daniels of FS1 that Bryant wondered why the Lakers didn’t draft Tatum instead of Lonzo Ball, after seeing their similarities:
“It was cool. We actually showed Kobe it yesterday, and he was like, ‘Why didn’t the Lakers draft him?’ Which was pretty funny after seeing that. Jayson idolized Kobe.”
It should be noted Hanlen’s tone when relaying Bryant’s quote was not one of a critical nature. Instead, it can be inferred that Bryant wondered, perhaps tongue-in-cheek, why the Lakers would pass on a player who resembles him.
The Lakers were connected to Tatum leading up to the 2017 NBA Draft, though most reports tied them to Ben Simmons, Ball and De’Aaron Fox. After the Lakers drafted Ball, the Celtics pounced on Tatum with the No. 3 overall pick.