Many of Anthony Davis’ favorite stories about Kobe Bryant date back to their time together with Team USA at the 2012 London Olympics. Having not played a single NBA game yet, Davis was the most raw and inexperienced player on that stacked team, and so Bryant instantly took him under his wing.
From there, Davis and Bryant developed a close bond and stayed in touch throughout the former’s formative years in the league. When Bryant retired, Davis would still reach out and train with his mentor during the summer. Those training sessions with AD impressed the Black Mamba so much to the point that he advised his best friend and current Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka to acquire the the Brow in the purple and gold.
Which brings us to the present day, 12 years after Bryant first took him under his wing, with Davis talking about why the unveiling of Kobe’s statue on Thursday, Feb. 8, means so much to him after Monday’s win over the Hornets.
“It’s honestly going to mean a lot,” AD said. “He meant a lot to me. Big brother. Mentor. Kind of started, I guess, my career alongside him in the Olympics, kind of just being under his wing. Teaching me about the game, teaching me about life. Everything. It’ll be a cool moment, obviously, to see that but then you’re kind of reliving it again, in a sense. I don’t know. Emotions will be high for me for sure. It’ll be a cool thing for sure to have his statue outside.”
To be mentored by Bryant even before playing his first NBA game to now filling in his shoes as the franchise player of the Los Angeles Lakers is a full circle moment for Davis. What makes that sweeter is that Davis has already accomplished the goal of winning a championship for the purple and gold — in the same year Bryant predicted that the Lakers would win it all.
It’s that belief and confidence that Bryant always had in Davis that paved the way for their relationship to grow over time. This was evident in another classic story that the big man shared with the media Monday about how he once requested Bryant to send him a list of goals he knew Davis could achieve on the court.
“There was a stretch where he was sending guys tweets like ‘MVP this year’ or ‘Defensive Player of the Year this year,’” AD recalled. “I remember one year he didn’t text me and I was like ‘What the hell?’ So I text him ‘What about me?’ and he gave me a list of things. Then just come full circle, playing for the Lakers, the organization where he played for 20 years…there’s no better feeling,” Davis added.
Davis didn’t specify what Bryant wrote on that list exactly and whether or not he achieved them but the fact that he wears the purple and gold armor every night with the opportunity to continue his mentor’s legacy is one of the most meaningful feats of his career.
Only time will tell where AD will eventually stand in the list of great Lakers but right now, the superstar continues to show why Kobe was a longtime believer of his and why he took him under his wing.
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