Kobe Bryant praised Russell Westbrook as a player who reminds him of himself. When the duo played for Team USA in 2012, Kobe encouraged Westbrook to be a better scorer.
Russell Westbrook has won 2 scoring titles in his NBA career. One of those came with Kevin Durant on the team, although out injured for most of the 2014-15 season.
The other came when Westbrook went beast mode for the Thunder in 2016-17, winning the MVP award while averaging a 30-point triple-double. The latter also was Westbrook’s best shooting season in the league.
Why Kobe Bryant wanted Russell Westbrook to be a more dominant scorer
Back in those days, Westbrook was unequivocally the most athletic player in the NBA. His pace in transition, and his ability to get past everyone in the league in a half-court set was beginning to pick up tack.
His displays in the playoffs in the same year were enough to get most NBA fans excited about his future.
During the 2012 Olympics, Kobe reportedly used to tell Russell Westbrook he should win scoring titles over KD in an effort to sabotage the OKC squad. 😂
— Complex Sports (@ComplexSports) October 8, 2020
While Kobe’s comments were made tongue in cheek (Adrian Wojnarowski revealed this on a recent podcast), his encouragement only made Westbrook a better player in the scoring domain.
“In 2012, what I remember with Kobe was he spent a lot of the – or he spent some of that – Olympics with Russell Westbrook telling Russ, ‘You know, you should be winning scoring titles. I don’t know why you’re letting Kevin win scoring titles. You should be the one winning them,'” Woj revealed on a podcast
He wanted Westbrook to win scoring titles over Kevin Durant, a suggestion that seemed a little over the top, but still possible. It showed how much Kobe believed in Russ.
Westbrook raised his scoring average 2 seasons after their time together on Team USA to become the scoring champion of the league in 2014-15.
Westbrook also added a post game to his scoring repertoire, and became a more insistent and consistent jump shooter. Kobe’s words served to actually motivate Russ in terms of improving his game.