Throughout his career in the NBA, Russell Westbrook has earned a reputation for being tough and relentlessly hard-working, no matter what team he’s playing for or who he’s playing with. Now that he’s headed to the Los Angeles Lakers, connections are already being drawn between him and Kobe Bryant.
The Black Mamba spent his entire career in Los Angeles, leading the Lakers to five titles during his 20-year stint with the team. Westbrook is now eager to carry on that legacy of winning and plans to use past advice that he got from Bryant to do so.
Westbrook met with the Los Angeles media for the first time on Tuesday afternoon, as he was introduced as the newest member of the Lakers. During the press conference, he recalled a past conversation that he has with the late Bryant about what it takes to wear the iconic purple and gold.
“Things that we talked about, me and him, just the potential of me being a Laker and understanding what that entails,” Westbrook said, per Jacob Rude. “It’s just crazy to think about. That’ll be with me every time I put that Laker jersey on.”
Russell Westbrook on talking to Kobe Bryant in the past about one day being a Laker. pic.twitter.com/gwfGiKsloH
— Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) August 10, 2021
"Things that we talked about, me and him, just the potential of me being a Laker and understanding what that entails. It's just crazy to think about. That'll be with me every time I put that Laker jersey on."
– Russell Westbrook on his relationship with Kobe💜
— NBA Central (@TheNBACentral) August 10, 2021
It’s no surprise that Westbrook and Bryant would’ve had such conversations in the past, given Westbrook’s connection to the Los Angeles area. The veteran point guard grew up in Long Beach, California and played at UCLA for two years, so a stint with the Lakers seemed like an inevitability.
During Tuesday’s press conference, Westbrook also revealed another important piece of information that Lakers fans were eager to find out: he’ll switch back to wearing No. 0 in Los Angeles.
Russell Westbrook, back to No. 0. pic.twitter.com/LT2mWJX1PB
— Fred Katz (@FredKatz) August 10, 2021
Now that his introductory press conference has concluded, Westbrook will turn his focus to building chemistry with the Lakers retooled roster. The 32-year-old point guard will need to figure out how to plug-in alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis if Los Angeles hopes to get back to the NBA Finals in 2022.