Lakers’ Russell Westbrook Reveals How a Pickup Game with Kobe Bryant Changed His Approach to Basketball

Published 10/05/2021, 2:30 PM EDT

The Lakers might have won 17 championships with some incredible players but when it comes to who the greatest Laker of all time is, one name clearly stands out Kobe ‘Bean’ Bryant. Playing for the Purple and Gold for 20 long years, Bryant had one of the most successful careers.

Helping the Lakers win 5 championships, making multiple All-Star games and winning a scoring title and MVP trophy each, it is safe to say Kobe had a career that many players imagine but hardly are able to accomplish in such a competitive league like the NBA.

Russell Westbrook reveals his experience of playing a pickup game with Kobe Bryant

NBA players certainly look up to the superstars of the league and idolise them. Russell Westbrook certainly was no different. Idolising Kobe Bryant, Westbrook had developed a reputation for his explosive play in college.

While the duo did have their fair share of battles in the league, Westbrook had the opportunity to compete against Kobe much earlier. In a recent appearance at Jimmy Kimmel Live, Westbrook revealed that he indeed played a pickup game against Kobe.

“This one time uh going into my sophomore season at UCLA, we had a lot of pickup games at UCLA…. This particular day, Kobe came and I’m super hyped and super juiced….. I had the opportunity to compete and me and Kobe you know not going back and forth because he was basically killing me.”

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Westbrook also revealed how this pickup game changed his perspective on the game. “The number one lesson I got in that is that watching him… he was competing like it was the finals and to me it was so inspiring because it allowed me to understand like this is this is what you need to be like regardless of where you at what you doing.”

‘Brodie’ might have a different play style in comparison to Kobe, but his trait of never giving up is pretty reminiscent of the ‘Black Mamba‘. After 11 seasons, Westbrook now finds himself with the Los Angeles Lakers after a blockbuster trade.

Given that he has still not won a championship and is playing for the franchise his idol played in, win the title this season might be the perfect tribute Russ could pay to his late idol. Can Westbrook help the Lakers win it all this season?



Aditya Mohapatra

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Aditya Mohapatra is a sports enthusiast who primarily covers the NBA for EssentiallySports. Having graduated in Mass Communication, he has prior experience in writing for ABP News, and has been writing for EssentiallySports since November 2020. This die-hard Los Angeles Lakers fan feels that LeBron James is the best thing to have ever happened to the NBA, and will hold a healthy debate with anyone suggesting otherwise.