Kobe Bryant was in attendance to watch Anthony Davis and LeBron James — arguably the greatest duo the Los Angeles Lakers have had since Shaquille O’Neal and Bryant himself — take on the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday at Staples Center. Bryant played on the 2012 Olympic team with James and Davis, and he obviously saw them a handful of times throughout his illustrious NBA career, too.
But Bryant also had another friend on the court, and we’re not talking about Dwight Howard (although they seem to be getting along well these days). During the game, Bryant said hello to Kyle Kuzma, who Bryant took under his wing after they met up for a dinner Kuzma initiated early on in his rookie season.
Since then, Kuzma said he’s stayed in touch with Bryant, although Kuzma admitted that it was hard to get face-to-face time with him this past summer due to the commitments they both had.
“Anytime I need something he’s always a phone call away,” Kuzma said. “A little bit tough certain times getting in contact, because he was having a kid this summer, and I had (Team) USA. So it was kinda tough, but he’s like a brother to me. I’m just happy to have him in my corner.”
Kuzma said if there’s one thing he took from Bryant, it’s his signature fadeaway jump shot. Kuzma is shooting 1-5 on fadeaway jumpers this season, but he made 42.4% of his 33 attempts last season, and 50% of his 16 attempts during his rookie season.
Like the rest of the team, Kuzma also thought it was cool to have Bryant sitting courtside for the game.
“It’s always cool to have Kobe at the game,” Kuzma said. “Especially with the fans, you know they love him. He’s the face of the organization. He’s won here. Anytime you win here in LA, you know you’re gonna be treated like royalty. For me, it’s just super cool. He’s one of my mentors. Just having him courtside, dap him up, it’s priceless.”
Kuzma might not reach the heights Bryant did as a player — mostly because few players ever have — but he’ll always have someone with invaluable experience and knowledge at his disposal. Add that to the fact that he also has a living legend in James in his locker room, and Kuzma is in as good of a position as anyone to learn what it takes to succeed.
Then again, Jordan Clarkson learned under Bryant and James, too.