Kobe Bryant hosted a Q&A for international media yesterday, and answered a plethora of questions ranging from the his impending retirement and legacy to the toughest opponents and teams he faced throughout his career and more.
More importantly, Bryant shared some insight and advice on two of our talented young Aussies in the league: Ben Simmons, who is creating a massive wave of excitement with his outstanding freshman season with LSU, and also Jazz guard Dante Exum, currently sidelined and recovering from an ACL injury sustained in a Boomers game against Slovenia.
Bryant on Exum's road to recovery
Bryant was asked about whether he had spoken to Exum recently, by virtue of them having the same agent (Rob Pelinka of Landmark Sports Agency) and whether he would have any advice for the sophomore guard on overcoming season-ending injuries.
Kobe confirmed that he did reach out to Exum through their agent, and plans to check in during the next off-season. He then went on to talk about the Jazz's head coach, Quin Snyder.
"His head coach is a good friend – Quin Snyder – and I speak to Q quite often." It's worth noting that Kobe has a warm relationship with Jazz head coach Quin Snyder (also known as Q), stemming from Snyders' days as an assistant coach with the Lakers back in 2011, and has previously praised Snyder's basketball smarts.
Snyder aside, Bryant does confirm that Exum is indeed a "fantastic young player", and expressed confidence in his ability to return to form.
On Simmons' key to success
When asked about the kind of advice he would have for a potential number one draft pick like Ben Simmons, and his impression of the LSU freshman so far, Kobe started it off with affirmation on Simmons' obvious talent.
"So, I think he’s a fantastic player. I think he has obviously a tremendous amount of potential." Bryant went on to point out the most important quality in any career, outside of talent: a passion for your craft, and the willingness to work at it to succeed.
"I think the key really is just loving what you do. I mean that’s the magic of it, man, is really loving it and you know you love it when you actually enjoy the process of it all.
So, you know, if you love getting ready, if you love training, if you love preparing just as much as you love the end result of winning or even more so than the end result of winning, then you know you have something truly, truly special and that’s something that you can’t beat.
That’s something that you can’t bring out of a person. You either love that thing or you don’t."
What would Simmons being drafted by the Lakers mean to Kobe?
In another question, Kobe also talked about the possibility of Ben Simmons being drafted by the Los Angeles Lakers next year, and what it would mean to both the city and Simmons himself.
Bryant was quick to clarify that everything would be in Simmons' hands, should he don a Laker uniform next season. "As far as Simmons, it’s just a matter of what he wants to take on. It’s not about handing over keys or anything of that nature. It’s really about the player that’s here."
It's no surprise that franchises like the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics prize championship banners as the only mark of success, and Kobe emphasized that hunger for championship success too.
"Do you have the attitude that winning a championship is the only mission? That’s the only goal. You know, if you don’t win a championship the season is a failure and if you have that attitude, this city will absolutely love you and you’ll get this team back to being playing and winning at a level that it’s accustomed to."