Lakers’ Russell Westbrook fondly recalls the lessons Kobe Bryant taught him during a friendly pickup game from his UCLA days
Russell Westbrook is an NBA great who made triple-doubles sound ordinary. Despite all he has achieved, Russ doesn’t like to forget his humble beginnings. Russell Westbrook grew up loving the Los Angeles Lakers, as any LA kid did. His idols, as he recently revealed were Pau Gasol and Kobe Bryant. After getting drafted and spending the majority of his career in Oklahoma City, Russ spent a season each in Houston and Washington. This summer, he got traded to the Lakers, and finally now plays for the team he grew up admiring.
Russell now plays for the same team as his idol- donning the famous purple and gold. Back in his hometown, playing in front of his home crowd, the same arena his idol played in. He may get flak for turning over the ball too much, or shooting bricks: but one thing you cannot fault him for is his attitude. Russ epitomizes hard work—giving it his all on the court, leaving nothing on the table. His stat lines may seem ordinary to us now, but if someone else had the same like he did, they would be praising them to no end. This hard work, he learnt from his idol himself, the late Kobe Bryant.
Russell Westbrook embodies the Mamba Mentality perfectly
Not even a few months into being a Laker, Russell Westbrook is producing his own documentary. For advertising the same, he went on Jimmy Kimmel live. It was a fun episode, and there were a lot of things discussed. One of those: how Kobe Bryant taught a young Russell Westbrook the Mamba Mentality.
The late Kobe Bryant met a young Russell when he was at UCLA, where he got to play a game of pickup with him. Imagine a young Westbrook, playing against a prime Kobe Bryant, who just lost the finals to the Celtics. Yeah, you thought correctly, Westbrook was always going to get beat badly. We all heard stories of Kobe’s relentless mindset to be the best- the same inspired Westbrook too.
“The No. 1 lesson I got in that is that watching him — and to this day I think we all know it as the Mamba Mentality — but when I was younger and watching him, he was competing like it was the Finals. And to me, it was so inspiring because it allowed me to understand, this is what you need to be like, regardless of where you’re at, what you’re doing, however you’re playing. And I took that attitude and ran with it.”
To get an opportunity like that, to duel the great Black Mamba in his prime in itself is a great experience. Even though Russ didn’t win, he sure got lessons for life.
Even though he’s had a shaky start with the Lakers, it’s still the preseason. The first game that actually matters is when the Lakers host the Warriors on the 19th.