The Los Angeles Lakers are 25 games deep into their first season with No. 2 pick Lonzo Ball and a promising group of young talent, and they remain in playoff position with a 10-15 record. The team is playing right in the middle of expectations, looking improved over previous years while still having plenty of room to grow.
Kobe Bryant has been watching from a distance, thought he’s also kept himself in the mix in the background. Kyle Kuzma — at Kuzma’s request — enjoyed a steak dinner with the Black Mamba while picking his brain about hoops.
Kobe sat down with Chris McGee of Spectrum SportsNet for a wide-spanning interview, and his thoughts on the Lakers’ young core growing were all about offering perspective.
“It’s hard when you have a collection of young talent that is still trying to figure out what their individual games are,” Bryant said when asked for his impressions. “What their strengths are, what their weaknesses are. What they do well, what they don’t do well. They’re trying to still figure that out for themselves.”
It was Kobe’s quote about the Lakers’ young players needing to “get better now” that made headlines and controversy, though. ESPN did something many digital publications do, angling portions of Bryant’s quote to create a narrative around Lonzo:
Kobe says he wants to see a sense of urgency from Lonzo. pic.twitter.com/8PW3cQh8M0— ESPN (@espn) December 9, 2017
Bryant and Spectrum SportsNet immediately went on the offensive, going directly at ESPN once the word-twisting came back around to them.
What Kobe was trying to explain was the importance of every young player on the team to aggressively seek improvement, not sit back and wait for it. He compared the development of the nucleus to the 1997-98 Lakers, a group of young talent that needed years of molding before they became contenders.
In those years of development, though, Kobe doesn’t believe the players should be patient.
“No, not for him. [Lonzo] needs to get better now,” Bryant said when asked if his advice to Lonzo is patience. “Kuzma, better now. Randle, better now. It’s like, players, you want that now. We never thought ‘OK we’re going to win four years from now,’ we really thought ‘This is our year, we’re gonna get this done.’
“In the process of having that kind of impatience, you develop, right? If you’re just patiently going about it, you’ll never get there. So it’s kind of a, for players it’s kind of patient impatience.”
Patient impatience. Different animal, same beast.
You can watch the full Connected With... Kobe Bryant episode right over here.