During Kobe Bryant’s career with the Los Angeles Lakers, he was the closest thing the modern NBA had to Michael Jordan in terms of mentality. Both men were obsessed with their craft and had zero love for anyone charged with guarding them on the court. So it’s a bit of a surprise to find Bryant, clearly content and comfortable as a recent retiree, totally willing to dispense advice to a handful of men he was competing against just a season ago.
When Bryant tweeted “#MightyIT” after Isaiah Thomas dropped 52 points on the Washington Wizards in Game 2 of their Eastern Conference Semifinals matchup, it was revealed that Thomas had reached out to Kobe and the two had been texting and watching film together throughout the playoffs. Utah Jazz star Gordon Hayward spent the summer working out with Kobe, and the Black Mamba also trained with Kyrie Irving, James Harden and Russell Westbrook.
And Bryant doesn’t want his basketball aid to stop there. “I’m around for all the guys,” he told ESPN. “Anybody can reach out. It’s an open book.”
Kobe said that he and Thomas watched film on how the Chicago Bulls were guarding Thomas after Chicago went up 2-0 in their first-round series against the Celtics.
“I was happy to help him,” Bryant said. “He had the courage to ask. I did the same thing with Michael Jordan when I was a young player.”
Bryant also told ESPN that when he arrived in the league, he reached out to countless NBA legends, including Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Jerry West and Larry Bird, following advice he received as a rookie by none other than pop star Michael Jackson, who told him to “reach out to all the greats in your profession and learn from them.”
Judging by the quality seasons that Kobe’s proteges had, we expect the Mamba’s cell phone to be blowing up all offseason.
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