Kobe Bryant’s 20-year career spanned multiple decades and multiple generations, creating fans young and old across the country and globe. Ranging from Southern California to rural Indiana to the small towns in Arkansas, Bryant’s impact will continually be felt for years and decades into the future.
In that small town of Arkansas was a connection made with Austin Reaves and, more specifically, Reeves’ grandmother. The two-way Summer League standout has quickly become a fan favorite in his brief time with the Lakers, and that came before he recently revealed a terrific story about Bryant.
In an interview with Mike Trudell of the Lakers, Reaves talked about being raised in Arkansas, their surprisingly rich history of NBA players — including Lakers folk hero Derek Fisher — and how his grandmother taught him Mamba Mentality.
“Yeah I was really just a Kobe fan. My grandma was a diehard Kobe fan. It started with her. She just liked his mentality, the way that he approached the game. Being around her when I was younger, we were always watching games and stuff like that. But D-Fish was good too, you can’t knock him for anything he did. He won a lot of games and a lot of rings.”
Reaves added that his grandmother, a big sports and basketball fan, has texted him words of advice and encouragement before each game as well.
Reeves: She’s been crazy. She’s lost it. She’s a sports junkie, but definitely a basketball junkie. She texts me every day before the game and gives me her little words of advice. But it’s not regular words of advice, it’s stuff that actually helps because she’s a basketball mind and loves the game.
Trudell: Would you mind sharing a recent text from Grandma?
Reaves: I definitely can.
GRANDMA: ‘Good luck tonight. Be aggressive on offense, and you’re really playing good defense. Most importantly, be yourself. Love you.’
Reaves used some of that Mamba Mentality to have some strong performances in Las Vegas and Sacramento for the Summer League Lakers. In seven games across the California Classic and Las Vegas Summer League, Reaves averaged 7.5 points, 3.8 rebounds and 2.1 assists.
He was also responsible for perhaps the on-court highlight of the summer for the Lakers with his putback just before the buzzer to seal a come-from-behind win over the Suns to kick off the Las Vegas Summer League.
Between that and his connection to Bryant through his grandmother, Reaves has rather quickly become a favorite for Lakers fans across the globe.