Kobe Bryant may have retired from the Los Angeles Lakers, but his specter still hangs over the franchise. Every player — especially incoming rookies — are asked about Bryant, and usually give glowing quotes about how much they idolized him or wanted to work with him.
All that love, reverence and admiration for one of the greatest players in NBA history may in fact be genuine, but it can’t help but occasionally seem a little canned, or seem to be offered with the hint of a vibe that it’s at least somewhat obligatory.
The Lakers No. 2 pick in 2016, forward Brandon Ingram, has talked at length about how much he wants to work with and learn from Bryant. Their latest second overall pick would appear to be taking a different approach.
In a column on what the Lakers’ selection of Lonzo Ball says about the team’s direction, Kevin Ding of Bleacher Report detailed Ball’s first meeting with Bryant. It sounds like it did not go amazing:
Ball met Bryant once a few months ago, but when you ask Ball about it, he's unmoved by the interaction. Bryant asked Ball if he had a post-up game; Ball said he did.
But individual post-ups are not what Ball wants.
"Try to be a good teammate and a better point guard," Ball summarized in his typically brief way.
There is no word on whether or not Bryant then tried to convince Ball to convert to the Kobe System™, to make Ball understand that winning is about dominating your match-up while being a different animal and the same beast, but it seems like Ball has different views on how to win.
It should be noted that that’s totally fine! Not every player is the same. Being a cutthroat competitor who was solely focused on eviscerating the man in front of him allowed Bryant to win five titles. Ball’s more pass-heavy, facilitation-based style has worked for him on every level so far.
There are different ways to win, and it’s Ball’s turn to try his now.