The Boston Celtics may have been one of Kobe Bryant’s biggest rivals during his Hall of Fame career, but he is clearly rooting for them to find success now that he is retired.
More specifically, Kobe wants to see young Celtics superstar Jayson Tatum succeed. He has been mentoring the former Duke Blue Devil, and it shows in Tatum’s game. After Tatum looked like the best player on the floor in Boston’s season opener against the Philadelphia 76ers on Tuesday, Bryant gave him a shout-out on Twitter.
— Kobe Bryant (@kobebryant) October 17, 2018
Tatum scored 23 points in 29 minutes, and there were times he looked impossible to defend. The 20-year-old says he has tried to model his game after Kobe’s, which is a goal that seems very attainable for him early in his career.
If you remember, Tatum shared an inspirational quote he got from Kobe last summer after the two spent some time working together. Given what we have seen from Tatum in his first year-plus in the NBA, you can understand why Kobe is so enamored with him.
Kobe Bryant played a big role in the Los Angeles Lakers’ success during the 2000s and early part of this decade, and he continues to help the team in big ways even in retirement.
According to an article from The Athletic’s Sam Amick, Bryant helped ignite the front office overhaul last year that helped the team eventually land LeBron James.
Lakers president Jeanie Buss related to Amick what Bryant told her when the two got together to discuss the organization early last year.
“Jeanie, I know who we’re trying to get; we know who we’re trying to get, so that player is not going to come here with all of this s— going on. It’s not going to happen,” Bryant told her, via Amick’s article. “So if you do want to have that focus, and go after that player, then I’m telling you that you’ve gotta clean house, and you’ve gotta just reshuffle the deck and start anew. You have the new practice facility (the UCLA Health Training Center) that we’re just moving into (in the summer of 2017). We’ve got new management, and off we go. But that player is not coming here unless you do that.”
The Lakers were a mess at the time. They had some terrible contracts, a bad record, and a major power struggle at the top.
Jeanie, who had been feuding with brother Jim for years, finally decided to make big moves and fired Jim as president and GM Mitch Kupchak. Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka, Kobe’s agent, were hired to take their places.
Since then the team has made many trades to clear salary cap space and revamp the roster so they could attract LeBron. The plan worked and the Lakers now seem to be on their way towards regaining franchise success.
The Mamba Mentality pays off once again for the Lakers.
One former NBA MVP got to work with a potential future NBA MVP.
Giannis Antetokoumpo worked out with Kobe Bryant and posted about it on Instagram Thursday. He seemed grateful for the opportunity and said he “learned a lot.”
A post shared by Giannis Antetokounmpo (@giannis_an34) on
Antetokounmpo was only 21 and in his third season in the league when Kobe had his farewell tour with the Los Angeles Lakers, so he didn’t have a great chance to learn from him at the time. Now that Kobe’s retired, Giannis has blossomed into one of the best players in the league and is hoping to pick up some tips.
You can also tell that Kobe likes Antetokounmpo, because he issued the Milwaukee Bucks star quite an ambitious challenge last year.
There has been some chatter that the most diehard of Kobe Bryant fans aren’t particularly happy to see LeBron James playing for the Los Angeles Lakers.
Bryant isn’t dismissing that outright, but he also thinks there’s one particular reason that LeBron will ultimately win them over.
“I hear that,” Bryant told “The Rich Eisen Show,” via Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN. “But listen, if you are fan of mine, you are a fan of winning, you are a fan of the Lakers. I bleed purple and gold. So, that is above anything else.
“I have been a Lakers fan since I was yay high. That is never going to change. Right? [It] is about winning championships. So, they’ll fall in line.”
Bryant may underestimate just how protective his biggest fans are of his legacy given what some have allegedly done this summer. Bryant is right that most will likely stand down ultimately, especially if James is a success. Don’t be surprised, however, if there’s always going to be a small subset constantly loudly proclaiming why LeBron will never be Kobe no matter what he accomplishes with the Lakers.
