Kobe Bryant never held an official position in the Los Angeles Lakers’ front office, but his imprint on the organization’s biggest move of the past decade looms large despite that.
This week, Rohan Nadkarni of Sports Illustrated revealed the advice Bryant gave Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka in 2018 regarding then-New Orleans Pelicans center Anthony Davis.
“Hey, you know I don’t give you GM advice,” Bryant told Pelinka.
“But if you ever get a chance to get this guy, he is the avatar of what you want. His level of footwork, his dexterity, his mastery of the details of the game. Guys like this are generational players.”
Bryant’s impression of Davis was based in no small part on a workout they had previously done together.
“I’m pretty sure he watched some tape before I got there, because he had a little plan of what he wanted to do,” Davis recalled.
Bryant was legitimately impressed by what he saw and immediately went to his good friend with the details.
Yikes Shaq. https://t.co/CBPHOixGJt
— Game 7 (@game7__) December 15, 2020
The rest was history.
In 2019, the Lakers traded Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart, and three-first round picks to New Orleans in exchange for Davis.
In his first season with the franchise, Davis averaged 26.1 points, 9.3 rebounds, and 3.2 assists through 62 regular season outings. When the playoffs rolled around, he averaged 27.7 points, 9.7 rebounds and 3.5 assists en route to his first NBA championship.
Talen Horton-Tucker may want to delete this LeBron tweet before he gets traded to the Kings. https://t.co/hvKPtB7b98
— Game 7 (@game7__) December 16, 2020
A few weeks ago, the Lakers rewarded Davis with a five-year, $190 million contract. In doing so, the organization secured a cornerstone piece that it will be able to build around for years to come.
Bryant’s imprint on the Lakers was evident over the course of his playing career. He brought five titles to the franchise and made every game must-see viewing.
But beyond that – the moves he made behind the scenes over the past few years left a lasting impact that will forever go down in Lakers lore.