Kyle Kuzma was a crucial part in the Los Angeles Lakers 112-103 win over the Denver Nuggets on Tuesday, scoring a team-high 26 points, including 16 points in the third quarter, despite playing on a hurt ankle.
Head coach Luke Walton said Kuzma’s mental toughness that allowed him to play through the pain could have been a result of the Lakers’ chat with a WWE legend that stopped by the practice facility earlier that day.
“Maybe it was The Rock that motivated him to fight through the injury like that,” Walton joked, via Lakers Nation’s Matthew Moreno.
The Rock, now better known as Dwayne Johnson, was the latest speak in the Lakers’ series of “Genius Talks,” something they’ve been doing all season in hopes of inspiring the young players on the roster.
“Magic and I wanted to identify geniuses in their space,” Rob Pelinka explained to Real GM. “Our core belief is that more developed men make better basketball players. I think Magic, if you look at how diversified he is with his interests. Kobe, the guy studies everything under the sun. I’m reading a biography right now on Leonardo da Vinci, and he has the ultimate curiosity of all things. If he’s painting a hummingbird, he wants to like take its tongue and see what it looks like so he can paint it. So geniuses in life, right, can inspire us on how to be better.
“So once a month, we try to do that, and the reason that it, to me, is important, is it shows the way we’re really trying to do things differently, and it gets back to what I said at the beginning: Support and service. How can we bring things to the guys to make them better human beings and better Lakers basketball players?”
The Rock is certainly someone the players can learn a thing or two from. As both a person and an athlete, The Rock has shown he is one of the strongest people around.
Whether or not that had to do with Kuzma’s big night is still a mystery, but whatever it was that got him going, Kuzma should stick to it.