Kobe Bryant has been outspoken in his support from the moment the Los Angeles Lakers hired Luke Walton as their newest head coach this summer. He said his former teammate can help the Lakers build "a championship foundation,” with “foundation” being the operative word. The Lakers’ rebuild will take time, and according to Walton, none other than Bryant has been assisting him in his efforts to build from the ground up.
"He's someone I've called multiple times since taking this job to pick his brain,” Walton told Chris McGee of Time Warner Cable Sportsnet of Bryant’s support. “He's someone I know will be there for me if I need him to be, so to have his support and encouragement in developing a young team, with the fans being patient with us is big."
Walton isn’t wrong on that last point. In addition to the wealth of basketball insight Bryant can offer Walton, the biggest assist the notoriously shot-happy Bryant can give may be getting fans to be patient.
Not all Lakers fans subscribe to the “title or bust count the ringzzzzzzz” narrative so often ascribed to them in sterotypes, but 16 NBA championships would be enough to make any fanbase a little itchier for their next champagne and parade fix.
However, if Bryant (he of the “every year I don’t win a title is a waste” mentality) can tell fans this rebuild is going to take time, such patience could offer Walton a bit more security as the team slowly improves over the next few seasons.
This is actually part of a larger narrative shift taking place around the Lakers this summer. It probably has as much to do with Kobe’s retirement as anything, but for the first year in a long time, people around the Lakers are talking of process over results. Of not measuring success by wins, and the importance of building a positive culture.
It’s a refreshing change, and it’s cool to see that Bryant is still helping the Lakers, even in retirement.
All quotes transcribed via Time Warner Cable Sportsnet. You can follow this author on Twitter at @hmfaigen.