If it seems like just yesterday that a 23-year-old Kobe Bryant was winning his third NBA championship, that probably means you are getting kind of old. The Black Mamba officially turned 40 on Thursday.
Kobe has been out of the NBA for two seasons now, but he would probably still be playing at a high level if he didn’t have such bad luck with injuries. He’s one of the most recognizable and respected people in professional sports history, and that showed with all the birthday tributes he received on Twitter.
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) August 23, 2018
The Black Mamba turns 40 today.
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) August 23, 2018
— AC Milan (@acmilan) August 23, 2018
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) August 23, 2018
happy birthday to esteemed charlotte hornet kobe bryant pic.twitter.com/UqanJmbl24
— NBC Sports (@NBCSports) August 23, 2018
— MayweatherPromotions (@MayweatherPromo) August 23, 2018
Happy 40th birthday to Kobe Bryant.
Let's look back to when the Black Mamba dominated the high school scene. pic.twitter.com/5ZYFuoNJz4
— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) August 23, 2018
Lamar Odom showing love for Kobe on his born day pic.twitter.com/ABUFdQMt7X
— Bleacher Report NBA (@BR_NBA) August 23, 2018
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) August 22, 2018
“I don’t think words can explain what Kobe Bryant meant to the game of basketball.”
Current NBA players pay tribute to the Black Mamba pic.twitter.com/OifHCsPnzP
— NBA TV (@NBATV) August 23, 2018
There have been rumors that Kobe could find his way back onto the court, but that seems unlikely to happen. For now, he should probably just enjoy being 40 years young and one of the greatest to ever play the game of basketball.
- Kobe Bryant
Kobe Bryant continues to rack up the wins even in retirement.
Bryant is a minority owner of the sports drink company BodyArmor. According to ESPN, Kobe bought about a 10 percent stake in the company in March, 2014. He reportedly has invested about $6 million in the company overall.
His investment reaped huge benefits after Coca-Cola on Tuesday announced that it had purchased a minority stake in the company. Based on the company’s new valuation, Bryant’s ownership stake in BodyArmor is said to be around $200 million, ESPN reports.
Based on those figures, Bryant saw an astronomical 3,300 percent return on investment.
Basketball-Reference estimates Bryant’s career earnings as an NBA player at just under $330 million. He obviously made a ton more in endorsement deals as well, but his fruitful investment in BodyArmor has lifted his wealth to another level. Oh, and let’s also not forget that Kobe has won an Oscar since retiring, too.
He’s doing quite well since hanging up the shoes.
- Kobe Bryant
If Kobe Bryant ever wants to get back to playing competitive basketball again, one prominent fellow Angeleno may have just the opportunity for him.
In an appearance Monday on FOX Sports Radio’s “The Rich Eisen Show,” entertainment mogul Ice Cube said that he has pitched Bryant on playing in his BIG3 basketball league. Ice Cube did add though that the retired 18-time All-Star has turned down all of his overtures but also that he would continue trying, per Ryan Ward of ClutchPoints.
Ice Cube on if he's ever approached Kobe Bryant for the #BIG3 (@thebig3) "Yes, every time. He always turned me down, but I don't care. Next time I see you Kobe, I'm going to ask you again." via @RichEisenShow #Lakers
— Ryan Ward (@RyanWardLA) August 13, 2018
Ice Cube (@icecube) on Kobe Bryant (@kobebryant) playing in the #BIG3 (@thebig3) "He does have a lot going on. It may take him another year or so to get the itch, but whenever he get the itch, we here to scratch it." via @RichEisenShow #Lakers
— Ryan Ward (@RyanWardLA) August 13, 2018
Bryant will be turning 40 years old later this month. He has been retired for the last two years now after playing 20 seasons in the NBA.
As for the BIG3, a three-on-three halfcourt league, it has already seen notable cameos from other retired NBA players, including this ex-Bryant teammate.