The dream is becoming a reality for Los Angeles Lakers fans. Kobe Bryant and Kyle Kuzma have officially connected, privately meeting for dinner Tuesday night at a steakhouse in West Hollywood, as detailed in a fantastic story from Bill Oram of the OC Register.
Kuzma, the Lakers’ surprising rising star rookie that’s made more positive headlines than Lonzo Ball at this point, has the kind of tantalizing potential that feels it could go anywhere. He’s decisive with the ball, can break his man down off the dribble, can space the floor, AND he’s a positive individual and team defender?
Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka made the dinner happen, calling his former client and close friend in Bryant to link him up to Kuzma. It was Kuzma who asked to meet with Kobe, though, reports Oram.
The duo having an open line of communication and developing a relationship sure sounds like a dream come true. That Kuzma has gone from surprising No. 27 pick to eating steaks with Bryant is a testament to how far his star has already risen.
From the intel report Oram gathered from Pelinka, it sounds like Kobe likes what he’s seen from Kuzma, leaving the rookie “in awe” during the meeting (via OC Register):
“Kyle said he heard stories he could have never imagined,” Pelinka said. “And Kobe just said Kyle’s got an edge and a spirit about him, and he’s going to be one of those alpha dog players for this team, for sure.”
The 27th pick in June’s draft, Kuzma has found early popularity and success in a city that bequeaths one and craves the other. Entering Wednesday he ranked third on the team with 14.9 points per game and tied for second with 6.8 rebounds.
Kuzma wanted to learn from Bryant how to parlay early success into something more.
“What was he doing as a young player to make those steps that he made to get from here to here,” Kuzma said. “From here to here. Just what he did as a young player or what he wanted to learn back then. Stuff like that.”
With the cat out of the bag on his meet with Kobe, reporters were all over getting the juicy details from Kuzma after practice Thursday. For starters, Kobe ordered a porterhouse — the “big dog steak,” as Kuzma put it — and Kyle enjoyed a rib eye.
While they may have different preferences at the dinner table, Kuzma hopes to mirror Kobe’s approach to the game of basketball.
“He’s one of the greatest players of all time and a good resource to have because of his mentality and how he approached the game. I want to approach the game like that too,” Kuzma told reporters.
“Stay at it, keep pushing,” Kuzma said of the overall message from Kobe. “Keep the main thing the main thing, just try to live in the gym. That's what he did his whole career. He values that, and I value being in the gym as well, so kinda that.”
Now how about a footwork clinic for your next meeting, fellas?
*Quotes transcribed via Lakers.com