From Kawhi Leonard to Russell Westbrook, Kobe Bryant has been rumored to have worked with numerous players during his first offseason since ending his 20-year career. At
his funeral the unveiling of his first post-retirement signature shoe, Bryant wouldn’t confirm which players he had and hadn’t worked with, but he was willing to share the advice he’d give them.
“You get them to stay in the moment. Just focus on the here and now,” Bryant told Alysha Tsuji of USA Today’s For the Win at the event. “A lot of times our imagination gets the best of us. You’re thinking OK, if I miss this shot, it’s gonna be doom and gloom, and your mind starts playing tricks on you. If you just focus on the moment where you are, you have a shot you take it, you have a pass you make it, you simplify things like that. You’re gonna find the results tend to come.”
Kobe might not be offering it specifically to them, but this advice is pretty much perfect for the Los Angeles Lakers’ current young core.
The team has done a good job downplaying expectations, but it’s only natural for players to strive for success. That’s why it’s important for the team to follow the spirit of Bryant’s words. The Lakers’ players need to understand everything isn’t “doom and gloom” even when they miss a few shots, or can’t fix their defense right away, or go on a three-game losing streak. If the team passes on doing those things, as Kobe says “the results tend to come.”
The Lakers seem to be following that plan so far. Throughout the summer and preseason head coach Luke Walton spoke about how he was far more concerned with the way the team was playing than the results, and while they have obviously have tried and will continue to try to win all of their games, they may not get their desired result on a lot of nights.
There will come a day when the team needs to worry about wins, but the Lakers still have a long ways to go before that time comes. For now they’d do well to follow their former franchise player’s advice and “focus on the here and now.”
All of Kobe’s thoughts from the unveiling are worth a read, and you can do so here. You can follow this author on Twitter at @hmfaigen.