It has been more than two months since Kobe Bryant’s finale. A 20-year career culminated in a 60-point explosion in the final game of the year and the final game of an illustrious career as arguably the greatest Laker of all time.
But while Bryant will no longer be offering his talents and services on the court, he is still providing opinions off of it.
Kobe was asked about the current state of the franchise he spent his entire career with while on the Mamba Mentality Tour with Nike in Manila. And his words should inspire confidence among Lakers fans. (h/t Naveed Ganglani of Rappler.com)
“Yeah, I think so,” was Bryant’s response when asked if Los Angeles will be back in the championship picture not too far in the future on Saturday, June 25. “The Lakers are one of those really rare franchises that, even though they may go through down periods, they inevitably find themselves back in contention.”
“Luke and (assistant coach) Brian Shaw and the staff and the young players that they have, have a tremendous amount of potential and I think they will get there.”
Kobe obviously had an immensely successful career. He won five championships in Los Angeles and knows first-hand what it takes to win a title in the NBA. That he sees that same potential in a group of inexperienced and unproven young players is inspiring to say the least.
At one point in his career, Bryant was just like some of the players on the LA roster right now. Young and brash like last year’s second overall pick D’Angelo Russell. Marked with potential but needing plenty of refinement like this year’s second overall pick Brandon Ingram. Bryant played with Luke Walton, now the Lakers head coach in his first full-time lead gig, and saw firsthand that the oft-injured player would soon become a great coach.
Kobe was able to reach his potential eventually to become one of the greatest players in league history. And in doing so, he had plenty of team success complementing the individual ones.
There is a long way to go for the Los Angeles Lakers before they actually become contenders again. But the pieces are falling into place. And at least one former player, revered for his winning and his intelligence, believes the time is coming soon.