Wednesday, December 8 2021
Getty Images

As a basketball player growing up in Los Angeles in the late 1990s and early 2000s, it was impossible not to idolize and emulate Kobe Bryant on the court. It was no different for Russell Westbrook, who starred for Leuzinger High School and later went on to play two seasons at UCLA, later saying during his introductory press conference with the Los Angeles Lakers that he always wished that he could play for his “home team.”

After a circuitous path starting in Oklahoma City, with brief stops in Houston and Washington, Westbrook’s dream has finally come true. Not only is he thrilled to be a member of the Lakers organization, but Westbrook is also proud to don the same uniform as Bryant, whose jersey numbers were retired by the Lakers in December of 2017 before his tragic death in February of 2020.

“That is something I think about daily. Coming into the gym, you come in here, you look up in the practice facility, you see 8 and 24, and I know he is looking down and making sure that I need to do what I need to do,” Westbrook told Spectrum SportsNet. “And that’s the only thing I could think about is knowing, being in this uniform, understanding the impact I can have of being home and being a Laker and creating a legacy not just for myself but for my kids, for the community of Los Angeles, for the people here. I’m gonna make sure I just do my part in going out and playing for him and through him as I complete in this uniform.”

Westbrook has endured plenty of criticism about his game over the years, but nobody can question the passion and energy he brings to the floor on a nightly basis. In 2015, Bryant was asked whether any current players shared the same “fire” and “passion” that he displayed during his NBA days. His response? Russell Westbrook.

“Westbrook plays mean. He plays mean like I did — with an aggression,” Bryant said. “Much the way I played.”

Following Byrant’s death, Westbrook shared that he played against the Hall of Famer for the first time at the age of 16, and immediately decided to “emulate his Mamba Mentality” on and off the court.

“I recognized in him what I always felt in myself,” Westbrook wrote on Instagram. “He became a friend, a brother, a mentor, a teacher, he defended me, he believed in me, and he taught me how to weather the storm.”

Westbrook hopes that by coming home and joining forces with LeBron James, Anthony Davis and a host of veteran teammates, he will be able to bring the Lakers another championship, and honor Bryant in the process.



James Harden talks team bonding, conditioning and Kyrie Irving situation|Nets News Conference


Doc Rivers needs Tyrese Maxey to become a true point guard for Sixers

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Check Also

Pro Sports Media

Trending Now

Chauncey Billups says he’s not interested in Trail Blazers GM job

Chauncey Billups has interviewed for high-level front office positions before but has now settled in as the Trail Blazers coach. The Trail Blazers fired general manager Neil Olshey this week and have opened the door for a new GM search. Would Billups want the job? He politely said no thanks when asked about it. Chauncey […]

Read More

NBA Twitter reacts to James Bouknight’s monstrous putback slam

Charlotte Hornets rookie James Bouknight produced a career performance on Monday and also threw down a monstrous putback slam dunk that had social media talking afterward. Bouknight finished with 11 points, five rebounds and one assist in 22 minutes of action in the 127-124 overtime loss to the Philadelphia 76ers. He registered seven points alone […]

Read More

Kenyan Drake’s lower-body tackle | Last Call | Week 13

Kenyan Drake’s lower-body tackle ‘ Last Call ‘ Week 13 | FOX Sports Mike Pereira and Dean Blandino respond to Las Vegas Raiders RB Kenyan Drake’s issue with a certain type of lower body tackle vs. the Washington Football Team. 3 HOURS AGO・NFL・4:26 top NFL videos Source: FOX Sports

Read More